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Interview with Sandra Arthur

Interview with Sandra Arthur about Venice Escape

Why did you write this book?


I was involved in a mini project at a local kindergarten school for 5-6 year old children to teach them about different styles of music.  Together with my husband, we developed a simple storyline about travelling around the world, showing the kids on a globe where certain countries were based and then teaching them about special instruments that could be found in those places.  My husband used his electric guitar with a sound box to play different musical sounds, which the kids called his magic guitar.


As this was a school with children from many places around the world, it was most interesting to feel and see their excitement when we focused on their homeland.


The teacher of the class was very happy with this project and encouraged me to develop material to support this work and perhaps to write a book.


So I initially set out to write the story for a younger audience.   It is for that reasons why the book is fairly simplistic in style.  Later, I decided I wanted to add more historical references by allowing Maria to travel in the footsteps of famous Italian explorers and thus the books target age group was increased.


I'm impressed by your attention to detail. How much research went into the writing of Venice Escape?


Although this is a junior fiction novel, I wanted to mix fact with fiction and so spent around 6 months researching all aspects covered in the book.   I found it a lot of fun as I probably dug far deeper into historical facts than was really required for my writing.   I then spent around 3-5 months writing and editing the book.



Parts of the book were like a travel and geography lesson. Have you been to some of these interesting places in the book?


I know it’s always easier and more believable to the reader, if you write from a position of strength with solid knowledge point.  In fact if you write from your heart you will typically be more successful in reaching out to your audience.


I have in fact been to some of the locations covered in my Venice Escape story such as Venice, parts of Canada, and New Orleans.  I've visited Asia and lived in Singapore, so I was able to use those locations as a starting point.  The other countries I researched on the web and I watched hours of travel and historical DVDs.  That was truly the fun part of the project.


More recently, since I have written the book, I have returned to Venice, the core location for the book plot, to film and photograph the beautiful buildings, with my family, to feature in a special music video that is being created to promote the book.

Can you tell us about this music video?

Yes, my husband has composed a lovely soundtrack using a guitar and string formula.  The book inspired his composition, and really captures the essence of loneliness, the canals of Venice and the excitement of travel.  It also conveys elements of Maria's apprehension and perhaps passion for music.  In the same way as the book motivated him to compose this music I hope my book will inspire kids to learn more about musical instruments.


Please tell me about your lead character, Maria Mozzerella, is she based on a real person?

The inspiration of the lead character was indeed my mother.  She did grow up living in a Venetian convent.  So certainly the early descriptions of Maria’s life at school, are totally based on my mother’s experience.  Clearly the magical travel aspects of the story are pure fiction, but many of the emotions shared by the lead character I loosely lifted from