Monday, May 9, 2011

Lucrezia Borgia WEEK: Author Interview- Book Reviews and GIVEAWAYs!!!!!

Today begins the week here at Enchanted by Josephine with a fantastic Author Interview.

What if I were to tell you that I have come across a most talented new author who's written about that most outrageously decadent family-the Borgias; their full history like never written before...including a twist to the history involving poison? Wouldn't you want to learn more? Would you be interested in reading his work...duh??

Today I have the immense pleasure of introducing to you, Matthew G. Scarsbrook, author of Poison in The Blood; the Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia - and The Life and Legend of Lucrezia Borgia .

Scarsbrook has agreed to answer some of my questions in today's interview. Please welcome this wonderful author!

1) A Canadian first, but a true expert on British history and culture - For this novel you’ve had to switch to Italian history (and the Borgias!) What was the fascination? Why the Borgias or this particular period in history-place?

Firstly, I love the renaissance era - it was such an exciting time, so full of new ideas, new confidence, creativity, color, danger and spectacle. After writing about the English renaissance,I was keen to explore this fascinating time in another country - and what better than Italy, the birthplace of the entire movement?

As for the Borgia family, they were simply the most dramatic set of individuals in a very dramatic time. Lucrezia's father, Pope Alexander VI, was notorious for keeping a herd of courtesan's roaming about the Vatican, and was rumored to dispatch many of his enemies with a custom-made poison called 'Cantarella'. Lucrezia's brother, Cesare Borgia, was a shrewd and merciless Captain-General of the Papal army, and served as the inspiration for Machiavelli's 'The Prince'. Even Lucrezia herself was said to possess a ring with a tiny poison capsule which she used to secretly empty venom into drinks at banquets. The reign of the Borgias was the most scandalous era in papal history, marked by constant wars, assassinations,
murder, unbridled extravagance, debauchery and allegations of incest. If that isn't the stuff of stories, then I don't know what is!

2) About Lucrezia...Do you think history in general was rather fair; or too hard on her? Please share with us one thing about Lucrezia that my readers might not know and would love to learn.

Although modern historians have tried to rehabilitate her reputation, I think history on the whole has treated Lucrezia fairly unjustly. She was once described as the 'greatest whore there ever was in Rome', and many artists and writers have portrayed her as a poisoner, an evil seductress, or a femme fatale. But I was interested in the fact that, despite living in the most scandalous era of papal history, very few people in her own time accused Lucrezia of any crimes. Her powerful father and her ruthless brother may have been guilty of assassinations, murder, and general debauchery, etc., but there is no historical evidence to link Lucrezia to the plots and killings attributed to her family. So, I was inspired by this lesser-told story about Lucrezia's life - the story of how a young, relatively powerless noblewoman gained the strength to break away from the clutches of her family and took control over her own life.

A lesser known fact about Lucrezia? Despite being less than 20 years of age, she was a capable leader and was given the governorship of several cities within papal control. And for a few short periods, while Pope Alexander VI was away from the city, she was even placed in charge of the Vatican. To this day, she is the only woman to officially preside over the Holy See!

3) It isn’t always typical for male authors to write in the female voice. What is your opinion and experience regarding this? (advantages - drawbacks if any?)

It may not be common, but there's certainly a long history of male authors writing as women, dating back to Daniel Defoe in the 17th century, to Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins in the 18th century, to modern authors like Nick Hornby and Kazuo Ishiguro. It's really not as difficult as many people might think. As individuals, we ultimately only know what it is like to be ourselves - I have no special, innate insight into what it is like to be another person, whether it's a man or a woman, a Pope or a peasant. But as an artist, it's my job to bring to life diverse characters, to use my imagination to sympathize and understand every character's point of view that I write. So, while I can't know what it's like to be another person, I can imagine myself as another person. Gustav Flaubert was once asked how he managed to write so well as a woman in 'Madame Bovary', and he simply replied "Madame Bovary, c'est moi" - ("Madame Bovary, it's me"). I think that answer is my own, too: I am Lucrezia Borgia, just as I am every other character in my novel.

4)What type of research was needed to write your book? How long did it take? The

I love to do extensive research for my novels. Generally, I spend about 6 months researching and planning before I start to write. My novels are often based around dramatic historical figures, such as Christopher Marlowe or Lucrezia Borgia, so I need to thoroughly understand their lives before I can tackle them as fictional characters. After so much preparation, the initial writing of the story can then be very quick, usually only 3-4 months, with another few months of rewriting and polishing. I generally produce one novel a year, although this may speed up
when I start writing a series.

5)What is in your future writing plans? Shall we expect more historical novels from you?

I'm just about to start a new detective series. Unlike my previous work, this novel will have a contemporary setting, although it has an historical basis too: the story is inspired by one of the most notorious and perplexing unsolved murders in English legal history. I also have a very unique idea for the main detective and the general setting, but it's top secret for now. If I told you, I'd have to kill you... which is rather fitting for a murder mystery!

6) Where can readers learn more about you and your books (blogs, sites, where to

To learn more about me or my writing, please visit my website
where you can read samples of my novels, see professional reviews of my work, and find all the latest news. You can also follow me on Facebook at
, or visit my author page at goodreads:

All my novels are available as paperbacks and eBooks from most major bookstores online,including: Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo.

Anyway, thanks a lot for reading this. And thank-you to Enchanted By Josephine for giving a new writer like me such a great opportunity!

Thank You so much Matthew Scarsbrook!!!

Would you like to read Scarsbrook's books? I have just finished 2 of them on Lucrezia Borgia and this week there will be a GIVEAWAY on both of these!

Please stay tuned this week as I post my review of The Life and Legend of Lucrezia Borgia- and GIVEAWAY TOMORROW!


BurtonReview said...

What a teaser! I'll be back tomorrow, for sure ;)
Great interview! I am looking forward to adding the Borgias to the list of families I read about.

Roberta said...

Great interview and questions Lucy! This whole storyline is fantastic and I'd love to read all about it. Thanks for sharing ;)

Colleen Turner said...

Sounds great! I read Sins Of The House of Borgia and am watching the Showtime series and have mixed feelings about Lucrezia. I can see how history could lump her in with the rest of her family as a conspirator/murderer even if she was innocent of the worst of their crimes. These books look really good!

Loretta said...

Great interview! I am currently interested in the Borgias (reading Sins of the House of Borgia and watching the series on Bravo!).

Arleigh said...

I've still yet to read about the Borgias...Jean Plaidy's are on my list. Maybe I should add this one too!

I'm always fascinated when a male author writes a female protagonist (or vice versa). It takes a gifted writer to pull it off.

I'm thinking the most notorious unsolved murders would have to be either the Princes in the Tower or Jack the Ripper...

Elisa said...

I'm reading "Madonna of the Seven Hills" at the moment and enjoying it! Definitely get Plaidy's novels on Lucrezia--now that they're back in print! :)

Mystica said...

The Borgias are such interesting reading. There is always a twist in the tale somewhere.

brokenteepee said...

A fascinating family to be sure. It's good that the females in history are being given their due...but Lucrezia did come from dangerous stock.

Unknown said...

Lucrezia to me is the most interesting member of the Borgia Family. She was a huge part of the infamy, but she rose past the infamy in the next stage of her life. Remarkable!

4everQueen said...

I enjoyed reading every Q & A, great job, Lucy! First, it's wonderful to be introduced to a new Author, thank you for that! Second, I really liked learning about Lucrezia's being a great Leader and governor of cities. I first came to love her and appreciate her through Jean Plaidy's novels, and now it seems I can enjoy more thru Matthew's inspiring writing :)


Teddy Rose said...

Reading this interview makes me want to read this book. It seems like a more fair and balance approach to Lucrezia. I find it interesting that "there is no historical evidence to link Lucrezia to the plots and killings attributed to her family." Makes you wonder why history has been so unkind to her.