Thursday, November 5, 2009

Author Interview: Michelle Moran

Photobucket Last week I posted a review of Cleopatra's Daughter and a giveaway. I am thrilled that the author, Michelle Moran, has done a Q&A with us.

GJR: Why did you decide to gear Cleopatra’s Daughter towards young adults?
MM: I like to begin my novels during the time of greatest transition in a person’s life. And in the ancient world, the greatest transition in a woman’s life was often the time when she was married. Because women married at much younger ages two thousand years ago (twelve years old was not uncommon), my narrators have all been very young girls. However, as my novels progress through time (my next book, for example, will be about Madame Tussuad), my narrators will be older.

GJR: What about this part in history made you want to write a book about it? Why the focus on the children of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra? Why not a book about them instead?
MM: I think most people know the story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. It’s been done many times before, from Shakespeare to Margaret George. But very few people have heard the story of Cleopatra’s daughter, and when I discovered the amazing life she led and what she and her twin brother lived through, and I knew I wanted my third book to be about her

GJR: Besides Selene, who was your favorite character to write in the book? Why?
MM: Probably Tiberius. He's snarky and sharp and full of teenage angst!

GJR: Would a young girl like Selene have been given the opportunity to study architecture like she was or was this part of the fictional story?
MM: It would have depended on who that young girl was. Women in ancient Rome had opportunities to go to school and study up until a certain point. While we'll never know if Selene was really tutored in art and architecture, she certainly used these skills later in life.

GJR: At the end of the book it seemed to me that Octavian had a soft spot for Selene, would you say that was true? It seems like he respected and admired her, even if it was not reciprocated.
MM: Octavian was an extremely complicated man. The best biography on him that I have read is by Anthony Everitt called Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor. Here was a leader who could be both tender and cruel, forgiving and merciless. He killed his enemies swiftly and probably without remorse. Those he valued, however, he rewarded with king ships and his deepest friendship and trust.

GJR: I know that your next novel focuses on Madame Tussuad, but from what aspect?
MM: I'm writing the novel from the point of view of Madame Tussuad herself, who lives through the French Revolution and chronicled its most horrendous acts by making death masks of the guillotine's victims. As a tutor to the king's sister and a wax modeler with a popular exhibit on the Boulevard Du Temple, Tussuad inhabited tow different worlds. Because of this, she witnessed the Revolution's destruction from two very different perspectives.

GJR: Who are your favorite authors to read? Why?
MM: Oh - there's so many! C.W. Gortner, Robin Maxwell, Sharon Kay Penman, Margaret George..., the list goes on and on! I also really enjoy narrative non-fiction. Some of my favorite narrative books have been Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Gary Kinder's Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World's Richest Shipwreck, and Benjamin Wallace's The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

GJR: What are you currently reading?
MM: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

GJR: What author's have influenced you?
MM: I think that every writer is influenced by more authors than they can ever name, and that's certainly the case with me! I enjoy all kinds of ficiton, from fantasy to non-fiction, and everything I read helps me grow as an author.

GJR: Where is your next trip? Is it research, fun or both?
MM: My next trip will be to New Zealand to visit family and then Scandinavia, just for fun! I'm hoping that at some point during my travels to Norway, Finland and Sweden I'll find the time to sneak in a quick trip to Paris to take photographs of the places where Madame Tussuad lived.

I want to thank Michelle for taking time out of her busy writing schedule to answer these questions for us! I, for one, can not wait for the Madame Tussuad book to be released.


Calila1988 November 6, 2009 at 11:20 AM  

I can't wait to read Cleopatra's Daughter. The Madame Tussuad book already sounds great!

stacybuckeye November 6, 2009 at 11:54 AM  

New Zealand would be a dream vacation for me.

Serena November 6, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

I just love hearing about all of Moran's travels. What a charming life. Ah! I just love her writing.

Amy November 11, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

This is a great interview although I skipped a little bit of it because I haven't read the book yet! Michelle is so sweet and I am thrilled to know some of her favorite authors and books. How wonderful that she is going to New Zealand and Scandinavia, wow! It's great to hear about her extensive travels and the places she's been

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