Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Literary Maven Meme

I know I am way overdue for a history post, but this meme will have to hold you for a few more days. My personal life has been very busy and I've been devoting the few spare moments I've had to working on my novel. Poor François, last we saw of him, had just been captured and taken to Spain. He's not going anywhere anytime soon, so on to the book meme!

1. What author do you own the most books by?
Since I did a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in French, I've many, many books that I had to read for classes. Numberwise, I probably have more books by the 17th century playwright Molière than anyone else, since his plays are published in separate editions. I also have most of the twentieth century novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet's works. As far as English literature goes, I own at least six of George Eliot's novels. As for lighter reading, I have all but one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novels.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
I have two copies of Michelle Moran's wonderful novel The Heretic Queen--I bought one and then was lucky enough to win an autographed copy!

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with a preposition?
A bit...remember, I was an English major!

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Although I normally don't go for blonds, I'll have to admit Francis Crawford of Dorothy Dunnett's The Lymond Chronicles has a lot going for him. Edmond Dantès of The Count of Monte Christo isn't bad, either, although Jim Cavaziel's movie portrayal of him factors heavily into that! And then, of course, there's Gabriel Orland, the male lead in my own novel The Measure of Silence.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding children's picture books)?
Probably Gone with the Wind. I first read that novel in eighth grade and have read it several times since. It was the book that first interested me in historical fiction. I don't reread books often (there are too many books I haven't read even once yet!), but others I have read multiple times are the Kristin Lavransdattir trilogy by Sigrid Undset and the first three books of the Lymond Chronicles.

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Hmmm, hard to remember back that far, but I'd have to say The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I was in the typical young girl's "horse stage" then and read all of the Black Stallion series.

7. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
There have been two novels set in sixteenth century France that I tried to read and couldn't make it past the first couple of chapters. I'd rather not name names, though.

8. What is the best book you've read in the last year?
I'm in the last few pages of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle and LOVE it. I was curious because of all the hype surrounding the book and didn't expect to like it, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I also enjoyed Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett, and After This by Alice McDermott.

9. If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis.

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
Alice McDermott or Irène Némirovsky.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Since I don't see many movies, it really doesn't matter to me.

13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I have very vivid dreams, but I can't remember ever having one about any of these topics!

14. What is the most lowbrow book you read as an adult?
I have so little free time that I have to make every reading minute count, but I will admit to reading my fair share of bodice rippers as a teen.

15. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
I'd have to say many of Robbe-Grillet's books because of my distaste for the subject matter. I've always found Michel de Montaigne's Essais slow going because of the style.

16. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've ever seen?
Henry V. Confession: much to my shame, I've never read or even seen MacBeth!

17. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Need you ask? [smile] Although I do adore Russian novels.

18. Roth or Updike?
I've never read either one.

19. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Again, I've never read either. I do own a copy of An Astonishing Work of Staggering Genius, but I haven't read it yet.

20. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Whew, more my time period. Chaucer, I suppose; Shakespeare loses out because I really don't like reading drama. I do have a certain fondness for Milton ever since I wrote my high school senior English term paper on "The Vilification of Eve in Paradise Lost." Always loved that title.

21. Austin or Eliot?
Eliot, by a landslide. Eliot is one of my all-time favorite authors; I've read all of her novels except Felix Holt. I totally can't get in to Austin and have never understood what the Austin fuss is all about.

22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
There are large gaps in my familiarity with modern literature (post WW II). I have serious problems with the hopeless outlook and moral relativity of many modern works and have a hard time reading them. I also know next to nothing about the literature of the Spanish speaking world.

23. What is your favorite novel?

The Kristin Lavransdattir trilogy by Sigrid Undset. You have to read the entire trilogy to understand the greatness of this book. Don't stop after the first volume, which sets up the rest of the story.

24. Favorite play?
The Jeweler's Shop by Karol Wojtyla

25. Favorite poem?
The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

26. Favorite Essay?
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

27. Favorite short story?
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

28. Favorite work of nonfiction?
Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I by R. J. Knecht.

29. Favorite writers?
Sigrid Undset; Alice McDermott; Dorothy Dunnett; J.R. Tolkien

30. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
"If you can't say something nice..."

31. What is your desert island book?
The Return of the King by J.R. Tolkien

32. What are you reading now?
Almost finished with The Gargoyle; next up is The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie and Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you answer the meme on your own blog, please post a link!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thoughts on Historical Accuracy

I finished reading SIGNORA DA VINCI and am busy writing a review. In the meantime, I'd like to direct your attention to a thought-provoking post on historical accuracy at Susan Higginbotham's blog Medieval Woman.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Great Advice for Writers

For all the writers who read this site, I want to direct your attention to a GREAT post on literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog, Ten Commandments for a Happy Writer. The advice is so sane, yet so encouraging. The list is well worth a read and deserves posting on every writer's bulletin board.

I think Commandments #4 and #9 are especially important to keep in mind as we struggle to make sense of our vocation, and I'm working hard on #3 myself.

Which commandment speaks the most to you at present?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paperback Release of Delors's MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION

Exciting news! Today the paperback edition of Catherine Delors's MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION goes on sale. When the hardback was released last March, the Associated Press declared MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION "[d]efinitely a contender for one of the best reads of the year." I couldn't agree more.

If you haven't already read Catherine's wonderful first novel or would like to give a copy as a gift, you can get a copy at your local bookstore or order it online. You can read my interview with Catherine here or check out the extensive list of reviews Catherine has posted on her always interesting blog, Versailles and More

Congratulations, Catherine, on this next milestone, and best wishes for a successful release!