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CENTURY OF LIGHT AND DARK: EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HISTORICAL FICTION. 

Julieta discusses the tumultuous times of the Enlightenment in both Europe and the United States. In particular, the establishment of the Neapolitan Republic of 1799, as well as the close friendship between the Abbé Correia da Serra and Thomas Jefferson.

Stephanie discusses what is known in Portuguese tile art history circles as the tailend of the "Great Joanine Production", as well as the contributions of Africans and their descendants in the tile arts at the time of The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

The event was moderated by Professor Silvia Chicó, the University of Lisbon.

 

 

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THE DAYS OF PLAGUE, ANTHOLOGY. Participation by 272 authors - in various languagues - from 58 countries. Prose, poetry, short story, chronicle, letter, and diary.

 

"New York, New York – I've been living with this refrain in my mind since I got back to the city, five years ago now. But today, March 20, 2020, I stopped hearing Frank Sinatra's voice. The city finds itself besieged by an enemy as lethal as it is invisible."

 

I left New York the following day, but with a finished manuscript of Eleonora and Joseph. 

 

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The Consolations of Life in a Yali. Display at The Museum of Innocence, Istanbul. The museum was awarded the title of European Museum of the Year in 2014.

 "...I am starting a novel that incorporates your views: that art and money combine in ways that are set to pleasing the eye and can lead to awe-inspiring plots. I am not going into details for the moment; I will only mention that I found a narrative for a work of art that I saw in Istanbul in 2013. It is an extraordinary piece, dating from the late eighteenth century, and that makes me shiver every time I look at its reproductions."

 

 ...The beginning of a novel is a state of elation, and I feel very much at that threshold!"
 

 

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Books and the World: Julieta Almeida Rodrigues
Thomas Jefferson wrote the epitaph for his tombstone. In character, he didn't want to be remembered as President of the United States, Vice-President, Secretary of State, or Ambassador to France. The obelisk mentions one of the accomplishments he was most proud of: Father of the University of Virginia.
Eleonora and Joseph describes how much Jefferson wanted Joseph Correia da Serra to head the Department of Natural History (which included Botany), once the university opened.

 

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Exhibit Faire, courtesy of Rose Spears, Marketing Director. 

A full week of exciting opportunities to be inspired and connect with other historical fiction novelists!

 

 

CLICK TITLE FOR MY VIEWS ON THE CONFERENCE

 

 

 

National Archives, Torre do Tombo, Lisbon

Click here for audio

I read Eleonora and Joseph to celebrate one year of publication. And while I deleted the word trial from Chapter 13, I kept Correia's confession to the Lisbon Inquisição inside an interrogation procedure. This is a mere detail in my story, but of relevance to me. I recently looked at Cadernos do Nefando, Abominable Sin Book, in Torre do Tombo. Here, I didn't find conclusive evidence that he was subjected to a trial.

We (historical novelists) want a plot to be plausible, but we also want the accuracy of the historical fact - which, sometimes, is virtually impossible to find. 

 

 

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Dragon tree (Dragoeiro) in the Botanical Garden of Lisbon, under which shade Correia da Serra and his son Edward sit and talk in Chapter 13 of Eleonora and Joseph. Image by courtesy of the blog, A Portuguese Affair.

 

"Little by little, however, I realized how the study of botany was at the core of who Correia was and how this was, undoubtedly, the activity that gave him the most satisfaction and pleasure. This is also where his major contribution laid. Thus, it is no accident that the stamp that came out in Portugal with his effigy, names him as a botanist and not a diplomat."

 

 

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Stephanie Dray says: I think this might interest readers of #ribbonsofscarlet!

(Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution's Women. By Stephanie Dray, Allison Pataki, Heather Webb, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Laura Kamoie)

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/COX_QvRqY0t/

 

Correa Pulchella is in the background, a plant named after Correia da Serra. Composition by Manuel Liquito.

 

  

   TO READ JULIETA'S REVIEWS OF DRAY'S WORK, CLICK TITLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

L'Hermione, the French frigate where Admiral Latouche-Tréville brought the Marquis de Lafayette to America.  

 

"Besides this stupendous credential (to be elected deputy to the Tiers-État in 1789) - of the outmost importance to the Neapolitan revolutionaries - the Admiral had served in the American War of independence. The French had given him the immense privilege of transporting aboard L'Hermione the Marquis de Lafayette during his second voyage to America. The frigate also carried supplies, munitions and troops to help Americans fight for their independence."  

 

 

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"Believe me, it required a leap of faith for me to engage in a new, lengthy project, something that required a new set of literary tools. I recall being in my office in my former Washington, DC, house, and looking out the window toward the backyard with its small wooden gate. How I loved that view, it was the quintessence of domesticity! The Enlightenment came to mind immediately, my favorite period in history. I wanted the novel embedded in a philosophy of liberty, something that Voltaire so well knew."

 

 
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New York Public Library

 

As to the access of primary sources in researching historical figures. 

"At the dawn of the nineteenth century letter writing was an art form and my three main characters made extensive use of it. What fun to read intimate details of these extraordinary lives, handwritten by the protagonists themselves!"

 

 

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Map of Naples and Sicily. Published in London by Robert Wilkinson, cartographer, on January 1, 1794

 

"Anna Lawton is originally Italian and immediately understood my story. I felt elated. New Academia Publishing is a print-on-demand press and peer reviewed." 

 

Anna Lawton is on the American jury of the Strega Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Italy.

 


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Two Nuns, Saverio della Gatta (1799)

 

JR: "The nun, Suor Amadea della Valle, is a fictional character. I wanted Eleonora to write a diary from inside the Vicaria prison. But later, after she was executed, we needed to find it. So I had to devise a way for the work to appear, to show the reader that indeed she had written it. Someone had to take it out of prison."

CB: "Then, did Eleonora actually write a diary? I ask because the way you write about it is so magical, so well-done, you really can't tell the fiction from the fact."

JR: "The diary is totally my invention."

 

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The Destruction of the Tree of Liberty in the Square of the Palace, by Saviero della Gatta (1800)  

"In 'Eleonora and Joseph,' I went back in time to a world I once knew. We-Catholic school girls-had to conform to the daily Catholic rituals. We went to confession on a weekly basis. And, to whom did we confess our sins? A priest, who happened to be a man. I recall being six or seven years old, and while kneeling down in the confessionary, I revealed my thoughts and deeds to an old priest, someone over the age of sixty. If this wasn't the ultimate form of patriarchy in the twentieth century, what is?"

 

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Historical Novel Society, New York City Chapter

 

 

"The more conflicting accounts on a biography, the better. This way we, historical novelists,

try to catch the essence of a character and use our imagination to fill in the historical gap." 

 

 

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Lady Hamilton (as a Bacchante), by George Romney (c. 1785)

 

"This is a great question (events omitted in 'Eleonora and Joseph' for reasons of the novel's flow or structure). I was fascinated by the love affair between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. Here is a former prostitute by the name of Emma Hart...

After being wounded in battle, Nelson recovers in Villa Sesso, the ambassador's residence, under the assiduous vigilance of the now married Lady Emma Hamilton. Great passion ensues, their actions and letters the living proof. Since these two are vile creatures, it was fascinating to me to feel their palpable love and devotion." 

                                              

                                                        TO READ INTERVIEW CLICK TITLE

 

 

Thomas Jefferson's letter to Joseph Correia da Serra on June 14, 1817

 

"My time in New York was invaluable, for I was able to explore Joseph Correia da Serra's long-term friendship and correspondence with Thomas 􏰃Jefferson. 

B􏰅y the time I finished writing the book, the figure I enjoyed most was Thomas J􏰃efferson, his complexities and genius. He was flawed, like any human being, but he was also a remarkable man. I loved the way he mastered his own silences. He struck me as a man full of contradictions—someone called him a sphinx—with a brilliant, visionary mind."

 

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