Writing a novel is a leap of faith—a very long leap of faith in my case. Fortunately for me, many wonderful people propelled my leap and ensured a soft landing. Thanks first to my intrepid group of women friends (whom I’ve known since childhood) for being the first people to listen to me read excerpts from early drafts of The Towers of Tuscany: Cathy Hamre, Selinde Krayenhoff, Jean Leckie, and Elizabeth Wilson. Your encouragement means more to me than I can say. Thanks also to the many other good friends and family members who have patiently listened to me ramble on about the novel in its various iterations, particularly Pam Conrad, Paul Cram, Carol Grieves, Katharine Vingoe-Cram, and Stephanie Williams.
And now to the pros who helped me whip The Towers of Tuscany into shape. First up is Cathleen With, my mentor in Betsy Warland’s Vancouver Manuscript Intensive program. Cathleen’s good humour and encouragement were golden. Thanks also to Betsy Warland for getting the ball rolling with her insightful line editing. What a gift she gave me! A huge thank you to Dr. Efrat El-Hanany, who generously shared her expertise about fourteenth-century Italian art and read the manuscript twice to ferret out historical errors. If any remain, they are my fault. Thank you also to Mark MacDonnell of the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna for answering my questions about valuing a painting from fourteenth-century Siena and to the wonderful staff at San Gimignano 1300, a museum containing an amazing scale model of the town of San Gimignano as it looked in 1300.
Production of the novel involved the talents of cover designer John Dowler on Bowen Island, gorgeous photographer Heather Pennell, awesome proofreader Davina Haisell, and most especially the eagle eye of copy editor extraordinaire Heather Sangster of Strong Finish in Toronto. Thank you! Thank you!
And finally, I would not be able to write a word if it wasn’t for the constant, ongoing, and unconditional support of my beautiful daughter, Julia Simpson; my incredible mom, Ruby Cram, who also read many drafts of the novel and provided invaluable critiques; and my soul mate, partner, and best friend, Gregg Simpson. Love you!