Behind the scenes of Fire Maidens: Venice

Fire Maidens: Venice - carneval, canals, and cunning enemies. Come have a look behind the scenes: the inspiration for the story, the amazing setting, and much more!

The story

Fire Maidens: Venice was originally a redemption story focused on Tony as an unjustly accused man returning home to clear his name. But the more I got to know Cara, the more it turned into a bodyguard story – with a huge twist since Cara becomes a bodyguard! I love that Cara is tough and skilled enough to become a bodyguard in her own right, and I love the idea of two bodyguards falling in love with each other.

At the same time, the person they’re guarding falls in love with someone else! And those are only two of several love stories in this book. So, at another level, this story is about love at different stages of life. Fiorina and Rocco are at the youngest, giddiest level, representing first love. (* sigh* I remember those days!) Then there’s Tony and Cara, who are at my favorite age – old enough to have learned about matters of the heart the hard way, but young enough to be at the crossroads to a whole new life. Fiorina’s parents represent yet another stage – the love of a devoted couple for each other and for their children – so much, that they’re both willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep their children safe. Finally, we have Arturo, a widower whose love for his mate never fades. In that way, Fire Maidens: Venice is a little like the movie Love, Actually with its bittersweet depiction of many forms of love at different stages of life.

The characters

Lion shifter Tony is a character you already got to know in Fire Maidens: Scotland. He’s a romantic at heart and thus the opposite of his friend Lachlan. In fact, he was one of the characters who was very clear in my mind all the way back when I was first outlining this series and asking myself “What kind of hero does Venice need?”

Cara pretty much stormed onto my radar by herself, answering the logical extension to that question: “What kind of heroine does Venice need?” Well, a tough, environmentally-minded one, of course! That she and Tony are both lion shifters comes with the territory, since the symbol of Venice is a lion. Well, a winged lion to be more exact – something that comes in at the end of the story. Did you see it coming?

Cara is actually the second character I’ve written with that name. I really tried to avoid that, but the name fit her so perfectly, it felt wrong to use any other name. The other character I named Cara is the wonderful Cara Leoni from Entangled, Book 2 in my Serendipity Adventure Romance series. Or should I say, the lucky Cara Leoni, because she ends up with the scrumptious Tobin Cooper. (* sigh * I still swoon for him, his motorcycle, and their waterfall/rope bridge escape scene! I definitely recommend you check Entangled out!

Fire Maidens: Venice is full of fun side characters too, like Cara’s landlady, Grazia Pittoni. Her character was inspired by some of the real-life antics of Peggy Guggenheim who moved to Venice in 1948. (Read a great article about her life here).

Then there’s Fiorina, who makes quite a transition from frightened waif to confident young woman over the course of this book. The auxiliary love story between her and Rocco wasn’t planned, by the way. It was one of those things that wrote itself. I guess that shows they really are meant for each other!

On a minor note, Fiorina’s father Fabricio is named for Leonardo diCaprio’s sweet Italian friend in Titantic. Remember him?

And on a not-at-all minor note is Theo, who is about to star in his own book, Fire Maidens: Greece! I can’t wait to show you his kinder, gentler side and to introduce you to Zoe, the fiery archaeologist who turns his world upside down! That all takes place over a backdrop of ancient ruins, turquoise water along a Mediterranean island, and a picture-perfect village in the Cyclades. That’s right – another great destination for all of us to visit through the pages of a book!

On Location in Venice

The earliest outline of this story was based on my visits to Venice made years ago. Then, I traveled to Venice specifically to research details for this story, and I was flooded by ideas (pun intended, although the city was dry during my visit!). In fact, I made an entire video so you can travel there with me and witness the research process for yourself.

I’ll let the video speak for itself and just add this: Two things I enjoyed during my stay in Venice that didn’t make it into the book were my favorite meal (spaghetti alle vongole) and glass-making. The greatest “discovery” of my research trip were the outer islands of the lagoon (Burano, Mazzorbo, and Mazzorbetto). I fell in love with the islands’ laid-back, quiet vibe – a bit like Venice must have been thirty or forty years ago, I think! And the climactic scene on Torcello pretty much played itself out in my head from the moment I arrived on that quiet little island way out in the lagoon.

My favorite scene

I love the opening carnevale masked ball scenes for the swirling action, building tension, and the sparks-fly feeling when Tony and Cara first meet. I also loved when Cara paddles through Venice’s back canals with Tony. The details in that scene were all inspired by the afternoon I spent learning to row a traditional boat in Venice – a wonderful memory in so many ways.

I also loved the climactic scene on Torcello because it all played out in my mind when I was there. It’s really rewarding to translate clear images like that from my mind to the page! And finally, I love the sentimental little moments we get to witness between Tony and his grandfather, Arturo. What about you? What were your favorite scenes?

Biggest change from early drafts to final edition

The biggest change from early draft to the final version of this book was the nature of Cara’s final surprise that gets revealed at the end. At first, I was leaning toward making it something she knew about about all along but kept hidden from others. However, given what a confident, “I am who I am” person she is, it wasn’t realistic to keep that part of her personality hidden from others. So I decided to keep it secret from her too!

Another big change was the setting of the opening scene. Originally, the story was going to open with Cara paddling along a canal. Then it dawned on me that the best place to raise the curtain and invite readers into the story would be a masked ball. In the end, the book got both scenes, with the paddling-the-canals coming a few chapters later on. I think it works well that way. What do you think?

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes of Fire Maidens: Venice, and I look forward to sharing the inside scoop onFire Maidens: Greece next! Happy reading and talk to you soon!