Every day until Christmas Eve I’ll be introducing you to an author whose debut novel came out this year. Today it’s Ilaria Tuti.
About Ilaria Tuti
ILARIA TUTI lives in Friuli, in the far north-eastern part of Italy. FLOWERS OVER THE INFERNO, her debut novel and the first book in the Teresa Battaglia trilogy, was a top 10 bestseller on publication and the biggest debut of 2018 in Italy.
Tell us about your book.
Flowers over the Inferno is a thriller set in the dark beating heart of the Italian Alps. A killer with a peculiar, twisted mind is bringing death to the small village of Travenì, and the only person who can catch him is Teresa Battaglia, the novel’s slightly unusual protagonist – a Police Inspector in her sixties, suffering from diabetes and facing a potentially devastating new diagnosis.
Where did the inspiration come from?
The inspiration for the setting of Flowers Over the Inferno was easy: the novel is set in my mountains (I live in Friuli, near the Italian border with Austria) – frozen and mysterious, and yet full of life. For the description of the killer – a mind unknown to criminal psychology manuals – I took inspiration from a (highly controversial) study run by the Austrian psychoanalyst René Spitz in 1945 on the devastating effects of emotional deprivation on infants. And finally, I came up with the character of Teresa Battaglia by observing the many ordinary women in my life who have made an armour out of their own insecurities and who have transformed difficult circustamces into a celebration of life.
Who would this book make the perfect present for?
Readers who love the masters of the genre, like Jeffery Deaver, or recent novels by the likes of Michel Bussi. And I think if you love Scandi noir (both on the page and on TV), you’ll really like the atmosphere of Flowers Over the Inferno.
Also: if you’re going on a skiing holiday in Italy this winter, this is the book for you!
What will you be reading this Christmas?
Donato Carrisi’s latest thriller and a collection of anthropology essays about pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture: I am constantly fascinated by books like these. Plus, it might turn out to be a good inspiration for my next Teresa Battaglia novel… Who knows!
When you’re not writing, what do you like doing?
I love painting, reading, photography and – of course – taking in the beautiful natural landscapes of my mountains.
Tell us one Christmas tradition you follow without fail.
Every year on 5th December I visit the small village of Rutte, in the mountains near where I live. That’s where the traditional Krampus parade I write about in the novel takes place in real life. The Krampus is the horned half-goat, half-demon companion of Saint Nicholas, and it’s the creature responsible for punishing children who have misbehaved throughout the year. A group of them appears at nightfall, moving towards the village from the forest, lit by the flames of their torches and announced by the sound of the bells hanging on their hips. Breathtaking.