This is a photo of my dear friend Tonino. He died in tragic circumstances a couple of years ago and I have never come to terms with his death, so much so that I found myself using him as the main character in the book I am writing at the moment.
I have tried to keep his personality just as it was; grumpy, sarcastic, caustic, super-intelligent but also kind and very, very funny. I am giving him the life that he should have had, letting him recover his health, retire and move to a new country and eventually fall in love with his extremely daunting estate agent.
I love my two main characters. Leonardo, (based on Tony) with his caustic wit, lack of height and love of Montalcino red wine and yellow pullovers, is the perfect foil for the formidable Miss Angelina Snow. He falls for her when he glimpses her long legs through the posters in the estate agent's window and is undetered by the fact that she towers over him, has a prickly nature that rivals his own and an equally dry sense of humour.
As the book unfolds they get caught up in all sorts of adventures that have me grinning as I tap away at the keyboard. Sometimes I can hear his voice in my head and remember the look he would give me whenever I said something daft. He keeps me from getting too wordy or too romantic and makes sure that I stop work at the right moment to open a bottle of wine, or why not two!
I miss my friend a lot more than he would have imagined. I am not sure if he knew how much I cared about him but I hope so. It was hard to write the opening chapter, taking the accident where Tony drowned and turning it into a near death experience that is almost funny instead of tragic. After that however the book began to unfold really quickly, other characters made their presences felt and are now my constant companions as I move around the house or try to get to sleep at night.
I am so lucky - writing is fun and wonderful. I disappear inside my own head completely at times but fortunately Guido is always there to remind me that it is dinner time. If I am lucky that news will be accompanied by the smell of a yummy garlicky pasta sauce and the sound of a cork popping.
There, just heard it - Pour me a big glass and one for Tonino too - we will toast friendship tonight.