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In this novel, we meet four unlikely misfits seeking inspiration in the timeless Italian landscape. Soon, however, they find their destinies entangled in the meanders of the mysterious sculpture garden of Bomarzo with its freaks and monsters. Daphne, a writer with a hashish habit; Clive, an American gigolo and aspiring artist; Nigel, an English aristocrat down at the heels; and Finestone, a fly-by-night art historian all come together in a decrepit villa looked after by two Italian servants who are not what they seem. To find what they're looking for, all the characters must descend into the depths of hell. But not everyone will make it out alive.
The search for the soul of place is one of my passions as traveler, writer, and writing teacher. My work is often inspired by places: islands, ruins, old houses and buildings, and the atmospheres found there. For several years, I have been researching the "genius loci," the spirit or soul of place. The Romans and the Etruscans believed that every place--every mountain, field, body of water--had an indwelling spirit or soul, which was beneficial or harmful to human activity. And every house and household was believed to have a tutelary spirit. The soul of place was a force which shaped the character and atmosphere of a place and at the same time, an entity with which human beings were constantly interacting and communicating. This idea has stimulated me for a long time, and it has greatly influenced my writing.