C.W. Gortner

10 Things About Writer Pals

A selection of my favorite author pals from the last Historical Novel Society conference: Sophie Perinot, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Dray, and Eliza Knight, with Ben Kane photoshopped in for the complete “Day of Fire” team!

1. You can name every book they’ve ever written, describe their fictional heroes and heroines down to eye color and childhood traumas, and know their writing schedule as well as your own—but aren’t 100% sure how many children they have. (Laura Kaye—it’s two, right? We’ve only known each other 4 years . . .)

2. You’ve beta-read so many of each other’s rough drafts that your margin notes look like Sanskrit and you have long lost the need to be polite. (Stephanie Thornton’s “The Conqueror’s Wife,” page 337 of the rough draft: “Seriously, another severed head? Does nobody in this book ever bring anything else to a party? Have they never heard of house-plants?!”)

3. Your lunch dates scare the civilians. Because the waiter invariably walks up as one of you is saying brightly “I killed a baby today!” and collecting high-fives and exclamations of “Omigod, so happy for you!” from around the table. Waiter invariably sprints off white-faced before he hears the accompanying “So, this was in Chapter 9 . . .” (Sophie Perinot and I have probably been banned from most of the restaurants in the greater DC metro area.)

4. You’re more accustomed to seeing them in some kind of costume or historical rig than out of it. Especially true of the hist-fic pals. If I ever met Ben Kane, Russell Whitfield, or SJA Turney at a conference where they were in normal clothes rather than Roman breastplates and mail, I’d walk right past ’em.

5. You get the emergency call to show up with ice cream and wine for some serious weeping and wailing. But the drama is all over deadlines, not love-lives. (Eliza Knight and I killed a bottle or two as we cried over our collaborative stories in “A Year of Ravens,” and the impossibility that we would ever get them finished in time.)

6. You’ve had in-depth discussions about everything under the sun, and you each know what the other thinks about life and death, love and work, politics and art, history and pychology. But three years into the friendship you’re turning around in amazement and saying “I had no idea you had a sister!”

7. You know each other’s writing so well, you can eyeball a crutch phrase from a mile away and hone in on that sucker like a sniper. (Stephanie Dray knows I will carp like a fishwife the moment I see the word “tresses.” Christi Barth beats me over the head about not using enough commas.)

8. Your spouses commiserate over deadline stress. My husband and Lea Nolan’s had old home week at the last dinner party. “Yeah, so my wife’s curled in the corner gnashing her teeth this week.” “Why, she copyediting?” “Yep, for two more weeks.” “Yeah, that’s rough at our house too . . .”

9. They’re some of your best friends on earth—and you’ve met face to face twice. C.W. Gortner and Donna Russo Morin and I only see each other at conferences roughly every other year, but we always fall on each other with cries of joy and proceed to gab more or less nonstop for three days.

10. You have standing dates, not for book clubs or lady lunches or anniversaries, but for book-release days. Writer friends can be counted on to keep you away from the Refresh button on your Amazon Sales Rankings. They WILL use handcuffs if necessary.

Thank God for writer pals. There’s no one quite like ’em and without ’em you’d be in the funny farm.

Blog Tour Week 3: A Chat with C.W. Gortner

I’m over at C.W. Gortner’s blog “Historical Boys” today for another Q&A – only by now, I’m a bit tired of talking about myself! Christopher is a friend of mine, and rather than do the standard interview, he and I ended up in a conversation about everything under the sun: our respective books (his “Queen’s Vow” about Isabella of Castile comes out in June), our dream casting if HBO ever offers either of us a mini-series, and what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s controversial about writing historical fiction.

Click here to read our convo!

Blog Tour: Don’t Mess With The Empress

Now this is a weekend treat: I got to wake up to a rave review for Daughters of Rome from none other than C.W. Gortner, whose marvelous Confessions of Catherine de’Medici was one of my favorite reads of the year. Chris was also nice enough to have me as a guest on his blog “Historical Boys,” and we agreed on a topic that fascinates us both: women in power. A sample . . .

“No matter what kind of power she wielded behind the scenes, Augustus’s empress Livia was smart enough to present herself publicly as a simple Roman matron; Augustus was constantly bragging that his wife wasn’t too proud to weave his tunics with her own hands, Empress or no. (I always picture Livia getting up from her desk full of official dispatches when she heard guests coming, weaving exactly two bands of cloth until they went away again, and then going right back to work while the servants finish the weaving.)”

For more – and for Chris’s fabulous review – click here!

Trailer for THE ALICE NETWORK!