Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Q&A with Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

I'm very excited to share my Q&A with author Mirella Sichirollo Patzer.  I'm a fan of her wonderful blog, History and Women, and I just loved her historical novel, The Blighted Troth.  Read on to learn more about this book and Ms. Patzer -- and don't forget to leave a comment to win a copy of The Blighted Troth!

Was The Blighted Troth the original title of your book?

The basic plot of The Blighted Troth is borrowed from the Italian classic novel, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni who wrote the story in 1863. In searching for a title, I wanted to ensure it was unique and had some spark to it. Coming up with a title is never easy and I just couldn’t seem to find the right title, one that I would love and that has never been used before. After several weeks, it came to me in the middle of the night and I thought it was the perfect fit.

The Blighted Troth has such a wonderful setting: early 18th century New France. Why did you choose to set your story there?

There are so many historical novels about England and the United States that I wanted to show the world that Canada too, has a fascinating history. I live in western Canada where our towns and cities aren’t any older than the 1880’s. So when I travelled east to visit Quebec City where its history went as far back as the 1500’s, I was truly enchanted. I fell in love with the antiquity, quaintness, and history of Quebec City and wanted to write about its exciting history and the adversity settlers faced, such as the seigneurial system and small pox epidemics. Truly fascinating.

As you were writing The Blighted Troth, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

Absolutely! La Bonne Soeur, also known as Emmanuelle, was meant to be a very minor character whose only role was to interview Emilie prior to permitting her entry into the convent. However, she took on a life of her own and a fascinating subplot soon came alive in my mind. It was as if she was shouting at me. The underlying theme of the novel is all about forgiveness and Emmanuelle was developed to represent our human frailties. We all make mistakes, some more horrendous than others. Sometimes these are caused by circumstances in our lives and sometimes by choice. For Emmanuelle, it was both. A victim of circumstance herself, Emmanuelle made mistakes in order to evade horrors in her life. Her mistakes brought great suffering to her and those she loved, changing their lives forever. Through Emmanuelle, we learn to face the consequences of our errors, learn from them, and more importantly, forgive ourselves and others. She came to represent the worst and the best of us. I have to admit, she is my favourite character I have ever written.

According to your website, you have three other books underway. Can you tell us about them?

I am currently working on two more novels.

The first is The Prophetic Queen, a biographical novel, written in first person narrative, about Queen Mathilda, the mother of Otto the Great, who lived and reined in the 10th century and has been canonized a saint. This is my most challenging work to date – an epic that spans more than 60 years. This novel is 2/3rds complete and may be published as two novels due to its length.

The second novel is Orphan of the Olive Tree and takes place in 13th century Tuscany. It is a family saga and a story about a child who was abandoned by her mother at birth and left in an olive tree outside an abbey. The story has a twist and turn to every chapter and plenty of Italian folklore and superstition. I have ten chapters left to write and I hope to release it sometime in 2012.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

Routine is the biggest obstacle for my writing career and the question I ask most to fellow authors in the hopes I can follow their example. Routine is nearly impossible for me this stage of my life. Not only do I keep an eye on my elderly parents who need help with errands, medical appointments, groceries, and a whole lot more, but I also care for my 5 year old grandson on a full time basis while my daughter works her way through law school. In addition, I own two blogs and two critique groups. All demand my time and attention. Hence, my struggles with routine.

In desperation, I have had to learn some tricks and train myself to write under impossible circumstances. I love my Alphasmart Neo and throw that in my purse when I take my grandson to playgrounds. I have been known to write with it in my car when I’m waiting to pick my grandson up from preschool, at the kitchen table, in front of a blaring television set, at Starbucks, in a crowded mall, and even at a skating rink. I also drag my Asus netbook around the house so that I can do my email, write a blog post, do a critique or two for my writing partners, or write a book review when my grandson’s in the bath, or back yard, or playing a Wii game. I It’s rare for me to be able to write more than one paragraph without an interruption. long for the day when I can rise at 8:00 and work uninterrupted until 3:00.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I love to read! I’m a very non-materialistic person, so it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I also love being at home. After many years in a hectic career with a large staff and too many responsibilities, I crave simplicity and tranquility. So books have become my obsession. I have two full bookshelves and hundreds loaded on my Sony Reader and Kindle app on my iPhone. I know I’ll never read them all, but I love having them all the same. I seem to add to my collection at a faster rate than I’ll ever be able to read them. I also love to cook traditional Italian recipes, walk, and crochet.

Read any good books recently?

Far too many to list, but a few stand out in my mind. I loved The Bells by Richard Harvell. It is definitely an all time favourite. House of Scorta by Laurent Guade is unputdownable. And I closely follow the works of Anita Davison, Lisa Yarde, and Anne Whitfield because I respect them so much. They are brilliant authors whose careers are heating up and definitely ones to watch. All the novels and writers I mentioned here write books have interesting settings, filled with plenty of odd and unusual circumstances, and have tons of twists and turns. One of my favourite historical fiction authors is Jeanne Kalogridis. She is my role model and I aspire to her greatness.

Thanks so very much for inviting me to your blog, Audra. I always enjoy reading your review and interview with other authors, so I’m especially honoured to be here.

*** *** ***

My thanks to Ms. Patzer for her time and her very kind words!

Giveaway!  The author has generously offered an amazing giveaway for my readers: one signed paperback copy of The Blighted Troth and three e-book copies (in the format of your choice)!  All four prizes are available for US and international readers!  To enter, please leave a comment indicating which version you'd like (paperback, e-book, or either) and an email address.  Ends 6/24, open to US and international readers.  For another entry, be sure to comment on my review.


  1. ooh she likes Jeanne Kalogridis. I read a couple novels by that author and enjoyed them. Damn you, Audra, and the fact that I want to read every book you review/interview the author!

  2. I'm like Jessie, I love the fact that she loves Jeanne! I also love that she is so down to earth! I'd prefer paperback, but can do e book.

  3. I like that she writes at Starbucks! A woman after my own heart lol! I enjoyed the Q & A!


  4. Love all the comments. And I'm glad to see others love Jeanne Kalogridis as much as I do.

    Thanks ladies for making my day with your fab comments!

  5. Sorry, forgot to mention that History and Women is me - Mirella Patzer, LOL.

  6. I like how the name of the titlt came to her in the middle of the night. That is when I do my best thinking. I would like either paperback or ebook. Thank you for the giveaway!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  7. I have yet to read a book set in Canada, but I think I have one on my bookshelf. I love to read books in settings that I am less familiar with - and she is right, there are so many books set in England and the USA that it is a nice change of pace. Great questions. Can't wait to read this.

    Please enter me for the paperback version - dolleygurl[at]hotmail[dot]com

  8. Wow, two great things about the setting: 18th century AND Canada. I love reading historical fiction set in Canada because I never hear much about Canadian history.

    I'd prefer the paperback copy if I win.

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  9. So many I'll be reading History and Women in a different light.

    I would prefer paperback, but can save an e-book for when I actually get a kindle. =)

    tiredwkids at live dot com

  10. no need to enter me in the giveaway, but I always enjoy your interviews, particularly the question about what characters or scenese surprise the authors.

    I think Orphan of the Olive Tree sounds like it will be a good novel.

  11. I'd prefer the paperback, but I do have a Kindle so I'd take either. Thanks for the giveaway :)


  12. Awesome interview! I too would prefer the paperback but would be open to an ebook to get my hands on this book!
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I love the fact that this takes place somewhere other than England. I know Canada had a rich history and are tickled to catch a glimpse of it.
    I too would prefer a print copy as I'll read it quicker but I do have a Kindle.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com