Three quarters of the way through, when Olivia travels to an artist community called Angel’s Gate, situated high up on a hill on the California coast, to confront Evelyn’s lover, Marco, after discovering he is her father.
Carlotta. An eighteen-year-old Italian girl, fierce and big hearted, an Olympic hopeful fencer. I go to painstaking efforts not to stereotype my Italian characters and yet still probably do. Plus, I knew nothing about fencing (when I started).
A Kindle. Loaded with novels, many of which, unfortunately, I am reading at the same time. Right now: Common Wealth by Anne Patchett, The Red Car by Marci Dermansky, Night Film by Marisha Pessel, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, Nutshell by Ian McEwan, and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple.
I have a relationship in mind usually, a scene involving conflict—two sisters, a mother and a daughter, two lovers, a married couple—I start writing, and then I see where the story takes me. Usually somewhere far away.
I’ve become fascinated with this idea of throwing two people together who don’t know they are related and seeing what happens. Particularly sisters, will they be drawn to each other on some deep, subsurface level?
And since I typically write about cross-cultural relationships, I added that layer on top, one sister Italian, the other American, for instance, and then it got even more interesting.
I had Marco’s character in my mind from the beginning. He is a remnant of Italy’s nobility, a modern day descendant of a prince living in the shadow of monarchy, wealth, and status. Many of these people exist in Italy; they lead everyday lives, their palaces having been turned into museums, their vast estates and properties having been mostly turned over to the government. Often they live in secret poverty.
I had this idea of throwing Marco together with a spoiled, suburban-bred, young adult American girl.
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