You never know when it will happen. You’re minding your own business, doing some legitimate book edits, when AHHHH!
You fall down the rabbit hole.
Me, I fell down a wicked one sometime back.
You see, I’m always looking for people to cast in my books. This is an author’s favorite pastime, it seems–casting the movie version of their books. There’s a group of actors who always seem to be the inspiration for the romantic male leads of these books. And sure, they’re all gorgeous, in a classic Hollywood kind of way.
But none of them look like Giovanni.
He’s been part of me for a long time, so I have a definite look in my mind for him. And all these years later, I still hadn’t found it.
Then, one day a reader looking at the prologue of Shadow of the Portico told me that she didn’t understand why I meant by a “slouchy lope.”
My character, Giovanni, is 6’3″ and much taller than pretty much everyone in early modern Bologna. So when he walks around town, he kind of slouches to try and blend in a bit, and he walks with a lope–a long stride.
But just to be safe, I looked up the word “lope” on Google.
Yes, I was right, that’s what it meant.
But wait. I noticed off to the side there were some images . . .
Woah! Hold the line . . . This is from a movie called Lope from 2010, set in the late sixteenth century (like my books), in Spain, about playwright Lope de Vega, a familiar name, but I had never read any of his stuff. But, this actor in his leather doublet . . . woah.
I looked at more photos, and a publicity shot from the movie popped up.
I found a name — Alberto Ammann. I’m afraid I hadn’t heard of him, since most of his work is in Spanish, and I don’t watch a lot of movies anyway, even the ones for which I don’t need subtitles.
But look at him: tall and lithe with that beautifully messy dark hair, the friendly approachable face, the nose slightly too big to be classically handsome. All he needed was gray eyes and glasses, and too bad he’s not Italian, but wow, close enough, I’d say.
Then I slipped further down the bunny hole and saw this spread from Marie Claire:
Great googly moogly! That smile! That smolder! I had, at long last, found my Giovanni.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be an actor. I know they kind of put themselves out there into the great wide world to be ogled. But I wonder they really expect middle-aged women authors to become obsessed with them. Crazy writers with their imaginary friends spending untold hours staring at these poor actors, completely unbeknownst to them.
Except I’m blogging about it, so I’m kind of making it . . . well, beknownst.
It’s just that we have these characters we love, and we want them to become human. Real. Perhaps that’s why authors love casting their novels. It becomes a little more corporeal for us.
Anyway, my human version of Giovanni, Alberto Ammann, is probably best known for his work as Pacho in Netflix’s Narcos, a show you couldn’t otherwise pay me to watch. I don’t do violence. They do violence. A lot of it. It’s horrifying.
He’s about as non-Giovanni as you can imagine in this show, and he’s fantastic. Definitely a great actor.
These days, he’s on National Geographic’s MARS, a docudrama about what the possibility of sending the first manned missions to Mars in 2033. Now, this is a show I can actually watch with the husband, my beloved space nerd. How perfect is that?
I’m actually thrilled that I finally found my muse for Giovanni. He’s already had a huge influence on my writing–I’ve even gone in and fixed a few of his descriptions in the books. (Giovanni has straighter hair and a short beard now because I can’t picture him otherwise anymore.)
I hope the fact that I have something like a celebrity crush at this point in my well-seasoned life doesn’t make me some kind of deviant. If anything, Alberto has inspired my fiction and brought to life a character I’ve adored for a long time. And I’m about to go read me some sixteenth-century Spanish poetry, so I’m expanding my literary horizons.
Besides, who can resist a cute guy reading in a cafe?
Gotta love those crazy, distracting rabbit holes.