Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interview with Kate Quinn about her new historical release The Serpent And The Pearl

Please welcome author Kate Quinn who's historical novels take us from ancient Rome to the beginning of the rein of the Borgia's in her newest release and the first in her Borgia series The Serpent And The Pearl read below for her answers when I asked what type of social media her characters would have used if they'd had Facebook and Twitter available to them.

  • ISBN-13: 9780425259467
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Series: A Novel of the Borgias Series , #1
  • Pages: 432

One powerful family holds a city, a faith, and a woman in its grasp—from the national bestselling author of Daughters of Rome and Mistress of Rome.
Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into ..
What folks are saying about Kate Quinn:
“A masterful storyteller.” —Margaret George
The novels of Kate Quinn are…
“Full of great characters.”—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Epic, sexy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Deeply passionate.”—Kate Furnivall, author of The White Pearl
“A riveting plunge into an ancient world.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

Kate hi welcome to The Reading Frenzy

Tell us about The Serpent and The Pearl
There's a lot of sumptuous food in this book, so forgive me for using a recipe metaphor:  Take one vivacious blonde with floor-length hair, one cynical dwarf on the hunt for a serial killer, and one fiery female cook with a dangerous secret.  Add a French army, a mummified saint's hand, a Borgia pope who is head-over-heels in love, and enough delicious banquets to throw anybody off their diet.  Stir to a boil, light on fire, and serve for a fun, fast-paced Renaissance romp. 

Kate, we have something in common. My daughter also has a Masters in vocal performance, classical voice and in fact performs locally in an opera company.  So how did a nice opera singer like you come to write historical fiction?
I always had dual interests—ever since I was about ten years old, the extroverted part of me sang and the introverted part wrote books.  I wrote my first real historical novel over my freshman-year weekends in Boston University's basement computer lab, while during the week I took voice lessons and studied music.  My book-writing side eventually won out over my singing side when it came to a career, but I still sing opera in the car!

Will it forever be only historical for you or do you see another genre calling you in the future?
I've taken various stabs at other genres—under my bed I've got rough drafts of a thriller, a sci-fi novel, and a YA adventure.  If you saw any of those books, you'd know I should really stick to writing historical fiction.  But maybe I'll try my hand at more light-hearted HF someday.  So far I've written big power-play books around the movements of armies and the coups of Empires, but I love Jane Austen and “Downton Abbey” too – it would be refreshing to write a book whose big climax is a ball and not a battle or an assassination!

Is it difficult to research historical fiction?  What resources do you use?  Do you travel for research?
I read voraciously, everything I can find on my historical periods.  I'd love to travel more—for this book, I was hoping to get to Rome to see the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican—but sometimes money and time constraints get in the way.   In the end, though, the research is never done.  No matter how much you know, you're always learning something new.   

If you could choose any era past, present or future to live in which would it be and why?
I've written books set in the Renaissance and in ancient Rome, and ancient Rome wins hands down if I was picking a home.  Well-to-do Renaissance women didn't get to go anywhere except church; otherwise it was all sticking to the household and raising the children.  Roman women had much greater freedom socially, and they had legal rights that Renaissance women couldn't dream of, like the right to keep some control over their property, and the right to initiate a divorce if they were unhappily married.  Plus, if you're living in Italy either way, I'd rather be comfortable in a flowing Roman stola than trussed into a long-sleeved heavy-skirted Renaissance gown (as gorgeous as they look on Showtime's “The Borgias” . . .)

What and who do you like to read for pleasure?
Bernard Cornwell and Judith Merkle Riley are my all-time favorites for historical fiction, though currently I'm fascinated by C.W. Gortner and Nancy Bilyeau—their respective “Tudor Conspiracy” and “The Chalice” were my last purchases.  I enjoy jumping to other genres, too:  Jim Butcher's Dresden Files have me salivating like a crack addict, Robert B. Parker is my go-to guy to make a long plane flight zip past, and Richelle Mead's “Vampire Academy” series is my guilty pleasure.    

If  characters like the Borgias were able to utilize social media would they prefer Facebook or Twitter and why?
Oooh, good question.  I think Pope Alexander VI would be a Twitter guy—he was energetic, decisive, and busy-busy-busy, so I can see him thumb-tapping out “The College of Cardinals has no idea what just hit them” to his #IamPope handle as he strides through the Vatican between meetings.  Cesare Borgia would never do social because he wants to keep everybody guessing what he's really thinking.  Lucrezia Borgia is just a teenage girl during “The Serpent and the Pearl,” so she'd be a Facebook junkie:  “OMG, just saw portrait of Prince of Aragon; he's like Henry Cavill gorge!!!  Fingers crossed this betrothal goes through!!!”  And my heroine Giulia Farnese, papal mistress and the most fashionable woman of the Renaissance, would be a Pintarest girl:  “`Here's the hairstyle I wore to Mass last Sunday; you need six strands of pearls and five feet of hair.'  300,000 women have repinned this!” media

Kate I’ve heard some funny/weird stories from signing/author events.  Do you have one you could share with us?
I was once contacted, via a 6-point-font, 9-page email, by an individual who used a great many capital letters to inform me that I was both racist and hell-bound.  Paragraphs from my latest book were re-typed and underlined as supporting arguments for this claim, followed by a demand that the offending passages be removed from the book.  I didn't really see how I could do that, considering the book had already been printed, and decided not to answer the email.  Whereupon I got another email from the same individual, asking me for money.   
But these kinds of things are few and far between.  Almost all the readers who contact me are delightful. 

Kate, you offer reading group guides on your website.  What’s the biggest benefit in your opinion of discussing a novel as a group?
Stephen King once said that a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way.  A book might be the same, but all its readers are different.  Discussing a book with other readers can open your eyes to entirely different ways of viewing the same story.  I love book groups, which is why I have a standing offer to drop in (usually via phone or Skype) to any book group who is discussing one of my books.
 Speaking of author events; do you have any where fans could meet you in person?Yes!  On Saturday August 24th I'm coming to The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore for an author signing and event.  I guarantee food and fun—The Ivy is a fabulous independent bookstore, just the kind we should all be supporting in this day and age of Amazon shopping and massive bookstore chains.  Event details here:

Kate thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Good luck with the new novel!
Thanks so much for having me!

Connect with Kate – WebsiteFacebook - Blog

Click the link to Authorbuzz to see how you can win one of five signed copies of the novel



  1. Great interview and so agree that Roman woman had it better!

    1. Thanks Kim. Would you have wanted to live back then?