posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
Truth is stranger than fiction.
As a writer, I receive constant reminders of this phenomenon. No matter how creative my busy little brain gets, it still can’t compare with the crazy twists and turns that are reality.
A perfect example is my September release, The Treasures of Venice. A city built entirely on water sounds more like the setting of a science fiction or fantasy story. But in spite of the improbability,
These skinny, pointy black boats symbolize Venice like nothing else. But honestly, as a writer, do you think you could have come up with an imaginary creation quite so... convoluted and unusual?
Here's what I mean: Gondolas have been around for several hundred years and the design continued to evolve until the mid-20th century. Then the Venetian city government passed a law to forbid any further design changes. It is also against the law to paint a gondola any color except black!
The gondolier (who is always dressed in a striped shirt and black pants) stands on a platform on the back of the boat, facing the bow, and he propels the gondola with a single oar. The Venetian lagoon is too deep to pole a vessel. But why one oar? And why have the gondolier stand?
Oh, and according to Wikipedia, the proper term to use for moving a gondola is "prod" as in "I prodded my gondola across the Grand Canal." WHO KNEW?!?!
The shiny metal ornament on the front of the gondola is not just for decoration. It's called a ferro, because it used to be made of iron (but can now also be brass or stainless steel), and it serves as a counter weight for the front of the boat to compensate for the gondolier standing in the back. And yes, gondolas are all handmade, as are the oars, and are very expensive.
Not all gondoliers sing. Matter of fact, nowadays not all gondoliers are men. But they are subject to strict licensing by the city of Venice, and those licenses tend to stay in the same family for generations.
Gondolas are now used almost exclusively for tourists, and they are not a cheap means of transport. When I was there (close to ten years ago) the cost of a one hour gondola ride was more than a night in our hotel! But hey, it was Venice, and sometimes you just gotta play tourist. Especially when it is sooo romantic....
Is it any wonder I had to work a gondola into a couple of scenes in my September release, The Treasures of Venice?
And speaking of my next book... I'm absolutely THRILLED with my cover, even if it doesn't include a gondola!
What do you think?