Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Historical Fiction Virtual Tours: Interview and Give@way with Donna Russo Morin

Today I'm very excited to have Donna Russo Morin, author of The King's Agent, to A Bookish Affair for an interview (look for my review of The King's Agent next week).

1. What was your research process like for The King's Agent?

This story is slightly unique in that I found the main character, a true historical character, while doing the research for my third book, To Serve a King. Battista della Palla, a Florentine, was in fact the art agent for the King of France, François I. Battista had spent some years at the French court as a young man during which time a deep friendship was made and a deal was struck…Battista would procure the Italian art that François craved so much and in return he offered Battista ‘his sword’…he would provide military support to Florence should they ever need it.

Having become enamored of Battista in that research, I knew I had to write him, so it is with him that my research began. Once he had become fully crystallized, as well as the period in which he lived, I moved on to the art of Florence, that which François craved so much. Here is where Michelangelo became involved and here is the portion of the story behind the story that truly came as a gift of the fates.

As mentioned, having the main character a true historical character who was involved in the art world, I set the main plot by setting him on a search for an ancient relic. In the very early stages of plot development, I happened to be watching the History Channel, I believe it was something on JFK, the very next show was one I had never heard of. Ancient Aliens is a series that has been on for a few years (unbeknownst to me) that highlighted evidence of alien existence all through history back to ancient times. And what episode should be coming on…evidence of alien existence in Renaissance Art. I was alone in the house, shivers running up the back of my neck, yelling to no one but myself, “Are you kidding me…oh my goodness, this is amazing!” I recorded the show, watched it over and over and over, read the books highlighted during the program, and what was revealed to me was astounding and became an intriguing facet of the book itself.

And into the mix a multi, cross-referenced dissection of Dante’s Divine Comedy and you have the main focus of my research…a bit of an information salad to be sure. But such is the story; it is a multi-layered plot, so much happening above and below the surface.

2. Who or what inspires you as a writer?

I suppose like most who follow an artistic path, I am inspired by many things. On the practical level, I’m a single parent with two sons still living at home…that kind of responsibility is a huge inspiration to keep one’s rump in the seat and churn out the words.

On a thematic basis, the tribulations of my life have provided a great deal of fodder for my stories… the frustrated feminist in me appeared in my first book, the indecisive woman torn between duty and personal happiness dominated the second. In the third, written while going through a nasty divorce, the assassin was born. And in The King’s Agent, the women that is, most times, overburdened by duty, tried to escape for a little fun. In my current work in progress, it is the bonds of women—of girlfriends—coupled with my growing obsession with Renaissance art, that is inspiring the trilogy, one about the birth of the female Renaissance artist.

Beyond that it can be something as simple as a phrase in a song, a two-minute news story, a particular painting that takes my breath away or a place that I long to go.

3. You've written several books now. Do you have a favorite? Why or why not?

That’s a little like asking which of my children do I love the most; there is no real answer for I am proud and love them all equally, even if it may be for different reasons. Right now I am enormously proud of The King’s Agent. It was the first time I tried writing from the male perspective, and I believe I did a fairly good job of it. It is also the object of my highest favor right now because of how many elements I was able to successfully fuse into one story…in a cohesive, intriguing manner. The fact that this was my first book to receive a starred review in Publishers Weekly tips the scales in its direction as well.

4. What is the last great book that you read?

I’ve just finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King and I was mesmerized by it. His utter brilliance for storytelling—it seems so simply told yet the literary craftsmanship is so highly complex— was in full force. Like any story with paranormal, sci/fi elements, there are far more chances for missteps, to break the suspension of disbelief that must be demanded from the reader, especially in the ending, but again, he did not disappoint.

5. If you could choose any three fictional characters to bring with you to a deserted island, who
would you bring?

Well I could be practical with this question and give an answer like Robinson Crusoe who knows his way around a deserted island, but that just doesn’t seem amusing enough for me. So my first choice, without hesitation, would be Jack Sparrow. The man is extraordinarily easy on the eyes, and he always knows where the rum is hidden.

My second choice would be Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Again, many (many) hours could be whiled away staring at such beauty, but here we have the depth of soul as only J. R. R. Tolkien could have written, a passionate and compassionate man of great conviction, of true honor; traits that I have come to cherish beyond all others. I would feel safe with him by my side, taken care of and cared for.

And finally, I would graciously request the presence of The Right Honorable Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey. That wit, that sharp tongue, the snarky sense of humor could fill hours, days, months, and years with laughter.

Thank you, Donna (and I'm so with you on Jack Sparrow)!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Tuesday, February 28th

Wednesday, February 29th
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, March 1st

Friday, March 2nd
Author Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Monday, March 5th

Tuesday, March 6th

Thursday, March 8th
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Reflections of a Bookaholic

Friday, March 9th
Review at Luxury Reading

Monday, March 12th
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at The Owl Bookmark Blog

Tuesday, March 13th

Thursday, March 15th
Review at Historical Fiction Review
Author Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 16th
Review at The Book Garden

Monday, March 19th

Tuesday, March 20th
Author Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, March 22nd
Review & Giveaway at The Bookworm

Friday, March 23rd
Author Guest Post at Jenny Loves to Read

Monday, March 26th

Tuesday, March 27th

Thursday, March 29th
Author Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, March 30th
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, April 2nd

Tuesday, April 3rd
Author Interview & Giveaway at Tanzanite's Castle Full of Books

Thursday, April 5th
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court
Review at The Broke and the Bookish

Friday, April 6th

Monday, April 9th

Tuesday, April 10th

Thursday, April 12th
Author Interview at The Eclectic Reader

Friday, April 13th
Author Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, April 16th

Tuesday, April 17th

Thursday, April 19th

Friday, April 20th
Author Guest Post at Books, Belles & Beaux

Monday, April 23rd

Tuesday, April 24th

Thursday, April 26th
Author Interview at The True Book Addict

Friday, April 27th
Author Guest Post at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, April 30th

Tuesday, May 1st
Author Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, May 3rd

Friday, May 4th
Review at Just One More Paragraph


  1. I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm your newest follower and look forward to visiting often. I loved this interview! Thanks for the chance to win...

  2. Great interview! I wonder which fictional characters I would bring with me.

    1. I love this question and I ask it in pretty much every interview that I do just because I love people's answers. Even though I've been asking people that question for about a year now, I still don't know who I would bring. Someone always seems to come up with a new, really awesome answer that I've never thought of before.

  3. Not too sure about your choice of Jack Sparrow gals. Sure he's nice to look at, but when the chips are down and there's only rations for one remaining, old Jackie's looking out for number one, I bet.

    1. Haha, that's probably true. Maybe I could pick one of Johnny Depp's kinder, gentler characters? :P

    2. Right, Edward Scissorhands is a much nicer guy. Can't think how he'd be useful though. Gilbert Grape's too moody. Donny Brasco maybe? He's a resourceful kinda guy.

    3. Edward Scissorhands would be useful if you could unscrew the scissors and put other tools on his hands. He'd be a walking tool box :)

  4. I love your interview questions because they weren't the standard typical ones! Made me curious to read the book now :D

    1. It's definitely a good one for historical fiction fans!

  5. I can't wait to read the book! I find historical fiction fascinating! I can't imagine the research time put into each book and/or series! Thank you for a fantastic interview and giveaway!

    1. Same here. I think some of the research that goes into the books is why I appreciate historical fiction so much.

  6. Your review has convinced me to want this book. Please enter me!

    harvee44 at yahoo.com

  7. great interview I would love a chance to read this


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