The month-long blog tour arranged by my publisher, Fiery Seas, has yielded a wonderful, thoughtful review of my novel The Renaissance Club. I’m very pleased at today’s review on the book blog, What Cathy Read Next. This sensitive reviewer has visited some of the places in the book — Rome and Venice — and seen some of Bernini’s art. One of my favorite paragraphs in the review connects my writing as a poet with descriptions of the carnival of beauty that is Italian Renaissance art.
If you suddenly found you could time travel, what good could you hope to do by traveling into the past? Could you time travel to prevent a war or a plague? Would you want to ensure that friendly, intelligent aliens landing on our planet weren’t obliterated by weed-killer? Would you want to change your own history to become richer, more successful, or healthier? Would you try to spare someone close to you a catastrophe?
Some of those things are the goal of my main character, May Gold, in The Renaissance Club (now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo). Time travel has been a philosophical problem ever since someone devised it. It’s the problem I asked myself as I sent May back to the 17th century.
And it’s a question I kept pondering as I thought about George St. James, the club’s guide to Renaissance Italy, and for a few the guide to time traveling.
Why did George have this gift? How did he decide to use it only to aid others? In George’s case, time travel appears to be genetic. His grandmother had the ability, though neither of his parents did. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because that’s not in the prologue of The Renaissance Club. It will appear in my third novel, Time’s Wily Thief, which features George St. James.
In The Renaissance Club, art historian May Gold time travels with George’s aid, and she finds herself face-to-face with her hero, 17th century Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. As she goes back and forth into his timeline, she starts trying to change things in his life, to prevent disasters that impeded his art.
Many people haven’t been to Italy, and without visiting there, it’s almost impossible to see the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini. My time-travel novel, The Renaissance Club, (now available for pre-order on Amazon in either paperback or ebook) features not only his art, but Bernini himself. It’s set in five Italian cities rich with art and beautiful architecture: Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and Venice. Rome especially features his expressive, passionate art. He’s the genius artist of the 17th century, and the idol of the protagonist, young art historian May Gold. Their meeting through the shifting folds of time occurs often near one of Bernini’s artworks.
To help you see the places and sculptures in the book, I created The Renaissance Club Pinterest Illustration Board, illustrating my time-travel novel and has sections for all the cities May Gold visits on her tour of Northern Italy with her Renaissance Club colleagues. All the Bernini art she sees is included, along with places and art associated with time adventures by other characters.
Take a tour of Renaissance Italy — in both May’s contemporary time, and Gianlorenzo Bernini’s 17th century — while you read The Renaissance Club.
In case you haven’t read about this already, I’m giving away a free chapter of The Renaissance Club, due to be published by Fiery Seas Publishing in January 2018. You can claim one from Instafreebie here, or simply by going to my website.
Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? May Gold, a college adjunct teacher, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis – Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.
But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend. She considers herself a precocious failure and yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit. Over the course of the tour, she realizes she has to choose — stay in a safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one? The Renaissance Club is forthcoming from from Fiery Seas Publishing in 2018.
These aren’t the actual covers, but I had fun playing around with images! If you want to comment, please do.
What’s so great about Italy, and why did I spend many years of my life writing about it, culiminating in my novel The Renaissance Club, which features Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini?
Good questions. What I keep coming up with is that Italy is Bernini, and Bernini, Italy. I mean the place is full of gorgeous, sumptuous, emotionally moving art. It’s a place so full of art you start to take it for granted that you’ll turn a corner and see some gorgeous sculptural fountain or fantastically beautiful church.
And Italian Renaissance and Baroque art packs a wallop that can stop you in your tracks. Below are some of the reasons to visit Italy — five fantastic, life-size Bernini sculptures. You can only get a small idea seeing a photo, because these life-size, or even bigger, statues are like people who walk into the room, naked physically and emotionally.
This one, for example, is life size, and not much elevated above the viewer’s plane. It’s in the Villa Borghese in Rome.
A really startling thing about this one, is it is like meeting Bernini–he used his own face for the David. Probably the expression he often wore while chiseling on marble!
This contr-apposto pose, with the body twisting on itself, is something Bernini pushed to the limits. His figures move like actors on a stage. It was something really new, probably shocking, and certainly moves us looking at them.
This is one of the dynamic statues that made me want to write a novel about Bernini! To read a free preview chapter, head over to my website:
And here’s Bernini again, wearing a somewhat different expression in this bust of A Damned Soul.
The sculptures are very much in motion, with lots of curving planes and lines. Italy is so full of these curvilinear forms, in buildings, fountains, sculptures everywhere, and choice of subjects of art, that you begin to feel like you’re in a boat, riding somewhere, bouncing up and down, side to side, on the waves.
When I came home to my Northern California suburb, I really missed the waves, the romance, and of course Bernini. His massive scultpures don’t travel. Bernini everywhere in Rome,gave me such depth of feeling and passion as I’ve rarely seen in art. Ecstasy and torment—rarely anything blandly inbetween. So of course, I had to write a time-travel novel about him! I’d like to time travel and really meet this amazing genius.
For 10 unforgettable reasons to visit Italy, click Lifehack’s list here. Really Venice and Bernini are enough reasons.
New novel, new author website. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I’ve looked at so many author sites and the ones that stick with me are SO SIMPLE! Simple is hard. And I’m short of funds to pay a really great designer. As the daughter of a painter, however, I have my esthetic tastes, and as the daughter of a rocket engineer (same guy), I have my HTML skills. So — drum roll, please — here’s the new author website for Rachel Dacus.
The Renaissance Club by Rachel Dacus, Fiery Seas Publishing (forthcoming).
That felt good to type! Today I’m handing over my final manuscript to the publisher. It feels like handing over the controls of my airplane in mid-flight. Next, they wrap the book with a cover. Very important element. I can’t help but imagine casting Gianlorenzo Bernini, around whom the story unfolds, for the movie. Here he is in his self-portrait, age 26, an image that was part of my inspiration to write the book. Who could play the temperamental, charismatic artist?
Don’t you think McAvoy would be fantastic in the role? I thought of him because of his thrilling portrayal of Jane Austen’s love interest in the movie Becoming Jane. But what if they made The Renaissance Club as a musical — then it must be Chris Pine!! We can darken his hair. I’ll write the lyrics, unless Stephen Sondheim wants to. How great is Captain Kirk singing as the Prince in this clip from Into the Woods?
Because shouldn’t we all have a little extra help? And also a friend you can always talk to, who understands everything the way you see it, or even if he doesn’t, has wisdom gently offered? Yes, everyone should have this.
In my completed novel, THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, (watch for announcement of its debut date), Renaissance genius sculptor and architect Bernini provides the magical wisdom and inspiration for young art historian May Gold, stuck in a going-nowhere teaching job, with a stick-in-the-mud boyfriend. As if Italy isn’t magic enough on its own, she slips through a crack in time to come face to face with the tempestuous artist, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes.
Well, what would you do if you could meet that one person in history who you’ve always admired– maybe even studied and fantasized about? That’s the way my tale unfolds. And the way May manages to make her not-so-imaginary but slipstream companion a reality in her life. I found the voice of Bernini urging me along as I wrote the story. It’s a coming-of-artistic-age tale that rang deeply true for me. If you have to create, have courage and do it boldly. Think of the dynamic Bernini when you put your fingers on those keys, or the camera to your eye.
I’m really happy that one of my most recently published poems was “Wings Clipped” and appeared in Issue 4 of a journal called Panoply. Several reasons: 1) I’ve had a panoply of acceptances this season — far more than my usual batting average! 2) “Wings Clipped” is the lead poem in my new manuscript, Arabesque (available to an interested publisher) and 3) the poem brings together the two art forms I’ve devoted myself to: dance and poetry.
The journal One from Jacar Press also published one of my poems — “Elegance” — that brought together those two arts. Even though this lovely art form broke my back, I would do it all over again. I suppose that might be a form of courage. And publishing that poem helped me have the courage to focus the opening section of my book around the way these arts and injuries shaped me.
This year I’ve had 16 poems accepted so far, which is much more than ever in any 9-month period. They’re all from this manuscript, which makes me feel it’s strong. I campaigned the poems to support publishing the book, but I never expected so much so quickly.
To be part of new literary ventures is also an exciting privilege I’ve had this season. The new and beautiful Peacock Journal recently published four of mine.
And they did me the kindness of pairing the work with a beautiful image that means a lot to me, as it’s involved in my new novel, The Renaissance Club (also available). Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa figures in my story, and when I met this sculpture in Rome, its power is partly why I wanted to write the novel.
The other new journal I was happy to participate in is Mockingheart Review. They took three of my favorites from Arabesque, including my favorite dream poem, “Giraffes.”
Gingerbread House published one of the poems that surprised me the most to write — a poem about a dead-drunk superhero called “Transparency” — and they paired it with original art that was just perfect. Thanks to the editors for that pairing!
I have a poem forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, and I’m waiting to hear on a few more. But all in all, 2016 has been a bonanza for this poet. And in other ways, a most interesting series of literary adventures. Some of which I will have to wait to tell. Thanks for listening to my surprised delight.
What if you can’t get your two favorite heroes from history to play nice? That’s the problem my main character, art historian May Gold has in my WIP novel The Renaissance Club. She has a plan to get her idol, Gianlorenzo Bernini, the rock star artist of the Renaissance, and his chief rival, architect Borromini, to play nice and work together. Trouble is, she has to travel four centuries to bring it about. Time isn’t giving her much time, and Borromini is out for blood. Here’s an excerpt: