Guest Feature – Anita Chapman

Patricia’s Pen is delighted to introduce debut author, Anita Chapman, with her new release The Venice Secret. Anita has come along to blog about what inspired her to write this brand new historical fiction novel. Without further ado, it’s over to Anita.

Inspiration behind The Venice Secret

Anita Chapman

When I write a book, it starts with one simple idea and then I think of more pieces that I want to include to make a story. Often, the story grows naturally as I spend time thinking about it during those quieter moments such as when driving or walking.

With The Venice Secret, I’d had the idea of someone discovering a hidden painting in a loft for a while. This kind of thing happens all of the time and finding something potentially valuable somewhere in your house is something many of us dream about.

When my children were small, we started to visit country houses and their gardens in my local area. Whenever we went away to a different part of the UK, I’d always enjoy discovering new country houses and the stories that went with them. And so, I had to include a country house in my book about the hidden painting.

And then, which painting and what would the story be about? My mother used to take me to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child and so it had to be a potential Canaletto that was discovered in the loft. His paintings are often huge and I visited The National Gallery in order to find a painting that would fit through a loft hatch. And I found two companion paintings which were just right.

The Canaletto worked perfectly as I’d studied Italian and lived in Siena plus spent a lot of time travelling around Italy, a country I love in my twenties.

How to connect them all? I’d found the era of The Grand Tour interesting for some time and loved E.M. Forster’s books about travelling to Italy such as A Room with a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread, although they are set later than The Venice Secret.


The story became about Rachel, a twentysomething stuck in a rut who found a painting in her grandmother’s loft with a note, written in 1782, addressed to Philippa and from the mysterious ‘R’. And then the story of Philippa, on the verge of destitution after her father died who became a governess at the local country house, but when the earl proposed she become his mistress, escaped to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia.

And that is how The Venice Secret came about. There were many drafts and a lot of thinking in relation to bringing the two timelines together. But with the help of a fantastic editor, I got there in the end.

About Anita Chapman

Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child.

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books.







Website – Neetsmarketing


4 thoughts on “Guest Feature – Anita Chapman

  1. Patricia M Osborne March 21, 2023 / 1:05 pm

    Fabulous. Thank you. I look forward to reading it. The postman picked up Spirit Mother yesterday so hopefully you should receive it this week.


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