Interview with Rachel Dacus, author of The Renaissance Club
15 May 2018
What can you tell us about your new release, The Renaissance Club?
Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? That’s the question the heroine, May Gold, must answer in this time travel love story. She has three short weeks, during a tour of Italy, to find her answer. A college adjunct teacher, she often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis—17th century sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies, she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man whose passionate art invented the Baroque style. But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend. She considers herself a precocious failure and yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit. Over the course of her tour, May finds she has to make a choice—to stay in a safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. The story was inspired by my study of Italian Renaissance art and art history tour of the places depicted in the novel. A part of me slipped through my own fold in time and remains in the beauty of that place.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I always like to blame my mother for inspiring me to write. She took me to my first bookstore, Smith’s Acre of Books in Long Beach, California. In that store, which seemed literally acre-sized, she invited me to choose an armload of books. After an acre or so’s worth of browsing, we found a row of rainbow-colored books. The illustrations in the Oz books, Art Deco style depictions of the magical characters. After reading every Oz book L. Frank Baum wrote, I had no choice but to begin writing my own books. At that point, my mother took another fatal step in my development. She gave me her Smith-Corona portable typewrite and a book on touch typing. The rest is the long story of how I learned to write (much longer than the story of learning to type).
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
After telling the story of how I became a writer, I’d have to say one of my top five is Ozma of Oz. After that, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, An American Childhood, and Bitter Lemons.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Clearly, from the preceding, Jane Austen, L. Frank Baum, and Annie Dillard.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Inventing new characters and finding imagery to describe nature, people, and settings are my favorite parts of writing.
What is a typical day like for you?
The first hour or two of every day, seven days a week, is my writing time. I include in that reading good work of all kinds, dreaming about my characters, and having them talk aloud to me. Writing includes keyboard time and walking around the neighborhood while dictating quietly into my phone. After that, the rest of the day is devoted to my business, and of course walking my dog. With variations, that’s my typical day.
What scene in The Renaissance Club was your favorite to write?
The first meeting between May Gold and the young, ambitious genius Bernini, while he’s working on his first major masterpiece, the Baldacchino inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was fun to imagine myself slipping backward in time without noticing it, as May does, and coming upon an artist I’ve revered.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
On my website I sum it up this way: “In my world, love always wins.”
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