Donna Leon - Meet the Author - 2005 (Random House UK)


In 2005 Donna Leon appeared at a Meet the Author event, most likely in England.
Random House UK has put a series of video interviews of this event on their website.
For your convenience, we have transcribed her comments and put them here.
(© 2005 Random House UK)


"DEATH IN A STRANGE COUNTRY, which is the second of the books deals with the murder of a young American soldier. There’s an American military base, an army base, about an hour from Venice to the West. And in this book a young American soldier comes up dead floating around in one of the canals. He’s been stabbed to death. And it looks like an open and shut case--a mugging. Of course in murder mysteries it’s never an open and shut case, so Brunetti has to investigate. And he goes out to the military base which gave me a great deal of fun because I worked there for a long time. It allows me to allow an Italian to look at the American military base and see this other planet which is only an hour from Venice. Because it is another planet. There’s Baskin Robbins and Burger King and frozen pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and even an American church so that they have the right God. And there’s those gargantuanly fat Americans lumbering about on the base and he uncovers that the murder of the young American soldier was committed in order to coverup something else. The more he investigates the more he realizes the international ramifications of this coverup, which are really pretty creepy--AND TRUE! AND TRUE!"
(Transcribed from a Video Interview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

"A NOBLE RADIANCE is an examination of the aristocratic classes of Italy, which is a republic. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that the aristocracy, which officially doesn’t exist, does persist and people in Venice at least still use the titles Conte and Countessa. Though they are not legal titles, they are sort of courtesy titles. This is a book that deals with an aristocratic family, the son of which some years before was kidnapped and disappeared. The book begins with the discovery of the young man’s body and the initial pursuit of the people who might of kidnapped and might have killed him. It leads, as do many of the books, to places where it shouldn’t lead. The case, rather than being one of an individual kidnapping of a young man, takes on a far broader scope as Brunetti begins to realize what the family-the Lorenzoni family has been involved in for the last couple of years. It’s really pretty black."
(Transcribed from a Video Interview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

"When I speak to readers and when I hear them talking, one of the characters they seem to like the most is Signorina Elettra--who I can never call Elettra, I would never think of calling her Elettra, I have to call her Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary, but also Brunetti’s secretary. A SEA OF TROUBLES, the tenth book, deals with her personal life. She falls in love with a young man, who is somehow involved in a police investigation. And under her own decision, she goes out to Pellestrina one of the long islands that blocks the laguna from the Adriatic. She goes out to a fishing village there to ask questions about a murder which has taken place and while she’s there she meets this young Italian, falls in love with him and Brunetti eventually discovers that there is a connection between the young man and the murder. And Signorina Elettra has to choose between love and duty. She’s Italian so, of course, she chooses love. And the book tells of the consequences of that decision."
(Transcribed from a Video Interview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

"UNIFORM JUSTICE is the twelfth in the series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police. In this book, Brunetti is called upon to investigate the mysterious death, suicide, of a young military cadet. He goes and examines the school, he talks to the people who are involved in this boy’s death and he begins to get the scent of the usual Venetian story, a coverup of something nasty. I hope you enjoy reading it."
(Transcribed from a Video Interview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

"DOCTORED EVIDENCE is the penultimate one--it’s just out in paper. For four years, I was persecuted in my home by the TELEVISION, THE LOUD TELEVISION of the old bat who lived across the way from me. It came across from her third floor to my third floor. I didn’t sleep in my apartment for four summers, four summers. I had to flee to the mountains because she had THE TELEVISIONS ON! The book opens, DOCTORED EVIDENCE, with a doctor who comes to the apartment of this women who keeps her TELEVISION on very loud. And he finds her battered to death; her brains all over the floor in her apartment on the third floor in Venice. The rest of the book doesn’t matter, I’m just too happy with the beginning."
(Transcribed from a Video Interview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

"BLOOD FROM A STONE, the newest of the books, deals with the problem of immigration in Venice. There are many many, hundreds probably of illegal immigrants from Senegal known as vú cumprá because they come and say ‘vú cumprá?, vú cumprá?’ ‘Do you wanna buy?’ They’re selling ripoff bags--Louis Vuitton, Missoni bags, Gucci bags which are fake and cost whatever you can bargain the price down to. In the beginning of the book, one of these black street vendors is murdered in what is obviously a contract hit and everybody in the city thinks well it’s mafia, it’s trouble, it’s racially motivated and then they find a way to quiet the whole thing up. Brunetti is unsatisfied with the explanation and discovers that there is something going on beyond what seems to be a vendetta among small groups. The more he investigates, the more he encounters evidence that it is something other than what people wanted to believe. And the more he discovers an attempt of a coverup of the murder of this black street vendor. What he discovers in the end takes the dealings of the book way beyond the limits of the city and well beyond the limits of the murder of one individual black street vendor.
I wanted to call it Vú Cumprá, which would be a great international title but my editor here said, ‘No, no, nobody’s going to understand Vú Cumprá call it something else. Well, I said BLOOD FROM A STONE, because it has to do with blood and it has to do with stones."
(Transcribed from a video inverview shown on the Random House UK website, 2005)

Donna Leon Book List
Death at La Fenice | Death in a Strange Country | The Anonymous Venetian
A Venetian Reckoning | Acqua Alta | The Death of Faith | A Noble Radiance
Fatal Remedies | Friends in High Places | A Sea of Troubles
Wilful Behaviour | Uniform Justice | Doctored Evidence | Blood From A Stone
Through a Glass Darkly | 
Suffer the Little Children | The Girl of His Dreams | About Face
A Question of Belief | Drawing Conclusions | Beastly Things | The Golden Egg
By Its Cover | Falling in Love |  | The Waters of Eternal Youth

Interviews & Articles
MHz Networks Interview with Donna Leon
April 2013 Interview on BBC's Meet the Author
Exclusive Donna Leon Interview
Donna Leon 2003 Interview - La Maga Abbandonata CD
2009 Interview by The Gypsy's Guide Blog
La Serenissima (December 2005)
An American in Venice (Washington Post) Interview
Meet The Author 2005
March 2005 Interview
New Zealand Herald Interview
Conversation about Acqua Alta (Penguin)
German Interview Translated into English
Swiss EducETH Interview (July-2004)
A Patron of the Arts of Opera and Murder
Barnes & Noble Interview
BBC Radio 4
CBS Sunday Morning
At Lunch With Donna Leon