Yeah, I hear you, 'faithful followers of THAT novel-in-progress'. It's been a long road; 4 years and 8 months to the day - a shorter journey than the years of creating my recently published novel, Sweet Adversity.
THE FOUR SEASONS OF CATERINA has been one hellava journey too. Haven't I always said that nothing is good unless it's been through the fires of uncertainty and doubt, and come out the other side? As Caterina would say, Madre di Dio, she's finished it!
It's been a splendid journey filled with discoveries - not just while researching 18th C Venetian-Baroque history; the music of that genius son of Venice, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi; travelling to Venice to find the literary and musical footprints of my 13-year-old hero, Caterina and her unique water-bound city, but also an increasing confidence in my own writing style.
Writers often find an image of their imaginary character ... here's my Caterina.
Cursed with a burn-scared hand; blessed with the voice of an angel, Caterina is the daughter of a minor criminal family in 1715 Venice. This girl has come alive in my mind and heart. I've felt every moment of Caterina's fight for survival against the Grand Canale ruffiano gang, her conniving, black-hearted Uncle Santo, and a bullying rival at the Ospedale della Pietà.
I've cried at her loss of a dear friend; and cheered her courage and perseverance in facing life with a disability, and when she finally begins to believe in her natural ability and talent. Most of all, it's her search for the truth behind her mysterious past, and the realisation of what is truly worthwhile in life - not fame and fortune, but a family of her own to love.
Now this story needs a reader who's never seen it ... someone who'll cast a critical eye over its structure, its character arcs, its themes, its flow of language and .... all the things that make a story not just good, but great. Yes, the novel is heading to a professional freelance editor!
Nicola O'Shea was HarperCollins' chosen copy editor for Sweet Adversity, and oh, boy, she was amazing. We worked well together ... and like Lisa Berryman, my publisher at HarperCollins does, Nicola 'gets' the way I write. I'm thrilled she's excited to take on another of my manuscripts.
So watch this space, dear friends. I appreciate your support and your belief in my storytelling. This novel will be dedicated to you. One day.
And guess what? I'm well into the first draft of another novel ... this time set in Australia in 1920. I'm REALLY excited by its possibilities, and most of all with my protagonist, 12-year-old, Lela May Heron. Yeah, another mighty girl with a complicated life and mountains to climb ... vulnerable, but with the heart of a lioness. See you on the other side!
PS I can't find the photographer of the image of my imagined Caterina ... it was in a National Geographic from years ago. The full photo is beautiful.