Interview with Award Winning Author Loren Walker

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I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Loren Walker today. Loren is originally from Ontario, Canada, Loren Walker now works and lives in Rhode Island. She earned a Master of Arts in Literature, focus in poetry, from Rhode Island College. Her poems have appeared in QU Journal, the West
Texas Literary Review, and the anthologies Routes and Frequency Writers City and Sea. In 2016, she dove into the world of publishing through her company Octopus & Elephant Books. Her debut publication, the fantasy-sci-fi novel EKO, was a BRAG Medallion Honoree, shortlisted for the Half the World Global Literari Award, and was selected as a Shelf Unbound 2016 Notable Indie.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I learned about indieBRAG online, while researching award competitions that were open to self-publishing work. It was one of the first competitions I submitted EKO to, and I’m glad I found it!

Please tell me about your book, EKO.

The story follows Sydel, a medical apprentice with psychic abilities (called EKO), and a trio of estranged siblings, Phaira, Cohen and Renzo, who are tasked with the girl’s protection, and then her rescue, from malevolent forces. EKO is what I call “tech fantasy,” in that it takes places on another world, Osha, but there’s flying ships and other technology, plus fast-paced action, a little detective work, sibling rivalry, and a touch of romance. As one of the six siblings, I’ve always been drawn to stories that delve into the natural drama between brothers and sisters. I’m also a big advocate for the promotion of complex female protagonists in genre fiction; I want to see strong women who aren’t just tough and serious, but also funny, sexy, silly, and human, and I strove to create then in EKO. Overall, EKP will appeal to fans of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction, comic books and anime, world-building, fast-paced action, and psychic phenomena.

What was the inspiration of your premise and how did you come to write fantasy?

I’ve written stories since I was a little girl: fairies and space battles and superheroes, very fantastical. But when I went to university and started creative writing classes, genre fiction wasn’t considered to be “real writing,” and was deeply discouraged. I was young and impressionable; I felt ashamed of my love of SSF, and didn’t write anything but poetry for many years. I am happy to say, though, that I’ve since realized that I adore fantasy and science-fiction. I love to write it, and its’ not “lesser” to me or millions of others out there. As far as inspiration for EKO, while sifting through screenplays, stories and sketchbooks from high school and college, I began to pull out characters and ideas that still resonated. I thought it be interesting to mash all these different ideas together in a single setting and see what happened in the course of a short story. But the ideas kept coming, and I fell in love with these reborn characters, and a novel (and sequel) were developed over the course of a year.

EKO

Tell me about your main character’s strengths and weaknesses.

There are two main characters in EKO: Sydel and Phaira. Both appears as total opposites; Sydel is small, shy, naïve to the world, while Phaira is tall, powerful, and the warrior among her siblings. But Sydel is unwavering in her beliefs; she may look traditionally feminine and not so strong, but she holds herself to high morals, and she never, ever backs down from them. Ever! She’s a real pain at times, but she will always do what is good and what is right, no matter the cost, and in many ways, she’s the toughest of them all. And Phaira: I’m proud of her layers, how she’s this brash ex-soldier/special ops expert who bickers with her brothers, struggles with addictive behavior, but she can also be warm, joking, protective, and vulnerable.

How did you decide on the title for your book?

Originally, when this was going to be a standalone book, the tentative title was Mobius Loop, in reference to patterns repeating, same old mistakes, which is a major theme in the story. But everything changed as the story progressed, and it seemed natural to title the books after the “abilities” that characters in this story possess, instead. There are four ‘powers’ (and four books) in this series: Eko, Nadi, Insynn…and I’m not saying that the fourth is yet. That will be revealed soon!

Who designed your book cover?

Deranged Doctor Designs do all my book covers. They’re fast, inexpensive, and easy to work with. Special shout outs to my girls Kim and Darja!

How much time did you take to write this story and what was your process?

The first draft of EKO took a year; editing EKO took two more, because I was still sorting out this world I’d created, and solidifying details.

Now that I know the world and my people, the process is quicker. And my process is snippets of time at a computer, writing ideas in a notebook, thinking about story-lines while I’m driving. It’s whenever I can get a spare moment. I work several different jobs. I have a young son, and finding the time to do any of this is always a challenge. But I always try to do something to move forward every day, even if it’s just thinking about the storyline and where I want to go with it.

Have you written other books? What are you currently working on now?

EKO was the first book I ever finished. The sequel, NADI, was released in March 2017, and the third book in the series, INSYNN, will be out in September 2017. The fourth and final book of the series will be released in March 2018; I’m =finishing the final draft now. I’m also releasing a poetry chapbook, DISLOCATION, a compilation of poems and illustrations about traveling in Japan with my mother. I workshop actively on WATTpad.

Where can readers buy your book, EKO?

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Barrington Books Retold 
Books on the Square

Other links:

Official Website
Twitter Handle: lorenwalker99
Instagram: lorenwalkerauthor
Wattpad Profile
Goodreads Profile 

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Loren Walker who is the author of, EKO, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, EKO, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

 

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Bookish Happenings: What’s New

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Today I wanted to share four new books I received on NetGalley to review. As if I don’t already have an over-flowing pile of books to get too. I just can’t help myself. I just keep on pressing that request button! I know many of your can relate. This summer I hope to get through a lot of them So it’s all good. Books are suppose to make one happy, not stressed out. Enjoy!

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Strangers in Budapest IIStrangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener

Algonquin Books

General Fiction (Adult), Literary Fiction

Pub Date 14 Nov 2017

“From the first pages of Strangers in Budapest, the words ‘You must not tell anyone’ made me feel as if a hand had reached out from the shadows to pull me under, and I was swept away inexorably by this hypnotic plot, these dark scenes, relentless tension. This is a riveting, beautiful book.” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

Budapest is a city of secrets, a place where everything is opaque and nothing is as it seems. It is to this enigmatic city that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts from her past; for Will, it is a chance to try his wings as an entrepreneur in Hungary’s newly developing economy.

But only a few months after moving there, they receive a secretive request from friends in the US to check up on an old man who also has recently come to Budapest. When they realize that his sole purpose for coming there is to exact revenge on a man whom he is convinced seduced and then murdered his daughter, Will insists they have nothing to do with him. Annie, however, unable to resist anyone she feels may need her help, soon finds herself enmeshed in the old man’s plan, caught up in a scheme that will end with death.

The Knowing by David GrahamThe Knowing by David Graham

Urbane Publications

Horror, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 30 Mar 2017

Ceri Edwards and two school friends lift the lid on an ancient book of recipes belonging to Betty Williams, a volunteer at the local hospital in Pontypridd, South Wales. Two Kansas City cops step off a flight at London Heathrow and one of them falls to the ground with a painful conviction that there’s something evil in the air. United in their destinies, Ceri and the police officers are drawn into a world where prophecies are pitted against invisible forces planning to raze London to the ground and bring down the Royal Family. It all rests with Dai Williams, recently knighted MI5 agent and reluctant hero, to bring some order to the improbable events and to ensure that afternoon tea at The Ritz continues for another hundred years. A great cross between Kim Newman and Ben Aaranovitch and a thrill for any fan of contemporary urban horror.

Seven Days in MaySeven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Harper 360

Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

A captivating novel of love and resilience during the Great War, inspired by real events and the author’s family history.

As the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in the wedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk. Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitania for the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead.

In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. She begins as a secretary, but it isn’t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war.

As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate.

The Beautiful OnesThe Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

St. Martin’s Press

Thomas Dunne Books

Sci Fi & Fantasy

Pub Date 24 Oct 2017

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin’s wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society.

Antonina, who prefers her family’s country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society’s ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can’t help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent.

Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice.

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Cover Crush: Collide by Michelle Madow

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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Collide by Michelle MadowCollide by Michelle Madow

Young Adult/Fantasy

Published February 9th 2017 by Dreamscape Publishing

I should have died when I was shot at the Halloween dance.

Instead I woke up—one week earlier, in a parallel universe where my mom’s fatal car accident six months ago never happened.

A world with my mom still in it was all I ever wanted. But in this timeline, everything is different—my grades, my friends, and even my boyfriend. I’m a stranger in my own body, and I don’t like who I’ve become.

But one thing is the same—that shooting will still happen at the end of the week.

I’m the only one who knows. Which means I’m the only one who can stop it.

But first I need to convince someone—anyone—that I’m telling the truth… and then get them to help me.

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This cover really appeals to me in a number of ways. I love the vibrant colors used and the dramatic flare of the girl’s dress. Not only that but the picture of the clock in the background. The way the girl is facing it and how her dress flares out around her shows movement. The title Collide is perfect for this cover and I look forward to finding out how it connects to the story. Great cover for a fantasy story!

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

Book Spotlight: Sanyare: The Heir Apparent (The Sanyare Chronicles Book 2) by Megan Haskell

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Limited Time Launch Week Price Just $0.99 on Amazon!

Her secret is unraveling. One dangerous quest could end it all…



Rie thought she was an ordinary human. After she’s named heir to Sanyaro, the truthseeker and mediator of the nine faerie realms, life becomes a lot more complicated. As she struggles to control her magics, Rie nearly falls prey to a brutal assassination attempt during a public ceremony.

Blamed for the chaos, Rie’s escort, Prince Daenor, is taken prisoner. While Sanyaro tempers the political flames, Rie must once again chase after the truth. As if the threat of another great war and the impending death of her lover weren’t enough, Rie uncovers a dark secret that threatens to crack the very foundations of the faerie realms. When allies fall, can Rie overcome the odds… and the opposition?

Sanyare: The Heir Apparent is a captivating dark fantasy adventure novel. If you enjoy thrilling adventures across nine unique realms filled with wise-cracking carnivorous pixies, then you’ll love the second installment of The Sanyare Chronicles from Megan Haskell.

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About Author:

Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. When I was a kid, my mom was forced to ground me from reading or I wouldn’t do my chores. To this day, I can readily ignore the real world in favor of the imaginary one lurking between the pages of my current addiction. My dad — also an avid reader — introduced me to Tolkien in my late elementary years, and I never looked back. I love escaping to worlds where magic and monsters are real, especially stories with kick-butt heroines and dangerously attractive heroes.

Despite my voracious book appetite, I didn’t start creative writing until I was working as a number cruncher in a big accounting firm. With an hour plus commute by train every day, and a demanding left-brain occupation, I needed a mobile creative outlet. A pen and paper are about as mobile as it gets! As the pages began to fill, I quickly moved onto a tiny laptop, and a writer was born. Now I get to create my own fantasies!

I currently live in Southern California with my wonderfully supportive husband, two daughters, and a ridiculously energetic dog.

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Author Website

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Mirta Ines Trupp

mirta-ines-trupp-profile-picI’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Mirta Ines Trupp to Layered Pages today. She is here to talk with me about her book, Becoming Malka.

Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with “un pie acá, y un pie allá” (with one foot here and one foot there). Mirta’s self-proclaimed life’s career has been raising a family and creating a home, alongside her husband of over thirty years. She returned to the world of the gainfully employed late in life; currently in a position which doesn’t require one iota of dramatic flair – just common sense, organization and attention to detail. Rather than being self-deprecating, Mirta lightheartedly concedes that her paper pushing makes a number of people happy, as that bureaucratic busywork ensures that payroll is met and invoices are processed. Besides being an avid novel reader and a devoted Beatles fan, Mirta most enjoys singing choral music and researching family genealogy.

Hi, Mirta! Thank you for chatting with me today about your book, Becoming Malka and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion! Please tell me about your story.

Thank you for inviting me. I am delighted to participate in this interview and am excited to answer your questions! Becoming Malka is a Historical Fiction/ Fantasy. In pursuit of her master’s degree in Imperial Russian history, we find 24 year-old Molly Abramovitz heading to Moscow for a week-long seminar. Never one to miss an opportunity for genealogical research- being methodical and meticulous- she plans a side trip to Ukraine. Molly’s trek to her ancestral home leads to the discovery of a mythical tarot card which transports her to the chaotic year of 1900. She finds herself in her great, great-grandmother’s presence. Surrounded by the history and culture she has studied her entire life and knowing, full well, the fate that awaits her ancestors, Molly is faced with a dilemma of extraordinary proportions.

becoming-malka-bragHow did you decide on the setting for your and what is the period your story is written in?

Being rather a newbie at this scribbling business, I tend to stick to what I know. I have plenty of material in my family background, being a descendant of Russian immigrants and having been born in Argentina therefore; choosing a setting was a no-brainer! The story begins in modern times, in California 2015 to be exact, and we end up in Ukraine just prior to the Russian Revolution.

Please tell me about Molly Abramovitz and her strengths and weaknesses.

Molly is a brilliant young woman, loving and family- oriented, but she is a bit of a control freak. She favor’s her father’s obsession with facts and spreadsheets and looks upon her mother’s love of all things spiritual and esoteric with more than just a bit of skepticism. She is loyal and determined, with a strong sense of right and wrong. Her weakness stems from fear, which unquestionably is the motivating factor behind her need for control. And while she can see heroic or noble characteristics in others, Molly is unable to recognize her own inherent value. She’s afraid that she doesn’t measure up!

What was the inspiration for your story?

I was inspired to write the book I wanted to read! Does that make sense? Here I was, an avid fan of Period Drama and all things Judaic, but I couldn’t find anything to satisfy my cravings for a fusion of these two worlds. There are a few “mash ups” out there- if you look hard enough- but I found most of them to be filled with stereotypical characterizations of the Jewish community. When I did find something of merit, the material was intense, heavy reading… Daniel Deronda comes to mind as a good example. There is a wealth of dark Fiction and Nonfiction that speaks to the atrocity of anti-Semitism throughout the ages, but I was inspired to shine the light on a period of time just prior to the Russian Revolution and to bring attention to the heroic steps taken by Baron Maurice Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association. Rather than being a tragic narrative, I depict an upper, middle class, Jewish community in the 19th century. My favorite reads- my period dramas- speak of the landed gentry, aristocrats and high society; I was inspired to create educated, successful, philanthropic, characters. The Brodskys- the famed Sugar Kings of the South-were a prime example and I based the Abramovitz family on their history. This fictional ‘meshpucha’ (Yiddish for family) lived among the upper echelon and I was excited to bring them to life! I wanted to write about Jewish ladies, fashionably dressed, taking tea in the drawing room of a well-appointed estate. I wanted to present a cultured, well-established family living “Jewishly” in Mother Russia. And of course, I wanted to write about their emigration to the “New Jerusalem” in Argentina, as it speaks to the courage of my own ancestors and countless others who risked everything for the sake of future generations. I added the fantasy element, with the discovery of a mythical tarot card and some discussion of Jewish mysticism, to add another dimension to the story. Who wouldn’t want to travel back in time to meet their ancestors? I know I would! Becoming Malka is a light, entertaining read, but it is not lightweight, by any means. The actual idea for the story came to me in a dream- in a feverish dream! I left work early one day feeling a bit sluggish- dreading the sensation of an oncoming cold. I headed for home and went straight to bed, but as I closed my eyes, the name Malka came to mind. When I awoke, I had the entire concept for the book. As I sketched out the storyline, I incorporated elements of history and genealogy, subjects of great interest to me. As I mentioned previously, I am the granddaughter of Jewish Russian immigrants, so I was greatly inspired to create an enchanting story that incorporated some of their background.

What are some of the emotional triggers for Molly and how does she act on them?

Our dear Molly, with all her education and comfortable home life, suffers from insecurity. Her fear of instability causes her to over plan and strategies. Unlike Queen Elsa, she can’t “let it go!” Being the daughter of immigrants, she is torn by the separation of her extended family and it causes her to question her parents’ decisions, as well as her own. Molly is at times, quick to judge. She needs an explanation for everything; she likes things neatly squared away- wrapped up nicely with a bow, if you please.

What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?

I hope that I’ve created several interesting and diverse characters; each one bringing their own individual gifts and talents to the story. Bobe Malka, the matriarch, is the epitome of elegance, wisdom. I hope she imparts a sense of constancy and respectability. Her son, Abraham provides some tension: he fears change and clings to the old ways. Josef, Molly’s great grandfather, is full of energy, ready to take on the world and claim his stake in the future. The youngest daughter, Leah, reminded me of Lydia Bennett at times. With lighthearted, teenage humor, Leah throws caution to the wind, and yet, there is a glimpse of the woman she is to become. Molly, although unquestionably knowledgeable and responsible, is the ingénue. Call her a late bloomer; it is her coming of age story. David, young, yet brave, is ready to believe his grandmother when she says that inexplicable is not the same as unexplainable. He represents that part of us that wants to believe in miracles- that senses we don’t need to understand everything. “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Citing Albert Einstein isn’t necessarily in keeping with this Indie-author, but while researching the topic of time travel and the introduction of a mythical tarot card, I found this quote quite set the tone for the narrative.

How much time did you spend writing this story and what was your process?

As much as I would have loved to dedicate myself to writing, I am a wife, a mom and a full-time employee. I’m not quite sure how I managed; I jotted down notes throughout the day and eventually would find time in the evenings and on weekends to settle down and write. In between the mundane and humdrum, I allowed the thoughts that I had been collecting to somehow spill out on paper…or rather, on my P.C. I began with a rough draft and a sketchy outline. I named the entire family and provided birthdates for each one before I wrote the first paragraph. I had to get the genealogy just right! I spent some time researching facts on fashion, architecture, and notable Jewish community leaders of the era. In addition, I explored the fascinating world of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and even discovered an amazing story about “barajas”- playing cards used by Jews hiding from the Inquisition. All in all, the writing took close to a year to complete… then of course, came the “fun” part: Editing.

Where can readers buy your book?

Becoming Malka is available in both paperback and EBook formats on Amazon. My first book, With Love, The Argentina Family~ Memories of Tango and Kugel; Mate with Knishes can also be purchased via this website.

What are your personal motivations in story-telling?

The inspiration for both my books actually stem from the same base. I wanted to honor my family- this sturdy, loving, enduring stock made up of Jewish values, Russian ancestry, and Argentine culture. As an immigrant, having the good fortune of growing up in the United States of America, I wanted to honor the sense of history, pride and gratitude, as well.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

I’ve written a Creative Non-Fiction and a Historical Fiction/Fantasy. Both books speak to Argentine and Russian history, Jewish culture and mysticism. Some people might think that a book about a particular culture or faith would only attract a specific group. But on a deeper level, of course, we are all human beings; we can relate to various universal themes such as tradition, assimilation, acceptance and personal growth. When readers can see beyond the label and see themselves, that’s when the author has truly accomplished something of worth. Once you peel away the labels, whether they are self-inflicted or imposed by society, you end up with the human experience and that makes for interesting reading. And it follows, that the most rewarding aspect of writing for me, is making that connection with others.

How often do you write and is there a particular time during the day your best ideas come to you?

It is my long term goal to write away the hours, but for now- and until I retire-I am a full time employee. During the day, I manage to scribble a few lines here and there during breaks and my lunch hour. I usually keep paper and pen on hand for when I am inspired and suddenly come up with a great line. I was caught unprepared once while traveling on a plane. I had an urge to write a thought- a conversation between two characters- but I didn’t have my tablet or even a scrap of paper. Tired of waiting for the overwrought flight attendant, I reached into the back pocket of the seat directly in front of me and pulled out the handy-dandy airsick bag and wrote an entire scene on the slick cardboard. It just goes to show, if you really want to write, you will find the time! Night time is the best, actually…the house is quiet.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m playing with the idea of a sequel to Becoming Malka. Many readers have expressed an interest in finding out what happened to Malka and the family, so unless I experience another inspirational “fever,” I have some work cut out for me!

I enjoyed our talk very much, Mirta! Please visit with me again sometime.

Author Links:

LINKS: 

Amazon

Facebook

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Mirta Ines Trupp who is the author of, Becoming Malka, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Becoming Malka, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 indiebrag team member

 

 

 

Interview with Author Kate Forsyth

02_Bitter Greens

Publication Date: September 23, 2014 Thomas Dunne Books Hardcover; 496p ISBN-10: 1250047536

Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Fairy-Tale Retellings

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

Hello, Kate! It is a pleasure to chat with you today about your story, Bitter Greens. What a beautiful and creative premise. Rapunzel is a tale I have known since childhood…what inspires you about Rapunzel to begin with?

I have been fascinated with the Rapunzel fairy tale since I first read it as a little girl. I was always puzzled by the mysteries in the tale: why did the witch lock up the girl? Why did she have to climb up her hair to get into the tower? How did the girl’s hair get so long? Questions like that niggled at me, and so I began to think up possible explanations for them.

Shamefully, I have to admit I have never paid much attention to the writer (s) of the story and had no idea it was penned by women. What is it that fascinates you about their lives the most?

I am a storyteller as well as a writer, and so I’ve always been interested in the ways stories endure over time, told and retold and retold again. I became interested in finding out the origin of the tale in the early stages of planning my novel, and was hugely excited when I stumbled across the life story of Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, who wrote the version of the tale as it was first told while she was locked up in a convent after scandalizing the royal court at Versailles with her love affairs and refusal to bow to societal norms. She was such a fascinating woman and the parallels between her story and the fairy tale she wrote struck me at once.

What were some of the historical events that took place in the setting of this story?

BITTER GREENS moves between two historical settings. The first is Renaissance Venice, and takes in 16th witchcraft hunts, the devastation of the plague, and the extraordinary art of Tiziano Vercelli, best known in English as Titian. The second setting is the sumptuous royal court of 17th century France, ruled over by Louis XIV, the Sun King. Charlotte-Rose de la Force was his second cousin and a maid-of-honour serving the queen. During her life, she saw the cruel persecution of the French Protestants, c alled Huguenots, and the scandal of the Affair of the Poisons, which saw hundreds of people arrested and tortured on suspicion of Satanism and murder.

Selena stands out to me the most. What are her strengths and weaknesses? And in what way does she inspire-if she inspires that is…?

Kate: Selena is a Venetian courtesan and the witch of the tale. Selena witnessed the terrible punishment of her mother, after she was unfaithful to her patron, and so sets herself to enact revenge on those who took part. She studies ‘stregheria’, the Italian art of witchcraft, in an attempt to shape her own life. She is afraid of the passing of time and the coming of death, and so hates clocks and watches, but is also passionate, sensual, and determined.  Although she is strong and clever, she also has a strong streak of cruelty in her and locks girls up in a tower for her own nefarious purposes, so I’m not sure she can be seen as an inspiration!

Could you please give me an example of Renaissance life in Venice? Something romantic, perhaps?

Venice in the 16th century was a place of great wealth, beauty and culture.  Its streets were full of merchants from all over the world, all speaking their own tongues and wearing the clothes of their nation. Women were gorgeously dressed in silks and satins and cloth-of-gold, and wore totteringly high wooden chopines to protect their delicate silk slippers from the water that often overflowed from the canals.  Artists such as Michelangelo, Titian and Bellini created works of startling beauty, and every palace and cathedral was painted and ornamented to within an inch of their life. At Carnevale, men and women dressed up in their finest clothes and hid their faces behind masks so that they could wander the narrow streets and plazas of the many islands, free to love anyone they pleased. Many people began to wear masks all year long, in order to enjoy the freedom of anonymity, until the practice was outlawed in 1797. Mask-makers were revered, and had their own rules and their own guild.

What compels the old nun to tell Charlotte-Rose the tale who is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens? Is there a particular message she wants her to grasp?

I think Seraphina wants to help Charlotte-Rose learn to accept her fate with grace, and to make the most of the life she has been given. We cannot always choose what happens to us in our lives, but we can choose how we deal with it.

What is Charlotte’s personality like?

She is strong-willed, quick-witted, passionate, and very stubborn. She does her best to live a self-determined life, and finds the strictures of the patriarchal society in which she lives very difficult to negotiate. All she wants is to live and love as she chooses, and to write – yet these things are constantly being denied to her, and so she is frustrated and angry, particularly in the beginning of the book. She is also afraid and determined not to show it, and this makes her seem proud and even arrogant. She is also, I’m afraid, rather vain, but then she lives in the royal court of Versailles where everything is about show.

Is there one thing you find remarkable about Venice in 1512?

Venice had always been a city remarkable for its religious and cultural toleration, yet this began to change around this time. The world’s first ghetto was established in Venice in 1516, and other races and religions began to find themselves having their freedom curtailed as well. This was partly as a result of a long-waged war against Constantinople, and partly because of religious fervor caused by terrible outbreaks of the bubonic plague.

What was your process for this story and how long did you work on it?

Bitter Greens was a complex and challenging novel to write, and took me a long time to research. All in all, it took me seven years to write! I began by learning everything I could about the two periods my story was set in, and by studying the history of the Rapunzel fairy tale (I ended up doing a doctorate on this.) I then wrote each of the three narrative threads independently from each other, and then wove them together. It was like writing three novels instead of one!

What do you love most about writing?

Everything! I love the first period, when my mind is alive with story possibilities and I’m reading and researching and thinking and daydreaming. I love the actual writing process, and all the amazing serendipitous discoveries I make. And I love to edit too – that’s when the story really begins to fall into shape.

Who are your influences?

I think every single book I have loved – and there are hundreds of thousands of those!

Praise for Bitter Greens

“Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens is an enthralling concoction of history and magic, an absorbing, richly detailed, and heart-wrenching reimagining of a timeless fairytale.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

“See how three vividly drawn women cope with injustice, loneliness, fear, longing. See how they survive—or perpetrate—treachery. Surrender yourself to a master storyteller, to delicious detail and spunky heroines. Bitter Greens is a complex, dazzling achievement.” —Susan Vreeland, New York Times bestselling author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Girl in Hyacinth Blue

“A magical blend of myth and history, truth and legend, Bitter Greens is one of those rare books that keeps you reading long after the lights have gone out, that carries you effortlessly to another place and time, that makes you weep and laugh and wish you could flip forward to make sure it all ends happily ever after—but for the fact that if you did so, you might miss a line, and no line of this book should be missed.” —Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The Ashford Affair

“Kate Forsyth wields her pen with all the grace and finesse of a master swordsman. In Bitter Greens she conjures a lyrical fairytale that is by turns breathtaking, inspiring, poetic, and heartbreakingly lovely. Set like a jewel within the events of history, it is pure, peerless enchantment.”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

“Bitter Greens is pure enchantment–gripping and lyrical. From the high convent walls where a 17th century noblewoman is exiled, to a hidden tower which imprisons an innocent girl with very long hair, to the bitter deeds of a beautiful witch who cannot grow old–Kate Forsyth weaves an engrossing, gorgeously written tale of three women in search of love and freedom. A truly original writer, Forsyth has crafted an often terrifying but ultimately redemptive dark fairy tale of the heart.”—Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award-winning author of Claude & Camille

“Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens is not only a magnificent achievement that would make any novelist jealous, it’s one of the most beautiful paeans to the magic of storytelling that I’ve ever read.”—C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

“Threads of history and folklore are richly intertwined to form this spellbinding story. Kate Forsyth has excelled herself with Bitter Greens. Compulsively unputtdownable.”—Juliet Marillier, national bestselling author of Flame of Sevenwaters and Heart’s Blood

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About the Author

Kate Forsyth 1

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.

She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.

Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.

Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.