Random House was kind enough to put us in touch with Robert Clark, author of the new book "Dark Water". He answered a few of our questions below by email:
Florence Flood: How long were you in Florence researching the book and how did the grant process come about?
Robert Clark: I was in Florence, living in the Piazza del Carmine for most of two years. As I said (in the book), I'd gotten the fellowship before I came, and the book came, sideways as it were, as a result.
Florence Flood: Did you meet any resistance working with the Italians on this subject?
Robert Clark: No, everyone in the neighborhood, everyone I met, had a story about the flood. They couldn't wait to talk. Some of the art restoration experts I interviewed were a little reticent: they didn't want to seem to be criticizing colleagues or mentors with whom they'd disagreed or had rivalries with, but in the end, they'd go ahead and dish! There are still a lot of controversies, a lot of second guessing and competition for funds and glory.
Florence Flood: How/when did you decide to write a non-fiction book and what was most challenging about non-fiction as compared to fiction for you?
Robert Clark: I'd never considered doing it as a novel: there are already the very fine ones by Robert Hellenga and Joanna Hines. It was going to be melding of history and art history, more still a memoir about discovering those histories.
We are still looking forward to conducting a phone interview with Mr. Clark that we will post as a podcast.