googlead166c37c697d4d3.html Glenn Ashton Author Blog: In the Beginning: A Da Vinci in Da Vinci

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

In the Beginning: A Da Vinci in Da Vinci

How does one suddenly get struck by the idea of writing a novel? What stars must line up just so, at just such and such a time, for just so long, for this crazy idea to take root in one's mind?
Loraine buying The Da Vinci Code at Da Vinci airport in Rome
For us, the stars lined up the day we settled into our chairs at the Da Vinci Airport in Rome, waiting for the final leg of our holiday tour through Europe. We had gone on the Trafalgar Tours high speed rail tour from London through the Chunnel to Paris, then snaking through France to Nice, Monte Carlo and on to Venice and Florence. It ended in Rome.
Our Eurostar steed
We had extended the tour by bookending a few extra days in two of our favourite cities – London and Rome.
Our tour guide was superb – a former lawyer who decided to switch to guiding tourists and indulging in his hobby of painting the magnificent views in the cities he toured, he had a wealth of knowledge about every city we visited and the history of the countries and places. If asked (which we did often) he would dive into all types of topics.
He had studied the tours and figured out exactly how to optimize the time available.
He had us running early in the morning to be the second tour group lined up to explore the Vatican, for example; when we came out, he showed us the huge queue which snaked all down a long, long block. We had avoided wasting hours of idle time because he had studied the logistics of each visit.
We also had local city guides in London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome.
Dan Brown
Now back to the airport. Loraine glanced at the small bookstore and spotted a copy of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. We laughed, because it seemed that in every big city we went to our guides would end up quoting from this novel, using it as a kind of guide book. The bishop was killed on the second floor of the left building, one would say, and we would all crane our heads to see where Dan Brown had offed the  man.
We had not yet read The Da Vinci Code, but Loraine noticed in the newspaper she was reading that the Pope had once again condemned the book.
On the spur of the moment she bought a copy, and immersed herself in it on the plane going home, handing it to me when she finished it.
We sat down one morning on our terrace, nursing a cup of steaming coffee, and talked about the many photographs we had taken on our trip. Dan Brown's book came up. We both agreed that it was not the greatest writing we had ever read, but he had a hook – the wrapping of cities around his plot. Memories of the tour guides using it as part of their schtick came roaring back.

We can do what he did – wrap a thriller around a guide book - Loraine said off handedly, and the idea was born.
Click here to read some more about our discussion and decision in our website, Obelisk Seven.
Diving Crow
Gayer-Anderson Cat
   

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