Il Viaggio

mambrose
March 25, 2017 at 7:10 PM

Italy Countryside

Italy Countryside

When I first conceived my new novel, Claire's Last Secret, I thought that setting a historical memoir/mystery around the Byron/Shelley circle and having Claire Clairmont narrate the story would be a pleasant voyage of creative synchronicity: I'd spend the better part of my life researching this magnetic literary group and their poetry/fiction, so how difficult could it be to write the story, once I had the plot points set?

Actually, it proved to be quite challenging.  A passage into the landscape of the unknown.  A time to stretch myself as a writer and push beyond my perceived limits.

At the start of my voyage, I'd been intrigued by the fact that Claire outlived the rest of her literary circle by decades, but when I decided to have her tell the story from two polar opposite stages of her life (a very young 18 and a spry 78), I had to master two very distinct voices.  Then, there is the language of the historical work.  How formal should it be?  Contractions?  British usage of the nineteenth century?

Ah . . . let's not forget the research and "burden of truth."  Byron's Letters tell a very different version of events than Claire's Journals.  Every time I encountered a gap of reality, my general default was to Claire's perspective:  it is her story, after all.  And as for the quotidian details of 19th-century life, I found it best to add "shadings," rather than exhaustive details.  My purpose is to tell the story--and make it compelling.

Then came the field research in Geneva and Florence . . . . that's for another day.

Addio!  (for now)