Monday 19 November 2012


My novel, A Year's Midnight, recently published by Pighog Press, is set mainly in Umbria, Italy. Here are some pictures from the walk which George, the main character, undertakes on Christmas morning at the beginning of Part II, in an attempt to dispel a tremendous hangover. The stretch of water in the background, which might pass for an inlet of the sea, is in fact Lake Transimene, not far from where Hannibal defeated the Roman Legions in 217 BC, during an earthquake. The grey dog by the side of the path is not one of the three dogs on which the canine characters in the novel are modelled: they were all poisoned later in the 'truffle wars' (cf Rogero's remark, p 52). It wasn't that the dogs were truffle-sniffers, it was just that they ate the meat left out by one lot of truffle hunters to poison rival hunters' dogs.


As one can gather from the sunflowers, these pictures were not taken on Christmas Day, but in the middle of August. And there's the grey dog again below, beside an olive tree. She was named 'Pinup' by Fernando, her owner. I could hear Fernando frequently calling Pinup during my stays on his farm: 'Peenup! Peenup!' I came up with a groan-inducing pun which linked the Italian pronunciation of Pinup with a popular type of Italian white wine: Peenup Grigio. (Grigio meaning grey.)

The third picture below shows one of the most striking features of the Umbrian landscape: the patterns made by the rows of olive trees. It also shows another, sadder feature: an abandoned house. There are many such houses in the countryside where I used to stay. This particular house features in my novel as the place where Barbara (George's partner) and her son took a rest on their walks together, and Barbara  'doodled dog faces on a sketchpad...while the dogs hovered and panted around them, impatient to carry on' (p 40).

Quotes from A Year's Midnight, Ciaran O'Driscoll, Pighog Press 2012.

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