Release Date: May 8th, 2018
"A glittering Renaissance gem of a novel. Donna Russo Morin, a master of her craft, has penned an intricate story full of lush historical detail with a plot that will leave you breathless." —Tasha Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Death in St. Petersburg
In her final standalone novel featuring Da Vinci's Disciples, Donna Russo Morin delivers a thrilling story of the secret female artists of Florence, under the tutelage of Leonardo Da Vinci, and their heroic, potentially deadly efforts to save great works of art from the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities.
"Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding work." —Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network
Lorenzo de Medici is dead, and his son Piero has brought war and famine upon the city of Florence. Yet, the glory that is Renaissance artistry grows more magnificent, as does the work of the women known as Da Vinci's Disciples. Now they face their most dangerous challenge, one shrouded in the cloak of a monk.
From the ashes of war, Friar Girolamo Savonarola rises. Some call him a savior and a prophet, a man willing to overthrow tyrannical rulers and corrupt clergy, the Borgia Pope among them. Fra Girolamo is determined to remold Florence from an avaricious, secular culture to a paragon of Christian virtues.
Many call Savonarola a delusional heretic, incapable of anything but self-serving fanaticism. When he sets out to destroy all secular art forms, Da Vinci's Disciples call him an enemy … but not all of them.
"Like a glorious Italian fresco-richly textured and vividly portrayed … Highly recommended for lovers of history, art, and courageous women." —Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries
#1 – Do You See Writing as a Career?
I consider writing my profession as well as my passion. Yes, my career. Luckily, my success as an author has allowed me to use that knowledge and branch out. I’m an Author Consultant/Editor, I teach writing, and I’m currently writing a screenplay.
#2 – What was the Hardest Part of Your Writing Process?
Finding a truly good agent is key and not easy to do. Someone who truly believes in you and your work is a must, rather than simply someone who wants to make sales.
Otherwise, it’s only hard for me when my soul is in pain. I’ve had a hard life—still do—and when I’m hurting it becomes difficult to reach down into my soul to find the truth of my characters and their story.
#3 – Did you have any One Person Who Helped You Out with Your Writing Outside of Your Family?
My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Alfonso. I began writing very young, as early as six years old. Mrs. Alfonso was a great supporter of my creative talents even back then. If the class behaved well all week, on Friday afternoons she allowed ‘Storytime with Donna.’ I’ll never forget the thrill of making my classmates laugh or gasp or get spooked. It was very powerful and motivates me till this day.
#4 – What is next for your writing?
GILDED SUMMERS, A Novel of Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island (my home state). This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for years and it releases this June 25. It’s like nothing I’ve ever written before and I’m quite proud of it. Here’s the official blurb.
"A lush and evocative novel of the Gilded Age period, brought vibrantly to life in this powerful work... A triumph by a masterful writer" - Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso
Pearl and Ginevra grow up in the era known as the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. One lives above the stairs, the other below.
Surrounded by Astors and Vanderbilts, Pearl fills her days with teatime and shallow friendships, yearning for something more. A chance meeting with Mary Cassatt sparks her secret desire to be an artist. Meanwhile Ginevra, fresh off the boat from Italy, finds her own dreams out of reach as she joins the unwelcoming household as a servant and seamstress.
Kindred souls, the girls become fast friends but must keep their friendship hidden from Pearl’s controlling mother. Every summer, they meet in a hidden spot beneath the weeping beeches to talk of art and life, and their struggles to break the barriers of their lives.
Soon, the two young women must decide who they want to be in this world, and survive what it takes to get there…even if it includes murder.
#5 – Do you have an addiction to reading as well as writing? If so, what are you currently reading?
I do; I have a personal library of nearly 500 books, some signed first editions by Stephen King and Diana Gabaldon.
What I’m reading right now has to do with the next book I plan to write and it’s very unique, so I think I’ll keep that under my hat. J
DESCRIBE Your Book in 1 Tweet:
A thrilling story of the secret female artists of Florence known as Da Vinci’s Disciples, and their heroic, potentially deadly efforts to save great works of art from the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities.
About the author:
Donna Russo Morin’s passion for the written word began when she was a child, took on a feminist edge as she grew through the sixties, and blossomed into a distinctive style of action-filled historical fiction at a defining moment in her life. As a second-generation American of full Italian descent, Donna combined her historical research with her genealogical studies, finding that her birth name (Russo) and her family roots are traceable to ninth century Florence…the very city in which the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy is set.
Donna Russo (Morin) is the internationally published author of six multi-award-winning historical novels including PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book One (a finalist in Foreword Reviews BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR), and THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two (EDITOR’S CHOICE, Historical Novel Society Review). The final book in her Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy, THE FLAMES OF FLORENCE, releases May 8, 2018. Also this summer, my novel, inspired by our own home state, GILDED SUMMERS: A Novel of Newport’s Gilded Age will also release this summer. Her other titles include The King’s Agent, recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly, The Courtier’s Secret, The Secret of the Glass, and To Serve a King.
A 25-year professional editor/story consultant, her work spans more than 40 manuscripts. She holds a BA in Communications and an A.A. in English Literature. Donna teaches writing courses at her state’s most prestigious adult learning center, online for Writer’s Digest University, and has presented at national and academic conferences for over ten years. In addition to her writing, Donna has worked as a model and an actor with appearances in Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Currently under contract to a consortium of international producers, Donna has added screenwriting to her professional acumen.
Her sons—Devon, an opera singer; and Dylan, a chef—are still, and always will be, her greatest works.
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