The painter Caravaggio lived in Rome at the turn of the 17th century. At that time, Rome was a violent and fascinating place. There were red-light districts, public executions, and a pope intent on cleaning up the city, at any cost, in preparation for the Jubilee of 1600. Caravaggio spent his time in the darker corners of society. Most of his friends were swordsmen and prostitutes. His nights were filled with street fights and hard drinking, and he was regularly arrested.
While still in the early stages of his brilliant and controversial career, he made a tragic error – he murdered a man over a bet on a tennis match. And, worse, the victim came from a powerful family. The Vatican promptly issued Caravaggio a death sentence, and he was forced to flee Rome.
His years on the run were so filled with action they almost seem invented by Hollywood producers. There were prison escapes and sword fights, brothels and taverns, romance and madness – and finally, a mysterious and shadowy end. Caravaggio died on a deserted strand of the Tuscan coast. His bones are still missing, 400 years later. The cause of death remains unknown.
I’m writing a novel about Caravaggio, and I’m seeking financial support to fund a three-week trip to Italy to complete my research. The novel is already in progress -- I began it last year on a four-month fellowship to Rome -- but I have not yet visited the places where Caravaggio spent the last dramatic years of his life. I will follow his trail from Rome through the mean streets of Naples; then on to Malta, where he was knighted and later imprisoned; then to Sicily, which offered him a brief refuge toward the end of his time; and finally I’ll return north to investigate the scene of his death.
This is a noir crime story, a psychological thriller, and, in the end, a bit of a murder mystery. I’ll be traveling third class, staying in the cheapest dives, working as a detective by day and assembling my findings by night.
I have a late-summer deadline for the first draft, then I'll begin working with agents, editors, and publishers to see it through to print. Your support will help me finish the novel.