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.
Limited time only – but “A Day of Fire” is just 99 cents on Amazon and Nook! If you’ve got an e-reader and a buck, now’s the time to snap it up and start your 2015 reading list!
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?
Four weeks out from the launch of “A Day of Fire,” the novel-in-six-parts I’ve written with Ben Kane, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. The novel is already available for pre-order at Amazon, but in honor of the countdown to release, I’d like to share some lovely illustrated quotes to give you a taste of the tales inside! (The quote from my story is #4!)
It’s here: the cover AND the Pre-Order info for my Pompeii project! We are all super excited how it turned out, and we hope you will be, too!
Title: A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Authors: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: November 4, 2014
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 . . .
Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents–from patricians to prostitutes–as their world ended. You will meet:
A boy who loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets;
An heiress dreading her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire;
An ex-legionary who stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished;
A crippled senator welcoming death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue;
A young mother facing an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls;
And a priestess and a whore seeking redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.
Some of you may have heard me hint over the past few months about a fabulous secret project coming up after “Lady of the Eternal City.” Secret no longer–here are the deets.
It’s a collaboration between six authors of historical fiction. All about the fall of Pompeii.
Everything began on my last release day, when Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot dropped by in their standard Release Day effort to keep me distracted from my Amazon Sales Ranking by any means up to and including handcuffs. At some point over the champagne, somebody mused “We should write a book TOGETHER. Not just a collection of stories; a book-in-three parts. Romance authors do it all the time, why not historical fiction authors?”
Six months and eight billion emails later, we had a subject – the last days of Pompeii – and a lineup of contributing authors. Six authors, not three; representing all shades and flavors of historical fiction from guts-and-glory star Ben Kane to historical YA phenom Vicky Alvear Shecter; historical family drama expert Sophie Perinot and historical fantasy maven Stephanie Dray and romance-bestseller-turned-historical novelist Eliza Knight.
At the end of 2014, we will be excited to bring you A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii.
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 escaped the mountain’s wrath, some died as heroes . . . and these are their stories.
A boy who loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.
An heiress dreading her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary staking his future on a gladiator bout destined to be fatally interrupted.
A crippled senator whose only chance of escape lies with a beautiful tomboy on horseback.
A young mother faced with an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore looking for redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.
A novel in six parts, overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross paths during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for posterity?
If there’s any TV show I get a kick out of, it’s Castle. Nathan Fillion plays a bestselling novelist, and to watch him you’d think a writer’s life is all red-carpet events, research trips to exotic and dangerous places, and the occasional hour or two of staring pensively at a spiral-bound notebook. No writer I know has ever worked that way–just take a look through this cyclical blog tour “My Writing Process.” Christy English tagged Stephanie Dray with the four questions below, and Stephanie in turn tagged me–and among all our answers, you won’t find a single a red-carpet event or a spiral-bound notebook!
1) What am I working on?
I’m working on the long-awaited sequel to “Empress of the Seven Hills,” which is titled “Lady of the Eternal City” and will be released March 2015. This has been the book from hell, but it’s also been hugely rewarding. I’m revisiting my rough-edged Roman legionary Vix, who is caught in a tangled triangle with Hadrian, the brilliant and sinister Emperor of Rome, and Hadrian’s elegant wife Sabina who is both the love and the bane of Vix’s life. Throw in poison, plotting, rebellion, a trip down the Nile and the building of Hadrian’s wall, and you have yourself a wild ride!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My books will make you laugh. A lot of historical fiction has gotten very serious lately–all these moody princesses and grim battlefield epics! And I love books like that, but history can be zany, absurd, and wonderfully whacky as well as deadly serious. And I like showing my readers the fun side.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Search me–I’m not sure we can ever figure out exactly why we are fascinated by the things that grip us body and soul. For me, it’s always been the past. Maybe because of my mother’s degree in ancient and medieval history, which had me watching “I, Claudius” instead of Disney cartoons, and listening agog to bedtime stories of Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon rather than the Billy Goats Gruff crossing the troll bridge. But historical fiction is always where I gravitated.
4) How does your writing process work?
The two key ingredients for me are black coffee and a black dog. The coffee keeps me alert through the seven hours or so I’m sitting at my laptop (I work longer hours at this than I ever did at an office cubicle). And the little black dog at my side gets me off the laptop, insisting not so gently that I take him for his morning stroll–and that’s where I do some of my best thinking. It’s good for a writer to unplug, get away from the Facebook updates and the editor emails and online researching. And somehow, my mind always manages to wander usefully while my feet are moving–I can come back from an hour of romping with the dog in the snow, and I’ll have solved that plotting problem that was giving me headaches an hour ago.
My friend Sophie Perinot has agreed to answer the same questions for me–I love hearing how other writers work (and I’m betting no red-carpet events or spiral-bound notebooks for her, either!) Check back here next Monday March 31st, and I’ll link to her site so you can see what her answers are.
Here’s a shout-out to those of you in northeastern Maryland and southeastern PA–I will be appearing with my marvelous friends-and-colleagues Sophie Perinot and Stephanie Dray at the FREDERICK BOOK FESTIVAL this coming weekend (Saturday, May 18th). Our panel on “Prejudice and Preconceptions – What you think you know about historical women” (at 11 a.m.) always brings down the house. Come out and see us!
And if you’re busy on Saturday, stop by Barnes & Noble at the FSK Mall on Friday, May 17, 2013 from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. I’ll be there for a signing with lots of other wonderful authors and friends!
What do writers read? That’s Marshal’s question over on “Writers Read,” and it’s a good ‘un. As a historical fiction writer, it’s probably no surprise that I read a lot of HF. But I try to dip into other genres too, in the spirit of expanding my horizons, and that’s why my current reading list doesn’t just have HF on it, but classics, thrillers, and YA dystopias . . .
Coming this Saturday: panel discussion and book signing for three historical fiction authors: Stephanie Dray, Sophie Perinot, and myself. God knows what we’ll end up talking about, but the three of us know how to have fun. Stop by to get a book signed, ask a question, or just say hi. I promise you it will be a great time!
Here are the details:
Date: Saturday, April 21st
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Location: Barnes & Noble, Spectrum Center, 1851 Fountain Drive, Reston, VA 20190
Hope I see you there!