Friday, March 2, 2012

Interview with Donna Russo Morin

Earlier this week I read Donna Russo Morin's playful, mischievous, and adventurous historical novel, The King's Agent. It was a treat to get to interview Russo Morin about her writing, her life outside of writing, and I'm excited to share her answers! Bonus: giveaway at the end of the post!

image of author Donna Russo Morin
What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

Well to be completely honest, that plot was about the numbers two and four, how they were in love, and how the number three kept getting in the way. That’s when they invented counting by even numbers only, so they could be together. I was six.

As a very young adult, my first fiction publication was a piece of short horror, about a things that were heard through a motorcycle intercom system, things no one should ever hear.

My first book that was published was about a young woman in late 17th century France who longed to live the adventurous, courageous and dangerous life of a Musketeer.

Such a journey I’ve been on.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I am an obsessive researcher and plotter, and I do mean obsessive. After six to nine months’ worth of research (producing hundreds of pages of material organized by subject, i.e. politics, cultural, clothing, historical characters, et cetera) I then turn my synopsis into a scene by scene outline. I then plug in the pertinent research into the pertinent places. That produces a document somewhere around a hundred pages. Then I’m ready to write. Completely obsessive I know. I’m the cook who must not only get out all the ingredients, but must line them up in the order in which they’ll be used.

image of book cover The King's Agent
Was The King's Agent the original title of your book?

Great question, as book titles can change so much from inception to shelf (as did my first book). But this is the original title. There were some efforts on behalf of my editor to change it—‘king denotes too much masculinity,’ a notion I had absolutely no problem with—and I stood firm. We’ll see.

As you were writing The King's Agent, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

There is a member of the lead male character’s banda (his gang of men), Frado by name, a rough and tumble man. He became so much more than I had originally imagined; a seemingly ‘normal’ character that developed more depth as I wrote. His eventual feelings for the lead female character evolved on its own and I loved it. It was a lovely surprise.

In addition to being an author, you're also an actor and model. Are there any similarities between those jobs; or, has one influenced the other?

For both professions, we must completely surrender to the imagination, without complete surrender we get bad performances and stilted writing. That is the intrinsic similarity. But there is also those inherent in working in a creative industry…lack of stability, crazy hours, ‘traveling’ to amazing places, meeting some of the world’s greatest people--real and imagined--I’ve watched Martin Scorsese direct, and Jason Isaacs perform up close and personal, I’ve fallen in love with Galileo, Michelangelo, and am currently courting da Vinci. All without leaving my little section of New England. They are artistic endeavors and I consider myself lucky to experience them both.

Have you been able to travel to any of the locations featured in your novels?

So far I’ve only been lucky enough to travel to the Chateau Versailles between the first and final draft of my first book, The Courtier’s Secret, which is set almost entirely in the magnificent palace. It was one of the most deja vu experiences I’ve ever had. I had done so much research on the chateau, I knew exactly what room I was in, the moment I stepped into it (they all had names and functions) and I started sharing the knowledge with the people I was with. The next thing I know, strangers are tagging along so they can listen to me rant about the Louis’s of France and how they lived. It was amazing.

I prefaced this answer with ‘so far’ because I KNOW I am meant to travel to Italy. By the time I finish the trilogy I’m working on, I will have set five of seven books there. It is the land of my ancestors (I’m of full Italian heritage, second generation American) and my belief that I will travel to Italy, and soon, is irrefutable.

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

Anything with my sons (young men now, 21 and 18). I adore video games, Patriots football, rock and roll, and I spend as much time as I can in water—my little pool or the ocean, where I’ll walk even on warm winter days. I’m a spiritualist who loves learning more about enlightenment and awakening and I try to meditate when I can.

Read any good books recently?

I am currently firmly entrenched and mesmerized by Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Before that I had the luxury to be asked to read a pre-copy of Sherry Jones’s Four Sisters All Queens, which I completely enjoyed after just finishing Open by Andre Agassi, a spellbinding memoir. I adore that books come in so many different flavors.

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Learn more about Donna Russo Morin: check out her webpage, Facebook, and Twitter. You can follow the tour on Twitter with #KingsAgentVirtualBookTour.


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The King's Agent to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only. Ends 3/16.


  1. Great interview! I love her answer to the first piece of fiction she ever wrote--I always knew 3 was a busybody...

    1. Thanks -- and agreed -- I was thrilled with Ms Morin's responses. I love getting this kind of dirt! Now, I'm an odd number fan so I'm rooting for three but I still cracked up!

    2. I too loved her response to that question! You don't often hear of these very early stories!

  2. I loved this interview, and have to laugh at Rayna's comment. I have never liked 3 much either!

    1. Thanks, Heather -- I laughed at that premise -- not being a math fan, I don't love numbers but I *am* partial to the odd ones. Poor 3, I thought! ;)

  3. Loved the interview! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  4. I love your interviews. Patriots football...boy have I got some men who'd love to hear that! I cannot wait to start reading the new King, but I'm hoping to fill that in after National Poetry Month.

    1. Serena, you're the best! I know, I love that she's a Pats fan -- makes her a double celebrity in my house!

  5. Wow, to be an author, actor AND model... how does she do it all? Sounds like an incredible amount of planning and research, so impressive!

  6. Too much masculinity? Oh well, I had not even thought about that :)