Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Please tell readers about yourself and your background.
I'm interested in the intersection of the spiritual and secular, the supernatural and the everyday, the past and the present. I'm fascinated by people's relationship with religion, the psychological interaction between people in all types of relationships, and by the miraculous and the frightening (often the same thing).
My education focused on English, history, and art history, but my day job for the last 15 years has been in marketing and communications. I'm a Patrick O'Brian and Doctor Who fangirl who is forbidden to sing anywhere but in the privacy of my own car (trust me…). My predominant vice is, sadly, cussing like a sailor.
The Pilgrim Glass is your most recent release. Please tell us about the story.
The Pilgrim Glass is a blend of history and mystery, a psychological and spiritual journey, slipping between modern and 12th century Burgundy.
Jonas Flycatcher, a well-respected but prickly artisan is contracted to repair a stained glass found deep in the ancient altar of the cathedral of Mary Magdalene at Vézelay. Traveling from California to Burgundy for the project, he meets Abbot Dubay, a worldly priest with a painful secret.
Jonas begins the laborious work of restoring the stained glass offering, but when he meets Meredith, an ex-pat photographer who seems to be channeling a 12th century pilgrim, his carefully constructed world – and the ancient glass – are threatened.
What did you have to learn about stained glass technique to aid the authenticity of this story?
I needed to learn the basics in terms of how stained glass is made now, how it was made in the past, and the process of creating hand-blown glass. I tried to include the tools of the trade without getting too heavily into the details, so the focus would be on the story.
Do you have a favorite character in the story?
I love all of them, of course, in different ways for different reasons; they're a bit like children in that way. That said, I have a huge soft spot for Abbot Dubay. He wasn't in the outline, wasn't even on my radar when I started writing the story, and emerged to be such a crucial part of the story. He's so urbane and complex - he's really delightful, if I say so myself. I'd love to meet him in real life.
I love that part of the creative process - having enough flexibility to allow new characters and new directions to emerge that you hadn't planned. That's magic to me, and part of the draw of writing in the first place.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
It really depends on what I'm working on. In terms of plot, The Pilgrim Glass came from my experience visiting the great cathedral at Vézelay; a historical I'm working on now grew out of family stories and lore; a novella was inspired by my fascination with the Black Plague; and one of my short stories was sparked by learning about the discovery of the jet stream. Once I've got the idea, I'll start with a general outline and modify as I go along.
Characters initially develop themselves, are sometimes blended with people I've met and experiences I've had, and then morph into beings I'd not necessarily planned or expected. To flesh them out, I'll use some tried-and-true tools, like stream-of-consciousness writing and character sheets.
Why did you choose to publish independently? What valuable lessons have you learned in the process?
I finished writing The Pilgrim Glass in early 2004 and began the process of looking for an agent. The book generated a lot of interest, but most passed because they simply weren't sure how to market it. After the manuscript was short-listed for finalists in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and a semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, I knew it was time to go the independent route, and I published The Pilgrim Glass in December 2010. The process was a bit time-intensive, and required a great deal of attention to detail, but was relatively straightforward.
The most important thing I learned was to trust my instincts – about timing, about design, about the story. It's both scary and exhilarating to go it alone, and totally worth it.
What advice would you give to other debut writers?
I suppose I'd simply say trust yourself and believe in your story; it is an expression of your uniqueness in this world.
What’s next for you?
I'm doing some final polishing on a multi-period historical/timeslip, which I hope to publish in early 2012, finishing a historical set in Norway in 1905, and getting started on a historical set in San Jose in 1906.
Please provide your website, blogs, Twitter, and / or Facebook links, where readers can learn more about you.
My main website is http://www.juliekrose.com/, I blog at http://juliekrose.blogspot.com/, and I'm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/juliekrose.
Any closing thoughts you would like to share.
I hope readers enjoy the characters and story of The Pilgrim Glass as much as I enjoyed writing them! And, I hope the story inspires people to take a trip to Vézelay, or learn more about the 12th century, or perhaps even think about how their lives are like stained glass: uneven, imperfect, colorful, and unbelievably precious.
Thanks for your time, Julie, and best of luck with The Pilgrim Glass.
There's still time to win a free, signed copy of this wonderful book. Leave a comment on our review of The Pilgrim Glass to enter.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Jonas meets the worldly Abbot Michel Dubay. The men initially clash over intrusive questions from Abbott Dubay and alterations of the original contract but Jonas soon begins his work. A comfortable partnership evolves between the two, as Abbott Dubay hints at an enigmatic past, including unclear reasons for choosing the priesthood instead of becoming an academic. Elsewhere, haunting words and images occupy the photographer Meredith’s mind, memories that cannot be her own. She seeks the comfort of friends like Marie-Laure, an expert on the region’s history. But Meredith cannot escape her visions or the pull of the cathedral. When she meets Jonas, they don’t immediately warm to each other, but eventually find common ground in their working interest in the cathedral. Their relationship surprisingly grows and changes, yet Meredith’s continuing hallucinations cause a strain on all the characters.
The central characters are memorable for their characterizations and the mysteries surrounding them. The author keeps you guessing about the sources of their pain and self-loathing throughout the novel. Why does Jonas, a renowned artisan keep everyone at bay and smother his innate brilliance in a haze of cigarette smoke? What should the reader make of Abbott Dubay’s constant reliance on the Confessions of St. Augustine, and the photograph he keeps tucked away between its pages? Why is Meredith tortured by otherworldly visions?
The setting is as realistic as the characters’ interactions, enhanced by Ms. Rose’s visit to the great cathedral at Vézelay. Scenes and descriptions pull the reader into the story, as it unfolds as though on a movie screen, rather than pages. This is an easy, enjoyable read. In particular, I admired the author’s references to pigments, vivid shades of red and blue that colors the world around Jonas.
A semifinalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, The Pilgrim Glass is an entertaining, surprisingly suspenseful read, and I highly recommend it to readers who love historical mysteries enhanced by authentic details. As I told Ms. Rose, she’s gained a fan and I look forward to her future work.
Please leave a comment to win a free, signed copy of The Pilgrim Glass, and thanks for visiting the blog.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
"I took a charred ember from the fire and, going to the hidden side of my weaving I darkened what I had woven about Sparta until it was caked in black. Sometimes from the front of the loom I stare where I know the black is hiding, imagining little holes burning through the cloth. We think we can control the story we present to the world, but the truth always lies in the background, awaiting its chance to illuminate and scar.”
Most of us have read Homer’s The Odyssey at some point in our lives. While Odysseus’ battles and harrowing experiences made for great reading, not many of us likely gave much thought to the people he left behind—his wife and son, and in Laurel Corona’s fertile imagination, his daughter Xanthe.
This is not a simple retelling of a well-read epic. Rather, Ms. Corona has turned the taken prominent characters from the Trojan War and used them to create a completely new tale. The story is told through Xanthe’s point-of-view. Using her loom, she weaves the adventures and trials of her life into a picture book tapestry. These were my favorite moments, when Xanthe literally transformed her feelings into colorful physicality.
The story is told in three parts: Xanthe’s younger days when her world is full of politics that she is free to observe; her maiden days when she hides at Helen of Troy’s court to escape those very politics in the form of suitors; and the final installation when she returns home to her family, and her father.
This book is well researched and beautifully portrayed. If you are a lover of ancient Greece, this tale will suck you right in.
Friday, January 14, 2011
1. Leave a comment on the 18th or 19th of January about the book or the author.
Here's a video presention by Dr. Epstein called "A Romp through Childbirth History." It is a talk given on the upper west side of New York City, December, 2010 and great fun to listen to.
Enjoy and I do hope you'll stop by and visit History and Women on the 18th and 19th.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
by Mark Hichens
This is not a book for the Elizabethan purist. While it is obvious that Scarsbrook spent a great deal of time researching Marlowe and his times, the tale is fanciful. The gossamer webs of the storyteller connect Marlowe to plots among Lords of the Realm to gain influence with the queen and to become spymaster of all of England. That being said, the book does a very good job of cleaving to the few facts known of Marlowe’s life.
Since this novel is not history, it can be fun. Shakespeare can take on the role of Watson to Marlowe’s Sherlock Holmes. Queen Elizabeth can come off as being a bit like the Red Queen in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and Marlowe’s love interest can be a married lady of high standing and noble blood. The archbishop can decide the only way to save people is to kill them, and Marlowe’s patron and spy handler can decide to have him killed because Marlowe is having an affair with his wife. This is a very busy book.
There is a great deal to like about this book. Both Marlowe and Shakespeare are fully realized, very likeable characters. Both are complex men for a complex age. Marlowe is clever, arrogant, and the smartest man in the room most of the time. Shakespeare is subtle, witty, and loyal. Together they take on the whole of England to save Marlowe from the gallows.
Scarsbrook does a masterful job of describing the sights, sounds and smells of an England on the verge of the seventeenth century. His descriptions are organic and often evoke the mood the character. Here Scarsbrook describes what Marlowe sees following a prison break as he rides through the countryside:
“…the moon turned a shade of grayish blue and assumed the tone of frozen skin. Clouds stretched down to the horizon, each one long and thin, like scars made by a whip.”
He does an excellent job of painting a dynamic society on the verge of spinning beyond the control of the ruling class. The archbishop worries about atheists, Puritans, and plays. The nobles worry about the riots and the never ending war with France, and everyone worries about the plague. The action is fast, and only slightly incredible. You will find no deep introspection. This Marlowe is a man of action.
This book does not fit easily into any one genre. The historical purist would break out in a rash while reading this book. It isn’t exactly a spy novel. Scarsbrook’s subtle literary allusions would be roof jokes for the casual reader. In the end, I would have to guess that it is written for the intellectual adventure market if such a thing exists. I suppose it does. Therefore I recommend it to people who know the works and the lives of Shakespeare, and Marlowe, and are willing to look at them as literary characters rather than as authors. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves a good adventure story and is willing to suspend belief for the sake of the story.
There is one final question that has to be answered. What would Marlowe and Shakespeare have thought of the book? I think they would have liked it, Shakespeare would have refused to take a back seat to Marlowe, and I think they would have enjoyed adding a few touches of their own.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
My main criticism of this version of Miss Austen’s classic, is the fact the author has introduced a sexual element. Not only is Lydia still a virgin after three weeks in a boarding house with Wickham, a detail of which I didn’t see the point as she still insists on marrying him, but Darcy, in his pursuit of Elizabeth, has explicit sexual fantasies about her. I realise I must be old fashioned where my romances are concerned, but Austen was the queen of sexual tension and she kept the bedroom door firmly shut!
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Christiana is a young woman newly married to Dicky Fairgrave, a cruel, heartless man. He keeps her isolated from friends and family. When her sisters arrive for a visit, Christiana learns that their father has been gambling again, and the sisters must make a quick marriage to a rich man in order to save him. While they are discussing their dire situation, Dicky is found murdered in another part of the house.
Determined to attend that evening’s ball despite the sudden demise of Christiana’s husband, the sisters carry Dicky to his bedroom and surround him with ice to preserve his body. As Christiana circulates amongst society that evening in search of future husbands for her sisters, who walks in, much to her horror, but Dicky. But it is not actually the dead Dicky who has walked. Rather, it’s Dicky’s twin brother, Richard, whom unbeknownst to Christiana, Dicky murdered years ago in order to assume his identity, wealth, and status.
Richard Fairgrave has returned to America to avenge himself and confront his brother. When Richard encounters Christiana, his unexpected wife, he is both intrigued, but irritated at the discovery. As the night wears on, Christiana becomes accidentally drunk and he begins to realize she is enchanting. Intrigued, he knows he must win her heart and must find out who murdered his brother, and keep scandal away from her.
If you are looking for a humorous romantic story to disappear into, then this is the book for you. I found myself bursting out in laughter during many of the antics. The book definitely reminded me of an old Lucille Ball episode where the heroine’s life escalates quickly out of control, but somehow, she finds herself coming out unscathed and richer for it. The relationship between Christiana and Richard unfolds slowly, tantalizingly, with much love and laughter. There were plenty of plot twists to keep me engaged to the end. All in all, this is a fun read for those who want to sink into a good romance.
Michael Patriate is a rising star in the business world. His knowledge and shrewdness have taken him into the most powerful offices and boardrooms of New York City. As he occupies himself with merging two powerful corporations and gracing the pages of the world’s most respected finance magazine, his personal life is falling apart. The woman he loves has left him. One dark night, as he walks alone through a deserted street in Manhattan, he is mugged and assaulted and falls into unconsciousness.
When he awakes, he finds himself in a strange world, one that is completely foreign to him. As he encounters people, he comes to the realization that the year is 1492 and he has somehow travelled to Renaissance Italy in the area of Caorle. With nothing of value except for his wristwatch, which is more of a danger to him than an aid, Michael is utterly alone and must fend for himself. Armed with his business acumen, he soon finds himself a job working for a merchant. Soon, he takes over the bookkeeping for the small business and teaches his new boss knowledge from the modern world. Soon he finds himself travelling to Venice, trying to outsmarting a bevy of callous merchants. His knowledge attracts attention at the highest levels. Even his love life improves as he falls in love with the lovely widow, Cecile, who he boards with.
The King of Silk is a fascinating story about a man armed with modern knowledge who is forced to explore the world centuries ago. Michael is a congenial hero thrust into an impossible situation. As the reader progresses through the novel, they are swept into the dangers and realities of a treacherous world. The book is well written and edited. The prose is clear and the story is easy to follow. Numerous colourful characters that Michael meets as he journeys to Venice and later Portugal, keep the reader engrossed in the story, turning pages to find out what happens next. For anyone who loves time travel and Italian historical fiction, this book is definitely a well-researched winner. But you'll have to wait to read it. The book is scheduled for release early in 2011. Watch for it on Amazon or visit the author's website at: http://www.jdtrent.com/
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The story opens with nineteen-year-old Carrie Robertson struggling to bury her father clad in his Confederate Uniform. She’s already lost all other family members, and the burial scene is quite vivid and realistic. Back-story tells the reader that Carrie is now living in a cabin built by her father, on land he spent plowing and sowing to dispel his grief. They’ve left their home in Charleston and settled for much less, and sadly, her remaining sister has been claimed by the flu. With her father gone, Carrie is alone in a home that’s miles from the nearest neighbor. She’s determined to keep the place going using the funds her father left behind.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I have heard of various starts to Nell’s life, but Gillian Bagwell’s Nell was an oyster seller who, fearing a rapid old age and continued poverty, decides on the day that King Charles II returns to his throne that she will follow her sister Rose into whoring.
Her pretty face and neat figure, not to mention her quick tongue, helped her acquire a post as an ‘orange wench," selling fruit in the theatre pit. Fascinated with the theatre, and with the help of her first long term lover, Charles Hart, she starts acting on the stage and comes to the attention of King Charles II. John Dryden described Nell as, ‘"Oval face, clear skin, hazel eyes, thick brown eyebrows ... a full nether lip ... the bottom of your cheeks a little blub, and two dimples when you smile."
Like all the King's women, Nell was paid out of the Secret Service funds. Second only to Louise de Keroualle, the Duchess of Portsmouth, her greatest rival apart from the fading Barbara Palmer, Nell was given a house in Pall Mall and an annual income of £5,000.
On one occasion, Queen Catherine arrived at her husband’s bedchamber. Nell had enough time to hide behind an arras, but her slipper lay in plain sight on the floor. The Queen withdrew with the comment that she hoped ‘that the lady might not take cold.’
Nell was one of the least greedy and most faithful of Charles II’s mistresses, despite that he kept them in houses, jewels, titles and producing numerous children who all had claims on the royal purse.
Nell had two sons by Charles II. Charles Beauclerk who went on to have eight sons of his own and James, nicknamed, Jemmie who died when he was nine. Nell had many true friends in the Royal court, many of whom she helped through hard times, among them, George Duke of Buckingham, Rochester, Killigrew, Aphra Benn the lady playwright, the ill-fated Duke of Monmouth, and of course her beloved Charles Hart who was always her first love.
When anti-Catholic riots took place in London in the late 1660’s, Nelly's coach was mobbed by Whigs, who thought it carried the King's Catholic mistress, Louise de Keroualle. [Whom the King called ‘Fubbs’and Nell nicknamed, ‘Squintabella’] Never at a loss, Nell stuck her head out of the window and bellowed: "Pray, good people, be civil. I am the Protestant whore."
On his deathbed, Charles besought his brother and heir, "Let not poor Nelly starve." James II kept faith, although her life was less extravagant after her royal lover’s death. Nelly died of a stroke brought on by an occupational disease, at 37.
Gillian Bagwell’s meticulously researched novel takes us from the cobbled, rubbish-strewn alleys of Covent Garden to the Royal Theatre in Drury Lane and into the royal court. She handles the 17th Century London street vernacular with aplomb, and Nell comes across as the epitome of the ‘tart with a heart’, who never apologises for her profession and is generous with both her time and her money. I got the impression Nell truly loved her ‘Charles the Third’ as she called him, and was distraught when he died.
Miss Bagwell’s interpretation is a colourful and sympathetic portrayal of a young woman whose beginnings foretold only misery and heartache, and that Nelly herself not only took advantage of her assets to make her life, and that of her family better, but she never took it for granted or became too greedy, like many of her rivals.
I enjoyed the romp through 17th Century London, and learned a lot about how the actresses owned their ‘parts’, and when they married or, as was more frequent, taken up by a lover, they returned their ‘parts’ to the theatre owners, which was when they could be played by other actresses. I can thoroughly recommend this book, and look forward to Miss Bagwell's next foray into 17th Century England.
Monday, January 3, 2011
The battle of wills begins as Page finds she is torn between loyalty to her country during wartime and her growing love for an Englishman. Tensions mount when she discovers a truth that he would have preferred stayed hidden.