I was born in New York City to a family of artists and fell in love with historical fiction at an early age. I began printing stories in a black and white school notebook at about nine years old and in my teens wrote several short novels which remain in a dark box. I learned something though, because by twenty, I had twice won prizes in a national story contest.
Then I left writing for classical singing. I sang in many operas and appeared as an international balladeer; I formed a singing ensemble, a chamber opera company, and so on. The translation of a late Mozart opera returned me to writing once more and I now mostly sing while washing the dishes!
My first published novel was NICHOLAS COOKE: ACTOR, SOLDIER, PHYSICIAN, PRIEST, followed by two other Elizabethan-17th century novels: THE PHYSICIAN OF LONDON (American Book Award 1996) and THE PLAYERS: A NOVEL OF THE YOUNG SHAKESPEARE. In 2004, I returned to my musical background and wrote MARRYING MOZART; it has been translated into seven languages and optioned for a movie.
I and have two grown sons (one in computer systems design and one a filmmaker). I was born in New York City and am still living here, a short walk away from all the impressionist paintings at the Metropolitan Museum.
ABOUT MY WRITING LIFE:
I cannot count the number of readers and reviewers who have said I write like a cinematographer. But to tell the truth, writing a historical novel is much like making a film, except one person chooses the actors and setting, directs, designs the sets, plans camera angles and lighting/shading, sews the costumes, touches up the makeup, edits, decides whether an antique clock or a very old photograph will go on a mantelpiece and…brings all this together so that a whole rich world comes to life before the reader when she/he merely opens the book!
I get so involved in my stories that I often date checks the year of the novel. I once addressed a supermarket clerk in Elizabethan English!
Looking back on my novels so far, I have found I return often to the passions and struggles as well as the intimate daily world of artists, writers and musicians of the past:
BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1. Anton and Robbie are much in love but human and imperfect. They adore each other but also hurt each other. In the beginning, Anton is the older, more worldly one, and holds most of the power. This changes on and off until several years into the relationship, Robbie cries out in frustration. "Have you ever needed me for anything? Will I always just be your boy" Discuss the balance of power (love, sex, money, letting the other person grow) in relationships you see around you. If one person changes, how does the other adjust?
2. How do Robbie and Anton change and what path do you see which leads to the end of the novel, what decisions that will eventually lead to the last pages?
3. Do you know any man (or woman) who tried to remain in a heterosexual relationship to please their families, or deny their feelings? What happened to them when they "came out of the closet?" What happened to their former wife or husband?
4. From the very earliest days of their meeting, Robbie and Anton encourage each other's goals. Do people often help their partners to the partner's goal, even when it is a hardship for the giver or can end in an impossible place?
5. Anton changes when he goes back to his fighting for socialist ideals. Do you know anyone who has made such a life decision? Who perhaps had the courage to face all his old demons and become something remarkable at any age?
6. The novel asks questions about socialism, wealth, and responsibility. We are still trying to balance these things today. In the Edwardian years and much before, poverty was heartbreaking. Anton wishes to tax the wealthy to give basic food, medicine and old age pensions to the poor. But as the Baron points out, such taxation will eventually bring down the great houses such as Downton Abbey. The wealthy owners will not even be able to afford them. What did these new taxes mean for such a family as the Crawleys of Downton?
8. The fight for LGBTQ rights still goes on in parts of America and the rest of the world. Why do you feel the right to love who you love is still in debate? Why are people so afraid of it