Today on my blog I have an interview with Barbara Quick, the author of Vivaldi's Virgins and the new young adult historical novel A Golden Web, about the life of Alessandra Giliani, a young woman in Medieval Italy who was possibly the world's first female anatomist, which I recently reviewed.
What inspired you to write a novel about Alessandra Giliani?
BQ: I happened on Alessandra's story pretty much by accident, in the course of searching for information about another Italian anatomist. I was captivated by this tale of such a transgressive, brave, and brilliant girl--and I presented the idea to a children's book editor in New York as a possible subject for a YA novel. She jumped on it right away.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
BQ: I read everything I could find in bookstores and libraries, here in the States, about life in 14th century Italy. And then I flew off to Bologna to search in libraries and archives there. I learned Italian when I researched and wrote my last novel, VIVALDI'S VIRGINS. I wish more people in this country would learn other languages! I can't tell you how many doors have been opened for me in places where I spoke even a little bit of the local language.
Anyway, I spent three joyful and exhausting weeks in and around Bologna, soaking up as much ambiance and as many historical details as I could find. Architecture, illuminated manuscripts, scholarly articles, paintings, the landscape, and even the local birds helped me build an authentic setting for Alessandra's story.
What do you hope your readers will learn from Alessandra's story?
BQ: Well, mostly I hope they'll learn that one's most cherished dreams are worth any amount of risk and hard work. I'm hoping that readers of A GOLDEN WEB will feel moved and inspired by Alessandra's story.
If you could travel back in time anywhere for a day, where and when would you visit?
BQ: Great question! Hmm. Would I be guaranteed safe passage? There are so many times and places I would be fascinated to see! Ancient Greece or Rome. North America before it was colonized. Vienna during Mozart's lifetime. Paris at the turn of the twentieth century... I can't decide!
When you aren't writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
BQ: My fiance is a violist with the San Francisco Symphony--and so I go to a lot of concerts and hear a lot of rehearsals. I love music! I love growing flowers and vegetables and do a fair amount of landscape design. I always loved dancing; but in my adult life I learned to samba and became very involved with the Brazilian dance community. I've danced in Carnival parades and taken two trips to Brazil. I love traveling. I love learning other languages. I love hiking and being in Nature. And, of course, I love reading!
What is your favorite book/author?
BQ: If I could take just one book to a desert island with me, I guess it would probably be "Anna Karenina." But I can't say that I have one favorite book or author. There are so many books that I have absolutely treasured as I was reading them.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
BQ: I'm so happy to read these wonderful blog reviews written by avid young book-lovers like yourself! The Internet has forever changed the relationship between writers and their readers. There's no longer a chasm between us: we're there for you, suddenly accessible; and you're there for us, spreading the word about our novels. Three cheers to you and your book blog, Rebecca!
If you would like to learn more about Barbara Quick and her novels, you can visit her website at http://www.barbaraquick.com/.