It was on another Release Day that “A Day of Fire” was first conceived, the champagne-fueled brainchild of myself, Stephanie Dray, and Sophie Perinot. We were having a celebratory lunch in honor of my latest Borgia book, and swapping idle ideas for future projects. “Continuities,” Stephanie mused, and was met with blank looks. “Basically, a novel in four parts, written by four authors, or however many are working together. Romance authors do it all the time.”
“Why haven’t historical fiction authors jumped in?” Sophie wondered. “We could pick a historical event and go to town! What event?”
“Sinking of the Titanic? Downton Abbey tie-in . . .”
“Field of the Cloth of Gold? Tudor tie-in . . .”
“Destruction of Pompeii . . . ?”
Eyes gleamed. And this project was born.
It’s been a wild, sometimes rocky, always exhilarating ride. Our original trio was swiftly joined by three more musketeers. I screwed up the nerve to approach Ben Kane, whose work I adore (after being wowed by the gorgeous mayhem he wreaked with the Spartacus legend, I knew he could tear the top off a mountain in style). Vicky Alvear Shecter already had a hit YA HF novel in the works about Pompeii (“Curses and Smoke,” highly recommended!) but didn’t mind revisiting the lava fields with us. And self-pub goddess E. Knight joined the Good Ship Pompeii and firmly took the tiller, steering the rest of us self-pub newbies through the waters of the Indie Ocean.
I am uniquely proud of what I and my five co-authors have put together in “A Day of Fire.” I think, frankly, that it’s awesome. Some of that was planned (the careful plotting we did to interweave characters; the careful research into the latest Pompeii archaeological findings), and some of it wasn’t (how did we get such a perfect cross-section of Roman society in our protagonists? Sheer luck). But we worked hard, and it was worth every moment.
And at long last, our story about the final days of Pompeii is available in e-book and print!
“This truly is the finest book I have read this year, an emotional roller-coaster that educates while it entertains. Its impact will stay with me for quite some time.” ~Parmenion Books
“Despite knowing what happens in Pompeii and to the majority of its citizens, A Day of Fire is a book full of suspense, fear, and unexpected bravery.” ~Ageless Pages
“I can’t praise this book highly enough. It’s a rattling good tale of disaster, death, resolution and rebirth.” ~Dodging Arrows
“I LOVED this! The writing style, the choice of stories told, the evolution of characters, the drama. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.” ~The Maiden�s Court
“Each one of these authors deserves a huge amount of praise for putting this impressive piece of art together.” ~Steven McKay
Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories:
A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.
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. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?
For the fifth time in my life, I can type the words “I have a book coming out today!” Usually I’m a nervous wreck on release days–I haunt my Amazon page looking for that first all-important review, and my fingernails are gone before the book’s been out 24 hours. But you know what? This time around, I’m just plain excited. Because I’m uniquely proud of “The Lion and the Rose.” I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and here’s five reasons why:
1. Two kick-ass heroines. I love my two leading ladies in this book, because they really come into their own. Giulia Farnese started as a naive, happy-go-lucky golden girl, and Carmelina started as a prickly cook with a secret, but by this book they’ve matured into women who aren’t afraid to fight for the life they want, and reach for the love they want. And when the rigid Renaissance world they live in says they can’t have those things, they say “Screw that.”
2. An unconventional hero. I’ve written a lot of tough-guy warrior heroes, but Leonello is different. He’s a dwarf, and that means he’s spent his life being kicked around by a world that thinks he’s a freak. But he refuses to let it define him. He’s every bit as much of a tough guy as any of my gladiators or centurions, and this is the book where he kicks some serious butt. Often in novels, dwarves get stuck as somebody’s side-kick or jester–the role to which real-life dwarves were often relegated in times past. This dwarf informed me in no uncertain terms that he wanted center stage.
3. A new hero. I’ve got a brand-new guy preparing to enter the limelight in this book, and I think he’ll sweep you off your feet.
4. Pay-off. When “The Serpent and the Pearl” came out, there were reviews that said it felt like a set-up novel. In a way, it was–and this is the pay-off. A killer was introduced, and now he gets caught. Love struck like a thunderbolt, and now it gets requited. The Borgias rise to power, and now they begin their fall. It all happens here.
5. There’s a scene which all my beta readers called “the aphrodisiac potato scene.” Enough said. 😀
I hope you enjoy “The Lion and the Rose” as much as I enjoyed writing it. For my release day, I’m off to lunch with perpetual launch day buddies Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot, who have permission as always to use anything up to and including handcuffs to keep me from my Amazon page. There will be champagne, and there will be laughter, just as there was on my previous four launch days. And as ever, I have to give thanks to the world and to my readers that I am lucky enough to do this for a living!
For the fourth time in my life, I can type the words “I have a book coming out today!”
You’d think it would get easier. But no, I’m a mass of nerves. For over a year, you see, my book baby has led a sheltered existence: much like a real baby, it was tended by a doting mother, sheltered and cosseted in a loving environment, shown off only to a few close friends and family who could be relied upon to croon praise. But books grow up faster than real babies, and I’m once again standing in the doorway watching that book head out into the world like a kid heading off to college. My job is done, and I did the best I could–and I’m still nervous that it wasn’t enough.
I’m also thrilled, because I have the best job on earth, and I know how lucky I am. And hey, it’s my fourth rodeo, so at least I know how to combat the Release Day Jitters by now. All you need to do to survive your release day is follow these six simple guidelines.
1. Drink champagne. Drink lots and lots of champagne.
2. Enlist friends. Ideally writer friends who have suffered release day jitters of their own. Go out for lunch, get pedicures, do anything you like–but these friends must be given carte blanche to use any force up to and including handcuffs to keep you from obsessively clicking Refresh on your Amazon Sales Ranking. Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot are my
jailers pals today, bless you both.
3. This one is for the spouses of writers in question: flowers are nice. Also, repeated spontaneous reassurances that the book is not in fact complete crapola destined for the remainder table. My spouse excels at this.
4. Read somebody ELSE’S book. Nothing like a fascinating trip to somebody else’s fictional world to keep your mind off your own. I was lucky enough last year to share a release day with Elizabeth Loupas–her The Flower Reader saved my sanity. Elizabeth let me down this year (I’m counting days till her The Red Lily Crown releases) so perhaps a Harry Dresden reread is in order. Like all fourteen books.
5. Don’t check Amazon. I’m serious. Friends and spouses may want to consider disconnecting the internet for the day.
6. Did I mention champagne? Drink more.
So I guess that’s really only four rules, but you get my point. In any case, The Serpent and the Pearl is off to the hands of its readers–for a teaser promo, watch here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pop a cork.