I’m thrilled to have the awesome Jeanne Kalogridis on the blog today! Jeanne is the author of The Scarlet Contessa, The Borgia Bride, The Devil’s Queen, and much, much more! She’s also generously offered two copies of The Scarlet Contessa to two lucky winners, so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post!
Please welcome Jeanne to the blog!
You have a B.A. in Russian and M.A. in Linguistics and taught ESL at The American University for eight years. In all that time did you have an idea you would become a full-time writer?
Quite honestly, no. I mean, I’d always written little novels and stories as a kid and throughout high school, but my college roomie wanted to be a writer, and convinced me it was really impossible for anyone to make a living as a writer. So I didn’t try–at least, not until I was fired for helping to unionize the English as a Second Language instructors at The American University in Washington, D.C. I wound up laid off for an entire semester, so… I had always threatened to write a novel, so I did. Imagine my surprise when it actually sold!
You’ve written historical novels about such diverse subjects as Mona Lisa, Catherine de’ Medici, the Borgias, and Vlad the Impaler. Which one has been your favorite so far?
Y’know, it’s like asking me which of my dogs is/was my favorite. I’m always passionately in love with my current project–if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be writing it! But, looking back over the years, the books I associate with the most fun and creative freedom were the three books of the FAMILY DRACUL trilogy: COVENANT WITH THE VAMPIRE, CHILDREN OF THE VAMPIRE, and last, LORD OF THE VAMPIRES. It was my first real foray outside the limited world of STAR TREK fiction, and so it represented a period of unrestrained freedom to write what I wished as an artist. Of course, I’m still free to do that now… it’s just that the initial giddiness has worn off a bit.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I prefer to write in bed with my dog sleeping next to me, beginning at sunrise. I like to get most of the writing out of the way in time for a late lunch, and then it’s time to take care of other business. I need white noise or silence–I have no clue how other writers can write with the music going!
For someone just starting to read Historical Fiction, can you suggest a few titles?
True confession time: My tastes aren’t those of a typical historical fiction reader. My tastes run very dark, very unromantic. I adore Sarah Waters’ FINGERSMITH, and Dan Simmons’ THE TERROR and DROOD.
What’s some of the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Writing is re-writing.”
Do you like to travel, and if so, do you have a favorite destination?
YES!!!! Right now: Italy, southern Spain, southern France. Look out, world!
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
When I was 23, I put out my burning cigar on the head of an unenlightened Southern male who was explaining how “unfeminine” it looked for me to be smoking a cigar. (I’m much more polite now. )
Do you have news of any upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share?
Yes. I’m finishing up another historical for St. Martin’s, currently titled THE INQUISITOR’S WIFE. Once that’s done, I am going to be attending as many conventions as my writing schedule permits and connecting with readers as much as possible in person and on-line! Hope to see you ALL sometime in the near future. Oh! And I’ll be tweeting and posting regularly from now on at my blog, History is a Bitch.
1. Giveaway is for two copies of The Scarlet Contessa to two winners.
**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**
About The Scarlet Contessa:
Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.
Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the “triumph cards,” the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband’s murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea’s reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia’s cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina’s scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia’s unconquerable army.
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