Today is a very special day, as I have had the amazing opportunity to interview the upcoming author, Alyssa Palombo. We will be chatting about her debut novel, that is released today, which is The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi.
Hello Alyssa! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks for having me! I appreciate it. I was born and raised near Buffalo, NY, and I attended Canisius College in Buffalo. I have bachelor’s degrees in English and creative writing, and I did a minor in music as well. I’m a classically trained mezzo-soprano, and have dabbled in a couple other instruments as well (including the violin, which I studied for a bit as research for the novel).
What was the hardest thing about writing The Violinist of Venice?
When I first started writing, I knew hardly anything about Vivaldi or Venice; I just had this story in me that was dying to get out, so I had to start writing it down. I then did the research as I went, which made for a bit of an uphill climb. It all worked out in the end, though, even though certain things about the early drafts had to change due to things I learned as I researched. The overall arc of the story remained the same, though.
The cover for The Violinist of Venice is beautiful! What can you tell me about the cover and how the idea came about?
Thanks so much! I just love it. Like most authors, though, I wasn’t consulted about the cover design at all. What happened was that my editor sent me and my agent three different covers and told us to pick the one we liked best (the publisher had an opinion, as well, of course). I knew as soon as I saw this cover that it was the perfect one, though the other two were lovely as well. Not being a visual artist myself, I had never really been able to picture what I thought the perfect cover for this book would look like – I thought maybe a woman with a violin and Venice on there somewhere, which is just what I got. But it’s a million times better than I was able to imagine!
Give us an insight into your main character, Adriana d’Amato. What does she do that is so special?
Adriana is a character I really love and am proud of for the ways in which she’s able to go after the things she wants to the best of her ability, and is able to find happiness for herself despite the tragic things that happen in her life. Due to the time period and her social class, she doesn’t really get much say in how the course of her life goes, but she makes the life that she wants for herself to the extent that she can. She’s definitely a person with flaws and shortcomings, but so are we all – and that’s what makes her so vivid. To me, anyway – I hope that readers feel the same!
Adriana’s story is spanned over 30 years of her life. What made you choose to write it in that style, instead of other novels that are spread over days and weeks?
Good question! When I started writing I knew that it would be a story about a love affair between Adriana and Vivaldi, and beyond that I just knew I’d figure it out as I went. As I wrote and got closer to the climax of the book, though, I began to get really interested in what happens after one loses the love of their life. There’s this “romantic” idea in popular culture – be it books, movies, poetry, theater, opera (it happens a lot in opera) – that if you lose the love of your life you will (or should) die of a broken heart or pine away for this person for the rest of your life and never get over it, and so on. I saw this in a few specific works as I was working on the first draft of the novel and got really frustrated with that idea. Just because you’ve loved and lost doesn’t mean you never get to be happy ever again, right? Eventually life goes on, and usually people go on with it, and that is the reality I’ve seen play out around me numerous times – though with all that said, of course it’s not easy. So I wanted to show that in the novel, and wanted to examine that process of moving on over a lifetime. I wanted to show Adriana’s life going on without Vivaldi, even though their relationship changes her permanently and echoes throughout her life in unexpected ways. At the end of the novel her life is very different from what she imagined it would or could be, and yet she’s happy all the same.
The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo.
Release Date: 15th December 2015.
Published by: St. Martins Press.
A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other
Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d’Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family’s palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.
Adriana’s father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice’s patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana’s marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana’s own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.
Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana’s life, Alyssa Palombo’s The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.
ALYSSA PALOMBO has published short historical fiction pieces in Black Lantern, Novelletum, and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent a graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, as well as a trained classical musician. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Tonawanda, New York.