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

Empress of the Seven Hills: The Movie

October 15, 2012

Chris Hemsworth turned 29 not long ago, and I'd like to offer him a belated birthday present: the starring role of the upcoming movie of my latest book, "Empress of the Seven Hills!"

Sigh - if only. The fact is, I doubt HBO will be burning up my phone line anytime soon with offers to turn “Empress of the Seven Hills” into a star-studded 7-season miniseries a la "Game of Thrones." Historical movies are hideously expensive to make, what with all those costumed extras and elaborate battle scenes and CGI Colosseum fights, and even if I did get a movie offer, writers never get casting approval. "Empress of the Seven Hills" could get turned into a C-grade borderline porno with Fabio in nipple rings as Vix, and I'd have no power to stop it.

But it's always fun to dream - so here is my ideal cast for "Empress of the Seven Hills!" (Blog reprint from My Book, The Movie, by kind permission of blogger extraordinaire Marshal who has also hosted me on Writers Read and Coffee With A Canine.)


Vix: My brash and abrasive soldier hero is the hardest to cast. For one thing, he starts the book out as a swaggering boy of nineteen, and ends as a capable war hero of thirty-three. But I'll go with Chris Hemsworth – in "The Avengers" he showed humor, charisma, and swagger just like Vix, and in “Snow White and the Huntsman” he proved he could swing a blade with serious heft.

Sabina: Emma Watson would be perfect for my intelligent, reticent, and just-a-bit-mysterious heroine. Playing a senator's daughter with a yen for adventure, Ms. Watson would get to dress up and dine with emperors, or go grunge to hunker down with legionaries, all with equal aplomb. Plus rock a pixie cut.

Hadrian: for Sabina's husband and the book's villain, I'll pick Wentworth Miller. His stint in “Prison Break” showed him as charming and intelligent, his good looks hiding a serpentine mind and a cool, detached ruthlessness – perfect for Hadrian.

Titus: Vix's unlikely best friend is a shy over-educated patrician boy who grows into confident man-to-be-reckoned-with, and I can think of no one better than Zach Gilford. As the teenage quarterback in “Friday Night Lights” he showed both sweetness and steel beneath a gawky inarticulate surface.

Emperor Trajan: the confident, charismatic man's-man emperor of Rome, beloved by all and especially by Vix who is his protege. Put Harrison Ford in a breastplate, and we're done.

Empress Plotina: with a name like that, you know Trajan's wife will be a scheming villainness. Michelle Forbes would be perfect; handsome but cold.

Mirah: Vix's fiery Jewish wife with the red hair? Emma Stone.

Senator Marcus Norbanus: Gabriel Byrne would be perfect for Sabina's intellectual senator father

Faustina: Sabina's little sister, who grows up into a beauty and sets her sights on the shy Titus for a future husband. Jessica Brown Findlay plays an identical type in Downton Abbey as an earl's spirited rebel daughter who uses beauty, charm, wit, and everything else in her arsenal to make sure she gets her own way. Just like Faustina.

Now for funding. HBO, are you listening?

Mass Market Mistress, Festival Trivia, and More

October 3, 2012

Tags: baltimore book festival, mistress of rome

All kinds of things to celebrate today. For one, the release of the mass-market edition of “Mistress of Rome” - yay! If you like your paperbacks smaller and less expensive, but still with a cool cover, this is the edition for you.

Second on the list to celebrate is the stunning success of the Baltimore Book Festival, where I had a blast in the Maryland Romance Writers tent discussing everything from the perils of research to the new trend toward sexing up historical fiction to what kind of underwear Regency-era men wore (that answer might surprise you). For my own personal highlight, who can choose? Sitting down with good friends Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot to talk sex scenes in historical novels? Hearing Miranda Neville read a side-splitting passage on 18th century pornography in her classic English drawl? Watching my wonderful husband dress up as a gladiator to promote my books, strutting around in his tunic and sword-belt between swooning housewives shouting “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

The gladiator and I have our third wedding anniversary today, which is something else to celebrate. My anniversary present? We spent a night out in D.C. attending “Don Giovanni,” but the real present is the hour he's spending on the phone right now, untangling the electric bill with The Automated Phone Tree From Hell, so that I have the time to finish my line-edits and this blog post. And that, along with the willingness to dress up like a gladiator for my author events, is what I call love.