The Serpent and the Pearl: a novel of the Borgias releases in just five days! (I’d bite my fingernails, but I don’t have any left.) I’ve been lucky enough to get some wonderful early reviews–the Historical Novel Society reviewers had this to say about my narrators: “Three compelling characters weave a tangled trajectory through the life and politics of 15th-century Rome. Carmelina’s sharp tongue, Leonello’s caustic wit, and Giulia’s unconditional good humor in the face of danger play off each other beautifully to create another riveting novel from Kate Quinn.”
Want to meet these three very-compelling but very-different folks? Over the next few days I’ll be interviewing each of my characters here on my blog as a promo. Today let’s welcome Giulia Farnese, who was more than happy to drop by and tell you a little about herself!
Me: Lovely to have you here, Giulia.
Giulia: Thank you for inviting me. Do you have anything to nibble? I’ve never been interviewed before and it’s making me nervous, and I always eat when I’m nervous.
Me: You don’t know about chocolate, do you? That’s a little after your time. Here, try this.
Giulia: Reese’s Pieces, what’s that? Holy Virgin, they taste heavenly. Can I have the recipe for my cook? Her name’s Carmelina, and she’s an absolute gem.
Me: She’s not going to be able to do much if chocolate isn’t invented yet. Let’s have your full name, for the readers.
Giulia: Right, sorry. I’m Giulia Farnese, but nobody calls me that anymore. I’m either “Giulia La Bella,” which is very nice; or “the Venus of the Vatican,” which is sort of nice; or “The Bride of Christ” which isn’t nice at all. I have a sneaking suspicion my bodyguard Leonello came up with that one, since he finds it so side-splittingly funny.
Me: Why do they call you that?
Giulia: Well, Giulia la Bella comes from the fact that I have floor-length hair. I don’t really think I’m much prettier than anybody else, but I do have this hair that comes down to the floor, and everybody seems to think it’s terribly romantic. I don’t know why; it takes forever to wash and even longer to dry, and it’s always getting tangled around everything. I don’t know about you, but I don’t call that very romantic.
Me: What I meant was, readers might like to know why you’re called the Bride of Christ.
Giulia: It might be a reference to the Holy Father.
Me: You mean the Pope? The former Cardinal Borgia? Who is he to you?
Giulia: (demurely) He’s my mother-in-law’s cousin.
Me: So you’re married?
Giulia: It’s complicated.
Me: How complicated?
Giulia: How long do you have? We’ll be here all day before I’ve even finished telling you how strange the wedding night was.
Me: Just tell me about the Pope then. People say he’s paying court to you . . .
Giulia: Do you have any more of those Piece of Reese things?
Me: Reeses Pieces. Now, about the Pope–
Giulia: You know, you have hair the same color as mine. And two feet of hair is much more sensible than five feet. I’ll bet yours doesn’t choke you when you sleep.
Me: All right, keep your secrets!
Giulia: All will be revealed August 6. Are you sure chocolate hasn’t been invented yet in my time?
Me: Sorry. I wrote about you, but I can’t change history for you.
Giulia: That’s too bad. Do come visit again. And bring more chocolate! I always eat when I’m visiting.