“Not all who wander are lost.” Juliet Waldron earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after the boys left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for herself–and for her readers. She loves her grand-girls and her kitties, likes to take long hikes, and reads historical/archeological non-fiction as well as reviewing for the Historical Novel Society. For summer adventure, she rides behind her husband of 50 years on his “bucket list” (black, and ridiculously fast) Hyabusa motorcycle.
Stephanie: Hey Juliet! Tell me about your story, Nightingale.
Juliet: This story grew from my fascination with Mozart. 18th Century Vienna was glamorous, dangerous and corrupt, and the pathway to fame on the operatic stage was not one that could be walked in innocence. Nightingale is the story of a young vocalist, Maria Klara, who desperately wishes to escape from her aristocratic, controlling patron. The heroine’s situation, BTW, as a nobleman’s mistress, was fairly common for singers at this time.
Stephanie: How did you come up with your title?
Juliet: In letters and documents from this time–when language was what we’d call “flowery”–I noticed that “nightingale” was used to compliment the reigning prima donnas. A 19th Century music hall song about a kept woman laments, “She’s only a bird in gilded cage”, and this is exactly Klara’s situation.
Stephanie: What are Klara’s strengths and weaknesses?
Juliet: Klara is a sensual woman. She’s been raised to give her patron pleasure. Her love-affair with Milos gives her the impetus she’s needed to escape, but she is also tied to the life of fame, comfort and privilege she’s been living. Klara is proud, a characteristic which can be seen as both positive and negative. In the end, it is her belief in her own worth that enables her to dare to leave the Count and find her own path.
Stephanie: What made you decide to write this story?
Juliet: I’ve mentioned a fascination with Mozart. I’d written two novels about him, one from the POV of his wife, Constanze, and the other from the POV of a young mistress. I wanted to write a book which starred one of those prima donnas, the “glorious song birds*” Mozart is on record as having loved so passionately. (* Amadeus)
Stephanie: What do you like most about Historical Fiction?
Juliet: Historical Fiction is way of discussing human nature as it once existed and as it still exists. As time passes, we learn more science and create technology, but on the basic emotional and reactive levels, we humans remain pretty much the same creature we always have been. I enjoy trying to work out “the way we were” and comparing it with the way we live and love now.
Stephanie: What are the challenges to writing in this genre?
Juliet: I believe in working hard to create a genuine time travel experience for my readers. This can put some readers off, because what they actually want is a fantasy. The facts are that the past wasn’t always clean, safe or comfortable. For women, things were doubly hard. You only have to visit an old churchyard and see the grave of some aged gentleman surrounded by the graves of two or three wives and a score of infants to understand this. Still, as a writer, you have to know where to draw a line and how to keep the reader engaged in the story you want to tell.
Stephanie: Who are your influences?
Juliet: I grew up reading writers like Margaret Irwin and Anya Seton, but my early favorite was—and still might be—Mary Renault. She’s my model, both for the high quality of her research and for her unrivaled ability to transport her readers to an almost alien time. Of more modern writers, I like Cecelia Holland, Margaret George and Arturo Perez-Reverte, who writes both classic historicals and swashbucklers, like his Captain Alatriste saga.
Stephanie: What was your writing process for this story?
Juliet: Nightingale came quickly, as I was so “full” of the Mozart research. Mozart’s story is such a sad one; I was ready to write something more romantic, with an HEA. Klara and her sweetheart, Milos, and the rest—the sadistic Count, the castrato teacher, Manzoli, are all amalgams of real historical characters I already “knew” very well.
Stephanie: What is up next for you?
Juliet: I’m working on a sequel to Red Magic, a historical romance which has a strong fantasy and action component. Black Magic, set in 1818 in the Austrian Alps,will have much more fantasy in the form of a shape-shifter hero.
Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Juliet: Klara is an opera singer, an unfamiliar sort of heroine. Think of her as a modern musical superstar and you’ll see that her problems are the same as those of today’s idols. She’s exploited and pushed around by forces both on the inside and on the outside. Will she be able to renounce the heady temptations of stardom and try for true love?
Thanks so much, Stephanie, for the invitation to Layered Pages.
Praise for Nightingale
“As Klara is drawn deeper into love with Akos Almassy, the charismatic harpsichordist, she must come to a decision: chose her true love or stay with the twisted relationship, professional acclaim, and wealth she has with her patron…Much more than a romance, Nightingale offers a tantalizing view into the rarefied atmosphere of historical Vienna and the world of celebrity performers. It is part of Juliet Waldron’s trilogy of Viennese tales, so be sure to read Mozart’s Wife, and My Mozart…” – Judith Schara
“I was drawn into this tale by the lush prose, descriptions of clothing, jewelry, and details of Klara’s performances. Tension is maintained throughout as Klara fights to be free of her gilded cage. Waldron obviously knows her stuff when it comes to music and pure desire.” – Diane Scott Lewis
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Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, May 5 Interview at Layered Pages
Thursday, May 8 Review at Just One More Chapter (Mozart’s Wife)
Friday, May 9 Review at Closed the Cover (Genesee)
Monday, May 12 Spotlight at Tower of Babel
Monday, May 19 Interview at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, May 21 Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, May 26 Review at Book Lovers Paradise (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 2 Review at A Chick Who Reads (Nightingale)
Tuesday, June 3 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Roan Rose)
Wednesday, June 4 Review at The True Book Addict (Mozart’s Wife)
Thursday, June 5 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 9 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Roan Rose)
Tuesday, June 10 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Nightingale)
Thursday, June 12 Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Monday, June 16 Review at Just One More Chapter (Roan Rose)
Tuesday, June 17 Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 23 Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Mozart’s Wife)
Tuesday, June 24 Review at A Bookish Affair (Mozart’s Wife)
Wednesday, June 25 Review at Layered Pages (Nightingale)
Thursday, June 26 Review at A Chick Who Reads (Roan Rose)
Friday, June 27 Review at Broken Teepee (Mozart’s Wife)
Saturday, June 28 Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 30 Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Nightingale)
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