As I shared in an earlier post, a few years ago I was in Rome for the first time. About five days in, I had the idea for a book about two Canadians becoming lovers there, only to begin suspecting one another of the long unsolved murder of a friend.
At patio dinners on warm evenings, I fleshed out the idea. With three days left in my trip, I’d progressed to imagining some dramatic events at the female character’s Roman apartment. But I needed a neighborhood. Something with winding streets, some history and good restaurants, I thought.
Of course, that was like saying I wanted an office tower on Wall Street or a Toronto condominium near Lake Ontario as a location. I had a lot of choice. And, also, little time.
I walked and took many taxi and subway rides on the hunt for the right Roman neighborhood. My feet and lower back became sore. Despite many great spots such as the one pictured, I couldn’t find what I wanted. I started thinking I’d move the idea to North America.
Then serendipity struck. At lunchtime on the second last day, I spoke with an English couple with a poodle. They mentioned that her father, “a wealthy bloke”, had bought an apartment in Trastevere years before, which they were renting for a few months. Trastevere, they went on, was a rione across the Tiber and less busy than the center. It had been working class once but now it was “quite buzzy”.
I headed there right away and spent the afternoon. The area of Trastevere I was in had the right feel for my story: busy, cramped, colorful and edgy. Getting up the next day, I knew I had to return and take some video.
The best part of that process was that I stumbled across a small square, which, in False Guilt, became a little piazza. I took a 360-degree video that included a two-level orange house with green shutters. In an apartment in that house, Grace and Paul cope with peculiar neighbors, difficult pasts and mutual suspicions.
That’s a serendipity that should happen more often in writing.
Copyright © 2015 Peter Fritze
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