Thanks to those of you who gave me some ideas and positive feedback about my website content. I will continue with the Q/A, using some of the questions which were suggested to me.
Q) I understand you lived in Austria for several years. What brought you there?
A) I should say I was lured there by a lifelong obsession with The Sound of Music, but the truth is I just couldn't stomach the idea of going straight to medical school after college--and my pre-med advisor suggested I take some time off. I was a little put off when he delivered the news, but it turned out to be a big favor. (Shout out to Dr. Michael McGrath!) It was his idea I move to Europe, and he even helped me find a job teaching chemistry at an international preparatory school in Salzburg. I had only planned on staying for a year, but I fell in love with Salzburg from the moment my train rolled into the Bahnhof and I gave serious consideration to making it home.
Q) Parts of Absolution are set in Salzburg. Did you envision setting a book there when you were living in Austria?
A) Those of you lucky enough to have traveled to Salzburg will know that it is impossible to not envision setting a book there. It is the most dramatic city I have ever visited, with a 900-year old fortress perched on a rocky bluff above the city. The mountains can be seen from many points inside the city, rocky crags slashing open the alpine sky. (sorry, I got carried away.) There is a sense of history there that makes you take notice, and there is intrigue around every corner (as well as a bosna stand; I recommend the number 2, with extra wuerz.)
Q)Absolution begins in Monterosso al Mare, in the Cinque Terre region of Italy. Why did you begin the story there?
A)There is a reason UNESCO made the Cinque Terre a World Heritage Site. From the minute I arrived there (on the local train from La Spezia, dragged there by my friend Bill Olsen who just kept saying, "Trust me on this one") I knew I had found the place that would haunt me forever. Time stops in the Cinque Terre; as Marco says in Absolution, "Nothing changes in Liguria, that's why I like it here."You don't have a sense that won't be stimulated by the environs; I can still smell the aroma of frying sardines. (Unfortunately, I can also smell my friend Bill's rank hiking shoes, which we would not allow inside the train.) The view of the aquamarine waters of the Ligurian Sea from the sentierro azzurro, the clifftop walkway that connects the five villages, is alone worth the price of admission. But it is the sounds that I remember the best, the rhythmic crashing of the waves against the rocks and the continual arguing of the gulls.
I am going to end here, and finish up the Q/A with a post over the weekend, with help from my fabulous literary agent Liz Kracht and several members of the Kracht Klub. As always, I appreciate your support and love your comments (both good and bad--but more so the good.)