IFOA: The Restoration Artist is set on La Mouche, a tiny island off the coast of Normandy. How did you first encounter this place?
DeSoto: Islands are like books—they are enclosed, mysterious, alluring, and separated from the mainstream of life. As my character, Leo did, while standing on the coastline in Normandy, I saw on the horizon a smudge of land, and I immediately felt the pull, as if it was a place I already knew. Later, when I stepped ashore, I knew that I would either live on the island, or set a book there.
IFOA: Your protagonist is a young painter. Tell us about one thing painting and writing have in common.
DeSoto: The aim of all art is to create, or reveal, truth and beauty. To love the beautiful is to desire the good. Both the painter and the musician in the book struggle to believe this notion, and live by it.
IFOA: If you could have lunch with any author, dead or alive, who would you choose?
DeSoto: Ah, so many, so many. But as one writer to another, I think I would most enjoy a lunch with Iris Murdoch. Although a single lunch might not be long enough. She is the writer whose collective works I most admire, even though there are single books by other writers that I might value higher. Her plots, her language, her insight, her humor, and her passion, continue to inspire me.
IFOA: When and where do you prefer to read?
DeSoto: A window seat on a rainy summer day in the country. Some of my sweetest childhood memories take place in that magical moody world.
IFOA: Finish this sentence: I write best when I…
DeSoto: …tell the truth, when I celebrate beauty, when I believe that art can make a difference in the world.
DeSoto will read at Authors at Harbourfront Centre on May 6.