Caterina Cornaro’s “Barco”

Lady of Asolo will be released tomorrow. Here is a blog I wrote after researching the Sovereign Lady of Asolo’s villa of delights, where parts of the story are set.

Siobhan Daiko

What I love about the setting of my novel, In My Lady’s Shadow, is that I could visit my locations and dream about what they would have been like half a millennium ago. IMLS is partly set in Caterina Cornaro’s country estate, which was said, at the start of the Sixteenth Century, to be a place worthy of a King of France.

There were originally three enclosed spaces within an area of about 112 acres. The outer space was reserved for hunting and was filled with wildlife.

A model in the Giorgione Museum, Castelfranco, shows the living quarters and gardens before 1509. All that remains today is part of the east wing.

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Here is a painting of what was left of the estate in the 18th Century.

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The whole complex, a cross between a castle and a Venetian villa, was a palace of relaxation and delights where Caterina Cornaro…

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Lady of Asolo to be released on 30th November

When we moved to Italy two years ago, I decided to write a novel with Caterina Cornaro as one of the characters. She was a Venetian noble woman who was married to the King of Cyprus and became the Sovereign Lady of Asolo in 1489 after the Most Serene Republic, la Serenissima, took control of the island.

28 From the Sovereign Lady of Asolo'sShe died in Venice on 10 July 1510, a year after the Barco, her villa of delights, was damaged by a fire set by the League of Cambrai troops. It was there that she had established a court of literary and artistic distinction and where Pietro Bembo set his platonic dialogues on love, Gli Asolani.

14 at the court of

I became fascinated by this court and soon got stuck into reading about courtly love and life.

13 a young woman

After visiting the ruins of the Barco (see my blog post), I decided to use the element of fire as the link between Fern, the 1989 heroine of the novel, and Cecilia, my 16th Century protagonist. The more I wrote about Cecilia, the more she came to life. Although she lives in the shadow of the Queen, she is by no means overshadowed by her.

I started the early chapters about 18 months ago, then my mother fell ill and I spent most of my time looking after her. Mum passed away, and I was too grief-stricken to write for a while. My first novel, The Orchid Tree, needed more work, so I got in touch with John Hudspith and, after his inspiring editing, I sent it to a publisher. Six months later it’s still “under consideration”. During those six months, however, I went back to Lady of Asolo and now I have completed it. A supernatural time-slip historical romance, the only thing it has in common with my first book is the “historical” label and what Johnny calls my “fragrant” writing voice. He has paid me a huge compliment, and I’ve just set up Fragrant Publishing to market my “Fragrant Books”.

What I love about working with Johnny is that he goes the extra mile. He doesn’t just tell you where he thinks your manuscript can be improved, he re-edits your re-writes until both he and you are satisfied. The great thing about working with him is that he knows everything there is to know about story structure and the all-important need for your reader to invest in the “what-if?” of your novel.

My “baby” will come out into the big wide world this coming Sunday 30th November. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon. I’d be absolutely delighted if you’d all come to my Facebook Launch Party.

IMLS Launch Party

See you there!

My Workspace Blog Hop

I’m reblogging this since the lovely Alex Martin has agreed to pick up the batten and write a blog about her workspace. Alex Martin grew up in Wiltshire and its rich and ancient tapestry informs her novel, DAFFODILS. It is set in World War One, a time when the role of women changed forever. The story follows Katy, a young, naive and restless domestic servant who through personal tragedy, courage and intelligence, transforms her life and finds the adventure she always craved. She just never knew the price would be so high…
The sequel, PEACE LILY, is now published and takes the characters into the aftermath of the Great War. They have to find a new way to live in a world in which they have changed and yet the old power struggles remain. A third book, Speedwell, is planned to quickly follow and will complete the trilogy – for now.
The Twisted Vine, Alex Martin’s debut novel, is based on personal experience of picking grapes in the 1980s. Harvesting vines is like harvesting words – hard work but fun.

Alex Martin is also a qualified herbalist and aromatherapist (see http://www.gowerserenity.co.uk) She loves nature so much she relies on it for her health and happiness and dispenses its treasures to others. This does not pay well. Not in financial terms.
She has turned to her keyboard, her first love, for another source of income. She can mostly be found, scribbling or tapping away in her garden shed, indulging that passion, as the wind and rain lash at her little refuge.You’ll have to pop over to blogspot to connect with Alex at http://alexxx8586.blogspot.co.uk/

Siobhan Daiko

Welcome to the My Workspace Blog Hop. When the lovely Teagan asked me if I’d like to be tagged for this, I was happy to agree. I love the space where I work, and I’m delighted to share it with you.

I have a long, narrow room, which was originally part of Douglas Bland Artist’s studio. My mother had it converted into a cottage about ten years ago; she couldn’t bear to go into it as it brought back so many memories of my dad. I feel privileged to be enjoying the space and trust that his spirit approves.

This is what the cottage looks like from the main house.

Looking towards from big house

Come through the door guarded by Sophie Cat. The fresco on the outside wall, a copy of Botticelli’s Madonna with the Book, was originally painted by my father.

Garden door

Inside, on the left, there’s a Chinese cabinet given to us…

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My Workspace Blog Hop

Welcome to the My Workspace Blog Hop. When the lovely Teagan asked me if I’d like to be tagged for this, I was happy to agree. I love the space where I work, and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

I have a long, narrow room, which was originally part of Douglas Bland Artist’s studio. My mother had it converted into a cottage about ten years ago; she couldn’t face going into it as it brought back so many memories of my dad. I feel privileged to be enjoying the space, and trust that his spirit approves.

This is what the cottage looks like from the main house.

Looking towards from big house

Come through the door guarded by Sophie Cat. The fresco on the outside wall, a copy of Botticelli’s Madonna with the Book, was originally painted by my father.

Garden door

Inside, on the left, there’s a Chinese cabinet given to us by hubby’s mum. Through the door next to it, you’ll find our bedroom and a bathroom. Upstairs, we have a large living-room, a toilet, and a store-room. Downstairs, there’s a kitchen, a shower-room, and a utility room. Super-cozy and plenty big enough for the two of us. When guests visit, we put them up in the main house.

Chinese cabinet

On the right, there’s a chair where the cats like to sit and supervise me while I’m writing.

Sophie on chair

Charlie on chair

In winter, my wood-burning stove keeps me toasty-warm.

Stove

Here’s my desk.

Desk

I’m not in any danger of getting “writers’ ass” when the weather is cooler and the garden door is closed; the cats expect their “slave” to get up and let them in and out.

Charlie at door

Sophie at door

Opposite the garden door, a window overlooks the valley below. There’s an ancient church, Santa Giustina, which dates back to the 12th Century. Monte Grappa rises up behind and generally has a dusting of snow in the winter months.

View in Winter

There was a gorgeous sunset the other night.

Sunset

I love my workspace, especially looking through the door at the cherry blossom in spring and the lush garden in summer. Oh, and the deer that sometimes come down to graze on the bank behind.

Cherry blossom

View from garden door

Deer

Hope you enjoyed the visit 🙂