Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Post: Mary Tudor: A Catholic Tudor Queen ~ An Original Essay by C.W. Gortner

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Mary I of England is without doubt one of history’s most reviled and misunderstood figures—a queen who overcame tremendous odds to win her throne in 1553 yet who managed by her death in 1558 to have deeply divided her realm, responsible for a savage persecution that terrorized her realm. She ruled only five years but so terrible is the memory of her deeds that she has earned the sobriquet of “Bloody Mary”, a name for which she is still known today.

Mary was the sole surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. Catherine was sent to England to marry the Tudor heir, Prince Arthur, but his sudden demise left her a widow. Catherine claimed the marriage had never been consummated, and her impoverished isolation in the years that followed stoked the ardor of the new heir, Henry, who, upon his coronation, wed Catherine despite a six-year difference in their ages. Catherine and Henry were married for twenty-four years; stalwart and devout, indubitably in love with her husband, Catherine endured numerous miscarriages and the death of an infant son before finally giving birth to Mary in February of 1516.

As Henry’s sole heir (for despite his later obsessive quest for a son, a daughter could inherit his crown) Mary was adored by her parents. Historical sources recount numerous occasions when the handsome king displayed his fair-haired daughter to his court, showing off her skill with music and graceful charm. But Henry’s disillusion with his aging, now-barren wife catapulted him into a tumultuous affair with one of Catherine’s ladies in waiting, the ambitious Anne Boleyn, who would settle for nothing less than marriage. Thus, at the age of fifteen, Mary’s entire world was turned upside down, her status yanked out from under her as she watched her mother, clinging to her title and rights, exiled to a remote manor, where Catherine died in appalling conditions and in fear for the safety of the daughter she’d been forbidden to see. Anne Boleyn also vented her spleen, forcing Mary to serve Anne’s infant daughter by Henry, Princess Elizabeth, and even, sources claim, plotting to have Mary killed. The cataclysm unleashed by Henry’s passion for Anne changed England forever, resulting in a nascent reformation that would in time make Protestantism the official faith, even as Anne waged desperate battle to protect herself and her child. In 1536, Anne lost her battle and was executed on trumped-up charges; within weeks Elizabeth joined her half-sister Mary as a bastard daughter of the king.

Mary’s struggles continued while Henry married four more times. Steadfast in her Catholicism, the faith in which she’d been reared and which her mother had exhorted her to uphold, she finally gave into her father’s demands to acknowledge him as Head of the Church—an act that haunted her for the rest of her life, as she felt she’d betrayed her mother’s trust and her own belief that the only true church was the Catholic one. In those years, she developed an often uneasy relationship with her half-siblings, Elizabeth and their brother Edward, born of Henry’s third wife, both of whom had imbued the radical spirit of the Reformation.

Various suitors for Mary’s hand came and went; at the age of thirty-seven, when many women were considered unmarriageable, she found herself in the hunter’s snare once more when John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, usurped her claim to the throne upon Edward VI’s death and set his daughter-in-law, Jane Grey, in her place. Often neglected and ignored, prematurely aged by self-imposed seclusion, Mary displayed her innate Tudor ferocity, eluding her pursuers to amass an army and march on London. She may have been a Catholic spinster but the people cheered her as the rightful queen and rallied to her cause. She was crowned in the summer of 1553, sending Jane Grey, Northumberland and his sons to the Tower. Many of the new queen’s advisors, including the wily Imperial ambassador, Renard, urged Mary to execute her prisoners but she consented only to Northumberland’s death, promising release in time for Jane and the Dudley sons. Even in questions of religion she expressed caution, citing her people’s hearts could only be won back in stages. Nevertheless, one of her first acts was to overturn the annulment of her mother’s marriage to Henry VIII, casting further doubt on Elizabeth’s legitimacy.

The advent of her marriage to Philip of Spain, son of the Hapsburg emperor and Mary’s cousin, Charles V, who had long been a scion of support, if not actual assistance, changed everything. Suddenly, Mary saw the possibility of happiness bloom before her: the chance to be love and be loved, to become a wife and mother. As Renard pressured her to deal with all remaining threats to her faith and crown, including Elizabeth, whom he believed was the active figurehead of Protestant opposition, the deep-seated wounds inflicted on Mary since adolescence flared anew. She remembered her hatred of Anne Boleyn, her helpless horror over her father’s zeal to amass the Church’s wealth and abolish its power, her heartrending sorrow at the separation from, and death of, her mother, and the long years of humiliation. The past could be absolved, she believed. Everything that had gone wrong could be put to right, if only she roused the strength that Catherine of Aragon had shown; the unstinting fervor that her maternal grandmother, Queen Isabella, had employed to unite Spain. She saw herself as a savior, who must do whatever was required to bring about her people’s return to the Catholic fold.

Caught in a maelstrom of her own convictions, Mary precipitated her tragedy. 

It is too simple to condemn her as a monster, though she behaved in a monstrous way. Her execution of Jane Grey and subsequent burning of over two hundred Protestants, among who were Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishops Ridley and Latimer, blackened her name and left her country in chaos, the smoke of the pyres only clearing once she took to her deathbed after a false pregnancy that may have been uterine cancer. She left behind a realm ravaged by political and religious dissension, widespread famine and penury. The loss of England’s last possession in France, the city of Calais, was a blow Mary declared would be found engraved on her heart. Even in her final hours, she was beset by those who implored her to condemn Elizabeth—an act she refused. In doing so, Mary unwittingly accomplished in death what she had failed to do in life: She gave England back its hope, in the form of a virgin queen, whose unparalleled grandeur and longevity would define an era.

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About the Author: C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Queen’s Vow and The Tudor Secret. He holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at www.cwgortner.com for more information.

About the Book: Hunted by a shadowy foe in Bloody Mary’s court, Brendan Prescott plunges into London’s treacherous underworld to unravel a dark conspiracy that could make Elizabeth queen—or send her to her death in C.W. Gortner’s The Tudor Conspiracy. England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth. Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing. Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.

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Check out all the stops on C.w. Gortner's TheTudor Conspiracy virtual book tour


Tuesday, July 16
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Book Blog
Wednesday, July 17
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review at Diary of a Book Addict
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, July 18
Review at Amused by Books
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, July 19
Review at The Broke and the Bookish
Review & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine
Interview at The Tudor Book Blog

Monday, July 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at A Muse in the Fog Book Reviews
Tuesday, July 23
Review at Bippity Boppity Book
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, July 25
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Feature & Giveaway at Ramblings From This Chick
Monday, July 29
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Tuesday, July 30
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, July 31
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 1
Review at JulzReads
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, August 2
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Monday, August 5
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, August 6
Review at From L.A. to LA
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, August 7
Review at Review From Here
Thursday, August 8
Review at Book Nerds
Interview at Review From Here
Friday, August 9
Review at Always with a Book
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Monday, August 12
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Bloggin’ ’bout Books
Tuesday, August 13
Review at The Bookworm
Guest Post at A Book Geek
Wednesday, August 14
Review at My Reading Room
Guest Post at Book Nerds
Thursday, August 15
Review at Book Journey
Interview at My Reading Room
Friday, August 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, August 19
Review at The True Book Addict
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, August 20
Review at Lost in Books
Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, August 21
Review at Broken Teepee
Thursday, August 22
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Guest Post at Broken Teepee
Friday, August 23
Review at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
Monday, August 26
Review at Layered Pages
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Book Addict Katie
Interview at Layered Pages


Monday, July 29, 2013

The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Read: July 27, 2013

Hunted by a shadowy foe in Bloody Mary’s court, Brendan Prescott plunges into London’s treacherous underworld to unravel a dark conspiracy that could make Elizabeth queen—or send her to her death in C.W. Gortner’s The Tudor Conspiracy. England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth. Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing. Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.

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Lets be honest, intrigue in the Tudor court is about as common as fleas on dog. It has been the inspiration behind countless novels, and yet, in all my literary wanderings, I can truthfully state I’ve never found the complex web of secrets and deceit quite so eloquently portrayed as it is by C.W. Gortner. To play the high stakes game of power and prevarication was to promenade with death itself, to quite literally risk all in a bid for wealth and influence over the crown. Beneath Gortner’s pen this dangerous dance comes alive so convincingly that readers can almost hear rapid tempo of the Reaper’s refrain within the pages of The Tudor Conspiracy.

I loved so many aspects of this novel that it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. For one thing I loved pacing of this piece. It was so impossible to put down that I literally read all three hundred some pages in a single sitting. Just when I thought I’d figured something out Gortner would throw a curve ball, something unexpected that would turn the story in an entirely new direction. I love that despite my familiarity with the history he was able to craft a fiction that kept me guessing.

On that note, I also appreciate that despite the fact that The Tudor Conspiracy is a follow up to The Tudor Secret, it is also a stand alone piece. Not once did I feel disadvantaged for not having read the first volume nor did I feel the original work to have been spoiled by beginning my reading in the middle of the Brendan Prescott’s adventures.

Speaking of Prescott, I was enchanted with the complexity Gortner was able to create in both fictitious and historic cast members. I think there is a tendency, particularly where Mary and Elizabeth are concerned, to paint in black and white, to vilify one sister while exalting the other. Gortner doesn’t do this. Henry’s daughters are as complicated and enigmatic as their illustrious father, both well aware of the precariousness of their position and fiercely protective of their birthright. Prescott himself has layers, his personal loyalties often playing against the desires of his heart.

The Tudor Conspiracy is an enthralling Elizabethan thriller that is anything but ordinary. A riveting, edge of your seat adventure that will captivate even the most well versed Tudor scholar.


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Battle lines are being drawn even as we speak, with Mary on one side, determined to wrest the realm from heresy and bind us to a foreign power, while Elizabeth is on the other as her heir, the last hope for an independent land beholden to the Protestant faith. Which one shall win?
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Check out all the stops on C.w. Gortner's TheTudor Conspiracy virtual book tour


Tuesday, July 16
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Book Blog
Wednesday, July 17
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review at Diary of a Book Addict
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, July 18
Review at Amused by Books
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, July 19
Review at The Broke and the Bookish
Review & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine
Interview at The Tudor Book Blog
Monday, July 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at A Muse in the Fog Book Reviews
Tuesday, July 23
Review at Bippity Boppity Book
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, July 25
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Feature & Giveaway at Ramblings From This Chick
Monday, July 29
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Tuesday, July 30
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, July 31
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 1
Review at JulzReads
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, August 2
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Monday, August 5
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, August 6
Review at From L.A. to LA
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, August 7
Review at Review From Here
Thursday, August 8
Review at Book Nerds
Interview at Review From Here
Friday, August 9
Review at Always with a Book
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Monday, August 12
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Bloggin’ ’bout Books
Tuesday, August 13
Review at The Bookworm
Guest Post at A Book Geek
Wednesday, August 14
Review at My Reading Room
Guest Post at Book Nerds
Thursday, August 15
Review at Book Journey
Interview at My Reading Room
Friday, August 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, August 19
Review at The True Book Addict
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, August 20
Review at Lost in Books
Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, August 21
Review at Broken Teepee
Thursday, August 22
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Guest Post at Broken Teepee
Friday, August 23
Review at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
Monday, August 26
Review at Layered Pages
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Book Addict Katie
Interview at Layered Pages


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Giveaway: Trini Amador's Gracianna

Flashlight Commentary is pleased to offer readers the chance to win a copy of Trini Amador's Gracianna!

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The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris. Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story. Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force. As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.


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Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. 

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Interview with Trini Amador, author of Gracianna

Today, Flashlight Commentary is pleased to welcome author Trini Amador to our little corner of the net to discuss his debut release, Gracianna.  This was easily one of my favorite interviews to host and I'm so excited to be sharing it with you.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Trini. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Gracianna.
Gracianna, my first novel, is inspired by true events in the life of my great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. I have always been haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering at her home in Southern California. Even though I was only four at the time, the memory remained strong, and I knew I had to explore the story behind the gun.  Gracianna is now the name of the family winery I run with my wife, son and daughter.

Your work is based on the life of your great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Why did you feel her story needed to be told? 
As a boy I was left with a powerful value. Gratitude. My great-grandmother used to talk about being thankful to me. What that meant I had no idea. I don’t think folks really begin to understand what gratitude is until you are in your forties or fifties or maybe even later. One needs to live longer to better appreciate what we have. At four or five years old that idea of being thankful for what one has comes to have a stronger meaning as I grew into it. I needed to discover what gratitude meant to me through the research and writing of this story.

What research went into the writing of this book and what, if any, challenges did you face in adapting your research to fiction?
At first I thought I had learned more about World War II and the Holocaust than I cared to know. But I found that the research ultimately took me to the Basque county between France and Spain and then to Paris and then eventually to Auschwitz .I had no idea when I started this project that my family had any linkage to Auschwitz until my aunt told me about a meeting she had with Gracianna’s sister and seeing the “mark” on the inside of her forearm. I had no problem adapting the work – the story is clear to me as I had been forming the story for so many years. The effort was in incorporating all the new and true portions into my vision of what the story would be. Once I started writing it just flowed. I am grateful to Hillel Black, my editor who has worked on no less than twenty New York Times best sellers. He has worked with talented writers from Sydney Sheldon to George Plimpton and Moshe Dayan.

What scene posed the greatest challenges for you as an author?
I came back to several scenes and spent days on certain sentences, writing, re-writing, trying to express and evoke the deepest emotion.  There were many scenes that I agonized over but two or three come to mind and you can decide to share any or all with your readers:

These were the thoughts in Juan’s mind, kaleidoscopic thoughts that gently tumbled, night after night, in his pre-dream driftings. He dreamed of an emerald-colored good life. He saw the thoughts like a play unfolding and refolding on the inside of his eyelids, in vivid colors with his own mountaintop sound. These were his young man musings. Sometimes he would gaze skyward with his lonely imaginative eyes at the end of his night-play thoughts and sense the way the moist air would invisibly layer dew all over his bedroll cover and cap. Juan would grin, warmed because he knew his well-trimmed beard was impervious to the droplets.

I returned to this passage more than ten different times during the writing process. I wanted to accurately express the loneliness of Juan and the intensity of feelings he had for his awakening to an “emerald-colored good life” as he came to realize his love for Gracianna. This paragraph was to act as the set up for the ancient dance that was to come. It was also a nod to L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite books and movies. I wanted to reach for a sentence that attempted the wonderment of how Dorothy might feel as she awakened in her “new world”

It was an ancient dance of innocence. Ceremoniously, Juan moved some stump seats into place for a long evening, swept the earth for a smooth conversation pit, placed the coffee pot as sentry for the next morning, shook and then carefully laid out his thick, wool bedroll—like a Turkish carpet man rolls out his wool for a buyer to inspect and admire—careful not to look her in the eye, but using motions and hand gestures to trick her eye into looking at the welcoming spot on the ground.

Gracianna was now thoroughly adjusting the tack, with occasional rattles of buckles, snaps of leather straps, plus some light horse whispering thrown in.

Her whispering in the ear of the horse intensified his interest.

Juan leaned forward. Gracianna leaned back. Each finding a reason to circle back to the other.

No words.

He now felt her wanting to flow with him. More and more, the tension built as the inevitable moment of choice came closer.

Finally, the crack-opening of the ranch-stilled whiskey, the tinny sound of two small cups being set atop the uneven log between the stumps, set tentatively, set just right, set with the smallest of a wood-pewter clink to signal the final moment of truth and set out the evening’s field of intrigue.

Gracianna turned to look at Juan, her hand curled into the horse’s mane with the reins, nearly ready to mount.

Neither knew it, but only the late afternoon cricket, with his hypersensitive saw-legs could feel the vibe-pitch of the intense duel; cleverness, wonder, and anxiety from deep inside both souls. They were closer than ever and mate-dancing so perfectly. It was hardwired. Not knowing that we know how, we just do it, involuntarily the first time. “Just one drink is fine, if you don’t want to stay for two.” Juan began to pour.

Gracianna said nothing, which meant she did not object.

Juan poured the second cup. When he was done, Gracianna had not moved, so he brought the cups to her.

But, coming closer, he’d read the truth in her eyes.

“You’ll stay won’t you?”

I reached way back to the moments when I felt the first inkling of attraction and tried to help readers feel the innocence of the “ancient” pull that we all feel inside us. The innocence of that “pull” to another person is one of the most magical moments in our life. I wanted to help the reader teeter on the edge of that moment before ‘falling” (and that was why I had Gracianna literally “fall” for Juan…oh, I love telling these back stories. Thanks Erin). I had several of these moments. Once was in my English class in 9th grade in Santa Rosa California at Comstock Junior High School.  I was in Mr. Archer’s class (a particular fervent English teacher who gave me a double shot of Melville’s’ Bartleby, the Scrivener and Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage igniting a fire of the written word) and sat next to Virginia Bacigalupi. I sat next to her each day for most of the year. But one hot afternoon, the door was open and a warm breeze entered the room and I looked over at her and realized she was the most beautiful woman in the world. It enveloped me. I was overcome. I never told her but it hit me Pow! Who else can recount that sort of experience? Gracianna is filled with moments of realizations. This is what I was aiming for. I hope that is realized.

The last passage was this:

The Nazis arrived with efficiency at 8 p.m. sharp. Black ink had arrived in the dining room; their dark boots wrote evil words on the tiled floor as they cracked. Gracianna wondered how she would scrub the evil imprints of their footsteps off the floor.

My brother Mark, a powerful writer himself, actually sent me a note about this line and said it was magic. I spent days on this line. It was the first line of the chapter “Gracianna’s Shock.”

The “floor” plays an important role in the story. It acts as the place where Gracianna plays out her life. I used her relationship with the floor as an allegory for her life…it was sticky, she needed to clean it in her drive to be perfect, it has evil imprints, “words written” on the floor by the Nazi’s “dark boots.” Everything needed to be just right and it all started with the floors. This surely was a link to my own life when the time to be “perfect” was reflected in all acts including a floor being clean and perfect.

Gracianna's relationship with her sister Constance is a central element of the story. How did you approach re-creating the connection between these two women?
Piercing question Erin! As you rightly point out it is one of the major themes of the story. The unique love and awakening of and between siblings. I studied these types of relationships around me but especially between my son and daughter. Ashley and Trini (IV) were the drivers of the characters. My belief is that inevitably siblings (of any gender) vie for attention, affection and resources from each other, their parents and their extended community as they grow into their own self. Our kids do not have the exact characteristics of Gracianna and Constance but the dynamic is the same. I wanted to make it a realistic portrayal of siblings that any person with a brother or sister could relate to. In my view, as each matures into their own person they come to better accept the other for who they are realizing that one does not control the other, one must respect and appreciate that their shared experience has led each to a place that hopefully each will find comfort. “I am who I am and you accept me, love me and celebrate my successes and failures for that.” At the end of the day, the archetype is that siblings unconditionally love each other and simultaneously are most critical while being the biggest fan of one another. Maybe I have over-thought this but who doesn’t relate to that?

If it isn't too impertinent a question, how do you think Gracianna's war time experiences influenced the person she became after the conflict?
Obviously the war, in her true-life experience was a major influencer in her life. It made her (and her generation) not take things for granted and to be wary of the future. They made conservative choices as a result of the war I think. But it gave a powerful sense of gratitude. To be grateful for what we have now, life, health. family.

Being a history nut, I have to ask. What happened to the German Luger your great-grandmother kept in her bedroom?
I am finished saying “great question Erin.” You are full of great questions! My Aunt Kathy tells me that the Luger was sold to a man that was friend of the family. She could not remember his name or for how much but it was more to get “rid of it” than anything else. You need to understand, as far as I know, no one knew or remembered about the incident with me and the gun.

How do you think your great-grandmother would feel about your work? Assuming you could sit down and discuss it over a glass of wine, what do you think she would say?
Wow, that made me tear up. I am overwhelmed at the thought. She would be so proud. She would probably touch my hair or face—even though I am a grown man—and say that I must have heard her well when I was a boy. How pleased she is that I have gone my own way. Then say, “Why did you make me so short in the story?”

What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
Courage to act can be a powerful driver of our day to day activities. Folks tell me that we are filled with the mundane. Deciding to act in a way that breaks that monotony of life takes courage. Try it. Write a book, change careers, stand up for what you believe in, speak up, take a stand, act.

Finally, what is next for you? Any new projects waiting in the wings? 
Funny you should ask, Greenleaf has asked the same thing and like the idea of the follow up to Gracianna and there is a story. But before I started thinking about writing the sequel I had already outlined a book, based on true events, about my time working in the music business in Hollywood. I think at the first of the year I will decide if that is in the stars. I would love to hear from your readers and let me know what they think. Trini.Amador3@Gracianna.net

Thanks you so much for asking such wonderful questions Erin. I absolutely enjoyed spending this time with you. Let’s do this again whenever you want. 

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About the Author: Trini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It's a tale drawing from real-life family experiences. Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing "insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at: http://www.gracianna.com/gracianna-th..., like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter@GraciannaWinery. Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.

About the Book: The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris. Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story. Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force. As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.


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Check out all the stops on Trini Amador's Gracianna Virtual book tour


Monday, July 15
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, July 17
Review at A Book Geek
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, July 18
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Guest Post at Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, July 19
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, July 22
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, July 23
Review at Reflections of a Bookaholic
Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 24
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, July 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, July 29
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life
Tuesday, July 30
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, July 31
Review at The True Book Addict
Thursday, August 1
Review at Impressions in Ink
Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Friday, August 2
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Monday, August 5
Review at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, August 6
Review at My Reading Room
Guest Post at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, August 7
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Interview & Giveaway at My Reading Room
Thursday, August 8
Review at Sir Read-a-Lot
Review at Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Friday, August 9
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Interview at Sir Read-a-Lot