I make no secret of the fact that my books are escapism - that's why I write them and that's how I want the reader to enjoy them. It's inevitable that the things that I get pleasure from find their way into the books - sunshine, food, beautiful surroundings, glamourous locations - in the case of A Villa in Portofino that includes an artistic element, as the book feature both poetry and painting.
The wicker figure was
an art installation
My poet - Cosimo - is Italian and while Megan's doctoral thesis concentrates on his poetry there is a considerable mystery surrounding the poet himself, who might just be connected to the villa. It's one of several mystery threads that I enjoyed concocting.
Alcinda's paintings came right out of my imagination. It was a little uncanny how clearly I could see them - first the series based on the overgrown garden of the villa and then a new group using Gideon as a model. I've no idea where Alcinda came from as a character and the paintings are equally mysterious. The idea of the gallery where she exhibits arose from a visit to Portofino many years ago, when I bought a print from a gallery - a watercolour of the village, which I love, but nothing at all like the art that Alcinda produces. It was the start point though and Alcinda and her art grew from that.
I wish her paintings did exist because the ones in my imagination are spectacular. But the verse and art that lives in the imagination always is.