empress of the seven hills

Happy Release Day: Lady of the Eternal City

For the seventh time in my life, I get to write the words “My book came out today.” What a feeling!

“Lady of the Eternal City” was the book from hell in many ways – it was my first true sequel, and it had my first child narrator, my first redemption arc, and my first male-male romance, not to mention twenty years of back-story, 10+ different countries as settings, and the most complicated and contradictory historical figure (Emperor Hadrian) who I’ve ever had the frustration of researching. LEC was a problem child which I more than once contemplated throwing on the fire and dousing with gasoline, but now my problem child is out in the world – and I’m very proud of it.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Indiebound

A Gift For My Readers

I have been hugely touched by the good wishes, the prayers, and the wonderful support coming in from readers after my house fire of two weeks ago. It’s been a rollercoaster two weeks, but the Overseas Gladiator and I are fighting our way back to normality: burns healing, belongings recovered, progress made slowly but surely on our half-ruined house. I have the best readers, friends, and fans in the world, and I wish I could give you something back.

Fortunately, I can. Sometimes the fates line up like that.

It’s just a hair under two weeks till Lady of the Eternal City is released, and around this time, I’ll usually release the coming book’s first chapter as a sneak preview. This time I’ve gone one better: not only are you getting a teaser excerpt from LEC’s first chapter, you’re getting three bonus stories not included in the book.

LEC has been the book from hell for many reasons–some books are just problem babies while others are angel–and one of my early plot snarls came from the fact that I started the story too early in the timeline. I wanted to pick up right where Empress of the Seven Hills left off–with Vix wrestling with the impossible choice of killing his best friend; with Titus wondering if an executioner was coming for him; with Sabina in an ever-developing condition. But I ended up scrapping my original start and opening a year after the events of Empress of the Seven Hills, as Hadrian makes his long-awaited entry into Rome as Emperor. It was the right choice, but there were scenes on the cutting-room floor that I always regretted losing. And they made three self-contained little stories all on their own, so I realized I could bundle them together here: three prequel stories taking place in that missing year between Empress of the Seven Hills and Lady of the Eternal City.

“Blood”
Battered warrior Vix has always been Hadrian’s bitter enemy, and he vows that will never change, even when he is made Praetorian Guard and Imperial watchdog. But with his family’s lives on the line, Vix faces a bitter choice: kill a friend, or serve a foe?

“Omen”
Mild, scholarly Titus might once have been favored as Imperial heir, but he never wanted the throne. All he desires is peace in the arms of his new bride–but the jealous Hadrian has other ideas. A horror of bloodshed and violence interrupts Titus’s wedding night, and the man of peace finds a choice at sword-point: honor and death, or betrayal and a cell?

“Prophecy”
Elegant, elusive Sabina is desperate to escape the bleak future that awaits her as Hadrian’s Empress, and even more desperate to conceal the secret growing in her own body. But when she begs a famous seer for a glimpse into her future, she receives an astonishing vision of the Eternal City under Hadrian’s rule, and the new Empress must choose: her own freedom, or the glory of Rome?

Three former friends find new futures in blood, omen, and prophecy. Three prequel vignettes to “Lady of the Eternal City, in an exclusive e-release titled The Three Fates.

The Three Fates is available for FREE download on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Scribd, and Page Foundry. It is available on Amazon Kindle at 0.99, which was the lowest possible price option. The Three Fates is NOT available in print, since this is an e-release only–and there is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Lady of the Eternal City tucked in the back.

I hope you enjoy it–and again, thank you. Thank you all.

Lady of the Eternal City: Cover and Major Plot Details!

I’ve got the ok from my publisher, so here it is: the cover and the plot description for Empress of the Seven Hills sequel Lady of the Eternal City, set for release March 2015!

National bestselling author Kate Quinn returns with the long-awaited fourth volume in the “Empress of Rome” series, an unforgettable new tale of the politics, power, and passion that defined ancient Rome.

Elegant, secretive Sabina may be Empress of Rome, but she still stands poised on a knife’s edge. She must keep the peace between two deadly enemies: her husband Hadrian, Rome’s brilliant and sinister Emperor; and battered warrior Vix, who is her first love. But Sabina is guardian of a deadly secret: Vix’s beautiful son Antinous has become the Emperor’s latest obsession.

Empress and Emperor, father and son will spin in a deadly dance of passion, betrayal, conspiracy, and war. As tragedy sends Hadrian spiraling into madness, Vix and Sabina form a last desperate pact to save the Empire. But ultimately, the fate of Rome lies with an untried girl, a spirited redhead who may just be the next Lady of the Eternal City . . .

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Praise for the Empress of Rome novels

“Gripping.” – Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

“Quinn handles imperial Rome with panache.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A masterful storyteller.” – Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I: The Novel

I Want A President, Not A Buddy

Thank God the election is over. If one more automated pollster called me during dinner, I was prepared to go live in the wild on raw deer meat like Sam Gribley in My Side of the Mountain. I have zero interest in recapping the results, exulting or tooth-gnashing over the results, or talking about the results. But this entire election process has left me with one puzzling question: why do we require our leaders to be likeable?

Over and over again, I heard it from both sides of the party line: “I voted for him because he seems like he’d be such a nice guy to have dinner with.” Or “Candidate _____ will need to present himself as more likeable if he wants people to vote for him.” I just wondered Why? What does being likeable, or being a good dinner companion, have to do with being able to run a nation?

Maybe it’s because I’m a historical novelist, and I’ve researched so many brilliant leaders of history who were also cold SOBs . . . but I don’t care if my president is a nice guy. I don’t care if he loves dogs, kisses babies, cheats on his wife, or spends any time with his kids. None of that is any of my business, and it has nothing to do with the job he is elected to fulfill. I don’t care if he’d be fun to have over for a visit either, because unless I get elected to the cabinet or win the Medal of Honor (both of which are about equally likely), then I will never have the opportunity to sit down and chat with my commander-in-chief. So why should that figure into my vote? I don’t need to like the guy or gal leading this country; I just need them to be a good leader.

I’m not recommending we return to absolute monarchy or the rule of emperors. (Though if I’d been subjected to one more set of negative campaign ads, I might have changed my tune on that.) The divine right of kings is nothing to call fair or just. But it did allow some remarkable leaders of men to change the world, leaders who would have no chance in today’s system for one simple reason: they could never have survived an open election, because they were all about as warm and cuddly as a piranha. Yet I’d pick any of these guys and gals in a heartbeat, even if I think they’d be the world’s worst drinking companions:

1. Emperor Hadrian. He’s the chief baddie in my last book Empress of the Seven Hills, so you can guess I don’t really like the guy. And I don’t: history records him as a mercurial know-it-all, charming but cold, with a habit of dropping his friends once they no longer proved useful. But there’s no denying Hadrian was a great ruler: he was a smart and sensible workaholic who sponsored huge building programs, stabilized the empire’s crumbling outer regions, set the legions to working instead of fighting or rebelling, and pioneered a sensible peace policy over expensive and bloody expansionism. He’s counted among the Five Good Emperors of Rome’s golden age, and he should be–nice guy or not.

2. King Louis XI of France. Nicknamed “The Universal Spider,” and he deserved it: scheming, paranoid, superstitious, secretive, and vicious. Also a brilliant bureaucrat who pioneered trade fairs and road-building, promoted humbly-born advisers for their ability rather than their birth, and stamped down once and for all on the warring feudal lords who had dragged France through the chaos of the Hundred Years War. He’s credited as the first modern French King, dragging his country out of the Middle Ages kicking and screaming. A better legacy than most nice guys.

3. Cardinal Richelieu, Chief Minister to Louis XIII of France. He’s got a reputation as a villain, largely because of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and all its movie remakes, and certainly the Cardinal was no dewy-eyed lover of the people. He once commented of his French subjects, “They are not constituted for war; at the start they are all ardor and bravery, but they lack the patience and control to await the propitious moment.” Wouldn’t you love to hear a candidate blunt enough to say that during the foreign policy debate? Me too, but it would lose him the election. Cardinal Richelieu could never have won anybody over as a nice guy–and good thing he didn’t have to, or his country would have missed out on a great patron of the arts who also molded France into a strong and centralized nation.

4. Catherine the Great. Of course what people remember of this Russian czarina’s legacy is her list of lovers and some vague rumors about a horse. In fact, this cool-headed lady was an educated workaholic who sponsored the Russian Enlightenment and always put her empire above her love life and family–she had no qualms deciding to set her son aside as heir when she determined he would not make a good ruler. A far cry from today’s political ladies forever posing with their families so they come across as “more accessible.” Catherine had zero interest in appearing either soft or accessible; she once remarked “I shall be an autocrat; that’s my trade. And the good Lord shall forgive me; that’s His.”

5. The Duke of Wellington. Anybody with the nickname the Iron Duke is not warm and cuddly. He was not one of your man-of-the-common-soldier generals, either; the Duke of Wellington was a cold, brilliant, aristocratic fighting machine who demanded the best out of his men as a matter of course, and got it because they’d rather die than fail to live up to his high standards. The Iron Duke trounced Napoleon and then went on to become Prime Minister. An age when being brilliant and cold were not seen as deficits in the polls.

I wouldn’t necessarily have voted for Emperor Hadrian, Louis XI, Cardinal Richelieu, Catherine the Great, or the Duke of Wellington to serve as my President in the modern world–they were products of their eras, not ours. But none of them would have risen to the presidential polls at all, because none of them would have lasted five minutes in a 21st century general election. They all largely had no common touch, they didn’t pander to public opinion, and they would have gazed in utter horror had any campaign manager told them “You gotta be more likeable!” These five leaders all placed a higher value on being effective than being liked; on being smart rather than being your buddy.

Not a bad lesson to take from history. Let’s keep it in mind for 2016.

Empress of the Seven Hills: The Movie

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.)

CAST

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?

Featured This Month In Milspouse Magazine . . .

I wrote my latest book “Empress of the Seven Hills” while my husband was deployed to the Persian Gulf. I ended up writing him into the book, in a way – my hero bears more than a passing resemblance to the man I married, though I didn’t realize this until it was pointed out to me. And at first I denied it.

Husband: (raising an eyebrow) “So it’s a complete coincidence that both your husband and your fictional hero are tall, freckled, left-handed, short-tempered, adrenaline-junkie military men who snore like a chain-saw, can’t sit still without one foot jittering, and have a habit of pissing off superiors?”

Busted.

Thank goodness my husband is back home now, as unscathed as my fictional hero – and I wrote about both of them in the last issue of Milspouse Magazine, under the monthly feature “My Military Romance.” Pick up an issue on any base, or just click here! And thanks again to Milspouse Magazine, and military husbands and wives everywhere.

“Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom; Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate!”

So said Shakespeare in “Taming of the Shrew,” when Petruchio woos his Kate. There are a lot of us Kates around (Henry VIII married three of ’em, not to mention Prince William and La Middleton!), and now we have our own website: Kate-Book.com, a website for Kates, by Kates, and about Kates! Credo: “We Kates are collectively very proud of our name. It’s one quick, clean syllable that at the same time denotes strength, creativity, class, beauty, and feet that smell like roses.” Here, here!

This month Kate-Book.com is launching a book club feature. I’m the first author being interviewed, so check it out!

Q&A with the Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner!

Ten fun questions in a Q&A with Kayla Posney, the Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner. Kayla’s got some fun questions like “What 5 historical figures do you invite to dinner?” (Depends if I want a good party or a bloodbath!)

To find out who made my historical guest list, click here! And thanks again to Kayla for interviewing me!

This is how most of us experience history: trying desperately to stay awake in class as someone drones on about the Hawley Smoot Tariff. So why do we end up reading historical fiction instead?

Over at Writerspace, I’m giving my best five guesses. Reason #2:

“The clothes! Forget trying to squeeze into the skinny jeans and stiletto heels of 2012; let’s go back to an era where you could swish around in a gorgeous gown and be considered the ideal beauty at size 16.”

Want to hear the rest?

Hop on over to Writerspace and find out!

 

 

 

Trailer for THE ALICE NETWORK!