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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"The King's Agent" by Donna Russo Morin~Historical Fiction at Its Finest

"To the casual observer, Battista della Palla is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe’s burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive objet d’art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own…

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture—a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart—and chance the course of history…"

So summaries this gorgeous historical fiction that will keep any of you who love this genre on the edge of your chairs.  Donna Russo Morin is a capable and alluring author.  She can charm and mesmerize her readers into a world so glamorous and dangerous, we feel our hearts beating fast with the intrigue Aurelia and Battista are wrapped in.  This is a book that will fit perfectly on your historical novel shelves.  A beautiful book!  A perfect story of mystery and suspense set in the most exotic of places...and decorated with ornate pieces of art and fashion.  Who wouldn't want to read this one?!  I loved it.

Particulars of the Book:
Published by:  Kensington Books
Pages:  418 including Book Group Discussions
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Author:  Donna Russo Morin

You may wish to read more about "The King's Agent" and Ms Morin at her website:  http://www.donnarussomorin.com

You can find an excerpt from the book on her website, as well.

Follow her on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/Donna.Russo.Morin

and on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin

Recipient of a Publishers Weekly Starred Review!“Russo Morin (To Serve a King) skillfully blends historical fiction and fantasy in surprising ways. She draws effortlessly upon influences ranging from Dante to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the authority of her presentation makes the world she’s created come alive. A wonderfully action-packed ride through the lush landscape of Renaissance Italy.”

About the Author :
Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.
Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse. Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.
After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.
Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.



An Interview with Ms Morin :

Hi, Donna!  Welcome to A Bookish Libraria!  Let's chat...here are some questions for you so we can get to know you better.  Thanks for coming on and answering them with me.

Thank you so much for having me and for the opportunity; but be prepared, I’m nothing if not an open book (pun intended)!

1) First of all, please tell us a special something about what makes you "tick." When you aren’t writing, what are you doing? (Aside from being a mom)
There are a few things that are special to me—besides my two sons. Music holds a special place in my life, it is the reason my family came to America, and its often my refuge when I can find no other. I’m mostly a rock, alternative rock, and some pop kind of girl, but if it makes me want to sing or dance I can like it. It not only has the ability to lift me from dark places, it can break creative barriers. I turn it on, blast it up, sing (badly), dance around the house and the next thing I know the juices are flowing and the words are in my head once again.
I’m also FAN-atical about football, New England Patriots football to be exact. So fanatical, that the male antagonist in my second book, The Secret of the Glass, was physically modeled after Tom Brady, the Pats’ QB. I typically only take one day off a week and for six months of the year it’s the day the game is on.
And last but not least, I adore video games. It created a bond between my children from when they were very young, a bond that has only grown stronger, and it provides me with escapism like nothing else. One game in particular, The Legend of Zelda, is so important, it played a part in the inspiration for my latest release, The King’s Agent.
 
2) You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?
I found my genre in a very round about way. Though I had been reading it since I was a teenager, I actually started out as a horror writer, but wasn’t having much success except with short fiction. But it was before I learned to listen to my own ‘writer’s voice.’ Once I did, once I heard how formal it was, I began writing in the genre, and sold the very first book I wrote.

As for place and time, for The King’s Agent in particular, it came about through research for my previous book, To Serve a King. Battista della Palla was so much of a complex character and dashing countenance, that I knew I must write more about him. He was, in fact, one of Francois I’s art agents, his foremost art agent in Italy, instructed to obtain those masterpieces the King of France craved, at any cost, even—when all else failed— thievery. Yet he was the very definition of contradiction, deeply religious and loyal yet with the heart of a rogue. The timing of his life also allowed me to use another factual character of whom I’d been longing to write, Michelangelo. Now I am so enamored of the period, my current WIP is set in the same time and place, Renaissance Florence.
3) Bronte or Austen? Hemingway or Hawthorne? Why?
The first is very close, as I love them both, but I’d have to go with Austen; Bronte is most often dark and I prefer the lighter entertainment of Austen. The second is an easier answer; Hawthorne. Not only do I prefer his more historical time and tone, I find Hemingway’s works too character introspective at times.
 
4) In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?
It has to have the merging of larger than life yet relatable characters and a story line that is simultaneously unpredictable and believable; not an easy task.
5) Which author(s) most influenced your love of books from childhood? 
Wow…going back to my childhood (back before the Earth’s crust cooled) it would be Charlotte’s Web, the Trixie Belden books, jumping to anything and everything by Stephen King, then to my genre mentors…James Michener, Leon Uris, Rosalind Laker, John Jakes, Diana Gabaldon. That brings us to present day.
 
6) Read any good books in the past 6 months?
Stephen King’s 11/23/66 was excellent; I also thoroughly enjoyed Andre Agassi’s biography, Open. And though it’s a bit more military based than I preferred, the writing by Bernard Cornwell, this time with Death of Kings, was amazing.
7) Choose 4 guests from any era for dinner. Who would they be and what would you choose for a topic of conversation?
Mary Magdalene, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Jefferson and Gloria Steinem; the topic…freedom.
 
8) Which of your characters is most like you?
In truth, there is a bit of me in all of my female protagonists. Woven through the external ideas are the internal conflicts of my own life that are laid bare in every story. 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 woman 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—that will infuse the saga.
9) If you could cast your book for a movie, who would you choose?
Well, Battista and Aurelia aren’t your typical protagonists; they aren’t ‘kids’ in their late teens or early twenties as can be the norm. So they would require actors possessing age, wisdom, and beauty. I have to confess from the very beginning I pictured Battista as Johnny Depp. He’s the right age range and has that marvelous mixture of bad boy, magnetism, and vulnerability; characteristics that are Battista’s truth. As for Aurelia, both physically and constitutionally, I could see Julia Roberts play her with ease. She has not only the femininity and the strength, but also the wisdom that Aurelia possesses and needs to endure all that she must.
10) Worst habit you have?
Television. It is death to a writer. It allows us to escape to stories though very few can offer anything productive or tutorial in the way of our work.
11) How much research did you do before and during writing?
For all my books, the research phase takes longer than the writing phase, typically seven to eight months. Then I knock out the work in the remainder of the year. I usually won’t leave the keyboard until I’ve hit 3000 words for the day. But the research is so all encompassing, that I rarely have to stop while writing and if I do, it’s usually geographic in nature.
 
12) Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six years old…since I first learned to write. I wrote my first real stories in sixth grade; my mother still has them though the paper is yellowing and cracking at the folds. Life hit me with some curve balls that knocked me off my path, but I found my way to my truth again and I’ve never looked back, no matter the challenges.
Thanks for joining us on The Bookish Libraria!   You are such a fascinating woman, and intelligent writer, Donna, it's been a joy to interview you.
It’s been my pleasure…may grand stories be forever in your future…read, imagine, enjoy!

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The Dame's Final Word :

This is a book I highly recommend to not only historical fiction readers, but those who enjoy a suspense novel set in period detail!  5 stars


Deborah/TheBookishDame



3 comments:

Little Girl Lost

Hello Deborah!
Thank you for the awesome interview, and the review is great too. I really enjoy historical literature, and am currently reading Wolf Hall.
You have a great taste in books. Loved your blog! following you now!

Please do visit my book blog at http://riversihaveknown.com/ and if you like it please follow. it will be awesome to have a reader like you!

Sophia Rose

This book sounds like a great read. I love the adventure element to make it exciting. I enjoyed the getting to know the author interview too.

Thanks!

Deb

Little Girl Lost, Coming over to see and follow you! Thanks for you kind comments.

Hi, Sophia! I think this is definitely one for you! :]

Deborah

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