Book: All for a Fist Full of Ashes (Tour Director Extraordinaire) by R. Ann Siracusacategories: Book, Spy Intrigue, Mafia, Italy, Travel, Contemporary Romance, Humor, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense
R. Ann Siracusaabout this book: One of the frequent questions asked of Authors is where they get their ideas for novels. The answer is, everywhere.
In this case, the second book in my humorous romantic suspense series "Tour Director Extraordinaire" wasn't planned. The first book, "All For A Dead Man's Leg", was an experiment to see if I could write humor and in first person. At that point, I had no plans for a series, but I loved the characters and the voice.
The second book, All For A Fist Full Of Ashes, came about because in the summer of 2005 I was making a trip to Italy with 13 members of my daughter-in-law's extended Italian-American family, including four teenagers (two of them my grandchildren).
Oh, man. Knowing the way Italians make group decisions, the trip was going to be a predictable disaster. At least I could get the material for a book out of it. So before we left, I went to work on an outline.
Well, a group of Italian-Americans taking a tour of Italy was a natural for my heroine Harriet Ruby, Tour Guide Extraordinaire. And if Harriet was my heroine, I needed Will Talbot (her Europol-spy boyfriend) on the trip with a spy story for him to chase after. So I came up with a story idea based on some family history and wrote the first three chapters before the trip, in part so I knew what to look for. The working title was The Italian Train Wreck, and, as you can imagine, that's what it turned out to be. The characters in the book are fictitious, and not based on my relatives, but the trip provided many incidents that spiced up the novel and quite a few that didn't get into the book.
It does include some ideas based on family history. In the book, the family matriarch is searching for her mother's grave to bury her brother's cremated ashes. This is based loosely on my husband's grandmother, Orsola Giannoni, who was born in Florence, met a Sicilian sailor and married him against her family's wishes. They disowned her and severed all contact. My husband says she had red hair, blue eyes, and never spoke Sicilian in all the years she lived in Sicily because she thought it was such an ugly dialect.
During WWII, when the Americans were bombing Messina, my husband's family left the city to live in a mountain town not too far away (three families in an old barn). Orsola, then an old woman, died during the heaviest part of the bombing. There was no one to take the body away. The families that lived in the barn built a coffin out of the dining table, the only wood available, and used the casket as a table for several days. My mother-in-law used to tell the story of crying all through the meals and asking, "Mamma, do you want a glass of wine?" When the bombing stopped, government officials took away all the dead bodies en mass (many had been killed), and the family never found out where she was buried.
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