Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Traveling ...

When traveling in Venice, try not to stay on the Grand Canal anywhere near the Casino. You know, the one where James Bond rolls up to the table in his white dinner jacket, tosses a couple of die, and nails craps. And then, when the lovely young brunette standing beside him spilling out of her red gown asks him his name, he replies, "Bond ... James Bond," with a face that conveys neither happiness nor sadness, but surly intuits, "I'm also available and I've got a big hard gun." Anyway, don't stay at a hotel near the casino because you will be up most of the night due to thunderous beat of Euro-Disco, the lyrics "I'm too sexy for my car ..." replaying in your brain again, and again, and again. Not even James Bond could withstand such a torture without cracking (You listening to me Q?).

But hey, this is Venice so I'm not complaining.

While here I have been retracing the steps of my main characters in The Disappearance of Grace, my Venice stand-alone novel. Hitchcockian in form, the novel is about a solider, an officer, who having returned from the Afghan war suffering from PTSD along with temporary bouts of temporary blindness, attempts to try and reconcile his stressed relationship with his significant other. A painter named Grace. Problem is, while the two are enjoying a quiet lunch in San Marco, Grace suddenly goes missing. Our blind soldier has no choice but to try and find her, blindness be damned.

Yesterday while in Piazza San Marco I saw the exact table where Grace disappears and I saw the exact boat that carries her away to one of Venice's many islands. This is not my first time here but every time I visit I see something different and the experience becomes new again.

Walking the narrow, maze-like corridors of this ancient city is an experience of both claustrophobia and wonder that is not always easily described unless you expose yourself entirely to its magic on your own terms. I tried to get all the emotions right in "Grace" and hopefully I've succeeded. Imagine being half blind and losing the love of your life inside this aquatic city of love and broken hearts? A city that, at times, seems impossible to navigate even when your vision is 20/20.

Tonight I will board the night train to Paris. I've been overseas now for 64 days and will fly home from Paris later this week. I've gathered more material for a new novel or two, while completing a brand new novel called The Breakup.

Europe can be a wonderful place to write, to disappear, to find yourself amongst the eternal ruins. But do not ever try and attempt a good night's sleep by laying your head beside a casino.


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