This past Wednesday, in The British Institute of Florence we had our first Cultural Programme of the season. This fall there are cultural talks all the way until almost Christmas, the last one being on the 17th of December, and as usual they happen every Wednesday night at 6PM.
This Wednesday our guest speaker was Cristobel Kent, an English writer living in Florence. Christobel had already been here once, about 4 years ago when she talked about why she was beginning to write her criminal novels and more particularly, why she chose her location to be Florence as opposed to her homeland, England. During the past 4 years, she has written five books, all with the same main character in it – Detective Sandro Cellini. The last book that was published is called “The Killing Room”. She is supposed to write only one more, last book to complete the series. But is she ready to leave her character behind? Or like she said “put him at rest”? That was what she discussed in the talk on Wednesday which was naturally, as if to complete the cycle, called “Finishing a series of crime novels”.
Christobel’s presentation was interesting because it was very personal and showed the audience something that many of us often wonder as readers, which is the question of what the author is thinking and what process they go through when writing their books. Christobel said that a major part of the reason she started this crime series in Florence is because to her Florence was the perfect setting – a beautiful, but small town which she felt comfortable writing about because she knew so well and could grasp all its locations and parts. A town that has the brightest and most beautiful aspects, but it also has its dark side. Now, she is divided whether she can really leave her character behind and not write about him ever again. It was interesting to hear her talk about many authors’ connection and attachment to the characters they create and their obvious inability to let them go. She mentioned many authors, like Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes, who continued to write novels about the same hero and like she said “even killed their characters just to bring them back to life”.
But even if Christobel Kent is convinced by circumstances to stop writing about Florence, it doesn’t mean she is stopping her career as a writer. Even she said that her publisher suggested to her she goes back to writing about her home, Britain. She talked a lot about location being a key segment to her writing and the fact that if she moves to Britain she would need to find a place, not like London, where her writing can flourish.
It was very interesting to see such a personal presentation of the decision-making process of a writing because she shared her thoughts on why and how she is deciding to finish a series, while still noting that her decision is not finalized and she might change her mind. In any case, we will be looking out for what her next steps are and what other books she comes up with in the future!
Here is a list of the Christobel Kent Florence series:
“The Drowning River”
“A murder in Tuscany”
“The dead season”
“A darkness descending”
“The killing room”