What inspired you to write this book?
I started According to Luke years ago, and then read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I was astounded at how he missed the chance to make his characters and plot more believable. Then I realized it was a similar kind of concept, but not exactly the same genre as what I wanted to achieve. We then had a family trip to Europe, and visited Venice and Ravenna, and saw many of the paintings for myself. That was what clinched it for me – nothing beats visiting a location in person. I nearly always do it. It makes the whole novel jump off the page for readers. I’ve been told that many times.
What topics in your book or background do you think book clubs would find interesting?
Whenever I speak at book clubs, I am surprised by some aspects the readers find fascinating that I would not have guessed on my own. In According to Luke, the locations and atmosphere are always mentioned, but readers also love the details, such as the amazingly sophisticated nightwear one eccentric character wears, or things another character does when he’s happy or in love. I give my protagonists realistic feelings, and gestures and actions that go with those feelings, of course. It makes them memorable.
Tell us about your career outside of writing and how it influences your writing.
I write fulltime, there is no other work now to affect my fiction. I have, however, held a number of jobs in the past that inform what I write. I have worked as a heraldic artist, and I have taught and lectured in writing. I was a freelance interior design journalist for a number of years, and a literary editor. A lot of subtle influences come from my life outside writing.
Describe your style of writing
Depending on who you ask, you get a different answer to this one. Some say that because of the attention I pay to language and detail, that my writing is literary. I make references to books, music and art, which makes my writing seem deep and meaningful. I try to avoid heaviness, and I would hate to bore my readers, so I feel my style is contemporary with a bit of elegance. When I describe the love lives of my characters, I do go into intimate detail, but it’s more about feelings than bodies, although the physical aspect is always there. It’s elegant rather than ordinary or vulgar. It’s a stylish style.
Which authors have inspired you?
I have a set of favourite authors – Robert Goddard writes suspense fiction that deals with family businesses and a particular region in the UK. They are sagas that encompass the human condition as well as a crime. AS Byatt is a brilliant scholarly author whose novels are full of clever references which do not interfere with the story. So if you don’t get an inference, it does not spoil your enjoyment at all. Carol Goodman researches well, and goes deep into the female aspects of universities, colleges and the graduate life while injecting suspense and romance too. They are only three, but whenever I pick up one of their books I feel entertained and informed.
Summary of book club meetings
According to Luke (ATL) has been done by three book clubs where I could attend in person.
One took place in a sophisticated cafe / bookshop, where we all sat around a big farmhouse table and drank fancy coffees. All the members were women, and they were avidly interested in the star-crossed romance in ATL. They asked some very clever questions and I realised this was a highly intelligent group that noticed and discussed the philosophy behind the books they read. I enjoyed discussing religion, faith, loyalty, betrayal and the relationships people form and what they mean. It was a lovely afternoon, and I realised how ATL can be enjoyed on a number of levels.
The other two took place at the homes of book club members. Very different homes, but both very enjoyable, with lively readers (all women) who found a lot to enjoy both when they read the book, and in the discussion with me that followed soon after. They found different layers to savor in ATL – the religious conflict, the history, and the technical research aspects I bring in when the icon is examined in labs. They asked some very difficult questions, and I think I managed to satisfy their curiosity.
By: Rosanne Dingli
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