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A BookTrail around Florence with T A Williams

  • Submitted: 15th January 2018

Who doesn’t  dream of Florence? You can go there at any time  for the price of a book…..T A Williams has one brilliant guided tour for you today and it’s a city he’s evoked strongly on each and every page….

T A Williams

Location, location….

BookTrail Dreaming of Florence here

My books offer escapism – taking the reader to places they have dreamt about or maybe visited in the past and loved. Previous books of mine have been set in Venice, Tuscany, Provence etc. I think it is fair to say it’s unlikely I will ever set a book in the grimy backstreets of a rundown industrial slum. The story is, of course, all important, but the location (and the Labrador) are what will hopefully put smiles on the readers’ faces.

Why Florence….

Giubbe Rosse (c) T A Williams

Giubbe Rosse (c) T A Williams

When I left university (a long time ago) I went off to teach English in Italy. After a few years in the north (the Aosta Valley – high in the Alps) I was offered a job running a new English Language school in Florence. I loved the city from the very first – and I loved the eleventh century convent where we rented an apartment. We were there for four years. I think the thing I love most is the sense of history the city inspires. As I mention in Dreaming of Florence, the idea that you can walk along the same streets, even on the same paving slabs, as Machiavelli or Leonardo is mind-blowing.

BookTrail Dreaming of Florence here

Discovering the city…

In this case, I started out with a very good knowledge of the place after four years there. My wife and I went back for a “research trip” (that’s what I tell the Inland Revenue) last spring just to check that the buses are still the same colour, the food still as good and the crowds still as invasive. With a city like Venice (which I have only visited three or four times for a few days at a time, mainly on business), I read up about it on the internet, check out the places via Google Earth and then do a research trip. I think it is vital that I write about places to which I have been. Google Earth can give you the sights, but it can’t give you the sounds, the smells or the character of the people.

Duomo (c) T A Williams

Duomo (c) T A Williams

BookTrail Dreaming of Florence here

The essence of the story…

The story is all-important. In the case of Dreaming of Florence it was partly autobiographical (the whole English Language teaching thing was from personal experience), but the events are from my imagination and I wanted to convey this simple message: male or female, old or young, there is nothing to stop you making a fresh start, moving to another country, in the pursuit of personal happiness and fulfilment. It’s a love story and I enjoy writing love stories. There’s so much unhappiness and evil in the world today, we shouldn’t forget the simple things like human affection.

Evoking the five senses…

You may have noticed that food plays an important part in my books. There’s nothing better than a meal for evoking all the senses. The sight of the different dishes, the smell of the food, the feel of the food in the mouth, the sound of the other diners (and Italians aren’t known for their silence) and, of course, the taste of the food. The Labrador is also very useful for this, whether it be feeling his fur, hearing him bark or, depending upon what he has been eating, there is also the possible olfactory assault…

Florence art (c) T A Williams

Florence art (c) T A Williams

A city you think you know can still surprise you…

Before starting to write Dreaming of Florence I came up with the idea of Debbie having a “special place” in her head, and I invented a rose garden overlooking the city of Florence. When my wife and I went on our research trip last May, I was genuinely amazed to find exactly what I was looking for. This came as a total surprise. Who knows? Maybe my subconscious vaguely remembered talk of the rose garden, but it came as a surprise all the same.

T A Williams

T A Williams

Florence on foot…

 

The best way to visit Florence is on foot. There are very good buses and a ticket (bought from any newsagent or tobacconist) lasts for 90 minutes, irrespective of number of buses used. There are also day/week passes, I believe.

And, yes, I revisited all these places and more last May on my research trip.

A few weeks later we also did a research trip to St-Tropez for my next book (comes out in May) – Dreaming of St-Tropez. Like I said earlier – nobody could ever accuse me of writing about unpleasant places.

 

Not at all! Thank you so much for this city literary tour!

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Dreaming of Florence

Twitter : @TAWilliamsBooks     Web: tawilliamsbooks.com

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