Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Interview with novelist Rachel Dacus

Romance author Rachel Dacus joins the blog today. She’s chatting with me about her new time travel, The Renaissance Club.

During her virtual book tour, Rachel will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Rachel Dacus is a poet, essayist, and novelist who writes about love and relationships, with a touch of the supernatural. Love and history are the themes of her debut novel, The Renaissance Club, a tale of romance between a young art historian and her hero, the fiery 17th century Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. Praise for her novel — “enchanting, rich, and romantic” — describes the kinds of love and adventure stories Rachel enjoys, preferably set in exotic places. She has traveled to Italy and India and plans to expand her journeys beyond countries that start with the letter “I”.

She’s the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who worked on missiles during the race-to-space 1950’s. He was also an accomplished painter.

Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course in Renaissance art history that culminated in tour of northern Italy. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay on Italy, motherhood, and infertility was anthologized in Italy, a Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience.

Dacus shows off her versatility in four poetry collections. Her newest is Arabesque. Three other collections are: Gods of Water and Air, Femme au Chapeau, and Earth Lessons. She raises funds for arts, human service, and healthcare organizations and takes walks with her way-too-smart Silky Terrier.

Welcome, Rachel, please share a little bit about your current release.
Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? That’s what young art historian and teacher May Gold must decide when she slips through time’s folds to meet the man of her dreams and the subject of her master’s thesis — fiery 17th century genius artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies May is in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who steered Renaissance art into the Baroque. In reality, she has just landed in Rome with her stodgy boyfriend and teaching colleagues for a tour of Italy. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit.

What inspired you to write this book?
An art history tour of northern Italy, much like the one depicted in my story, kindled a wish to meet some of the great artistic geniuses behind the Renaissance. Though I know in real life, time-travel isn’t possible, I found a way to meet one of the most spectacular artistic geniuses who ever lived—by recreating him as my hero!

Excerpt from The Renaissance Club:
A distant clang. The Swiss Guards were closing the outer doors and tourists were scurrying. Where was The Renaissance Club? In a panic, May dashed toward the Baldacchino and nearly collided with a man who stepped out from behind a pillar. 
            “Sorry!” she said, backing up.
            Signorina, watch where you’re going!”
The young man in black frowned and didn’t apologize. With his long, dark hair and white sleeves rolled up on muscular forearms, he looked like an art restorer. A black jacket was draped over his shoulders. He held a long wooden measuring rod, the kind used by architects centuries ago. Maybe he was rehearsing for some sort of pageant.
“Ladies are not allowed here while I’m working,” he said stiffly. He aimed the rod at the nearest column and sighted up along it.
“I know you!” she exclaimed. She knew him well.
He straightened his jacket and bowed. “Everyone in Rome knows Cavaliere Bernini. But you may not be here. I need silence. I have a very big work to complete.
His finger pointed up at the four twisted bronze columns, where May was astonished to see no bronze canopy on top. Tons of bronze had simply vanished. She looked back at him. Bernini lifted the instrument and peered up at the nearest column. Her living, breathing idol moved to one side to get a better angle. Lean and strong, he was even more handsome than in his self-portrait.
Now he was so intent on his investigation that he seemed unaware of her and the fact that her pulse was pounding. How had she come here, and where exactly was she?
He lowered the measuring rod, framed the air with his hands, and used his fingers to make rapid computations. He stared at her so intensely that she shivered. She remembered that searing gaze in his self-portrait.
“You’re disturbing me, signorina.” He turned away, clearly expecting her to leave.
How could she possibly move? Here was her genius, his hair curled with wiry energy, materializing the restless mind under it. His prominent cheekbones gave him the Neapolitan look that had embarrassed him and made him fabricate a Florentine heritage. He made a few quick calculations and looked at her again, eyes narrowed.
“I won’t say a word,” she promised.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My new novel is a contemporary fantasy. In The Invisibles, two half-sisters try to restore their damaged sisterhood while clashing over their inheritance of a cottage on the coast of Italy, along with its resident ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first novel at the age of eleven. It was called The Secret of the Locked Room, and it was all of 100 pages. I was very proud of its length!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do my creative writing for one to two hours every morning, first thing if possible. Longer if possible. My longest writing stint is probably about six hours. And then I begin my work day. I’m a self-employed grant writer and fundraising consultant, so one form of writing flows into the next. I give my creative writing the best hours of the day – for me, that’s first thing in the morning.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I do my best writing in the shower or walking, memorizing long passages until I can get to the keyboard. I also dictate on my phone, and considered getting a waterproof phone – but the memorization is more fun, and challenging.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. As they say, be careful what you wish for!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m the daughter of a bipolar rocket scientist and I grew up in the race-to-space Cold War 1950s, and then found myself in counterculture San Francisco in the 1960s. That’s a story I’m working on. My favorite writing spot is my couch, with my tiny Silky Terrier perched on a cushion near me. I should have named her The Muse.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thanks for having me! I really enjoyed this interview.

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rachel Dacus said...

Thanks, Lisa, for hosting me today on your wonderful blog. I'll be checking in today to see if any readers have questions. Happy reading!

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great post, I enjoyed reading it!

Rachel Dacus said...

Thanks, Edgar and Victoria!

Bernie Wallace said...

Which book would you like to see a sequel to? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good book.

Rachel Dacus said...

Joseph, I'm working on a sequel to THE RENAISSANCE CLUB. I'd love to see a sequel to UPROOTED by Naomi Novik. Thanks for the congrats!

Rachel Dacus said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today! You can find more about THE RENAISSANCE CLUB and my writing at racheldacus.net.

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Danielle merkle said...

Sounds like a great read