I want to thank Carol Cram, Art in Fiction for the lively interview. Art in Fiction is fast generating a substantial list and is a terrific resource for readers and art lovers alike. Sofonisba’s legacy and Lady in Ermine thank you as well.
Here’s how I saw it in Paterno` in 2006. They have done a terrific job enhancing the color. Well done Museo Civico di Cremona and Silvia Galli.
A PRINCESS OF PEACE for 2021
So much pain, in so many ways, 2020. Yet, also, transformation, change, growth. Quarantine offered time and simplicity.
I used my time and angst in 2020 to polish the screenplay adaptation of LADY IN ERMINE.
Six rewrites. It was rough in June. Wordy in July. Rambling in August.
In September, I worked with Mira Kopell (UC Berkeley, Film & Media). Thank you, Mira!
October to nail the structure.
November, it all came together.
December, my gift to myself was to finish it.
From reader feedback, Ferrante Anguissola, and my own gut feelings, I know LADY IN ERMINE will make a beautiful film. Plus, historical fiction is back (Bridgerton). Strong female characters are in (The Queen’s Gambit). The time for LADY IN ERMINE is here.
But 2021 needs both patience and a kick. We pine for the vaccine distribution. We need to get on with life.
So, I’m beginning the second novel of the Lady in Ermine series. Sofonisba influenced so much, and so many.
LADY IN ERMINE: The Story of a Woman Who Painted the Renaissance begins on September 21, 1549. I will work to finish a manuscript of A PRINCESS OF PEACE by September 21, 2021. Patience and a kick for 2021. Thank you to all who gave feedback on the first novel. It has been so positive! I am grateful. To a healthy and peaceful 2021.
With the success of The Queen’s Gambit, Sofonisba’s Chess Game is relevant again. Sofonisba wove a narrative of her own Queen’s Gambit right into the game played in her 1555 masterpiece. It’s dramatized in Lady in Ermine, Chapter Four, “The Chess Game.”
I think Sofi would enjoy this series and it’s focus on women and chess. http://sofonisba.net
I’m delighted to read of Genova’s successful near-completion of the bridge that collapsed so very recently, in 2018. It gives me a feeling of optimism, literally a bridge for the future, inspiring.
I can’t resist connecting the success of this modern-day project with Sofonisba’s life of creative invention (invenzione/inventione). Sofonisba and her husband lived in Genoa from 1580 to 1615 before transferring to Sicily. During her time in Genoa, she continued to innovate, to paint high and low, and to influence artists, some of whom followed her footsteps to the Spanish court to contribute to the Escorial and the Spanish Habsburg collection. Her work and her mentoring of the next generation (the way Michelangelo mentored her) were formative to the artistic, creative, dynamic life of Genoa in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Four hundred years later, that creativity can make your heart sing.
Just last week the Wall Street Journal published an article about hobbies and diversions and referenced Sofonisba’s Chess Game painted in 1555. WSJ spoke of the hobbies that entertained the nobility. What Sofonisba enthusiasts see in the painting is the ingenuity of her work and the subversive messages of female power embedded in the chess game they play and the facial expressions they make. This was not an image of mere diversion. It was feminist enlightenment, 500 years before the me-too movement. Chapter 4, Chess Game, Cremona 1555, Lady in Ermine: The Story of a Woman Who Painted the Renaissance.
Sofonisba was not shallow. Nor are her enthusiasts.
For Historical Fiction that will make your heart sing, I want to recommend Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. A best seller in 2017 (when I was preoccupied finishing up Lady in Ermine), Beneath A Scarlet Sky is engaging reading for the current moment, substantively and literally.
Without any spoilers, Scarlet Sky is set in German occupied Lombardy (Sofonisba’s region) during WWII, and we get a first-hand glimpse of the human tragedy through the eyes of Pino. In the first part, Pino employs faith and sheer human will to succeed at the mission assigned to him. In the middle, his craftiness, tenacity and resolve propel him. Written in short chapters like potato chips, Scarlet Sky makes you want one more, and then another. I’m only half way through and I couldn’t resist blogging about it. Touching, moving, insightful.
While not complete escapism-the subject matter is weighty and the horrors of WWII are represented- Scarlet Sky both distracts from our current crisis and comforts too. As we feel invaded and occupied beyond control, it is good to remember the historic struggles we have overcome with tenacity of spirit. And as bad as the current moment is, there have been far worse eras in history. We can be grateful for life and for each day together.