Q & A with historical author Joanne Lewis
Today I’m hosting an interview with Joanne Lewis, who will be a speaker at the upcoming (soon!) Historical Novel Society Conference in Florida. She’ll be on the panel Publishing Models: Indie Presses and Self-Publishing Pathways.
The Lantern, her novel that won first place in the Royal Palm Literary Award for Historical Fiction, is about a modern-day woman in Miami and a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi’s dome.
What got you first interested in historical fiction?
I have always loved reading historical fiction, most notably stories about the Italian Renaissance. I am an attorney so I was writing murder mysteries and not really enjoying the process. While reading Ross King’s Brunelleschi’s Dome I read the following line: “…even a girl from the Gaddi family dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of the dome…”
I must have reread it ten times. I had to know who this girl was. I contacted Ross King and he said he got the line from reading Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists, which was the next book I picked up. After much research, I discovered that Vasari had fabricated this girl, however I decided to make her real. My novel The Lantern is about Dolce Gaddi, the girl who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi’s dome in the 1400’s. I have been hooked on writing historical fiction ever since.
How do you find the people and topics of your books?
I first look for a time period that interests me. To date, my historical fiction time periods have involved the Italian Renaissance in The Lantern and the Salem Witch Trials as a sub-plot in Wicked Good. I am also very much interested in Michelangelo and am working on a novel that is a series of stories that follow him from seventeen years old until the present day. It combines historical fiction with fantasy, as obviously Michelangelo is not alive today.
My next novel will involve two historical time periods that interest me, namely the Italian Renaissance and WWII. I will follow the creation and journey of da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine throughout time, including what happened to the painting during WWII.
Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?
I write by the seat of my pants. I do not outline. I research the time period by reading books, exploring the internet and visiting the locales. I map out the story in my head and then I write. Because I do not outline, my process takes me anywhere from 20-30 rewrites. For the book I will write about the da Vinci painting “Lady with an Ermine.” I hope to visit Krakow, where the painting presently is, so I may see it in person.
What book was the most fun for you to write? Definitely The Lantern. I traveled to Florence several times to research, I met other successful writers who write about the Italian Renaissance who have since become my friends, and I got to learn more about a time period that continually fascinates me.
For more information on Joanne Lewis visit her website at www.JoanneLewisWrites.