Monday, September 23, 2013

Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she first got hooked on ancient Rome while watching I, Claudius at the age of seven. She wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome, and it was later published as Mistress of Rome. A prequel followed, titled Daughters of Rome, and then a sequel, Empress of the Seven Hills--written while her husband was deployed to the Middle East.

Quinn made the jump from ancient Rome to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, The Serpent and the Pearl and The Lion and the Rose, detailing the early years of the Borgia clan. She also has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

A few weeks ago I asked the author about what she was reading.  Quinn's reply:
Historical fiction tops my reading list, since that's the genre I write in. But I do like to get out of my genre from time to time, just for a change of pace. Lately on my reading list?

Longbourn, by Jo Baker. I devoured Longbourn in two days, filled with equal parts admiration and envy. Admiration because the writing is so fine, and envy because I couldn't help thinking, “Now why didn't I have the idea of mixing the Downton Abbey craze with the Jane Austen craze, and telling the story of the servants in Elizabeth Bennet's house? Genius!” This is a fine, sensitive drama for Regency lovers, focusing on Sarah the housemaid who waits on the famous Pride & Prejudice sisters and has restless dreams of improving her own drudgery-filled life. The details of the neverending housework make for fascinating reading, and will have you thanking heaven for your washing machine.

The Tudor Conspiracy, by C.W. Gortner. The author is a friend of mine, but that's not why I love his Tudor Spymaster series. The world is already crammed with books on the Tudors, but these stand out: fun, fast-paced romps starring a young spy who keeps finding himself up to his neck in trouble as he serves the young Princess Elizabeth. This second book in the series features a scary-but-sympathetic Bloody Mary, a Milady de Winter-style femme fatale, and a thrilling chase across the frozen Thames. Highly recommended.

BZRK, by Michael Grant. I'm a hopeless Luddite who can destroy a hard drive just by walking past it, so if you'd told me I'd be so enthralled by a YA thriller about nanobot technology, I'd have laughed in your face. But BZRK is great fun, following a team of teenage hackers who fight against a sinister foe bent on the mental enslavement of the human race. All the battles here are fought inside the human brain, and the technical details don't stop the tension from racheting up. This ain't soft YA; Grant goes for the jugular in his storytelling. I can't wait for the sequel, out in a few months.

The Secret of the Glass, by Donna Russo Morin. Another author friend of mine, and this one is my favorite of her books. You can always count on Morin's heroines to have more on their mind than romance, and poor Sophia in her world of Renaissance Venice has a burden and a half: a spiteful fiance, a father slowly doddering into dementia, and the imminent threat of losing her family's cherished glass-blowing business as soon as he dies. Rarely does the injustice of the past against women sting so sharp as in this book, where a widow and her daughters can be casually shunted aside into convents and their family business seized, all because the daughter won't as a woman be allowed to run the business herself as she is perfectly capable of doing. Sophia's rebellion and escape makes for thrilling reading.
Visit Kate Quinn's website and blog.

Writers Read: Kate Quinn (April 2012).

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

My Book, The Movie: Empress of the Seven Hills.

--Marshal Zeringue