Every once in a while we’re reminded that social media can introduce you to delightful people you’d never meet otherwise. Case in point? I connected with author Anita Chapman as part of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter.
Since I’ve rarely met a novel involving Italy that I didn’t love, I knew I had to find out more about Anita’s recent release, The Venice Secret.
Now here’s a little about Anita, when she knew she wanted to be a writer, and the downright dreamy research that went into her recent work.
Christa Banister: You’ve got not one, but two incredible settings for The Venice Secret. Why was this an important component for the story?
Anita Chapman: The setting of Venice came from the painting which is found in the loft at the beginning of the story in the present day. The note that is found with the painting refers to it as a Canaletto and the scene is of St Mark’s Square. The other main setting is a country house in the UK. I’ve been interested in country houses and their stories for many years and found that by having a Grand Tour to Venice, I could link the two.
Christa: I’m guessing you had to conduct some pretty dreamy research to “get into the spirit of things.” Tell us a little about that and how it made the story so much richer.
Anita: I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy over the years. My parents used to go to Tuscany in the summer holidays, and we’d drive via France and Switzerland over the Great St Bernard Pass. Then I went on to study Italian at university and lived in Siena for a while. In my twenties, I spent a lot of time traveling around Italy and have been to Venice many times.
Christa: For anyone not familiar with your work, how would you describe it? And why should everyone immediately pick up a copy of The Venice Secret? What can they expect?
Anita: [Fellow author] Nicola Cornick described The Venice Secret as “an irresistible romantic mystery” and fans of TV program, “Fake or Fortune” might enjoy it.
Christa: Tell us a little bit about how you knew you wanted to be a writer and what your journey to publication has been like.
Anita: I used to love reading and writing stories as a child and wanted to be a published author one day. I’ve been writing novels for twenty years and spent some time submitting to agents and editors (for digital-first publishers). Some wanted to see the next book because it’s set during World War II, a popular era for historical fiction. Last year, I decided to self-publish The Venice Secret, thinking I didn’t have anything to lose when it could be sitting on my computer.
Christa: Where can people connect with you online?
And finally, The Banister Questionnaire…
What’s the first book that made you crazy about reading? As a child, I read the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree books over and over again, and loved the world she created.
Characters or Plot? Both.
Which authors’ books do you always buy no matter what the story is about? William Boyd, Anne Tyler, Tracy Chevalier, and more recently, Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Are you a plotter or a pantser and why does that method work best for you? Pantser, which hasn’t been helpful because it takes much longer to get the book finished. I either need to become a plotter or spend a lot more time writing to publish books more quickly.
Actual book or digital download? Both. Usually paperback or hardback for favourite authors. And audiobooks too sometimes.
What’s your favorite bookstore? Location, please. Probably Waterstones Piccadilly in London.
Describe your ideal writing environment. I rarely get the house completely to myself and write all over the place—mostly in cafes, with headphones, but when I have to get a project completed and need to be near a printer, at home at a desk. I dream about having my own writing room with plenty of natural light, bookcases covering the walls, and a huge desk with space for everything.
Coffee or tea? Tea first thing, coffee after breakfast.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you know you should be writing but don’t feel like it? Going on research trips to country houses, art galleries, locations from a book I’m working on.
What are you working on at the moment? A dual timeline set in a country house in the Surrey Hills, and Italy during World War II and present day.