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It’s a bittersweet feeling finishing a novel. In one way it’s a relief to have every last comma inserted in the correct place and every sentence polished to as high a shine as I can manage. But it’s sad to say goodbye to the characters I’ve spent so much time with. After a year of thinking about them pretty much obsessively they always seem real to me.
In my new novel, One Summer In Venice (coming April/May), there’s a character I’m struggling to let go. Her name is Coco and she’s fabulous. In fact, I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up. She dresses beautifully and behaves badly and gets away with it. Oh and she’s quite old – because why should young people have all the fun?
Sometimes my characters force their way back into future books. That’s happened with this one. If you’ve read The Villa Girls or The Italian Wedding you’ll recognise Addolorata. She’s a colourful, spiky sort of person and I’ve always thought she deserved a book of her own.
Of course you don’t have to have read those other novels to enjoy this one. It’s not a sequel at all. But I always used to like the way the late Maeve Binchy had characters who cropped up again and again in her stories. If you remembered them then it was like meeting old friends. If you had forgotten them, it didn’t matter.
One Summer In Venice is out of my grasp now. It isn’t really my novel anymore. It’s heading out into the world, with Coco and Addolorata at its helm, and will become different things for different people. All I can hope is that they enjoy reading it as much as I (mostly) did writing it.