Archives

Tags

Selected Works

Historical Fiction
Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end.
Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance's most notorious family, three outsiders must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power.
The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web.
The lives of an ambitious soldier, a patrician heiress and a future emperor fatefully intersect.
The Year of Four Emperors - and four very different women struggling to survive
A brilliant and paranoid Emperor, a wary and passionate slave girl – who will survive?

Ave Historia: An irreverent look at historical fiction today: books trends, historical tidbits, and random tangents

A Christmas Re-Make

December 25, 2011

Tags: christmas, a christmas carol, the ref

I love Christmas. I really do. But at some point in the holiday season (usually somewhere around December 1st) certain aspects start to grate. Take “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” - what kind of message is this song sending, telling us that popularity and happiness will only be achieved when others realize that your personal oddities are in fact useful and lucrative? Or “Frosty the Snowman.” I'll flip past it approximately 800 times on various TV channels during the holiday season. First 400 times I think he's kinda cute with the top hat and shoe-button eyes. Last 400 times I start fantasizing about running after him with a hair-dryer.

The trouble is, the Christmas season has become all sugar and no spice. For those of us who want a little bite to the holidays, here are some quick fixes. It's Christmas Day and I've got eggnog to drink, but I can offer solutions to the top three holiday offenders: music, movies, and books.

MUSIC
Is “Winter Wonderland” giving you headaches? Are you on the brink of eating a shotgun if you have to sit through one more hack version of “Jingle Bells” piped over bad speakers at the Gap? Fear not; YouTube has two clips that will have you grinning. First on the list is a sidesplitting “Winter Wonderland” parody sung impeccably by a men's choir. Let's just quote the first verse: “Lacy things the wife is missin'/Didn't ask her permission/I'm wearing her clothes, her silk pantyhose/Walkin' round in women's underwear.” Second on the list is men's a capella group Straight No Chaser, singing a seemingly straightforward “12 Days of Christmas” in which they eventually lose count of which ____ing day it is, break confusedly into other carols such as “Here We Come A Wassailing” and the Dreidel Song, and somehow end up in a Christmas-ed version of Toto's “Africa.” Bloody brilliant.

Walkin' Round In Women's Underwear

Twelve Days of Christmas


MOVIES
By now you're probably tired of the Charlie Brown Special, Frosty the Snowman, and “It's a Wonderful Life.” Try “The Ref” instead, a hilarious Christmas comedy starring Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, and Denis Leary. Leary plays a harassed cat burglar trying to escape on Christmas Eve with the score of a lifetime, and forced to hide out in suburban Connecticut by taking a quarreling couple hostage. Trouble is, the couple can't stop fighting even when an armed man is pointing a gun at their heads, and soon the burglar is reffing the family disagreements and tearing his hair out. Priceless lines abound, but here's one for anybody with a relative they would just as soon stayed home: the quarreling couple's pathologically-bullying mother, finally held up at gunpoint by the burglar who hisses “Nobody move, or I shoot!” After which the beleagered daughter-in-law says with complete sincerity; “Go ahead, shoot her.”


BOOKS
Ah, that annual piece of Christmas torture known as Charles Dickens's “A Christmas Carol.” I am probably going to hell (or at least coming across as an incredible philistine) for saying that I hate Dickens with the fire of a thousand suns, but I make no bones about it: I can't stand his cumbersome humor, his lengthy expositions, or his absurd character names. Worst of his offenses is “A Christmas Carol,” a piece of sanctimonious treacle that was forced down my throat in some institution of learning or other, and on which I have been gagging ever since. I keeping hoping that someday Scrooge will push Tiny Tim out a high window before we can get to “God bless us every one!” but in abeyance of that miracle, I'll settle for Laura Ingalls Wilder's “On The Banks of Plum Creek.” Wilder's collection of autobiographical growing-up-on-the-frontier novels will thankfully outlast the dreadful Little House on the Prairie TV show they spawned, and Plum Creek has a particularly good Christmas segment where the heroine's father heads to town for Christmas candy to stuff his daughters' stockings, and is caught on his way back by a freak blizzard. He holes up in a snowbank for four days, surviving on the stash of candy and finally emerging alive but with no Christmas presents. The family celebrates minus presents but plus Dad: a far better Christmas message than the “Buy now, buy more!” mentality of “Let's open Walmart at midnight on Black Friday so everybody can start buying as soon as possible.”

Having sufficiently salted your holiday, I'm off to enjoy mine. Not eggnog, come to think of it. Too sweet. Try dry champagne instead, ice cold, for another holiday substitution. And Merry Christmas.

Two Blurbs For Empress of the Seven Hills!

December 14, 2011

Tags: blurbs, empress of the seven hills, michelle moran, christopher gortner

I feel like Christmas came early: not one but two wonderful blurbs for “Empress of the Seven Hills,” and from authors I adore: Michelle Moran and C.W. Gortner.


Michelle moves on from pharoahs to emperors: her upcoming book about Napoleon's various women

Disclaimer: yes, I am friends with both Michelle and Christopher. But this wasn't a backscratching arrangement among buddies. My copy of “Cleopatra's Daughter” was already well-thumbed and highly appreciated long before I met its author and discovered she was a smart and funny lady with a raucous laugh and an infinite supply of both good jokes and stunning print shifts. “Confessions of Catherine de' Medici” had already kept me up past my bedtime long before I discovered that Christopher was a first-rate dinner companion with a stream of sotto voce one-liners that would keep Oscar Wilde in stitches. It's such a relief when you meet the authors of books you love, and like the authors as much as you do their work.

I was astounded to find that both Michelle and Christopher liked my work as well – and were kind enough to read an advance copy of my next book, “Empress of the Seven Hills.” Michelle is tearing through a first draft of her new book about Napoleon's second wife, and Christopher is head down in research on the Borgias, but they both took time out of their busy schedules to write me cover blurbs. And what blurbs!

"Power and betrayal were never so addictive than in this gorgeously wrought tale of star-crossed lovers caught in the turbulent currents of Imperial Rome. Kate Quinn deftly contrasts the awesome splendor of torch-lit banquets with the thunder of the battlefield. EMPRESS OF THE SEVEN HILLS is a riveting plunge into an ancient world that is both utterly foreign and strikingly familiar - where you can feel the silken caress of an empress and the cold steel of a blade at your back."

- C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI and THE LAST QUEEN

And:

"In her latest book, EMPRESS OF THE SEVEN HILLS, Kate Quinn outdoes herself with a story so compelling that the only complaint readers will have is that it ends. From the moment Vix and Sabina appear on the page, readers are taken on an epic adventure through Emperor Trajan's Rome. No other author brings the ancient world alive like Quinn - if there's one book you read this year, let it be this one!"

- Michelle Moran, bestselling author of CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER and MADAME TUSSAUD

Wow – that's all I've got to say. They make me want to run out and buy a copy of the book, and I already know how it ends. Michelle, Christopher – thank you both! Drinks on me the next time I see you.