I am so pleased to be welcoming Francesca Scanacapra to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for The Daughter of Paradiso. Hi Francesca. Can you tell me about your novel, The Daughter of Paradiso and what inspired it?
This is the third book in the series and follows Paradiso and Return to Paradiso. We are now in the early sixties and the protagonist, Graziella, has left her abusive husband and is making a new life for herself and her young daughter in her old childhood home, Paradiso.
The main theme which drives the story is women’s fight for equality in a time and place where men are still very much in charge. However, the story is not all about struggle and injustice. There is also a strong theme of friendship and community.
Much of the inspiration for this has come from having moved recently to rural Lombardy, where the books are set. Social and family bonds are still very strong here. In this very moment, as I sit at my desk with the windows wide open, I can hear the loud conversations of group of elderly gentlemen who congregate outside a neighbour’s house every day to gossip and put the world to rights.
What’s your typical writing day like? From idea to final draft, how long does it take you to write a book?
My most productive time for writing is the morning and I am usually at my desk by 9am. How long I write for depends on how the inspiration is flowing on the day. Sometimes I won’t come up for air until the evening. However, if the muse isn’t with me, I’ll take myself off and do something else. For me, that works better than trying to fight against a poor writing day.
Previously, when I still had a day job, completing a novel took years. Now that I write full-time, I’m averaging around six months; although I seem to write around 80% of the book in a few weeks and the remaining 20% takes far, far longer.
What are the challenges of writing an historical novel?
It can be tempting to include too much history, and I was guilty of this when I first began writing. I had to learn the art of peppering the narrative with just enough historical information so as not to interrupt the flow of the story.
Giving a sense of time works best when little details are integrated into characters’ opinions, actions and beliefs, as well as the homes they live in, the clothes they wear and the food they eat. This makes for a far more engaging read than simply writing long paragraphs of exhaustively-researched facts.
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
It would be extraordinary to meet Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Patrick Suskind’s astonishing book, Perfume, the Story of a Murderer. This character is both a victim and a villain. Although his actions are diabolical, he is able to justify them both to himself and to the reader, and even to gain the reader’s sympathy. So yes, I would be intrigued to meet him, but it would probably be prudent not to do so alone.
Which authors do you admire?