Days of Lead: Author’s Note

I hope you have enjoyed Days of Lead, at least as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In addition to the usual reminders that all the characters are fictional and any resemblance to real persons is coincidental, I must point out that Days of Lead is not an historical novel. It is the fruit of my own imagination and my experiences growing up as a young translator in Rome.

About that time, Italy was rocked by extremist violence from both the right and the left, not to mention anarchists who hated both sides. By the 1970’s, these bloody years had acquired the moniker anni di piombo, Years of Lead, which inspired the title of this book. I have deliberately set the time of the story at a different point.

After I wrote the first draft, the Piano Solo papers were declassified. I was shocked to discover that my inspiration based only on rumors in the press and recollections of my teenage years had caused me to mirror many aspects of the real coup attempt in my story. I went back and changed characters and times drastically, lest you be misled into thinking that I was reporting on actual events.

Unlike Nancy, my mother was far from being a well-off executive in a multinational company, but she did make it possible for me to attend Notre Dame International School during the time in the book.

And, yes, I did buy myself a Vespa 50, after riding my bicycle in all kinds of weather for seven years.

=========== So what’s next? 

I am already working on the second book of the series, as well as the sequel to Emily & Hilda, which ran in this blog during 2018.

I write this blog for your enjoyment more than anything. The two serial novels seem to have been a hit, but I need your input about where to take this blog.
Please take a moment to complete this survey. Feel free to check all that apply, and to leave comments below. If you want to comment just to me, please use the contact form. Thank you!

Sea story: Don’t inhale! (1967)

1967-pri-flyAt the Naval Academy, the summers before our Third Class (sophomore) and First Class (senior) years were devoted to afloat training, with the 3/c filling enlisted billets on ships and the 1/c trying junior officer roles. This summer as Midshipmen Second Class, we were learning “everything else”. We went to Primary Flight Training (“Pri-Fly”) in Pensacola, Florida, to Amphibious warfare training at Camp Pendleton, Virginia, and to Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut,. I told you about Pri-Fly back on 21 May 2016 (  After learning how to fly, we headed north to Submarine School.  Continue reading

Sea story: pearl in a power play (1982)

1982-bahrain-pearlsBahrain is an island country, half way up the Persian Gulf. It shines like a white pearl in the shimmering blue water, almost in sight of the Arabian coast. Before the discovery of oil, pearl- diving was its main industry, and pearls still figure prominently in its culture. Continue reading

Sea story: The Rug Merchant Meets His Match (1974)

1973-tangierWhen USS Little Rock (CLG-4), the Sixth Fleet flagship pulled into Tangiers, Morocco at the end of January, I had a more important mission than building US-Moroccan relations (which I helped do anyway). This was one of the few ports where my wife Carol (a singer with the Sixth Fleet Music Show) would not be with me. She had issued clear-cut orders to come home with a handmade wool Moroccan rug. Not some little runner for the hall, but a full-sized beauty to lie beneath the entire living room ensemble. Continue reading

Sea Story: A tale of two cultures (1987, 2016)

IMG_20160727_221741Trip update: Last Saturday, we rode our bikes to Vanier Park to watch the first night of the Honda Celebration of Light, an international fireworks competition. The Netherlands put on the most amazing fireworks show that I have ever seen – until Australia put on its show Wednesday night. With colours and artistic forms that I have never seen, the Aussies kept me mesmerized. Continue reading

Sea story: learning to ride (1953)

DSCN0737Trip update: Francesca and Gary hosted me over last weekend and Monday. Francesca is a top translator (English>Italian) in the American Translators Association. Though I have known her for a long time, this was my first visit to her home. DSCN0750A former rugby player and referee, Gary now rides sportives on a bicycle that weighs as much as my water bottles. Over the weekend, we hung out, worked at our respective translations, and walked Central London, which is an exciting palette of cultures, colours, and history even on a Sunday. Continue reading

Sea story: the stealth freelancer (2012)

Trip update: On Sunday morning, the 5th of June, Alan and Christina and I had breakfast, then walked next door to Saint Thomas’ Church. Holy Eucharist included a Baptism. DSCN0618I enjoyed being back in the familiar liturgy, surrounded by an acoustically resonant building, harmony in the pews, and beautiful surroundings. The church would seem to be an ancient Gothic cathedral, but it was only built in the late 19th Century, as a mission from the Cathedral to the then-poor rural areas north of Wells. The parish still serves three villages, and the spirit of outreach seems very alive. Continue reading