Author Laury A. Egan answers questions about her new novel, Jenny Kidd.
What is the working title of the book? Jenny Kidd
Where did the idea come from for the book? I wrote a short story, “The Mime,” prior to beginning the novel, and though their styles and moods are very different, it fired me up to use Venice as a setting for a long work. I’ve also visited Venice three times, the last to teach a photographic location workshop, so the city is very clear in my mind.
What genre does your book fall under? Psychological suspense. While the book has quite a bit of forward movement, there is also a significant amount of character development. The protagonist, Jenny Kidd, is a young artist who is desperately trying to move her career to a higher level and travels to Venice to do so, also trying to escape from her overpowering father. Jenny is not exactly naïve, but she is searching for who she is. Thus, it is my hope that the novel has more stuff to it than a simple suspense tale.
Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Having just watched Claire Danes’ outstanding performance in Homeland, she might do very well as Jenny, if she is less forceful. For Caterina and Sebastiano Barbon—we probably would need two very seductive, elegant Italian actors. Joshua might be a good fit for Jake Gyllenhaal. The female dandy, Randi Carroll—no idea! Several readers have commented that Jenny Kidd would make an excellent film—probably because of the lush setting.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? At a masked ball at the Palazzo Barbon, Jenny Kidd, a young American artist, meets the seductive Caterina Barbon and her brother, Sebastiano, who entice Jenny into a world of glittering façades that cloak sexual perversion, art forgery, and murder.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? The first draft took approximately a year, but the editing and polishing took almost a second year…and then there was the process of editing the proof stages…several months there. Although I am not a slow writer, I try to be patient about the next stages and not get over-excited and persuaded by my own prose.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? The primary inspiration was the city of Venice itself and the effect of several movies I’ve seen, especially Don’t Look Now with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland—a brilliant evocation of Venice’s beauty and darker side. Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice also created a languid, sexual mood that has always fascinated me. Additionally, my work has sometimes been compared to Patricia Highsmith’s, who was an early influence. Her novels place the innocent protagonist in a place/situation where he/she makes one wrong move and slowly becomes ensnared in a claustrophobic nightmare. This is very much in keeping with the plot of Jenny Kidd.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Reviewer Jerry L. Wheeler, in addition to calling the book “a little gem” and “a top-notch thriller,” also wrote: “Egan’s descriptions of the food, the art, and the general atmosphere are as purposeful as they are evocative. Her prose is full-bodied and elegant, and she makes prosecco and prosciutto as sumptuous as the work of Titian and Tintoretto.” This comment pleased me enormously because I love Venice’s food, art, culture, and ambience and tried to portray these with enthusiasm and care.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Jenny Kidd was published by Vagabondage Press and is not self-published (none of my books are). The book is available in paperback and eBook formats through the publisher, bookstores, and on-line retailers as is my collection, Fog and Other Stories (from StoneGarden.net Publishing), which contains “The Mime” mentioned above. I’m particularly proud of these stories, most of which have been individually published in literary journals. I would love to find representation by a literary agency and have a manuscript on the desk of several at the moment, but it is very tough to interest an agent these days, particularly when one writes for a complex market.