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Author spotlight - Rosanne Dingli tells "Why my latest novel is based in Venice"

View from San Giorgio Venice    Pic Credit: Panoramio
Author spotlight - Rosanne Dingli tells "Why my latest novel is based in Venice."

It will come as no surprise to my readers that Venice is once more the location I chose for a new novel. Those who have enjoyed the companion novels According to Luke and The Hidden Auditorium will be pleased to hear a third story featuring my beloved Professor Bryn Awbrey is in the works. And what hard work it’s proving to be! Although I know Venice well, it’s been more than five years since my last visit, so my memory is being tested, and I’m having to look things up.

Venetian chimney pots   Pic credit: Elisa Ruland
But some things are impossible to cancel from the bank of sensations memory piles up and stores for me. The sound of a long low barge laden with fresh vegetables thrumming to the end of a narrow canal, where eager shoppers wait for crisp orange zucchini flowers to deep fry in a golden batter is still in my ears. The fragrance of fat yellow pears lying on scrunched green crepe paper is unforgettable. So is the hoarse cry of the vendor, as he ties up his barge and calls his arrival to all and sundry. The distant peal of bells sounding the Ave Maria carries on Venice’s damp air like something out of a ghost movie, and the swash of bow waves against the ancient side of a wharf can only stay in the mind’s ears if it is witnessed in person.
Narrow lane, Venice Pic credit: Casa Flora

I have smelled the bitter tang of waste when the refuse barge has just been and black plastic bags disappear for the day. I have seen vague wisps of smoke curling around those weird and wonderful chimneypots so unique to this watery city. I have heard the clamour of tourist feet on the crumbling cobbles of a lane so narrow a channel has appeared at chin-height over the centuries, worn by the shoulders of passers-by dating back to the times huge timbers were forced into the mud to form the famous wharves of that city.

Greengrocer's barge Venice  Pic credit: Robert Harding
I have read notices hung around the necks of old ladies who venture out onto the narrow lanes, alleys and underpasses. “Do not ask me for directions!” they read, in four languages or more. The sense of imposition, disturbance, and trespass is made even worse when one realizes permanent residents have few days with no intrusion from tourists.

This lions at Arsenale   Pic credit: Wikimedia
Leaning against one of the ancient lions at Arsenale, touching the small black corner statue at San Marco, raising a hand to shield my eyes to catch the view from the belfry at San Giorgio … I have done all those things, and the memory is lasting, touching, and fitting to include in a novel. My novels are like pilgrimages of sorts. The characters fit into them because they have feelings for the location too. They love or loathe Venice in their own peculiar ways. They spend their days getting lost, being found, catching waterbuses, eating peculiar dishes, winding their ways around famous landmarks on errands and chases and quests. Their role is much more serious – but more entertaining – than Google’s little yellow man who takes people on street views. They smell and see and touch and hear much more, because I’ve been there before them, discovering it all.
I have based my new novel – my eighth – in Venice, because it is a celebration of memory. And of course I hope it will be a bit predictive, and I can plan another journey there to add to my store of memories.


ROSANNE DINGLI is the Western Australian author of seven novels, six story collections, three novellas and a poetry book. She has worked in many publishing roles including EIC and literary editor, and has lectured in English and Creative Writing at ECU. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, journals, supplements and magazines since 1985, and she has won more than 20 accolades for her poetry and fiction. Her books can all be found at




  1. Replies
    1. You've very welcome. I hadn't gotten around to sending you the link. Thank you for sharing your story.
      D L


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