It's been just over a year since the publication of The Rose of Florence, and it's taken some time to organise my thoughts for Book #2. Should I do something completely different? I considered it (briefly), but unsurprisingly, I kept coming back to Renaissance Florence. It's where my heart is, and it has such a rich source of history, art, people...and stories.

The Rose was set in 1478, when Florence was under the influence of the powerful Medici family. Much of the wonderful art and architecture that we see today was created during that time, thanks to the patronage of wealthy men, such as Lorenzo The Magnificent, Il Magnifico. There was feasting and fornicating aplenty! Of course, not everyone approved of such a society, and it didn't take long before Florence came under the influence of the Dominican friar from Ferrara, Girolamo Savonarola. This powerful preacher condemned the corruption that was rife in government and the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Pope at the time was Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope, but that's a whole other story! With the Medici family now banished, Savonarola had managed to successfully negotiate peace with invading French forces and also create a more democratic government. Florence was now a republic, but a republic with Savonarola behind it.

Statue of Savonarola (Ferrara) - AMS, March 2018

He preached that Florence was to be the New Jerusalem, a City of God, if the people of Florence followed his words. After generations of plague and poverty, crime and corruption, the appetite for God's promises was ravenous, and the people were fanatical in their support of the Dominican friar. Groups of boys and men, known as the Piagnoni (or weepers/wailers), would move from house to house, collecting items of vanity, anything that would turn thoughts away from God. Items such as cosmetics, mirrors, playing cards and non-religious artworks were all condemned to a Bonfire of the Vanities.

So, dear reader, this is the background I chose for Book #2. Its current working title is Hiding the Flame, and not just because of the link with the Bonfire of the Vanities. You'd be disappointed if that's all it was!

The story starts in 1496, eighteen years after The Rose ended. It's not all fire and brimstone. Botticelli is still prolific in his work and makes a number of appearances in my story, although it is believed that he also was heavily influenced by Savonarola's preaching. In what is strictly a man's world, strong female characters try to make their own way in life with whatever skills and tools they have.

Detail of the 3 Graces from Primavera - Sandro Botticelli

Is it a sequel to The Rose of Florence? In a way, I suppose it is, but it will be a story that will stand alone. If you have read The Rose, though, you will recognise some of the same characters. Which characters are you hoping will return?

PS: I would like to think that Hiding the Flame will be published sometime in 2025. Let's hope my publisher, Romaunce Books, likes it!
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