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Long Live 8th of March! by Oksana Pavlenko, in the National Art Museum of Kyiv, depicts Ukrainian peasants. 

When Alliluyeva Returned is part of my collection of short stories, On the Way to Red Square. It is a vignette of Stalin's daughter's 1984 return to Moscow from the West. She moved into the Kremlin neighbourhood of her youth, around the corner from where we lived.

Putin is the Stalin of the twenty-first century. Experts in totalitarian oppression inside and outside their own borders, both men embody a long political tradition of autocracy in Russia. Democracy, as imperfect as it is, must prevail in Ukraine. 

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ STORY

 

 

 

SLAVA UKRAINI! GLORY TO UKRAINE! - April 1, 2022

Yasnaya Polyana, Clear Field, Leo Tolstoy's estate near Tula, Russia. 

 

On the Trail of Tolstoy is part of my collection of short stories, On the Way to Red Square. It is a vignette of the people I met in Moscow, 1983-1986.

 

The story describes the inner workings of a totalitarian system, and the share of bullies, true-believers, and fanatics that sprang under the Soviet regime. 

 

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ ON THE TRAIL OF TOLSTOY

 

 

 

I took this picture on July 4, 2017, as I watched the East River fireworks in Manhattan to celebrate American independence.  

Ukraine will be free again one day, I have no doubt.

Flames for a Revolution is part of my collection of short stories, On the Way to Red Square. It describes the KGB I saw in Moscow on November 7, 1983, the school where Vladimir Putin comes from. 

 

  

CLICK TITLE TO READ FLAMES FOR A REVOLUTION

 

 

 

Monticello's vegetable garden and Pavilion.

Thank you all for the inspiration and generosity with 'Eleonora and Joseph', you made the book possible!

There are revolutionary women like Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, and there are revolutionary sites - Jefferson's garden, and its history, is one of them.

As the sun set, I once sat in the pavilion hearing the mockingbirds. The place was as empty as this image - and the feeling is indescribable!

  

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ EXCERPT, CHAPTER 5  

 

 

 

Mantel's picture in The Guardian, June 3, 2017. 

 

As I start a new novel, I quote Hilary Mantel in the article above: 

 

Facts are not truth, though they are part of it – information is not knowledge. And history is not the past – it is the method we have evolved of organizing our ignorance of the past. 

 

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ THE GUARDIAN'S ARTICLE

 

 

 

RS: "I'd love to hear how being from Portugal influenced your writing." 

JR: "It influenced me greatly. A writer cannot run away from her or his past but must embrace it. Writing is like breathing, it's the sum of you."

...

RS: What is the last great book you read? 

JR: A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel.

 

  

CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I901scrNPBI

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ NEW YORK, NEW YORK

 

 

 

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!"
 

 

       CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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.

 

CLICK TITLE TO HEAR INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

CLICK TITLE FOR DETAILS 

 

 

 

 

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."

 

 

    CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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.

 

  

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

 

 

 

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."  

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ ESSAY 

 

 

 

"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."

 

 
CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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!"

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ PROGRAM 

 

 

 

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.

 


CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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."

 

CLICK TITLE TO LISTEN TO INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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?"

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

                     

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." 

 

 

CLICK TITLE TO LISTEN TO DISCUSSION 

 

 

 

 

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." 

                                              

                                  CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW 

 

 

 

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."

 

CLICK TITLE TO READ INTERVIEW