A historical romance set in Renaissance Florence filled with art and romance intertwined in a beautifully written story…need I say more? My guest today is author, Laura T. Emery of WHAT REMAINS OF THE FAIR SIMONETTA. (November, 2015)
***Be sure to check out the Goodreads Giveaway at the end of this post and Laura’s upcoming appearances and signings.***
Laura T. Emery has lived most of her life in Los Angeles, California, but spent most of her time and energy the past few years perusing the streets of Florence through literature, art, and Google Maps.
Laura is learning the Italian language, simply to enable her to read the few books that exist on Simonetta Vespucci, and the many other documents of the Italian Renaissance that have yet to be translated into English.
She made several research trips to Florence in order to become fully immersed in the history and culture, hoping to one day retire with her husband in the Tuscany region of Italy.
Me: So tell us a little about the book.
Laura: Anastasia (Stacia) Uqualla has been dead for eleven years, residing as a spirit in the Italian Church of Ognissanti, when she suddenly awakens in the body of the renowned Renaissance beauty, Simonetta Vespucci. She reunites with Mariano, the father of Botticelli, whose ghostly presence has kept her company in the afterlife. Her journey through the Renaissance will find her also rubbing elbows with the young Leonardo Da Vinci, Lorenzo de’ Medici, and many other Renaissance painters, including the awkwardly dashing Botticelli himself. With the body and raging hormones of a teenage girl, Stacia experiences all the passions in life a second time around. Take a ride through history in this second book in the Remains series, historical fiction with a punch.
Me: Love, love, love romance! How long did it take you to write this book?
L: It took me two and a half years to write the book, mostly because of the intense research involved and my occasional diversions.
Me: Wow what an accomplishment. What Genre do you write and why?
L: I think my writing lends itself to the Romance genre, although neither of my books are straightforward romances, as I’m naughty and often don’t follow the “rules” of romance.
Me: Can you pick a favorite line from your latest work and tell us why this is your favorite?
L: “Just because I don’t wanna crank out kids, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy each other’s company, does it?”
I love this line because it really shows my main character’s sassy, modern personality shine though even in her Renaissance world. Many people thought I was going too far, but to me, that’s what Stacia sounds like after several “goblets” of wine!
Me: What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
L: My biggest surprise was that it really wasn’t that difficult. It’s not the monumental, impossible task that some people make it out to be. But it’s a lot of work, regardless if you are traditionally published or self-publish. It’s exhausting. And don’t even get me started on marketing!
Me: Do you have a favorite author(s)?
L: I am a big Dan Brown fan. Will probably read everything he ever writes, along with Khalid Hosseini. Hosseini’s writing is so beautiful. Having said that, I can be entertained by almost anything, and have almost never stopped reading a book once I started.
Me: That’s impressive. What are a few things about yourself most people wouldn’t expect?
L: I have seven kids. Not because I am some religious fanatic, or have a desire for extreme poverty. It just kind of worked out that way. And I used to sell seashells by the seashore. Yeah, that’s about it.
Me: That’s even more impressive, I don’t know how you find time to write! If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
L: Everyone fantasizes about this one! So my main character, Stacia is a half Native American half Russian. Dark skinned, blue eyed. So for her portrayal in my first book, “Disposition of Remains,” I would choose Julie Jones (only she will have to wear blue colored contacts, of course.) But for my new book, “What Remains of the Fair Simonetta,” she comes back in the body of renowned (and blonde) beauty Simonetta Vespucci. So of course we will have to cast a different actress for book two. I’m thinking Amanda Seyfried. I would like Sandro Botticelli to be played by James McAvoy. I think he would make a great artistic, shy, brooding-type love interest.
Me: Something fun. Chocolate, Coffee or Wine (or any other adult beverage)?
L: Oh, the horror! I have Meniere’s Disease, which is not a big deal but requires the sad elimination of anything fun in my liquid diet. No caffeine, coffee, or alcohol. Though I can still drink Diet 7up, so life isn’t over yet!
Me: Soda is still a fun! What is your favorite meal?
L: Anything Italian. Really just anything. I love food. The cheesier the better.
Me: Favorite Color?
L: I’m not sure if I have one, but I wear a lot of black. Mostly because I’m a lazy dresser. I guess that’s why I write, so I can stay home in my black sweats!
Me: If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What would you wear?
L: I’d wear something black! And slimming! Like a giant black spanky suit that holds in all the unwanted curves. I guess my name would have to be “woman who can’t breathe.” And not that you asked but I would need to be able to fly, read minds, and control inanimate objects.
Me: Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers?
L: I think the best advice I received was from author, Catherine Bybee, who told me to write every day. Even if you spend that day writing crap, you’re still in the swing. It’s really hard to get back in the swing once you fall off. Advice from me would be to join a writer’s group and meet other writers. That has made a world of difference for me. I’ve met some great writers that inspire me to do better, and friends to commiserate with.
Me: What’s next in your future?
L: I have so many books in my head I think it may explode at times! But I will try to reign it in and finish the trilogy I started. The third book will focus on Stacia’s son Alex and the Havasupai people.
Me: That’s great! Sounds busy 🙂 Thanks for joining us today, Laura. And for our readers, check out all of Laura’s links and an excerpt from her book below.
Signings: January 16th, 2015 – Celebration of Local Authors: 10AM-3PM Newhall Library, 24500 Main Street, Newhall, CA
January 30th, 2015 – Open Book in Valencia, CA: 3PM-6PM
Click on Author Interviews on my homepage if you’d like to be featured on an upcoming post of Behind the Scenes, an author spotlight series.
Excerpt from What Remains of the Fair Simonetta:
The moment he saw me, Giuliano pranced up and grabbed me around the waist; his face close to mine, as he pulled me in and twirled me around. We danced in perfect unison to steps I’d certainly never executed before. Simonetta’s body overruled my brain and I unconsciously let her lead me. I smiled broadly, as we chasséd, spun, and whisked our way about the stage. At the song’s finale, Giuliano dipped me, and when he raised me back up I pulled him towards Fioretta, placing his hand in hers. A look of nervous shock came over her young face and she went limp; the remaining flowers in her skirt falling to the floor. But Giuliano didn’t miss a step, and immediately wrapped his arm around Fioretta, and danced her around the stage.
Giuliano now dispatched, I returned to the other Graces, and together we skipped and hopped around Lorenzo and Lucrezia for a while longer before Eleonora pulled us down into the now rollicking crowd of gods, goddesses, nymphs, and muses. Eleonora kicked off her sandals, so Albiera and I followed suit. We weaved in and out of the crowd, collecting people to add to our human chain, eventually forming a long snake of dancers in the grass, weaving in and out of the Candyland-like shrub sculptures.
By this time, Marco had disappeared into the crowd, but Sandro still stood lonesome on the sidelines. In the spirit of this anything goes atmosphere, I grabbed Sandro’s hand and yanked him into our orgy of festivities.
The chain soon disbanded into smaller groups and pairs of merrymakers. We Graces formed a ring around Sandro, our linked arms moving up and down with the music.
“It is Mercury, god of poetry,” Eleonora said to Sandro, causing him to smile shyly.
“Except this Mercury writes his poetry with brushstrokes on panel,” I clarified.
“I shall enjoy painting you three as the Graces,” Sandro replied as we continued to roam around him.
“And I will be your lady Venus. You shall paint me riding from the waves.” I demanded. I had no idea where those words came from.
“I will,” Sandro pledged, without lowering his gaze. “I promise.”
Eleonora winked at me as she and Albiera trotted off to flirt with the other deities, leaving me to dance alone with Sandro. I glanced around to locate Marco and Giuliano in order to gauge how much trouble I was likely getting myself into. Marco was engrossed in a serious conversation with Lorenzo, and Giuliano was nowhere to be seen, so I decided to make use of my newfound dancing ability. I took Sandro’s hand, and moved easily with him in some sort of Renaissance-style waltz, circling and weaving through the entirety of the garden. So as not to advertise my infatuation with Sandro, I smiled and greeted everyone, with a charm that was not my own. Then Sandro held both my hands and spun me, causing me to throw my head back in delight, my long pony tail whipping through the wind.
Caught up in our own private celebration, we drifted away from the congregation, and found ourselves on the south side of the garden behind the palazzo. Our eyes met under the veil of shadow created by the large building. Overpowered by the mood, our lips migrated together. This time it wasn’t me who initiated it, but rather some force outside of ourselves pulling us together, despite all the odds against us. Entranced by the magic of the evening, I lost myself in the warmth of his lips and his soft breath, until we heard some rustling and moaning emanating from close by. Sandro and I crept a few steps along the outer wall of the palace to discover the source of the commotion, and when I focused my eyes, I almost laughed out loud. Giuliano was sucking face with our faux Flora, Fioretta, pressed up against the side of the Palazzo Lenzi. We scurried away before they had a chance to come up for air.
“I guess that solves that problem,” I said to Sandro when we resumed our dancing.
“I wish it could be that simple,” Sandro sighed. “Fioretta is not of noble birth, and is obviously quite attainable. Giuliano has made a public display of courting you. His expectations will remain intact, despite any other entanglements.” I didn’t want negativity to ruin this evening, and pushed any thought of Giuliano’s expectations from my mind.
As the current song came to a close, Sandro and I agreed to separate and mingle so as not to draw attention. I took hold of any and every other man, dancing and charming my way through the crowd, sampling goblets of wine along the way. I danced with Lorenzo, Leonardo, Poliziano, and even Giuliano once he finally returned to the ball. I resisted the temptation to divulge what I’d witnessed, and realized that being admired by many men wasn’t the worse thing in the world. After all, the evening was not about my mission with Mariano, conspiring with Leonardo, Lorenzo’s politics, or Poliziano’s poem—but pure unadulterated fun.