The Next Big thing

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a chance for authors to tell you what they're working on. The author answers 10 questions about their next book and tags the person who first tagged them plus at least five other authors. I’m excited to be part of this progressive blog-hopping self-interview of authors on books we’re working on. I was tagged by poet and teacher Ren Katherine Powell. I’ve read many fascinating NBT blogs. My previous books are poetry collections Earth Lessons (newly released for Kindle) and Femme au chapeau. I hope to be able to answer these 10 questions about my next poetry collection. This one is about my just-finished novel.
What is the title of your book?
It’s called The Renaissance Club

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Professor Norman Wesley, a frustrated economist seeking Truth and Beauty, recruits his fellow professors for a tour of Italy, a time-traveling guide and magical gold pen make the trip life-altering. 

What genre does your book fall under?
I’ve had a hard time figuring that out. Lots of googling and searching publishers’ websites, and finally I determined that it falls under Fantasy, possible sub-genre Urban Fantasy. I was going to fly under the banner of Magical Realism, but I discovered there are only about five contemporary novels in that category, so I upgraded.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I took an art history course on the Renaissance and it actually developed into a tour of the kind I describe in the book. The characters aren’t based on the people I traveled with, but the places are the places we toured, though I do wish we’d had a time traveler as our guide! We did have a man named Massimo, though he didn’t have a heart attack. He was actually the tour guide the Pope used to show visitors Rome, and quite an erudite scholar. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I was cooking on the plot idea for about five years (I think slow! and also know how long it takes to write a novel). Then I started writing an outline and note son characters. Another few years passed before I decided to take the plunge. This isn’t my first book, so I knew what I was getting into! After I started drafting, it was about 16 months to complete the first draft. It’s taken six months more to refine the fantasy concept and revise.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 
Italy – a mad and enduring love of the place made me want to write this novel. Actually, first I wrote a memoir of my three-week Italian Renaissance art history tour, then a nonfiction treatment of the passion and history of Italy, and finally I turned most of these ideas into fiction, threw in some characters that had been banging around in my head, and added an aspect of fantasy that grew like Alice after drinking one of those potions. My Italian Renaissance study and tour also inspired the essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture,” published in Italy: A Love Story (Seal Press, 2005). And if you’re a lover of Italy, The Seal Press anthology is full of treats.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m looking for representation.

High on my wish list is a publishing place I can call home for future books. I’m looking for the kind of editorial relationship that probably only exists in novels. And history. Maxwell Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?
Readers might see parallels with the romantic Italy of The Enchanted April, which isn’t actually within my genre but has a kind of magic of its own. The magical art history time-travel tale The Forgery Of Venus also has some parallels to my book.   

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I love this question! I’ve been casting my dream team and would so love Kevin Spacey to play my Norman and Amy Adams for my important character May Perl. For one thing, Amy was born in Italy (little-known fact) and for another, she’s wonderful in serious roles. I love her in Julie and Julia. Amy would have to straighten her hair, but I’m sure for a plum like this she’d do it. And because this is a novel involving time travel, I’m going to cast May’s husband Darren as played by teen idol and actor James Darren, heart throb of my preteen years in the 1960s. Darren’s hunky look in beach movies inspired the way I picture the character. I would also love to cast James Franco as the philandering, henpecked, and masochistic Rick. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Who doesn’t love Italy? Even if you haven’t been there, it’s romantic, and if you have, all you want is details that bring back all the romance and the fabulous food, and oh, yes, the incredible beauty. I was going to include recipes but that’s been done.
Time travel – who doesn’t want to meet the most fascinating person in history? Of course, it’s someone different for everyone, and that’s in a way what happens to these travelers. They may not have known the person they meet is the most fascinating person in history for them until after the encounter, but the effects are life-changing in every case.


That winds up my Next Big Thing. Thanks for tagging me, Ren! I’m tagging Ren back, and also Barbara Ellen Sorensen, Melissa Studdard, Karen J. Weyant, Sandy Longhorn, Sandra Beasley.