New & now
Valletta-inspired book shows city in new light
Author John Naudi makes the capital his muse in City of Shadows.

Jo Caruana

John Naudi

If you’re on the hunt for a good read inspired by Malta, we’ve found just the thing. City of Shadows, the recently-released third book by author John Naudi, is set in 19th century Valletta – where a number of grisly murders have put everyone on edge. In this interview, I sat down with John to gain his thoughts on what makes this novel such a brilliant page-turner.

“A lot of things inspired City of Shadows,” John starts by saying. “The earliest ideas came from a table top game I used to play with my friends – called Lupus en Tabula. The complex plots and twists that resulted from every session left me bewildered to the point that I found myself saying ‘I want to write a novel with these kinds of plots and twists, where different characters’ storylines get mixed and intertwined in such an awesome way!’”

“The news that Valletta would be European Capital of Culture for 2018 sealed my decision to set my historical fiction novel in the capital, in order to support this claim, to promote our beautiful island and its culture, and also proclaim my love for my country.”

John chose Valletta as his backdrop because historical fiction has always fascinated him. “The fact that you have a perfect blend of fact and fiction in a novel always held my attention,” he says. “I always dreamed of writing my own novel set in Malta, especially after spending a year abroad (as a lay missionary in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan). Besides, I have loved Valletta since really discovering it in my teens. The news that Valletta would be the European Capital of Culture for 2018 then sealed my decision to set my historical fiction novel in the capital, in order to support this claim, to promote our beautiful island and its culture, and also proclaim my love for my country.”

Grand Mariner, 98 Strait Street - one of the locations in Valletta that inspired a venue in City of Shadows

Asked about his favourite character in the book, John says it’s impossible to choose one. “The three main characters all contain one or more aspects of myself, and one or more that are opposite to me. For example, Constable Archibald Whitlock is very impulsive and often gets lost in his own mind – just like I do.”

As for other books to read about Malta, John suggests The Religion by Tim Willcocks. “It is set in Malta during the renowned Great Siege of 1565, and it left me awestruck by the perfect blend of different themes it contains, ranging from war to romance.”

Finally, John makes his suggestions for brilliant spots to visit during your stay, and Valletta features on his list, of course! “A lot of people start by recommending Sliema and St Julian’s, which is fine, they’re beautiful and lively. But if you want to see more of Malta’s heritage, go to Valletta, Mdina and Birgu first. These places are beautiful to visit both by day and night.”

City of Shadows is available for download and in paperback, here.

2nd March 2018


Jo  Caruana
Written by
Jo Caruana
Jo is a magazine editor and actress who is passionate about all things foodie and cultural on her island home. Her favourite pastimes include writing in cafes, performing at the Manoel Theatre, and exploring the countryside with her three beloved dogs.

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