Words from Julieta
It gives me great pleasure to imagine readers enjoying my stories when they have a few hours of leisure. Amidst a pandemic, we all wish to return to normality. So how about bringing my books if you plan to travel? Or why not read them under a tree in your favorite botanical garden?
Born and raised in Portugal, I currently divide my time between Manhattan and Sintra. As I've traveled over the Atlantic Ocean more times than I can count, my books reflect a variety of interests. I enjoy characters who cross international settings and have a cosmopolitan outlook on life. Just like me!
My two collections of short stories describe historical settings—the former Soviet Union in one and Portugal in the other—each with its own unique culture. The Ariadne thread linking these books is the diversity of my protagonists. They come from all walks of life: from prison to the parlor, from shady shop to distinguished attorney's office, and from family court to diplomatic receptions. They have in common the pursuit of universal dreams, never knowing what awaits them at the end of their journey.
Writing is fun and, regardless of their dark side, I am often amused by the stories I craft. I love how stories have a beginning, middle, and end. I write in English, not my native tongue, which is an exciting challenge. For me, fiction is a chance to tell a tale in the sharpest possible way. Plot and character, and how people interact when turning points occur, are paramount to my literary compositions.
My new book is now titled Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment. I find the Enlightenment the most fascinating period in human history. Thus, I created a triangle formed by three historical figures at the turn of the nineteenth century encompassing both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I love the way my protagonists, inevitably flawed as human beings, helped to create the world we inhabit today.
I have lived through unique world events beginning with the "hot summer" that followed the April 25, 1974 revolution in Portugal, when the country seemed ready to become the European Cuba. I witnessed the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, when I was part of the diplomatic community in Moscow. I was in Zagreb when the civil war erupted in the fall of 1991. In a slow-moving diplomatic car with my then four-year old son, the two of us left a city that had fallen under military occupation, only to miss the last plane leaving Ljubljana that day. I was in Washington, D.C., the day of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. And, as there were already cases of Covid-19 in my building, I left New York a few hours before the state of calamity was declared on March 22, 2020.
My path has been daring, exciting, and unquestionably more dramatic than I could ever have imagined. Challenges met me at every turn, teaching me how to forge new ways whenever necessary. In Robert Frost's words, I have always followed The Road Not Taken. Accordingly, I enjoy stories that speak to the heart without being sentimental. I enjoy characters who travel through time and space and not only find out who they are but also a glimpse of truth along the way. My settings are reminders of how rich and empowering exceptional people and colorful places can be.
As I finish my debut novel in 2020, I realize that more than ever, I enjoy strolling in well-kept botanical gardens as they bring me a mixture of joy and peace of mind. But there's something else. I discussed women in revolutionary times for the first time when I wrote my dissertation for Columbia University in 1979, a long time ago. The work, published in Portuguese, was in part about revolutionary women's roles following the April 25, 1974 revolution in Portugal. The women who contributed to the major political changes under way were engaged, and they endured and persisted. Now, I see the heroines of the French Revolution's aftermath equally deserving of my attention and praise. Nothing prepared them for what was to come—but they were present, promising. I get my inspiration from sources that might seem contradictory, but they are not: I enjoy beauty as much as truth.
In my next life, I would like to be a poet, a musician, a dancer, or a gardener. I might add now a new vocation: sculptor. For historical fiction turned out to be the venue that allows me to blend all the narratives of the life I currently lead.