How does historical fiction help us understand what is happening in our world today?
C.W. Gortner, Gail Tsukiyama, and Maggie Anton, all authors celebrated for their contributions to the corpus of historical fiction, discuss their latest books, and the benefits and challenges of writing in this unique genre.
Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente's Biochemical Genetics Laboratory to become a fulltime writer.
In the early 1990's, Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Nearly every Wednesday for five years, she and about six other women met around Rachel's dining room table to study Tractate Berachot. Now Anton continues her studies individually with Rabbi Aaron Katz Ph.D., Professor of Rabbinics at the Academy of Jewish Religion (CA branch).
In 1997, as her children Emily and Ari left the house and her mother was declining with Alzheimer's Disease, Anton sought new interests. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi's daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a book about them was born.
C.W. Gortner's novel THE LAST QUEEN is a Marin Independent Journal bestseller and is currently being translated into eight languages.
His fascination with history, in particular the Renaissance, is a lifetime pursuit. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and has taught university seminars on the 16th century. In addition, he travels extensively to research his books. He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touchâ€”or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glassâ€”as many artifacts of the era as he can find.
He has served on the board of the Women's National Book Association/SF Chapter, an organization that promotes literacy, and he's a regular contributor to the Historical Novels Review and Solander, publications of the Historical Novel Society. He is also a passionate advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.
Raised in MÃ¡laga, Spain, C.W. Gortner is half-Spanish by birth and fully bilingual. He currently lives in Northern California.
Julie Robinson is the creator and facilitator of Literary Affairs, offering her readers a variety of experiences to take them "Beyond the Book." Julie personally runs 30 book clubs per month, as well as leading literary salons with celebrated authors, VIP behind -the -scenes cultural experiences, and Literary Tours. Bringing her love of classics to a broader audience, Julie's Luncheon Lecture Series have become one of the hottest tickets in Los Angeles.
Gail Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco, California to a Chinese mother from Hong Kong and a Japanese father from Hawaii. She attended San Francisco State University where she received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in English with the emphasis in Creative Writing. Most of her college work was focused on poetry, and she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award. A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, she has been a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, as well as a freelance book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle.
During 1997 to 1999, she sat as a judge for the Kiriyama Book Prize and is currently Book Review Editor for the online magazine The WaterBridge Review. In September of 2001, she was one of fifty authors chosen by the Library of Congress to participate in the first National Book Festival in Washington D.C. and has been guest speaker at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and the Sydney Writersâ€™ Festival.
Authors Maggie Anton and Gail Tsukiyama discuss the challenges of integrating historical facts into their fictional stories. They explain that while it is important to stay true to history, it is also crucial that the story be interesting.
Gail Tsukiyama and C.W. Gortner discuss the seeming preponderance of women in historical fiction. The novelists explain that not only women, but also anyone not a part of "traditional" history get a chance to shine in historical fiction.