Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Donald Michael Platt, Author of HOUSE OF ROCAMORA

Donald Michael Platt has published two historical novels, ROCAMORA and HOUSE OF ROCAMORA. The books tell the story of Vicente de Rocamora, a Spanish Dominican monk and confessor to the Infanta, who openly converted to Judaism, studied medicine, and became a medical doctor and philanthropic leader in 17th century Amsterdam. Donald has also completed a novel set in the 9th century Carolingian Empire and is polishing a novel about World War II American and German fighter aces. He is the author of several nonfiction works and has written for television as well. He will be speaking on the Sunday morning panel "Foreign Language, Slang and Dialect in Historical Fiction" at the Historical Novel Society Conference. Visit Donald's website to learn more about him and his work.

1. What got you first interest in historical fiction?

My parents were voracious readers, and I read early such books as ANTHONY ADVERSE, CAPTAIN BLOOD, and GONE WITH THE WIND. If I saw a film based on History, I read the real story and novels about the same period. All before age 14.

2. How do you find the people and topics of your books?

Inspiration for non-historical fiction -- little known characters who led interesting lives for Historical Fiction.

3. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

Outline the story, list initial characters, and traits, look for a "daily life" book of the period. Write and simultaneously research for the first draft.

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

No fine line except dates and events. Does anyone take a court gossip 100%? Foolish to do so. I subscribe to Napoleon's aphorism "History is a myth men agree upon." Then let mine be the definitive myth.

5. Where do you feel historical fiction is headed as a genre?

Where is HF heading? Alas, except for bodice rippers with Fabio covers, it will be for an elite few given the U.S. education system with most teachers who are sociology, economic, poli sci, psych, and PE majors teaching U.S. and Eurpean History in our public schools.

6. What are your favorite reads? Dominating influences?

I was influenced early by Sabatini, Costain, and Shellabarger, later by Dorothy Dunnett.

7. What book was the most fun for you to write?

All books are fun to write; otherwise why continue?

8. Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?

I have written two novels about the little known Vicente de Rocamora, and a direct descendant contacted me after reading both my novels about him. He loved the books, appreciated my research, and after a few exchanges was excited that I gave him information he did not have.

9. Can you tell us about your latest publication?

My most recent publication HOUSE OF ROCAMORA continues the second half of Vicente de Rocamora's life in 17th century Amsterdam in which he goes from Dominican royal confessor in Spain to Jewish physician at age 46, married to a 25 year old, father of six or nine children who survive beyond the first month of birth, receives citizenship equal to Dutch Christians, a philanthropist, and judge of poetic competitions.

1 comment:

Vicki Kondelik said...

Great interview, Donald! I loved Rocamora, and I'm looking forward to reading House of Rocamora, and to meeting you at the HNS conference.