Winning Over Italy

Red Herrings and Crazy Waters


Now I sit, nervous and panicking, as I try to look casually intelligent and interesting. Occupying a comfortable plastic-coated armchair, which refuses to yield and lets my body slip slowly down until I’m almost horizontal. A microphone is placed before my mouth as I try to regain some dignity in front of media and audience and answer questions.

“So what’s your book about?”

Somehow, I manage to convey something close to the truth…in two half-languages which must be confusing to everyone; me, the journalist holding his amplified grilling machine and the occupied chairs in front of me.


It’s been a long adventure; literally, literary and metaphorically. I’m shattered from the two flights from Reggio at 6.00am to arrive at the Torino Book Festival 12 hours later and give an interview. Incredibly, after its release 5 months ago, I’ve been invited to present my first novel at Europe’s most prestigious book fair. It has been a long, long journey, which started before Covid and, in hindsight, probably kept me sane throughout the pandemic. Two books written, first published and released, the sequel in translation.

To be honest I had anticipated more rejections (something I’d got used to over the years, mainly from women) but found myself with two offers. I chose the more hands on Cristallo to the Milan option, which required longer trips for meetings, particularly as I was in virgin territory.


This day in Torino was my introduction to the world as a bona fide author. When I held the first copy (written and published in both Italian and English …my clever publisher’s idea) I almost trembled. I was a kid again, I couldn’t believe it. “My Precious”

It has taught me many things about writing and language, many things about sacrifice and finding the right environment (bar) to compose.

The book is called Acqua Pazza (crazy water), a spicy dish from Napoli and integral to the story. It is a story of a crime and betrayal encompassing life in Southern Italy. A development of my old blog (Winning over Italy). A travel book as much as a mystery, an outside view of a culture; its food and wines, a climate as warm as its generous people and a place where my heart now belongs.

But! Try translating idioms! Fish analogies don’t travel, but if the red herrings don’t, I hope the story and my darker humour does.