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What inspired the story, “The Haunted Palazzo?”
This story was so much fun to write. I’ll confess a secret. It was originally a chapter in the book Will Write for Wine, but I pulled it out because it slowed down the pacing to have this crazy ghost-busting side-bar happen in the last few chapters. If you read Will Write for Wine and you think, “Wait a minute. What happened to the idea of Alexis and Jennifer spending a night in a haunted palazzo?” Then this is the story you’ve been waiting for.
Every palazzo in Venice has a ghost story, as does every campo, canal, and calle. The book in the story that the two main characters read while passing the time with a bottle of wine, Venetian Legends and Ghost Stories, A Guide to Places of Mystery in Venice, is a real book, and where I learned about the feud between the two Venetian factions of the nicolotti and the castellani.
The parish records of Venice are extremely well preserved and filled with secret marriages, which weren’t so secret. The marriage and specific motivations I created for this story are fictitious, but marriages between the two opposing factions often occurred. There was even a church with separate entrances created for each faction so that weddings could be attended without brawls breaking out.
Something humorous I learned while researching this story and Venice’s smelly infrastructure of sewage chutes and tunnels, is that both Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins wrote stories set in Venice, but about palazzos with extensive basements. From what I’ve researched, and from the many issues with flooding that Venice suffers, it would be impossible for a basement to exist. In Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Cask of Amontillado, 1846, the two characters “passed down a long and winding staircase” below a palazzo and travel through an extensive tunnel system seeking the vault with the infamous wine cask. Poe never specifically says the story takes place in Venice, but the characters are speaking of “Italian vintages,” it is during the “supreme madness of the Carnival season,” and specifically uses the word, “palazzo.” So I’m guessing he intended it to be Venice.
In The Haunted Hotel: A Mystery of Modern Venice, written by Wilkie Collins in 1878, the Venetian palazzo in the story that is converted into a hotel has underground dungeons that play a prominent role in the novel. If you enjoy a good gothic ghost story, this short book is great fun. However, I doubt that any palazzo in Venice has an underground dungeon, but I haven’t been in all of them, so I might be wrong. It is conceivable that a dungeon might be cut into the petrified pylons that support the buildings of Venice, but it would probably cause structural support issues and would probably flood. Everything floods in Venice.
It excites me to think about well-known authors being so enchanted with Venice that they set their stories in the magical city, but never had the opportunity to travel there. It also makes me a little sad. Poe and Collins would have loved Venice and all its glorious hauntings!
Have you ever found a basement in Venice? Write me at Sara@puckpublishing.com.
Get ready for a fun evening of stories inspired by Venetian history. Thrill to the adventures of money-laundering plague nuns, a pregnant Renaissance man, a demonic Doge at the Devil’s Bridge, and other tales of ghosts, art, and love.
Following in the footsteps of Lord Byron’s obsession with Venetian history, Alexis Lynn wrote these stories in the novel, Will Write for Wine. We proudly share these standalone stories with you over the objection of her paramour Manu, a modern-day Casanova and illegitimate descendent of Lord Byron himself.
So, pour yourself a glass of your favorite vino, let your dog or cat curl up at your feet (or let your cat do whatever it wants), and settle into these mostly … partly … somewhat true tales.
In vino est fictio.
Be a WINNER! Sara W. McBride is giving away 2 eBooks! One of each of the two featured books here in this post. Will Write for Wine and Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard! COMMENT on this post AND visit the Rafflecopter Link below to ENTER!
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Sara W. McBride, like many modern-day biological researchers, invents new swear words to sling at million-dollar machines while locked in a dark hole of a decaying academic hall. This has caused her to witness ghosts and create a romantic fantasy life within her head, which she now puts down on very non-technological paper with her favorite Jane Austen-style quill pen.
Her first novel in the Alexis Lynn series, Will Write for Wine, and the companion short story collection, Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard, both set in Venice, Italy, were recently released by Puck Publishing. She’s hard at work on the second Alexis Lynn novel, a Regency mystery series, and a haunted play. She strongly feels the world needs more haunted plays.