I began writing The Restorer more than 15 years ago while I was working as a conservator in a deconsecrated church in the Mugello. Harsh and austere, the Mugello is quite the opposite from the sunny rolling hills of the Siena region with which most people associate Tuscany. It is a rusty coloured district with sharp bladed mountains and stone houses that look far from welcoming and yet the Mugello is breathtaking in its rugged beauty. I don’t think I knew what being cold meant until I began working in that church. Ice became my morning battle as I broke it off the scaffolding tubes and crushed the frozen surface of my water supplies. Even the cockroaches, in an attempt to keep warm, would huddle underneath my buckets in a gleaming mass of blackness. How could anyone with a minimum amount of imagination resist such a site. I rewrote The Restorer from scratch five times, which made me feel like a modern-day Penelope, weaving words into sentences during the day whilst unthreading the plot during the night. It was hard work, but exciting. By the time I finished the book I sort of had an agent and sort of had a publisher but both disappeared from the picture in the same strange way in which they had originally appeared. A six hundred square meter wall painting project in Spain took me away from Italy for over a year, forcing me to abandon The Restorer in a draw where it remained warm and snug for about ten years until Jason Beacon, the publisher of Guerilla books, phoned me one day saying those six words that all writers long to hear; I want to publish your book.
I am currently working on two other manuscripts, a very dark and enticing tale called Animal Skin Glue and The Shoemaker, which is the story of a nineteenth century cobbler who learns how to manipulate people through the art of shoemaking.