Today is the last day of David Blixt's tour for HISTORICAL FICTION VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS. (Read my review of THE MASTER OF VERONA here)
And, what better way than to end the tour with an Author Interview and GIVEAWAY:))
I have the immense pleasure of presenting to you David Blixt with this exceptional interview he did for us!
Please welcome, David Blixt!!
Hello David. Can you please tell us how you got started as a writer of historical fiction?
It wasn’t deliberate. While I’ve enjoyed the genre since my late teens, I never aspired to join the ranks of HF authors. My eye was always on how to bring these great stories to the stage. Then several things happened at once. While backstage during a run of Much Ado About Nothing, my future wife gave me a copy of Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game Of Kings. This was just after I had directed a production of Romeo & Juliet where I discovered a possible cause for the famous Capulet-Montague feud. The feud thing was unplayable on-stage, but I couldn’t let the idea go. I just didn’t know what to do with it.
Somewhere in the midst of reading Dunnett’s amazing Lymond series I realized I wanted to write the origin of the feud as a novel, in the style of Dunnett. Which I’ll be the first to stipulate is impossible. She is entirely unique. But that’s what got me started, and since then it’s taken over my life – in a very good way.
What made you choose Verona for the setting of your books?
Verona was chosen for me by Shakespeare (or rather, the sources Shakespeare stole his story from, Arthur Brooke and Luigi da Porto). Yet as I did the research – reading the stories and histories, visiting the city and talking to the Veronese – I was stunned at how important Verona was to this particular moment in time. The early Fourteenth Century finds Dante and Giotto, the fathers of both Renaissance literature and painting, living and working in Verona. A couple decades later, Petrarch actually marks the official start of the Renaissance by discovering letters from Cicero in Verona. So in a very real sense, Verona is at the heart of the Renaissance.
Then I started reading about Cangrande della Scala, the Prince of Verona. He just knocked my socks off. The acts he performed were larger than life. His ridiculous feats of daring were entirely outside belief and yet quite real. He was also so very young, just 23 when the story starts, and yet he was already conquering city after city in northern Italy.
This is where serendipity sets in – I saw so much of Lymond in Cangrande that I had to actively strive to not write him as Dunnett’s character. Which in turn led to some of the best drama in the whole tale. It’s impossible not to love Cangrande. You just don’t always have to like him. But I think that, both for readers of the books and for the living Veronese today, Cangrande is Verona.
After the fourth book in the series I’ll be leaving Verona behind, which is a shame, as the city is as much a character by now as any breathing person. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that for the final book I’ll be coming back.
As for the characters you choose, were these inspired by people you know, or historical figures?
Major characters are either inspired by history or by the needs of the story. I seldom consciously use friends in my novels. There are exceptions, of course. The villain of The Master Of Verona, the Count of San Bonifacio, is physically based on a friend named Brad Waller. But Brad is the sweetest and funniest guy in the world, and is entirely unlike the dastardly Count. So while I’ve employed his visage, I wasn’t writing about Brad. Another example – I’ve long promised two friends that I’d put them into one of my books, and I’m doing it now, but I’m only using names and descriptions, not their personalities. Even as minor characters, I don’t want to write them as they are, but as I need them to be to serve the tale.
So I’ll steal faces and quirks, but I have yet to put my living friends into a story. Or myself, for that matter. When I was 19, I wrote a time-travel romance that was all about me, my deep love for an idealized woman, and how utterly cool and interesting I am. That book lives in a drawer, but I’m very happy I wrote it. It allowed me to get out of my own way. I don’t ever need to write about myself again. I can just write the stories.
Do you have any other projects coming up – please let us in on what you will be doing next!
Goodness, where to start? I have the fourth volume of Star-Cross’d coming this summer, entitled The Prince’s Doom. Then I have three more volumes in the Colossus series, the first of which, The Four Emperors, hits Kindle in early February. I have a Tudor Noir novel that I’m eager to finish. Then there’s a very large book about the Devil I’ve been planning for literally ten years that I finally have all laid out and am ready to dive into. I’m always about five years behind my brain in terms of story ideas. My goal is to catch up.
Thanks for having me, and happy reading!
Thank you, David!
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