Welcome to the first edition of Indie Chat! I am excited to be involved in this project which promotes Indie Historical Fiction authors.
There is an incredible pool of Indie talent. My goal – and hope – is to help readers discover the diversity of Indie authors.
Back when I reviewed historical fiction novels, I accepted novels that fell within my own rigorous standards and those of the Historical Novel Society. My principles remain the same. Indie Chat will feature Indie authors who write novels which completely immerse you in a world far and long ago. When the inevitable moment arrives – you turn the last page – that novel will stay with you for days afterward and you might even feel a sense of loss. For me, that is the hallmark of an excellent historical fiction novel.
I am pleased to announce Indie Chat’s inaugural guest is Beverle Graves Myers. I met Beverle in September 2012, when I reviewed the first in her Tito Amato Series – Interrupted Aria. Beverle penned five further historical mysteries in the Tito Amato Series.
The sixth installment – Whispers of Vivalid – A Tito Amato Mystery – was released January 7, 2014. I was provided with an ARC before I chatted with Beverle. Inside the ARC was a little handwritten note from Beverle: “…I hope you enjoy Tito’s last adventure.” What? No!
An early opera and mystery lover, Bev mixes murder, music, and intrigue in the Tito Amato Mysteries…Set in dazzling, decadent 18th-century Venice, this series features an opera singer with a generous heart and a talent for sleuthing…” Beverle’s Amazon Author Page
Tito Amato was “cut” at an young age in a nefarious exchange. His fate was in the hands of puberty. Should his voice fail, of what use is a castrato? Fortunately, and sometimes not so fortunately, Tito Amato became a renowned male soprano in Venice in the mid-1700’s.
Over the series, Tito finds himself in binds which appear unsolvable. His future and that of others depends on his agile mind. The opera world is vicious. Victory is determined by official favor and audiences.
This series is well-written, filled with the fakery, greed, ambitions, unscrupulous morals, and contempt for life that was rampant in Venice. Beverle redeems the evil by peopling her series with characters who, although they are not faultless, are caring, decent human beings with a conscience trying to live in their world to the best of their abilities.
Beverle paints Venice so vividly, in all its glory and ugliness, your imagination sparks with images. That she chose an unconventional protagonist is appealing. Tito has his limitations, and he shares them with us honestly.
The mysteries are hidden within plots twists and wrong turns. The solution is often standing in front of Tito and his friends, but they have yet (as does the reader) to realize it.
What I enjoyed the most about the Tito Amato Series: Beverle deftly engenders the humanness of the characters. I felt I knew the characters. The descriptive prose of Venice in the mid-18th Century is fabulous. The vibrant colors, the decadent excesses, the disgusting filth, the grinding poverty: Beverle paints an candid canvass.
Beverle was kind enough to chat with me and answer a few questions:
Why did you choose a castrato as your protagonist?
I read Anne Rice’s Cry to Heaven a few years before I started writing. This novel from Rice’s pre-vampire days has become a cult classic for those interested in baroque Italy and the whole castrato phenomenon. Her character of the wronged boy who eventually became a beloved opera singer stayed with me. I thought a similar character would make a very interesting sleuth, especially if the violence done to him gave him a natural empathy for other marginalized people and a thirst for justice on their behalf. Tito could have been a bitter man, but he’s not. I have fun confounding expectations of such a character.
Are you passionate about operas? Do you attend operas?
I saw my first opera at age nine—a marionette version of Rigoletto—and I was hooked. The glorious music, dangerous romance, and soul-tugging drama! I particularly try to make performances of operas by my favorite composers—Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi. I’m especially excited about the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to local movie theaters. I’ve been able to see rare operas that would never be presented by a regional company, and the close-ups in HD are almost better than being there.
Have you been to Venice?
After I’d written the second book in the series, my husband and I took an eight-day research trip to Venice. We stayed in the Cannaregio, Tito’s neighborhood, and I actually picked out a house for him. The actual owners have no idea that their place has been immortalized in a mystery novel. We also spent a lot of time in the ghetto, where Tito’s wife grew up, and at the opera house. Many details from that trip made their way into the books.
Knowing Whispers was the last in the series, was there a scene you found most difficult to write?
Not really. I enjoyed writing Whispers of Vivaldi knowing that Tito’s story arc is complete and that I had managed to work in several topics I’d been holding in reserve. Most importantly, Tito had to cross paths with Vivaldi. How could 18th-century Venice’s greatest singer and greatest composer not know each other? Unfortunately, by the time of this book, Vivaldi had died. I made it work, anyway.
If you could have one last conversation with Tito, what would you say to him?
I left Tito in a good place at the end of the series, so I would encourage him to take full advantage of the extraordinary opportunity handed to him.
You’ve co-written a novel, Face of the Enemy, with Joanne Dobson. Is WWII your new writing direction? If not, do you have an idea where your muse might be leading you?
Face of the Enemy turned out to be a stand-alone. While it was great fun to work with a writing partner, our muses are leading us in different directions. I’m fairly open to switching genres, but can’t imagine writing anything that’s not a historical. I’m toying with the idea of gothic suspense in the tradition of Rebecca and, more recently, The Thirteenth Tale.
I’m sure wherever Beverle’s muse leads her, we will be treated to a fantastic read!
INDIES ROCK 2104!
Beverle Graves Myers novels are available on Amazon. Click on the link to access Beverle’s Amazon Author Page: Beverle Graves Myers Amazon Author Page