Today marks the fourth anniversary of the publication of my debut novel, The Violinist of Venice! It totally does not seem like it’s been four years since I first became a published author – it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all. So much has happened since then (including the fact that I’m somehow gearing up for the publication of my FOURTH BOOK – WHAT EVEN), and yet it still seems like it just happened.
So in honor of the fourth anniversary of this book I love so much, and that anniversary falling on December 15th, I decided to share fifteen fun facts about The Violinist of Venice:
1.) The working title was Maestro. On my first revision/second draft, I changed it to The Violinist of Venice. Before going on submission, my agent and I kicked around a few other title options to see if there was something we liked better than The Violinist of Venice, and there wasn’t, so we went with it. I love that title because it can refer to either Adriana or Vivaldi, or both.
2.) I retyped the entire book twice. My agent loves to tell this story: for each of the two revisions I did before querying, I printed out the whole manuscript, put it in a binder, and manually retyped the entire thing as I revised. This forced me to consider every single word and whether or not it was necessary, or if it was the best word. My agent found this admirable, but the two of us joined forces to break me of this habit – it’s definitely not efficient or practical time-wise, which I quickly found out when doing revisions on more of a deadline.
3.) Each version of the book got shorter. The original, very messy first draft was almost 600 pages. It got shorter (and, more importantly, tighter) with each revision it went through, from the ones I did on my own to the revisions my agent and I did before going on sub to the line edits my editor did.
4.) I first got the idea for the book from a dream I had. The dream was essentially the first chapter of the book. And the date on which I woke up from that dream? March 4th – Antonio Vivaldi’s birthday. I started writing the book that same day.
5.) I never had an edit letter for this book. By the time my editor bought it, the manuscript was pretty polished – I’d been working on it for five years (due to being in college at the time, as well as my very time-consuming revision process described above), and that was before the revisions my agent and I did. So my editor jumped right to a heavy line edit, and as this was my debut novel, I didn’t know any different. Only now do I realize how unusual this was. My books since then have all had edit letters, of course – they’ve all been much heavier lifts for my editor than the first one!
6.) There was one scene I worked on in the same place twice – sort of. The scene where Adriana and her father go to stay at the Foscari country house was originally written in my dear friend Lindsay’s dorm at Canisius College, our alma mater. I was a commuter student, and one day on campus I got caught in a MASSIVE downpour, got completely soaked through, and had to go to her dorm so that a) she could put my clothes in her dryer and b) I could borrow some of her clothes while mine were drying. So while waiting for my clothes to dry, I got out my laptop and did some writing. A couple years later, I was revising that scene in my last revision before querying while in her apartment in Maryland, where I was visiting her while she was in grad school.
7.) While I was working on the book, I only ever called it “The Beast”. I never referred to it by its title, or it’s working title – it was only ever “The Beast”, and all my friends knew it by that name, too. For a while after it sold, I kept forgetting that when people said The Violinist of Venice, they were actually referring to my book!
8.) My very favorite part of the book is Chapter 30, “Composition”. This is the scene where Adriana gives Vivaldi the first movement of a concerto she’s composed, and he tells her what he thinks and plays it for her. This didn’t get added until revisions (in the first draft, Adriana wasn’t a composer herself). I love it because I so understand all the nerves and feelings that come with sharing your work with someone for the first time.
9.) There’s a line in the book where Vivaldi says “We are both of us whores”. This is my friend and critique partner Caitie’s favorite line I have ever written to this day. When I signed her book, I wrote that line in caps across the title page.
10.) I finally went to Venice before starting the final revision before querying. At that point, I had done tons of research through books, the internet, and taking violin lessons myself. Seeing Venice and experiencing it was the last piece of the puzzle for me. It was completely magical, and Venice is my favorite place in the entire world – I’ve since been back twice more. While I was there, I went to see an orchestra perform Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life – hearing the music in the place where it was written.
11.) I make color-coded notes for all my books. I have one notebook I carry around to jot down story notes as they occur to me, and each book gets its own color pen ink, so I can tell at a glance what book the notes are for. The notes for The Violinist of Venice were in dark red.
12.) The character most like me in this book is Giuseppe Rivalli. There’s a lot of me in Adriana for sure – the love of music being the big thing we have in common – but I realized at some point while writing this that Giuseppe was actually the most like me. I’m the friend who will try to talk you out of bad ideas, and when I can’t, I’ll go along to try to limit the damage.
13.) I’ve performed some of the music described in this book. I’ve performed the aria “Cosi potessi anch’io” from Orlando furioso, as well as the first movement of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater. I’ve also sung in the choir and as a soloist for Vivaldi’s Gloria in D, which pops up a few times in the book.
14.) My favorite piece of music of all time is Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for 4 Violins and Cello Continuo, which is Vivaldi and Adriana’s favorite piece in the book.
15.) There is a shout-out to one of my favorite bands in the first chapter. Chapter 1 ends with the line “I pulled my hood over my face and stepped outside into the late April rain, leaving him to think what he would.” This is a nod to the band Delain and their album April Rain, which I listened to constantly while writing this book. Most of the songs on the album are on the book’s playlist (which you can find here).
Bonus “fact”: If Adriana was a real person and around today, she would be first chair violin in a symphony orchestra and also playing electric violin in a symphonic metal band on the side.