1. What was your inspiration behind writing this book?
Most historical novels about artists, that I’ve researched, are written from the perspective of either the muse or the model connected to a famous male artist. I wanted to write from the perspective of a female artist, a woman struggling to find a place in the art world next to her male counterparts. I’m always surprised how few people know who the female impressionists were; artists like Marie Bracquemond who produced prolific, masterful work alongside writing a stunning 1,000-page diary before dying at the age of twenty four.
Yes, there is an undeniable allure to the mysterious women posed in so many famous paintings. But even more intriguing to me were the women painters we hear so little about. I wanted to offer readers the voice of one such artist.
2. Why do you think people are still so interested in the Belle Epoque?
While writing this book, I had no idea people were so interested in the Belle Epoque. I was drawn to a time in history when the impressionists were young, struggling artists being ridiculed for their work, a time filled with courageous people making bold choices that changed the way we view art, literature, theater and music.
It was a cultural turning point and I think this, along with the affluence and beauty of the era, draws us all.
3. Who is your favorite character in this book?
Madame Savaray. She has a way of slipping into the background, and yet holding the whole book together.
4. You're a debut author! Congratulations! Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t have a backup plan. Know exactly what you want and go for that. It’s a slow profession with a steep hill to climb, but if you don’t give the universe any other option you’re bound to get there.
5. If you could bring three fictional characters or historical figures with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
As a writer of historical fiction, with a desire to portray women in all their complexity and power, my first choice would be Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. I can’t imagine a better mind to spend time with.
Since being on a deserted island might be my only chance to learn to meditate for longer than 30 seconds, I would bring the ultimate teacher, Siddhartha Buddha.
Lastly, Galadriel, because who wouldn’t want to hangout with an Elf Queen given the chance?
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