I am very excited to welcome fellow author, Fiona Leitch to my blog. Her debut book, Dead in Venice, is hands-down the funniest book I’ve read in years―I was laughing out loud on page one. It is also one of the sexiest and most gruesome! yes, you read that correctly. Dead in Venice is a romcom meets crime thriller. You can read more about the book below, but first, let’s chat to Fiona!
Tell us what inspired you to write Dead in Venice?
I’ve always been fascinated by Venice, even before I went there. I’ve always loved the sea, and the thought of a city surrounded by water just really appealed to me. When I finally visited in 2015, I fell madly in love with it. It was like every picture, every movie, every painting you’ve ever seen of Venice, only more so. Beautiful. But what really got to me was the atmosphere. It’s a city of contrasts. You’ve got the touristy areas that are absolutely rammed with people, it’s complete madness – but take a few back streets and you can soon be absolutely, utterly on your own. It’s really easy to get lost in the little passages and alleyways – even the locals get lost, because not all the streets are signposted, or the name was changed 200 years ago but everyone still uses the original name, and the house numbering is eccentric to say the least. I loved the idea of losing yourself there, not just physically but emotionally. And at night, take a wrong turn and you’ll find yourself in a dead end, with a deep dark canal blocking your way. It was easy to imagine nefarious shit going down!
When did you start writing seriously?
I first started to take it seriously 20 years ago. I wrote a sitcom pilot and sent it off to a few TV production companies in the UK – this was in the days when you could do that and they’d actually read it! I had a few meetings and phone calls, with Tiger Aspect, Hat Trick and Anne Mensah at Noel Gay (she’s now a Very Big Cheese at Sky). It all seemed to be on the verge of happening for me…and then it just didn’t. Then real life took over. I met my husband, got married and became a mum, and I didn’t write seriously again for about 14 years. I got back into it after seeing (of all things) a Marvel movie with my daughter. I’d started writing sitcoms again, low budget TV stuff, but my heart wasn’t really in it. I watched Thor and Avengers Assemble and decided I would write my own blockbuster superhero movie, just to see if I could write 90 minutes of material. And I could! I decided I was going to write movies. Dead in Venice started life as a screenplay, then a friend of mine told me they thought it would work really well as a novel. The thought of having to write all those words was terrifying, but she nagged me until I started the book and that was it – I’m hooked on writing novels now! Then Audible picked it up as one of their Crime Grant finalists and the rest, as they say…
What do you love most about being an author?
I love being able to escape, not just to different places but into different peoples’ heads. I like setting my books in exotic locations – Paris, Barcelona and Berlin to name a few – and I always like an excuse to travel. I also love writing funny female characters and getting them to say all the witty, sassy comebacks that in real life I only ever come up with two hours too late.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished novel number 4, which is the follow up to Dead in Venice, and am hoping novels 2 and 3 find a home soon! I’ve also got an ideas list as long as your arm, which I am slowly working my way through.
What do you hope readers will take away from Dead in Venice?
Without giving away any spoilers – I hope it will surprise people (I think the end twist is definitely unexpected!) and I hope it will maybe make readers ask themselves what they would do in that situation.
Here’s the blurb for Dead in Venice
AUDIBLE CRIME GRANT FINALIST 2018
Award-winning crime novelist Bella Tyson has it all: a successful career, devoted fans – and a bad case of writer’s block. So when a fan sends her a book of Venetian ghost stories and offers her the use of an apartment near Piazza San Marco, Bella jumps at the chance to get her Eat Pray Love on, consume her bodyweight in gelato and explore the atmospheric canals of Venice.
She meets Will, a mild-mannered, middle class Interpol agent working in the city, and is swept away by him. And when a series of gruesome murders occur he’s on the case – with Bella in tow.
Her writer’s block is well and truly cured, her new novel is under way, and she’s madly in love. But Bella realises that not everything in Venice is as it seems…
Praise for Dead in Venice
“Absolutely stonking book. Rom-com meets crime in such a fresh and refreshing way. Dirty laughed through half of the book and cried at the end. Amazing book.”
“Bella is the kind of heroine most women would love to be and Will the kind of man we’d love to meet. Funny, loud-mouthed, mature protagonists with flaws, curves and the kind of wit that makes Fiona Leitch’s writing reminiscent of Richard Curtis’ films.”
“Oh what fun! Hilarious and witty protagonist in one of the best cities in the world. Suspenseful and kept me hooked.”
“Ms Leitch’s light tone contrasts with the very serious subject matter, which makes it all the more emotional and powerful. It is in turn horrifying, funny, tender, hopeful, or sad. This is a courageous book, devoid of sentimentality but full of sentiment.”
“A combination of gritty crime thriller, hilarious romcom, with a splash of the heart-wrenching emotions. And it works.”
“An entertaining mash-up of romcom and crime.”
“DEAD IN VENICE made me fall in love with fiction again.”
Buy Dead in Venice
Follow Fiona on socials (she’s just as much fun online as she is on the page)