I'll never forget the first time I met Arianna! I thought she was a boy at first. But then she hurt me, next she told me off and finally she took her clothes off! She was a part of the whole wonderful dream world I thought I was in, with its blue skies, floating spires and palaces and - best of all - the feeling that I was well and that my illness had not travelled with me. But it was only when she grabbed my arm really hard that I realised it wasn't a dream after all!
He ruined the plans I had been making for a year! I was hiding behind the bronze rams on the Loggia of the cathedral, where I had spent the night and then in the morning I saw him down in the square.
This is what Mary Hoffman wrote about my reaction in Stravaganza: City of Masks:
"There was a stranger there, a boy about her own age, risking death. He was obviously not Bellezzan, not even Talian by his clothing. Arianna had never seen anything so outlandish as what he was wearing.
He was as out of place as a dog in the Council chamber. And yet he seemed totally oblivious of danger, warming himself in the sunshine and wearing an idiotic expression like a sleepwalker. Perhaps he was touched in the head?"
Luciano: I was touched in the head! By cancer. I had a brain tumour. At least I did in my own world, but not in Bellezza. It was a strange other-world version of Venice and whenever I went there, as a Stravagante, I found the cancer hadn't come with me. I even still had the black curls I lost during my chemo.
This is what the book says I thought of her:
"The boy watched in astonishment as her brown hair tumbled out of the fisherman’s hat and she stood in her feminine if rather old-fashioned underwear, pulling a skirt out of her bag.
‘Quick, stop gaping like a fish and put on my boy’s clothes, over those weird ones of yours. You’ve only got minutes before someone spots you and hauls you up before the Bellezzan Council.’
The boy, moving as if in a dream, obediently pulled the rough woollen trousers and jerkin on, still warm from the body of the extraordinary girl, while she dressed herself in more clothes from the bag, talking all the time. She seemed absolutely furious with him."
We'll be posting more extracts from the books soon. Remember City of Swords comes out in the UK on 5th July and in the US on 21st August