"I'm like Louis XV, I'm in the hands of my advisers," she joked.
Leon and other expatriate writers have faced criticism for stereotyping Italy, Italians and in her case Venice.
"When I went back to work on the book, this woman invaded the book, and I had to rewrite it to be about her, because the memory of this face, which I saw for just two seconds, if that, would not leave me in peace." Similarly, Leon doesn't quite know where her next book is taking her, just that it will be about the meat industry. "And it's going to be that he was killed because of meat." Another advantage of Leon's work ethic is that it keeps her at her desk during the hours of the day when it is best not to go out amid throngs of tourists - a reality of the Renaissance city that is a recurrent lament by her novels' characters.
Venice is a "livable" city, "but it's a temporal thing," she said.
Each case is an opportunity for the author to reveal another aspect of the seamy underside of society and another facet of Venetian life.
Brunetti reports to the vain and self-serving buffoon, Vice-Questore Patta, while Sergente (later Ispettore and with the inspector per tu) Vianello and the all-knowing and well-connected Signorina Elettra, Patta's secretary, assist Brunetti on the ground and through research.
While shunning celebrity status, Leon allowed that success has its benefits.
Still, after a man's body is discovered, it's up to Brunetti to figure out what a murder victim, an antiques dealer, a stranger with Mafia connections, and a group of forged Chinese antiquities all have to do with one another.
Suddenly, everything and everyone Brunetti thought he trusted-his sources, Brett, Flavia, even his own family-become objects of his suspicions. Full of corkscrew plot twists and sharp, pithy observations about family, nationality, and honor, Donna Leon's Acqua Alta takes us into a singular and unforgettable world of beauty, tradition, and greed, where everyone has a secret of their own, and nothing-and no one-is as it seems.
"Nobody knows why I'm here, there's no deference," she says, before fine-tuning: "There's deference to me because of my age and because of my politeness." The 67-year-old could not be less interested in fame.
"It's not good for people to be famous or perceived as such, or at least I've never known anyone who's been improved by the experience," Leon told AFP.