Autumn With An Author: Kathleen Gonzalez

I have loved Venice since the beginning of my time, in fact, with all the lives I lived, I know to have been there in the 1700s, therefore anyone who writes about Venice becomes my hero instantly. I met author Kathleen Gonzalez from San Jose, CA, many years ago though the Little Italy organization I am a member of. Her writing about Venice takes me back to so many familiar places, emotions and experiences. I will let her tell the story.

Kathleen Gonzalez – Photo credit: Marie Ohanesian Nardin
  1. Your latest novel “A Beautiful Woman In Venice” portrays Venetian women from the Middle Ages to the end of the Republic. Previously you wrote other books about Venice. Where did the love of Venice come from?

I first fell in love with Venice when I visited it with my students in 1996. Within minutes of seeing the Grand Canal and the palaces, I was smitten and felt compelled to return that summer. That began a love affair with the city, and I return nearly every year. When I can’t be in Venice, I read about it, which led me to also write about it and its people and history. I simply can’t get enough of this unique city and its rich history.  

A Beautiful Woman in Venice – Kathleen Gonzalez

2. Did you do extensive research about Venice?

Yes, I first researched gondolas and gondoliers, and then delved into the writings and history surrounding Giacomo Casanova. I eventually wrote a book about sites in Venice that Casanova visited–for meals, trysts, gambling, spying, conversation, and other aspects of his life. 

After that book, I delved into the stories of Venetian women and their remarkable lives–stories that I want to highlight and share with others. For A Beautiful Woman in Venice, there weren’t many books about the women I was studying, but I found articles, chapters, letters, artwork—sometimes only in Italian, which took me more time to read. I used over 250 sources and reached out to a number of other experts who helped me find the details I needed.

Nowadays I’m learning more about artisans, glass and beads, festivals, the ecosystem–basically, it never ends!


3. Do you think there is a common thread between the Venetian women of a different era and the women in the world of today? If yes, what issues women are still battling?

What a great question! Venetian women were often expected to stay at home, raise the children, and not have much agency in their lives. They deferred to men’s needs and wishes, or stepped aside so that men could take the limelight. Many women today still face this pressure, though things are changing. So many Venetian women writers, composers, and thinkers weren’t given credit for their ideas; men created the narrative that a woman couldn’t have done that work, and they tried to discredit the women or ruin their reputations. While this blatant chauvinism isn’t so prevalent, similar treatment of women’s ideas and work still shows up. 

4. What would you say to Giacomo Casanova if you met him today?

I’m sure I would be completely tongue-tied! I’d probably run away, afraid that he’d try to seduce me away from my wonderful husband or that he’d find my intellect not up to his standards. He loved smart women. But if I did manage to say anything, I’d probably ask him what he was most proud of—One of his writings? The French Lottery? Friendships he developed? The pleasure he gave others? His memoirs weren’t published till long after his death; I’d like to know what he thinks of the legacy he and his History of My Life have left, both the false stereotypes and the contributions to our understanding of the eighteenth century. 

I asked this question of my blog readers, and they offered the following: “Who was your most influential friend?” “What would you change about your life or what would you have done differently?” “What experience stands out the most to you?”

Seductive Venice In Casanova’s Footsteps

5. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym, as Bernardo Guardi did, impersonating a man writer in the film Casanova, but in reality Bernardo Guardi was a woman?

Haha! No, I’m proud of my past work and happy to use my real name. My first published story was about my father and his cousins, and I felt so proud when it was accepted for publication in an anthology of Latina writers. And I love to support other writers, male and female, and be a role model or inspiration if possible (though my success is quite modest). I’ve nothing to hide.

6. What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

This is tricky. Let me give you an example. When I first wrote Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps, I included an anecdote about his brief affair Casanova had with Giustiniana Wynne. The story is comical, and I approached it with a light tone. However, I later did extensive research into Giustiniana Wynne’s life and discovered that she was a serious scholar credited by many with initiating a genre known as anthropological fiction. I realized that my earlier writing about her didn’t give her due credit and may have given readers an unfair image of her value and contributions. Since then, I’ve really tried to be faithful and respectful to the person’s legacy; where I don’t know their motivations or emotions or interior life, I try to step back as a writer and leave some blanks rather than make up something that I don’t know to be true. I have great respect for the people I write about, and I hope that comes across in my biographies. 

7. Do people in Italy know you wrote a few books about Venice?

Yes, I’m fortunate to have a publisher in Venice, Giovanni DiStefano, the owner of Supernova Edizioni. He has published my Casanova book, which is titled there as Casanova’s Venice: A Walking Guide and is also available in Italian, translated by my friends Tiziana Businaro and Adriano Contini. Supernova also published A Beautiful Woman in Venice and a short book about one of the women, the Jewish scholar Sarra Copia Sulam. My last two anthologies, First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts, and Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth, have been promoted in Venice on social media, the radio, and other media, and the proceeds are donated to grassroots organizations that preserve Venetian culture and the environment. Most of the authors of these two books are Venetians, so they have shared the books widely. I may not be on a bestseller list, but I’m very happy that my work is shared and has been used by other creators; for example, my research on Venetian women glassmakers was incorporated into a short play performed at a summer festival. Book sales would be wonderful, but even more gratifying is knowing that my work is being used by others and helps people learn more about the people and stories behind my favorite city.

8. Do you like to write about romance?

Romance is not a particular focus of my writing. I don’t feel equipped to write fiction, and romance is usually only a side story in most of the research I do. That being said, Casanova was an expert at romancing women! So I do have a little practice trying to depict his love affairs and encounters. 

9. How long does it take you to write a book?

This depends on so many factors. I have a full-time job teaching high school, so I have to fit in writing on school breaks or evenings. My first book took me about eight years because I had no idea what I was doing and spent a lot of time with an excellent writing group finding my way and revising extensively. Writing my Casanova guidebook necessitated a trip to Venice to write the walking directions and completing some of the research, plus I relied heavily on other Casanovists to share resources and knowledge, so that stretched out the timeline. I similarly reached out to many experts when writing A Beautiful Woman in Venice, and that sort of communication adds a lot of time to the process. That being said, though, Beautiful Woman took about two years. I completed it in lightning speed considering how much research went into it. 

10. Do you have many unpublished books? If not, what are your plans for the future?

I have a lot of ideas, but nothing that’s just sitting in a drawer waiting to be published. I’m currently doing a series of blog interviews with Venetian artisans that I met this summer. I’m also slowly working on a second edition of Beautiful Woman, adding three more chapters. Beyond that, I’m considering a book of vintage postcards that feature gondolas and messages to and from people in many countries, in many languages. Does that sound like something people would want to buy? For many years, I’ve also gathered ideas for a book of historical tidbits; I won’t say anything more specific so no one can steal the idea! I also have a series of blog posts on Casanova sites in Rome, which some day may become a book. 

Author Biography

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez has published with various periodicals and on the Internet and has stories in three anthologies. She has independently-published six books: A Beautiful Woman in Venice, Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps, Free Gondola Ride, A Small Candle, First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts, and Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic Rebirth. She sells through bookstores, websites, promotional events, and in Venice, Italy, with Supernova Edizioni, who also published her book A Living Memory: Immortality for Sarra Copia Sulam.

For marketing purposes, she keeps five websites, Facebook and Linkedin pages, a YouTube channel, and a WordPress blog and presents at local bookstores or community events. She contributed to a collaborative book about teaching English, published by Pearson in 2013. Gonzalez was quoted in Smithosonian magazine and by the BBC for her Casanova research and published articles on Casanova in l’Intermediaire des Casanovistes and Casanoviana. Her research on Casanova has also been used in a French TV documentary, a 2017 biography, the art exhibit “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe,” all about Casanova’s life, and in a local performance about women glassmakers in Venice. Author Dianne Hales has also incorporated Gonzalez’s work into her own books. As an English teacher, Kathleen Ann Gonzalez has won various awards and recognition for her work. After 20 years at public schools, she now teaches at the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California. Passionate about travel, Gonzalez finds any excuse to hop on an airplane, particularly to Venice. More details about her books are available at www.Kathleenanngonzalez.com

Author website:

www.Kathleenanngonzalez.com

A Beautiful Woman in Venice

Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps

My Blog Seductive Venice

Facebook

YouTube channel for A Beautiful Woman in Venice:

********

Allow me a small presentation of my books.


https://www.amazon.com/Valentina-Cirasola/e/B0031A02H2


Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion designer, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. She has conceived a few new books of various subjects to which she is working simultaneously. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel. Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. allan hudson
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 07:29:42

    An interesting lady. I enjoyed the interview.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Marje @ Kyrosmagica
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 06:11:04

    Sounds fascinating. Great interview with Karhleen, Valentina. I visited Venice with my hubby and really loved it, would like to go again one day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. robbiesinspiration
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 05:41:38

    Hello Valentina, this is a great author interview. I loved meeting Kathleen and learning about her books and interest in Casanova. I know the name/expression Casanova more as a comment made to vain men. I’m going over to have a look at the YT video.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. seductivevenice
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 04:05:00

    Reblogged this on seductivevenice and commented:
    Grazie mille to Valentina Cirasola for interviewing me for her blog! She created such interesting questions with ideas I hadn’t pondered before. I hope you’ll also check out her blog and books and find more to love about Italy and Venice.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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