Goodreads asked Gayle Ridinger:

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Gayle Ridinger One day in 2007, when I was enjoying summer vacation at my parents’ place in America and not in ‘any book-writing phase’, Paolo wrote me an email about his idea. There was already a young American reporter reporting on the Italians who fought in the American Civil War. There was the old suitcase full of relics connected to a treasure, which put her life in danger. In short, the start was similar to that of our final book. The ending, however, was a battle between the occult powers within the Catholic Church and some other secret forces. Fortunately this Dan Brown sort of thing got dropped immediately. In any case, Paolo was launching a proposal and a sort of challenge. A novel about Italians and Americans not done in the usual way and under the guise of a best-seller whodunit. I found it interesting.

We are both international types who know each other’s culture very well. I’m of Italian origin on my mother’s side and have lived in Italy for 30 years. Paolo has worked and traveled in America. But in some ways we are fundamentally ‘marked’ by our native countries, and we wanted that to resonate in the book. Above all, we wanted the parts about America to emerge in an American voice and the parts about Italy to emerge from an authentically Italian point of view. Some playful irony perhaps, but no false nostalgia. And then there was the realization that we counter-balanced each other in terms of our passionate interest in history. I had devoured Civil War novels as a teenager and knew Gettysburg well for family reasons; now here in Italy I was enjoying Paolo’s readiness to narrate at the drop of a hat all the battles that had taken place for Italian unification; he’d point out the car window at the countryside and I could see it all happening before my eyes. The realization that the Risorgimento and the Civil War occurred around the same time started our minds going. The fact that President Lincoln asked Garibaldi, the hero of the Italian Risorgimento, to lead Union troops in the Civil War whetted our imagination.

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more