Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind The Prisoner of Paradise?
I've been to Venice three times and I've found inspiration for different story ideas around every corner. It's such a unique place - beautiful and mysterious. I was inspired to write The Prisoner of Paradise on my second trip to Venice, after seeing other paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto, located in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
His paintings are so lifelike and imbue so much emotion, I couldn't help but wonder who the models were. As the idea for a book about souls trapped in a painting germinated, I researched Tintoretto's work and discovered his masterpiece, Il Paradiso, located in the Doge's Palace.
In a glance, I knew it was the perfect painting. As I researched the room it was located in, along with the building and the history of the complex and the painting, the idea unfolded before my eyes. I visited the Doge's Palace and Paradise on my third trip to Venice.
What influences do you see coming through in this novel?
I consume a massive amount of content, so there's quite a bit, from Dostoevsky's
The Double to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm inspired by complex characters and rich plots that transport a reader to another time or place. Most noticeable in The Prisoner of Paradise is probably the work of Dan Brown and Diana Gabaldon.
What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
In order: character, story, dialogue, active writing, word choice, sentence construction & variation.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
Great question. First off, I'd thank each and every one of them. What I'd say next depends on the character, since they're all individual people. It also matters if they survived to the end. ;-)
How do you go about getting in the mindset to write an emotional or difficult scene?
I'm not sure what a difficult scene is, but I love writing emotional scenes. Scenes that are ripe with conflict, drama or action come easy to me. I find I can't type fast enough to keep up with my brain (and I type 85 WPM!). It's the scenes that don't organically have conflict that I find more challenging -how to infuse an otherwise boring scene with conflict or something to keep the reader interested?
What's next? Can you tell us anything about what you're currently working on?
I'm currently working on the third book in the series. The second book, The Painter of Paradise, releases in the fall of 2022 and continues the story, picking up immediately after The Prisoner of Paradise ends. Book 2 goes much deeper in all aspects and while it sticks with all the themes and conceits established in book 1, it will take the reader in a very unexpected direction, with heightened stakes. Book 3 expands on all of that exponentially. As the reader continues deeper into the series, in retrospect, they'll look at book 1 as an origin story in some respects.
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