Thursday, June 7, 2018

Blog Tour: The Flames of Florence with an #interview from Author @DonnaRussoMorin and a #giveaway #historical #thriller

Historical Thriller
Date Published: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Diversion Books

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"A glittering Renaissance gem of a novel. Donna Russo Morin, a master of her craft, has penned an intricate story full of lush historical detail with a plot that will leave you breathless." —Tasha Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Death in St. Petersburg

In her final standalone novel featuring Da Vinci's Disciples, Donna Russo Morin delivers a thrilling story of the secret female artists of Florence, under the tutelage of Leonardo Da Vinci, and their heroic, potentially deadly efforts to save great works of art from the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities.

"Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding work." —Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network

Lorenzo de Medici is dead, and his son Piero has brought war and famine upon the city of Florence. Yet, the glory that is Renaissance artistry grows more magnificent, as does the work of the women known as Da Vinci's Disciples. Now they face their most dangerous challenge, one shrouded in the cloak of a monk.

From the ashes of war, Friar Girolamo Savonarola rises. Some call him a savior and a prophet, a man willing to overthrow tyrannical rulers and corrupt clergy, the Borgia Pope among them. Fra Girolamo is determined to remold Florence from an avaricious, secular culture to a paragon of Christian virtues.

Many call Savonarola a delusional heretic, incapable of anything but self-serving fanaticism. When he sets out to destroy all secular art forms, Da Vinci's Disciples call him an enemy … but not all of them.

"Like a glorious Italian fresco-richly textured and vividly portrayed … Highly recommended for lovers of history, art, and courageous women." —Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

"Donna Russo Morin renders one of the most tumultuous periods in Florence's history in bright colors and with vivid descriptions. This tale of a group of determined women standing up for what they believe in … will absolutely resonate with modern readers." —Alyssa Palombo, author of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence


Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?

In all of my books, THE FLAMES OF FLORENCE being my seventh, there is always the message of women empowerment and the need for the female gender to support one another.

Nowhere is this truer than in my Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy. What these women attempt to do—attempt to be—they could never have done alone. They knew their strength lay in their numbers. A notion that is as true today as it was in the Renaissance.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

As a historical fiction author who has become obsessed with history, it’s always a challenge for me not to use every intriguing piece of history in any one book. While it may be fascinating, if it doesn’t further the plot or serve as a tool for character development, I must cut it out…leave it only in my notes and in my mind where it will stay forever. Though these tidbits often come in handy when I’m speaking to book groups or at conferences

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

My eighth book is set to release in June, but I also have another manuscript that is being ‘shopped around’ as we speak.

As for picking a favorite, it’s very difficult to choose just one. To me it is akin to picking which of my sons I love the most…an impossibility. Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy is very dear to my heart as the original members are ‘modeled’ after actual women in my life, myself included. It may be set in the Renaissance, but our struggles are as real as theirs.

I’m also very fond of THE KING’S AGENT, my fourth book. Not only did it receive a starred review in Publishers Weekly, it was one of my greatest writing challenges, using Dante’s Divine Comedy and my favorite video game, The Legend of Zelda, to create a slightly paranormal, highly adventurous art quest.

That said, the last book I’ve written always seems to be my favorite as I see, with each and every book, the evolution of my craft.

If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?

As Da Vinci’s Disciples is an ensemble piece, there are many main characters. The two most prominent, however, are Viviana del Marrone and Leonardo da Vinci.

With a little change in hair color (and some shoe lifts) I would love to see Daniel Radcliffe play Leonardo (the iconic genius is young in these works, late 20s). As for Viviana, Kiera Knightly would be absolutely perfect for the role.

When did you begin writing?

Hah! I started writing as young as six years old; my mother still has them though the paper is yellowed and creased.

My father wanted me to ‘get a real job’ so I worked in marketing and advertising for a while. And then the children came along. But I was getting bylines for book reviews in newspapers and magazines across the country and my short stories were published in critically acclaimed anthologies.

In the summer of 2002, I became very ill. Long story short…two and a half years and seven doctors later, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I underwent a year and a half of anti-biotic chemo therapy, to no avail (the condition is now chronic).

But sick as I was, I’m not the sort to sit and do nothing. So I began to write my first novel. After a few revisions, I landed an agent in two months and she sold the book in four months. It was published when I was 51 years old. The rest (forgive the pun) is history.

How long did it take to complete your first book?

After six months of research, I completed the book in nine weeks. It was a tale that had lived in me for many years. It proved easy to move it from the muse in my soul to the page.

Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?

I wasn’t inspired by one particular author, but by storytelling itself. I was a voracious reader from a very young age and started writing as a child. I knew, even as a child, that I wanted to create tales that would allow my readers to be swept away by my stories.

That said, if I absolutely had to pick, I’d say Stephen King and Diana Gabaldon.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

When my fictional vision of a book’s plot merges seamlessly with the historical events of the era, as if they were meant to be told together. I’ve been very lucky to have this happen on more than one occasion but never more than with the trilogy of Da Vinci’s Disciples.

Describe your latest book in 4 words.

Intriguing, thrilling, enlightening, and sentimental.

Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?

In truth, there’s a great deal happening with my work right now.

On June 25, my book GILDED SUMMERS will release. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for years as it is set in the state I was born, raised, and still reside in. It brings the glittering world of the gilded age in Newport, where the Astors and the Vanderbilts built mansions—or ‘cottages’ as they called them—for their summer retreats. Pearl and Ginevra grow up in the era known as the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. One lives above the stairs, the other below. These two young women must decide who they want to be in this world, and survive what it takes to get there…even if it includes murder.

"A lush and evocative novel of the Gilded Age period, brought vibrantly to life in this powerful work... A triumph by a masterful writer" - Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso

In addition, I am adapting the entire Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy for the screen and am working with two managers on its possible sale to a well-known network.

And, because I need more on my plate, I’m deep in research for my next novel. As it is such a unique subject and treatment of it, I’ll have to keep that topic a secret for now.

About the Author

Donna Russo Morin’s passion for the written word began when she was a child, took on a feminist edge as she grew through the sixties, and blossomed into a distinctive style of action-filled historical fiction at a defining moment in her life. As a second-generation American of full Italian descent, Donna combined her historical research with her genealogical studies, finding that her birth name (Russo) and her family roots are traceable to ninth century Florence…the very city in which the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy is set.

Donna Russo (Morin) is the internationally published author of six multi-award-winning historical novels including PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book One (a finalist in Foreword Reviews BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR), and THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two (EDITOR’S CHOICE, Historical Novel Society Review). The final book in her Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy, THE FLAMES OF FLORENCE, releases May 8, 2018. Also this summer, my novel, inspired by our own home state, GILDED SUMMERS: A Novel of Newport’s Gilded Age will also release this summer. Her other titles include The King’s Agent, recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly, The Courtier’s Secret, The Secret of the Glass, and To Serve a King.

A 25-year professional editor/story consultant, her work spans more than 40 manuscripts.  She holds a BA in Communications and an A.A. in English Literature.  Donna teaches writing courses at her state’s most prestigious adult learning center, online for Writer’s Digest University, and has presented at national and academic conferences for over ten years.  In addition to her writing, Donna has worked as a model and an actor with appearances in Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Currently under contract to a consortium of international producers, Donna has added screenwriting to her professional acumen.

Her sons—Devon, an opera singer; and Dylan, a chef—are still, and always will be, her greatest works.

Contact Links

Twitter: @DonnaRussoMorin
Instagram @donnarm.telleroftales

Buy Links

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