Title: The Violinist of Venice
Author: Alyssa Palombo
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical, Romance, Adult
Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d’Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family’s palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.
Adriana’s father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice’s patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana’s marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana’s own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.
1. How did you come up with the ideas for The Violinist of Venice?
Oddly enough, the initial idea came from a dream I had. The dream itself was essentially the first chapter of the book, and when I woke up I couldn’t stop thinking about it. By the end of that day I had written the first chapter and had a hazy outline of the book in my head – though it changed quite a bit from what I originally thought it would be. From there, listening to Vivaldi’s music and researching his life as well as Venice in general gave me further inspiration and helped the novel really take shape.
2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?
I very much write by the seam of my pants – I’m a “pantser”, as they say – but with that said, when I sit down to start writing a new novel I usually have a general sense of the plot and how it will end. I come up with scenes and dialogue and new characters and plot threads as I go – which can sometimes lead to lots of time spent staring at my laptop screen asking myself, “What happens next?” – but I always know what the big events of the story will be. The most important thing for me to have when I start is my main character’s voice, and I’ve found that everything else kind of flows from there and I can let the character/narrator chart her own path.
I will, however, confess to having outlined – on paper – the last third or so of my second novel. I knew everything that I wanted to happen between there and the end of the novel, and some of those events were of my own invention, and some were actual historical events, so it forced me to sit down and map out what order everything would occur in and where the fictional moments would be interspersed with the historical.
3. What makes you happy?
Books – writing them and reading them! Music, especially heavy metal, which is my favorite genre, though I love classical as well. Singing, whether performing or just on my own. Spending time with my friends and family, even if we’re just hanging out and watching TV together. Traveling and seeing new places that I’ve never been before. Halloween, which is my favorite holiday – I love creepy and spooky things! Wine, chocolate, and French fries – sometimes together ☺ And, of course, my dog: he’s an adorable (and very ferocious!) silky terrier named Fenway.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A lot of times people will say that to be an author you need to write every day, and what I found was that that didn’t work for me. If I’m working on a project for a string of days in a row, I’ll get to a point where I’m feeling a bit burned out and need a day or two away from it to recharge and come back to it fresh. You will absolutely need to write A LOT and make a ton of time to write, but do it in whatever way works best for you, and carve out the time however you prefer.
5. What are your writing goals?
My biggest goal at this point is to be able to become a full-time writer – that’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. Other than that, I just want to continue writing books and making each one better than the last and improving on my craft as much as I can. There are so many stories I want to write, and I’m excited to tell as many of them as I can.
6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
I read a ton, which is probably not a surprise! Related to that, I love browsing through bookstores and searching for new finds. I love listening to music – I’m a recent convert to the vinyl format – and also going to shows. One of my favorite feelings in the world is being right down in front of the stage at a favorite band’s concert. I also like shopping and going out to dinner with my friends, and I adore traveling. One of my goals in life is to go at least one place every year that I’ve never been to before.
7. What are your favourite books?
There are lots, but I’ll try to keep it to a reasonable list!
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Green Darkness by Anya Seton
The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Kate Forsyth actually gave me a blurb for The Violinist of Venice, and I was (and still am!) absolutely beside myself with happiness – she’s such a wonderful writer, and one of my favorites!
8. What is the most important thing you’ve learnt in your writing journey?
I think that perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned – thus far! – is to trust myself, and that it’s okay to do what works best for me. As I alluded to above, I’d always heard that to be a writer I would need to write every day, and for a long time I felt guilty that I didn’t – either because I didn’t always have time or just wasn’t up for it on a given day. Once I started to figure out the routines and habits that made me the most productive – taking a day off every once in a while, for instance, as well as letting a draft sit for at least a month before I start revising – I felt a lot better about my work and felt like I was making a lot more progress. What I realized is that there’s no one way to be a writer, and no one path to success. Every writer is different in how they do things, and everyone’s path to publication is different, and that’s all okay. I’m going to keep doing what makes me the most happy and productive, and that doesn’t make me any more or less of a writer than someone who has a different routine.