Michelle Lovric is a long-term ABBA Irregular, posting here many times in last five years. She’s the author of four children’s books set in Venice and five for adults, also with a Venetian theme. She’s guesting today with an account of an embarrassment that may well have befallen other writers.
NB Cathy Butler, who kindly donated her day, will be back in this spot next month.
So I was in the Chinoiserie bedroom of the Palazzo Papadopoli in Venice, half-crouched and half-lying in a corner, scribbling a description of its strawberry-and-apricots-in-cream stucco ceiling and the frescoes on the walls. I was writing the strange floating world of the painted Orient through the eyes of my protagonist, Manticory Swiney.
Did I mention that I also write books for adults? The end result of those scribbles at the Palazzo Papadopoli is published this week: The True & Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters, about seven Irish siblings with 37 feet of hair between them. Born in the wake of the Famine, they grow rich and famous on the commercial exploitation of what grows naturally from their heads.
My first reaction was to leap up, red-faced. I had been writing a somewhat spicy love scene, and I’d been caught in the act.
Yet he did. Thousands of lines – Beppo, Don Juan and a steady stream of (ok, I’ll admit it) brilliant letters – the latter, to my mind, far better than the poems. They were just as preeningly self-conscious, however: his most private correspondence was crammed with wit informed by a foreknowledge of its publication. When writing my first adult novel, Carnevale, of which he is a kind of anti-hero, I found his letters far more useful than his poetry.
So even Byron worked on his writing, though he wouldn’t be caught dead actually doing it. And I, in
If so, I hope it’s the only thing I ever caught from him.
Has anyone else ever felt ashamed to be caught working?
Michelle Lovric’s website
There's a new pinterest site for the book and an interview with Mary Hoffman on the History Girls June 1st.
Picture of Michelle Lovric by Marianne Taylor