Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Author Appearance: Donna Leon

I’ve mentioned before that my grandmother is one of the people in my life who is directly responsible for making me so interested in reading. In 2004, she and I joined a tour group and spent 10 days in northern and central Italy. Venice was my favorite stop. I took three rolls of film in one day there (I converted to digital in 2007). I’d love to upload photos of Venice, but I’ll have to get them scanned in first.

My grandmother’s favorite genre is the mystery, and I read very few of them. But at her recommendation, I’m planning to read Donna Leon’s series of crime novels set in Venice. I’m on the waiting list at the library for the first one, Death at La Fenice. However, I attended her lecture at the Margaret Mitchell House promoting her most recent publication from the Guido Brunetti series, About Face.

I had a slight concern that I might be missing out by not having read any of the books yet. Lucky for me, I was wrong. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy listening to an author talk about how her book came about. It’s been a while since I’ve been to an author lecture (I so miss attending events at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books!). One of the best things Leon said was that an important character in her most recent release originated from a woman Leon stood next to in Munich for approximately three seconds. The idea of that woman becoming a character in her book kept following her around until Leon built the book around her. To know more about this intriguing character, I have to read 17 books before About Face. I guess I better get busy!

Leon also talked a lot about being an outsider in Venice (she has been a permanent resident for over 25 years), and the three issues that are Italy’s biggest problems: its government, the mafia, and garbage. The last of these plays a central role in About Face.

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