Right up until the last minute, I wasn’t sure if the dreaded virus was going to foil my plans, but, unbelievably, I made it down to Venice in the wildest research trip ever!
I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled fairly extensively in my life, with the exception of the past few years, when I’ve been firmly in the ‘mum zone’ and my priorities have been somewhat different – mainly coping with picky eaters, unpredictable sleepers and the sheer workload of parenthood. I’ve also been fortunate to have been able to channel some of my past love and experiences of travel into my writing.
But the pressures and changes of the past year of pandemic have made me long to travel again even more acutely and I was desperate to get down to Venice after doing so much remote research for these two books. So I decided that, despite the scheduling difficulties around my husband’s job, I was just going to book a train and take the kids with me!
And despite the mask-wearing (which is actually totally fine once you’re used to it, especially the FFP2 masks), the necessity of eating pizza or chips all the time (squid-ink spaghetti isn’t really what my kids wanted to try…) and having to constantly drag the kids away from their screens, it was an AMAZING TRIP that we will never forget.
The kids loved all the Murano glasswork, especially the animals (and there was a whole exhibition of animals at the Cini Gallery on San Giorgio Maggiore). We enjoyed getting lost together and trying to find certain shops again (and sometimes completely failing). We explored the lagoon (important for the second book in the series) and went to the Alberoni beach (where Piero and Didi go on New Year’s Day in A Match Made in Venice).
It is the kind of city that is made to be soaked up, because it is absolutely unique and I know it made an impression on the kids, too. It really is an important piece of world heritage that belongs to the Venetians, but needs to be preserved by the whole world.
As the posters originally hung following the disastrous acqua alta of November 2019 (and revived following the lockdowns of 2020) declare: Venezia è viva! Venice is alive. People with long histories, traditions and a unique way of life still keep this incredible place alive, through influxes of tourists that strain the infrastructure every day and the changing environment of the unique ecosystem of the lagoon.
These two Venice books have been incredibly special to me, not only because of the characters (I always get attached to my characters), but because of the secondary character of the city itself and I’m going to miss it, now I’ve written both books. But I’ll always have the memories.
A Match Made in Venice is available for pre-order, out 9 November (official cover reveal and announcement coming soon!) It’s the story of a pragmatic British visual merchandiser bringing an eccentric glass artist from Murano out of his rut and unexpectedly finding love. Below are some photos to whet your appetite!
The sequel (Norah’s story – biologist meets oarmaker) will be out in spring 2022. Below are some photos for book 2!