A real gem tonight, went to hear Domenica de Rosa talk about Split Personalities: Crime and Romance, the two sides of her writing life. She is such an enthusiastic speaker, giving a fantastic overview as to how she started with her Italian novels and then moved to a completely different personna as Elly Griffiths, writing in a completely different genre.
Domenica/Elly revels in the research for her books and loves the history and mysticism that her unusual settings bring. Then there is her heroine Ruth Galloway out to solve the crime. Judging by the questions at the end I think most of the audience were Ruth Galloway fans!
I had already read two of Domenica’s Italian novels (she has written four). Her first book was partly based on various members of her family who had lived in Clerkenwell and had been interned during the Second World War. An uncle however had had a miraculous escape from a ship of interns bound for Canada. It was this event that offered the drama and intrigue in the book.
After an interesting outline of her adventures writing her crime novels mainly based in Norfolk, we had a break for a glass of wine and informal chat. This was followed by a lively question and answer session where we learned about the process of her writing, her relationships with her agent and publisher. She also told us that not only has she just written her fifth book as Elly Griffith but also plans to write another Italian novel at some point.
I particularly love her Domenica de Rosa books, not only because her stories are beautifully told but because it just happened to give me real insights into my own father’s love of Italy.
My father served in the war, was in the battle for the Bay of Naples and spoke fluent French and Italian. He was however, also a keen musician and with other servicemen had a band that had entertained the troops. Later he had had a regular slot on Radio Milan. The story goes, that his band was doing so well that he was reluctant to return to this country and to his wife and children when the war was over.
Domenica is a lovely speaker open and honest and with a great sense of humour. She also takes delight in being a wife and a mother as well as an author. Tonight she had a lovely little power point presentation provided by one of her children.
Some of her books st in Italy are out of print but I managed to track them down on Amazon.
This talk was one in a series of special events at the Whiteways Centre which is run by a committee and an enthusiastic group of volunteers.
Post Script – An Italian connection…
father brought back from Italy after the war and were partly responsible for him abandoning his musical aspirations and deciding to become a puppeteer.
Commedia dell‘Arte is a form of theatre characterize by masked ‘types ‘ which began in Italy in the 16th century. It is thought that marionettes were developed as an extension of the mask tradition. However some of the commedia traditions were adapted as children’s entertainment and is known in Britain as Punch and Judy. We however, never performed Punch and Judy, but used a lot of clowning in our marionette shows.
Just for fun.
When I lived in London, one of my grandson’s came over for the day during half term and created a story with the commedia characters. It was in no way traditional except it was improvised. He had great fun filming it and we entered it into a competition where it won prize and was shown at a film festival in the junior film-maker category. He was nine at the time, he is now 17!
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