Linda Lappin

award-winning writer and writing teacher

Scene from Hitchcock's The Birds, adapted from Daphne Du Maurier's story

Islands are 4 Writers

View of the Port of Kiel

My first typewriter in Italy was a Lettera 22 Olivetti

Persephone in Bomarzo

The Mermaid with Two Tails

The Chimera of Arezzo, subject of Ugo Bardi's Il Libro della Chimera


The Hell Mouth of Bomarzo


Books, Essays, and More

NOVELS
A New Mystery Novel Set in Bomarzo published in 2013 by Caravel Books, an Imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio
Runner up in Fiction, New York Book Festival, 2010 "Haunted... vivid... entrancing"... Kirkus Reviews Click here to read reviews, watch videos, and download the free Readers' Guide for Book Groups. The revised edition is now on KINDLE
Katherine's Wish "A dazzling bit of fictional sorcery" David Lynn, editor Kenyon Review A new novel about the lives of Katherine Mansfield and her circle Gold Medal Winner in Historical Fiction, IPPY Awards
Writing Women's Lives
Essay on the life of the artist, Jeanne Hebuterne, wife of Modigliani
An essay about Katherine Mansfield

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A Writer's Life in Rome & Tuscia

DH Lawrence and The Etruscan Door of the Soul

July 20, 2015

Tags: Etruscans, Linda Lappin, Tuscia, DH Lawrence, DH Lawrence in Italy, Etruscan Places, The Etruscan

An Etruscan Tomb in Tuscia
D.H. Lawrence returned to Italy in 1927 after a soul-searching pilgrimage through Mexico, the American Southwest, Ceylon, Australia, and New Zealand. Gravely ill with tuberculosis, unaware of how little time he had left (he died three years later at the age of 44), Lawrence sought an ideal land where he might flourish as a "whole man alive" and find an antidote for the alienation of industrialized society.
Lawrence's last pilgrimage led him to the Etruscan ruins north of Rome. His idea was to write a travel book about the twelve great cities of Etruscan civilization. (The Etruscans were a sophisticated people who settled in the Italian peninsula between 900 and 800 B.C. and brought with them commerce and industry, greatly influencing the rise of the Roman kingdom.) Lawrence rejected the contemporary, scholarly views of the time: that Etruscans were inferior to the ancient Romans. Lawrence's approach to the Etruscans was highly personal and unscientific, yet his book, Etruscan Places, has shaped modern readers' ideas of this vanished people more than any other text.
Traveling on foot and by mule cart, Lawrence explored Tuscia-a wild, wooded area between Rome and Tuscany, where the center of Etruscan culture was located. He visited the frescoed tombs of Tarquinia and the rougher rock tombs of Cerveteri, as well as the sites of Vulci and Volterra. In the Etruscans, Lawrence found a life-affirming culture which exalted the body and which saw death as a journey towards renewal. The art decorating their tombs, eloquently described in Etruscan Places, bears witness to their faith in an unending joy.
The tombs Lawrence admired are easy to visit today, well-connected to Rome and Florence by a system of trains and buses. In Vulci and Volterra, museums offer informative displays on Etruscan history. In the frescoes of Tarquinia, pipers play on as red-skinned dancers perform to the delight of thousands of tourists per year. And copies of Etruscan Places are for sale everywhere. The mystery Lawrence relished may best be found off the tourist track-in the rock tombs carved along the ravines at Cerveteri and neighboring areas.
To get a sense of what these sites were like in Lawrence's time, while doing research for my novel. The Etruscan set in Lawrence's era, I recently visited one of the lesser known areas-out in the countryside, off the main road. Covered with ivy, the huge tombs carved in cliffs face out upon a ravine. Wandering through the tall weeds, I approached a tumulus where a tall doorway led into a chamber hollowed in the rock. There at the back stood the fake door, which Lawrence called the door of the soul, as it had no real opening and was only painted or carved on the wall surface. I think of Lawrence sitting in a chamber like this one, contemplating the door of the soul-a barrier for the body, but not for the imagination. More than a travel book, his Etruscan Places is a spiritual testament celebrating the power of the imagination to carry us into other dimensions in search of the source of life.

My Writing Process Blog Tour

January 16, 2014

Tags: writing process, jj marsh, adrianne kalfopoulou, patricia borlenghi, The Etruscan, Teresa Cutler-Broyles

Thanks to Geneva-based mystery writer, JJ Marsh , creator of the exciting Beatrice Stubbs mystery series, for including me in this blog tour on the writing progress. See her insightful updates on the writing process and follow her interviews with contemporary writers here .

For this blog tour, I was asked to answer the following questions:

The Writing Process: What am I working on now?
Currently I am involved in a project I never dreamed I’d do: a screenplay of my first novel THE ETRUSCAN and I am finding it very hard going. Firstly because my novel presents multiple points of view on a central love story that has an open ending. In the book, there is a narrative frame constructed from a shifting third person point of view with a first person narrative / diary inserted at the core. This device allowed me to maintain an ambiguous status for the central story narrated by the main character, Harriet: is the text found in her journal a true account, a dream, an allegory, a roman a clef, a work of fiction? Who is the shape -shifting count, Federigo del Re, really? Different readers have had very different reactions to the characters and storyline. In working with the screenplay, I find that I cannot keep the same ambiguity and maintain multiple viewpoints with the same flexibility that you can in fiction. So that, along with the general compression of time and action required, is quite a challenge. Working on this screen play may influence my fiction technique in the future, too.

I am also involved in other projects too: a final draft of my writing textbook based on the Soul of Place, for which I am still thrashing about for a proper title. Exercises from this book have begun to appear in places like The Writer ( Katabasis, Your Journey to Hell and Back, June 2013; Crafting a Quest Narrative: Pilgrim’s Tales upcoming in March) and editing of my memoir, Postcards of a Tuscan Interior, sections of which have appeared previously on my website. One section was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize. I have two novels in different draft stages. The Brotherhood of Miguel a spiritual adventure novel set in Rome and elsewhere is in its final draft. I am doing a sequel to my recent Signatures in Stone entitled Melusine, in which the heroine Daphne must solve a mystery related to mermaids in Bolsena lake.
Last but not least I am working with Southwestern artist Carolyn Florek of Mutabilis press to create a Tarot deck based on my mystery novel SIGNATURES IN STONE, set in Bomarzo’s monster park. Pieces have been posted on Signatures Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/SignaturesInStone

How does my work differ from that of other writers working in the same genre?
One aspect of my work is that it combines genres or sometimes spills over borders . The Etruscan is literary fiction, but also a mystery, and to some, an intertextual puzzle with elements of pastiche. Some readers find in it a Rebecca –like atmosphere, with modern gothic overtones, others find it nineteenth-century. And yet its unreliable narrator, open ending, ambiguity, metafictional aspirations and altered chronology at the end are meant to be “experimental,” or at least deviate from the forms of mainstream fiction. I was pleased that one critic likened it to The Magus, as it was partly my intent to create a strange story with surreal elements.
Katherine’s Wish, based on the last five years of Katherine Mansfield’s life, was the product of much research and piecing together of fragments. It has been called “fictional biography,” “creative scholarship,” “creative nonfiction,” and a work of historical fiction. Signatures in Stone, instead is definitely a mystery story: but is it a house mystery, a murder mystery, or an art history mystery? It is a bit of all three, there being at least three separate mysteries, existing on three different levels, that must be solved. I like to work with different forms and bend them in new shapes.
Why do I write what I do?
I am inspired by places, by the soul of place. For my books set in Italy, I have had years to absorb influences and crystalize them into fiction or nonfiction. It was a very short visit to the Prieure, outside Paris where Katherine Mansfield died, that set in motion a process that would end in Katherine’s Wish. I guess I find myself stumbling over or into what some critics might call landscape narratives, stories embedded in places which we intersect from time to time.

How does my writing process work?
After an initial spark of inspiration, I work in spurts, sometimes spending long uninterrupted periods at the computer and not stopping until I am satisfied. But I try to leave something out at the end, to have an idea where I am going to go next when I pick it up again. Once I have something substantial, several pages of something that hangs together, I print out and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, but first I need some kind of draft to work with. I find it very hard to schedule time every day for fiction writing, although I do write most every day – essays, reviews, blogs, etc. but I need a special kind of psychic compression to work on fiction

Now I would like to introduce the three writers who will be continuing this blog tour next week : Click on their names to visit their websites.

Patricia Borlenghi, published by Bloomsbury, is the author of children’s books, adult fiction, and food memoirs highly praised by Jamie Oliver, and now publisher of Patrician Press, a small independent and courageous literary press located in Essex. http://www.patricianpress.com/bookauthor/patricia-borlenghi/ She is about to publish her historical novel Zaira about a peasant girl coming of age and improving her status through self-education in late nineteenth century Northern Italy. See her blog @ Patrician Press Blog

Adrianne Kalfopoulou, poet, critic, and essayist, lives in Athens where she teaches at the Hellenic American University. She is also adjunct professor of creative writing for NYU and teaches in several international workshops. Her poetry collections are available from Red Hen Press. Her blog, Greek Voices, Inside
offers an insider’s perspective on the current turmoil in Greece.

Teresa Cutler Broyles has been writing professionally since 1992, traveling to Italy regularly since 2000, and teaching writing (and film) classes since 2001. In 2008 she combined these three passions and started her business, TLC Writing Tours, and leads Writing and Cultural Tours to Italy. When she’s not traveling and teaching, she writes Young Adult and historical novels, travel essays, and creative nonfiction. Twitter: @TLCWritingTours. Facebook