Introducing Mirella Patzer and her new book, Bloodstone castle!

19 05 2008

Welcome author Mirella Patzer to my blog. Please introduce yourself, Mirella and where can we find your book?

 
Hi everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here.  My name is Mirella Patzer and I’m a published author of historical fiction specializing in the medieval era.  I’ve also had several short stories published.  My current novel is entitled Bloodstone Castle.  It is currently available at Amazon and is trickling into local book stores now.  It will also be available as an ebook on Amazon and Fictionwise.  I’m also at work recording it as an audio book so it can be available at ITunes several months from now.   
 
1) How do you pick  the historical times you write in and are any of your books part of a series?
 
I set out wanting to write about a powerful queen in history.  Adelaide of Burgundy really caught my interest.  As I began to research, Adelaide led me to her husband, Otto the Great.  So I delved into his family and my novel has now become a trilogy or a 4 book series.  The first two are completed in draft form and I’m currently polishing and self-editing them.   
 
2) How do you find out what was socially acceptable at the time?
 
Writing about the 10th century is very difficult because it was so long ago and much that existed back then, is no longer.  I collect research, old books, books from other countries.  There is a wonderful book I purchased entitled “Living in the Tenth Century” by Heinrich Fichtenau which has been very helpful.  I also depend greatly upon the book “Queenship and Sanctity” by Sean Gilsdorf..  I have other books no longer in print that I’ve scoured the Internet for and purchased.  All these help me understand the lives of my characters.     
 
3) How difficult is it to write about the speech pattern at the time?
 
It is extremely difficult and I’m not a fan of trying to replicate.  It would make reading it a little more difficult.  My goal is to have the readers fall into the plot, so I stick to a formal writing style and sprinkle a few medieval, Italian, and German words in here or there for authenticity.  
 
4) How long does all your research take and where do you get all the data from?
 
I have been researching the 10th century since 2003.  At first, I spent an entire 6 months during which I produced a year by year outline.  Since then, I continue to research on a chapter by chapter basis.  I continue to scour the Internet for resources.  In fact, I just ordered a book from Italy written in Italian about one of my 10th century characters.   
 
5) Do you belong to any Historical Societies at all?
 
I desperately tried to join the SCA chapter in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, however, no one seems to be minding their emails and updating their website.  I have made numerous attempts to contact them, with little result.  I will keep trying however because I have a lot to contribute as well as learn. 
 
6) as a first time reader of your books, which book would you suggest to start with and why?
 
I recommend my readers start with Bloodstone Castle.  It is my newest release and it is a stand alone novel.  It is a romantic suspense novel similar in style to the novels of Lisa Jackson, another medieval romantic suspense author.      
 
7) How long have you been writing? what got you interested in Medevil/Historical fiction-romance stories?
 
I’ve been writing since 2002.  I’ve always had a love for medieval and historical fiction.  I devoured fairy tales as a child and I believe I never outgrew my fondness for stories about queens and princesses.  I read Gone With The Wind when I was twelve and have been hooked on historical fiction ever since.  
 
8) Have you ever visited a castle before and if so, where was it?
 
Yes, I have visited castles before.  All three were in Italy.  My uncle who lives in Milano took me to see

Sforzesco Castle, linked to the vicissitudes and dramatic events that the city has been experiencing over the past centuries. The Castle was named after Francesco Sforza, who transformed it into a ducal residence in 1450. But its origins date back to the second half of the 14th century, at the time of Galeazzo II Visconti.  I also had the pleasure of visiting Bassano della Grappa, a little village near the beginning of the Valsugana valley, the Pre-Alps zone, in north-east of Italy.  Lastly, I visited the Miramare Castle in Trieste built between 1856 to 1860.  It is the “love-nest” of Maximilian of Habsburg and Charlotte of Belgium.  I cherished every moment of my visits at these castles and even further researched the story behind them.  I think I’m obsessed with castles.  

Thank you for coming. Care to share a little about your book and maybe a 500 word excerpt with the readers?
 
Bloodstone Castle is a romantic suspense story.  It is the story of one woman who possesses a bloodstone pendant said to have originated from a lost ancient Roman treasure buried beneath her castle.  Two men vie for her hand in marriage for very different reasons.  Amidst murder and love, secret tyrsts and evil intentions, she must chose between two men, both dukes.  Here is an excerpt from the first chapter:  
 

Chapter One

Genoa, Italy

965 A.D.

The black stallion galloped hard. The thrash of Duke Amoro Dragone’s crop landed solidly against the animal’s haunches. Sparks flew at each rhythmic strike of horseshoes against the old Roman road. Sweat saturated the stallion’s sleek coat. The creature’s nostrils flared scarlet. Its breath streamed ribbons of mist into the cold air.

Amoro glanced at the bodyguards who raced to keep up. One carried his family’s standard of a scarlet dragon on a black background. He urged the mount faster. His mother needed him. Genoa needed him.

Flames from thousands of torches illuminated the city of Genoa, but grief blinded him to its beauty. He navigated the narrow streets by rote and ascended steep hills into the heart of the port city. Amoro rode across the open drawbridge into the courtyard of Castle Dragone. His bodyguards close behind. He dismounted and tossed the reins to a waiting groom. The stallion panted, its head hung low. Its legs shook with exhaustion. It pained Amoro to put his horse through such effort. “Tend to him with extra attention. He has earned it.”

Without waiting for acknowledgement, Amoro sprinted up the steps of the castle. The spurs of his boots jangled as he passed through the massive oak entrance and dashed through the corridors. He advanced beneath the shadow of an arch to the entrance of the great hall. Two guardsmen snapped to attention then opened the door at his appearance.

People crowded the room. His grief-stricken mother, Caterina, stood by the bier dressed in black. His father, Duke Bartolomeo Dragone, lay in his finery. Heaps of blossoms, aromatic herbs, and pine bows surrounded him. Shock halted Amoro. The man, so active in life, looked unfamiliar in death.

“Amoro,” Caterina hurled herself into her son’s arms and wept.

“I’m sorry.” Amoro embraced his mother. Words caught in his throat. She sobbed against his chest. Amoro’s heart constricted to see her so anguished. His arms still about her, he escorted her to a chair near the bed and assisted her to sit. He raised her hand and kissed it.

Caterina ran a hand down his cheek. She turned her swollen eyes to the black and red dragon standard that covered her husband’s body.

The Archbishop of Genoa hovered over the body and muttered solemn prayer. His face, serious and pale, contrasted with his brilliant purple vestments. Attendants whispered and emitted muffled sobs. A peculiar chill suffused the room.

I never anticipated this.

He knew no man as a kind and well respected. His heart pounded hard in his chest. At his father’s bier, Amoro dropped to his knees. In repose, the body looked waxen and cold. He touched his sire’s hand and pulled the stiff fingers to his forehead in one last obeisance, one last farewell. He opened his eyes and studied his father’s face. Amoro plummeted into a void of despair. The sound of his sobs suppressed all other sounds. He crossed his father’s lifeless hands atop the red and black pall. Amoro let his hand linger until he regained his composure

“Did he receive last rites?” Amoro asked the Archbishop in a voice raw with emotion.

“Yes, your father shall rest in peace..”

“I am grateful.”

“It is as God wished.” The Archbishop made the sign of the cross over Amoro and looked back at Caterina. “I’ll keep you both in my prayers.”

Amoro turned to his mother. “They told me he was ambushed. Is this true?”

She stared with lustreless eyes clogged by shock, unable to respond.

Amoro looked beyond her and raised his voice to the assembled vassals arrayed in mourning. “One of you, answer me. Did he face an ambush?”

Roberto, his father’s commander-at-arms of his troops, stepped forward. “It is true.” His gravely voice shattered the shocked silence. Amoro clenched his jaw. “How did this happen?”

“Yesterday we returned from Savona. Your father went there to collect a debt. Brigands accosted us. They outnumbered us. One slashed your father across the belly with a broadsword. We tried to stop the bleeding and dress the wound, but he lost too much blood. He died before the sun set.” Raw anger twisted Roberto’s face.

Amoro swallowed hard. “And what of the man who felled him?”

“Dead by my own sword,” Roberto growled. His countenance turned grim, yet his eyes glimmered with satisfaction at the redress.

Amoro stepped closer, placed his arm around Roberto’s shoulder, and led him away from his mother, so she could not overhear.

Amoro lowered his voice. “Did you know the man?”

Roberto shrugged. “No.” His looked turned venomous.  “I ordered the body drawn and quartered. The bastard’s head is impaled in the square.”

Amoro closed his eyes. Sangue di Dio. Roberto should have interrogated the man to discover the motive behind the murder. Nonetheless, Roberto defended his father, and for that, he owed the man his gratitude.

“You have been ever faithful to my father and our family. I’m proud to call you a friend. I shall see you well rewarded.”

“My lord,” Roberto said, his eyes gentled by compassion. “The night before he died, your father spoke with me.”

“Of what did you speak?”

“Of many things, but mostly of you.”

“Me?” The extent of Amoro’s loss churned at his gut.

Roberto nodded. “We camped outside Varezze. The inn had no vacancy. The men drank too much wine and fell asleep early. Your father couldn’t sleep, so he woke me. He seemed preoccupied. He confided in me.” Roberto faltered. Lines of concentration deepened along his brows.

It shocked Amoro to see the brawny man yield to his pain.

“Continue, Roberto, please,” Amoro urged.

“Your father wearied of the feud between your family and the Monterossa.”

Amoro’s drew his brows together. “I weary of it. We all weary of it. Father rued the day his own father dishonoured the betrothal with a daughter of the Monterossa family. The wrath of their vengeance denies us any peace.” He paused as something occurred to him. “Do you suppose one of the Monterossa murdered my father?”   

Roberto’s mouth dipped into a deep frown. He shook his head. “We have no proof it is the Monterossa. We removed the disguise from the face of the lout we killed. None of us recognized him.. Your father’s men search from town to town to find the rest of the band. We may never learn the identities of the assassins.”

Anger replaced Amoro’s grief. Try as he might, he failed to keep it contained. “I swear to hunt down the bastards who did this. They will suffer a worse fate.” Anxiety roughened Amoro’s voice. “What else did my father say?”

“He placed all his hopes onto you. He wanted you to end the feud and atone for the past.”

“How?”

“You must honour the marriage contract broken so many years past.”

“How am I to do that?”

“You are to wed Contessa Morena Monterossa of Portovenere.”

“Marry the daughter of our enemy,” Amoro grimaced. With eyes closed, he shook his head. “Father never spoke of such a thing to me.”

“Nevertheless, that is what he said.”

Amoro stared hard at Roberto. Thoughts of Laria, his lover, came to mind. His father knew he wanted to marry for love. He asked the impossible. He returned to his mother. “Did you know of Father’s wish for me to marry a Monterossa?”

Caterina nodded. Her voice cracked with emotion. “He spoke of it to me a while ago. He wanted to end the feud and for you to strengthen the Dragone family with sons. He sent a messenger to the king to propose the match and to acquire his permission.” Caterina pulled a small scroll from the pocket of her over-tunic and handed it to Amoro. “The king sanctioned the match.”

A tense silence enveloped the room as he read the document and handed it back to his mother. Hands clasped behind his back, it took Amoro only a few strides to reach his father’s side. He glared down at the lifeless face then looked away. He pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. What could have possessed his sire to burden him with such a fate – to wed the enemy, someone not of his own choice? A woman he could never love.

He clenched the edge of the pall with his fists and raised it to his face. Raging emotions shook his body. To wed a woman sight unseen? What if she behaved as a shrew or bore an ill temper? If Umberto Monterossa refused? How could he honour his father’s request then?

He swung around and stared first at Roberto then at his mother. “The idea of wedding the daughter of our vilest enemy is absurd. I do not believe my father would force this upon me.”

Caterina rose from her chair and rested her hand upon his arm. “Amoro, if that is the woman your father wanted you to marry then doubt him not. No man was more astute at judging the character of men and women than your father. Besides, we have all heard talk of her virtuous nature and beauty. Don’t turn away from an opportunity to wed a well–dowered woman.”

Amoro returned to his father. He held his breath. Thoughts in his mind spun like a whirlwind. “Morena,” he tested the name. A torrent of emotions churned in his gut. To wed the enemy, a woman he didn’t know. His father doomed him by such a ludicrous demand. His father’s favourite proverb haunted him. Figlio mio, one day you must rise to your station. Do your duty and the balance will take care of itself. By the bowels of hell, what had his sire demanded of him?

    

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One response

20 05 2008
emma

Hello Mirella & Raine,
writing historical novels must take a lot of time and of course research……..so hat’s off to you Mirella for having the patience to do this.
I love historical novels and i was intruiged with your first chapter, already so much tension and undercurrents……………..
Wishing you Mirella all the very best of luck with this book, may sales soar and i hope to find you here in books stores soon in the U.K.

Emma
from ole london town

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