Venice and books brought us together.
Christine Volker actually lives quite near to me in the California Bay Area, but I didn’t know that until I learned about her new book, Venetian Blood. I read and reviewed it as part of a “book tour,” this kind of journey into someone’s book when a dozen or so authors all read it and share their responses within a short, set time period. Well, I loved it, as you might have already seen in a previous post. Christine and I actually met for the first time yesterday! I’ll write more about that later this week. But suffice it to say that Venice introduced us. You can get to know Christine here in this month’s “Venice, My Muse” interview. Read all the way to the bottom to see more about Christine’s work and the raffle she is offering.
How has Venice seduced you?
Through my senses, and each time I visit. We have the sound of lapping water, the songs of gondoliers, choruses of bells, sunlight gilding church spires, and wondrous palazzi. Venice seduces because it has maintained its romantic uniqueness.
What do you never fail to do in Venice?
Take many walks, like along the Giudecca Canal in Dorsoduro, explore old shops in back alleyways, enjoy a glass of wine overlooking the Grand Canal. Sit back and people watch.
What is your Venice soundtrack?
Music by Giovanni Gabrielli. Listening, you’re transported to the 1600s. I close my eyes and pretend I’m in Venice.
Walk or take a boat?
I love to leisurely explore the city— whether by foot or boat. That’s the great thing about Venice – you take it all in, slowly, and on a human scale. You can gawk at art while you’re in the middle of a street, and won’t get beeped or run over by a car. At least once during the visit, however, you must travel by boat, and see the city from the water, hovering, like a mirage.
Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.
Well, I’m torn. First, there’s Campo San Fantin, ruled by the Fenice Opera House, with a golden phoenix above its doors. The story of the phoenix rising from its ashes symbolizes second, and yes, third chances—not just for the opera house, which had its own brushes with fire, but for all of us who persevere and return from adversity. The campo houses the parish church of San Fantin—patron saint of vendors of biscuits and sweets (always a favorite food of mine). Campo San Fantin is the setting where Anna, the protagonist in my novel, has an interchange with an eccentric writer. But then, there’s also the tip of Dorsoduro, La Dogana, not a campo, per se, but with an incredible view of the Doge’s Palace, especially at night, and where my character gets kissed.
Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?
Many years ago when I worked in Italy, I attended Il Redentore—Christ the Redeemer celebration, with old friends, in their boat. Fireworks exploded in fantastic shapes, like lightning splitting the sky, and reflected against the domes of the churches. Looking up, I was in awe. Eventually, we noticed that the boat was taking on water. No amount of bailing helped. Luckily, we had moored alongside the shore of San Giorgio Maggiore. Before we all sank into the Bacino and had to swim for it, we managed to scramble up to dry land. Once the festivities were over, we hitched rides back to St. Mark’s. The boat did sink to the bottom, however. I’ll never forget that festival.
Spritz or Bellini?
Bellini – For its taste, and lovely color. When we toast with a Bellini in hand, we symbolically honor the 15th Century Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini, since it’s named for him. After much sampling, I just had to feature a Bellini in my book.
What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?
Go to Torcello, the original Venice. Savor the silence inside the ancient martyrion of Santa Fosca, and the marvelous mosaics of the Santa Maria Assunta before climbing the steps to view the Alps. Don’t forget to dine at the Locanda there, or better yet, stay overnight.
If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?
Vivaldi, to understand the origin of his genius. I’d treat myself to crabmeat-filled mezzelune smothered in a light cream sauce, with sun-dried tomatoes and a touch of shrimp, accompanied by a fine Amarone. My character savored that meal during a visit to Torcello. But I’d top it off with tiramisu for dessert.
Casanova: genius or cad?
Cad. I’ve met too many Casanovas in my life, and I am not tempted at all to meet another—no matter how brainy, charming, and erudite, he may be.
What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?
I’d donate $10,000 to restore a work of Venetian art, $10,000 for fighting climate change—Venice is in danger of sea level rise, and finally, $10,000 for me to purchase: a Fortuny gown, a Fortuny floor lamp, painted velvet pillows, an ornate Venetian mirror, a Carlo Scarpa vintage chandelier—I think I just exceeded my budget.
If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?
This is my favorite question. OK, I love the gothic style, so it’d be a gothic palazzo, and of course, on the Grand Canal so I can indulge in delightful views of Venice’s main artery. Palazzo Barbaro would do very nicely. Apart from its stately balconies, I’m also attracted to its third-floor library, with floor-to-ceiling, decorated bookcases. Just magnificent. (Am I sounding like a librarian?) Henry James, the author, lived and worked in this palazzo, so the spirit of the place may help my creativity as well.
Which gelato flavor are you?
I’ve always favored fragola – strawberry. It speaks of the luscious, juicy season of spring.
How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits?
After a BA in Spanish, an MLS, and an MBA leading to a career in business, I now write international mysteries. A lover of unique, foreign places, I was seduced by Venice many years ago. My first book, Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City, was published by She Writes Press last August, with an audiobook due shortly. I’m currently polishing my second novel, Jaguar Moon, set in Peru. Drawing on my international travel experiences, I write to share faraway places and eternal truths with my readers—while fitting in a little murder.
Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CEVAuthor/
and Twitter: @WingedAdventure
We have another raffle this month! You can win a copy of Venetian Blood if you leave a comment on this post. You can do so via WordPress, Facebook, LinkdIn, Goodreads, or my Amazon author page. Deadline: March 29 (just a little early this month because I’ll be traveling the following week.)