I’m guessing that women read this blog. Maybe it’s the pink background or the plush book buddy, or maybe it’s just that smart. Anyhoo, I’d like to share a woman’s fantasy.
Imagine wearing a velvet, pearl-studded Renaissance gown, walking into a marble palace on red carpet, and seeing a smiling crowd raise their glasses—to you!
Now imagine this: It happened to me, and it was un-friggin believable.
Last January I went to Venice for the launch of the Italian edition of my Renaissance novel, The Book of Unholy Mischief, where they immediately took me to the Atelier of Venetian costume designer—a fantasy world of silks and brocades, gold masks and feathered headpieces. The first dress I tried was too tight and I felt fat. The second was too big and I felt thin. The third fit and I felt like Goldilocks. It was an extravaganza of royal blue velvet, heavy with pearls and glass gems.
That night my dresser (yes I said, my dresser) slid the pearl and jewel encrusted velvet over my head and I slipped my arms into enormous puffed sleeves. I held onto a chair while she tugged hard at the back laces and asked, “Can you breathe?” I gasped, and she loosened it. With the fabulous gown on I floated through the hotel like a grand lady; I could hear the beaded train swishing behind me as I headed for the waiting water taxi.
At the palazzo, I climbed marble stairs covered in red carpet and lined with flickering votive candles. I entered a high room glowing under Venetian glass chandlers and full of beautiful people. My publisher introduced me: “Signori, l’autrice”—Ladies and gentlemen, the author. The sommelier handed me a glass of champagne while cameras flashed and flashed. It was a Paris Hilton moment, but I am not Paris Hilton. I am the author, and that is fine with me—in fact, it’s a dream come true.
At dinner I sat next to a Prince of Venice (for real) a handsome man in a tux. Naturally, he was charming. The centerpieces were plump green grapes and pomegranates the size of softballs, both fruits that figure prominently in my book. I was touched by this attention to detail, but the biggest surprise came next: A Venetian chef had recreated a dinner from my novel.
We ate warm mozzarella in an exquisite crust, buttered gnocchi in a crisp cheese cup, and veal in the mysterious Sauce Nepenthes—a sauce that did not exist anywhere but in my book until that night. For dessert we were served bones of the dead, delicate Italian cookies tipped in chocolate, and as we ate them, my publisher read the scene in which my characters ate those cookies. The crowd applauded, and the prince turned to me and said, “Brava.” Everyone in that room loved my writing! It was the high point of my evening, if not my life.
After dinner, my escort held my train as I descended the marble steps, but my regal mein was tarnished when I had to hike up the billowing gown and stand on a wooden chair to get into the water taxi. It took two strong men to get me into the boat, but at 1 a.m. I walked into my hotel room exhausted and grateful. I freed myself from the gorgeous gown, took a deep breath, fell into bed and slept like a stone. The queen was dead; long live the author.