Writing Fictional History: Ardent Fire

View of Ancient Florence by Fabio Borbottoni

View of Ancient Florence by Fabio Borbottoni


Wow, the original post below is nearly two years old, and I wrote “Ardent Fire” while writing “Hitting Black Ice.” The ferociously talented Kimber Vale had generously tagged me in a blog hop when my blog was fresh and new.

My new release is set in 18th century Siena, Tuscany. It’s a different world than 15th century Florence, one which I’ll visit next Friday with you.

From October 23, 2013….

What are you working on right now?

I’m in the home stretch for my historical romantic suspense novel Ardent Fire. The setting is Renaissance Italy, and, to be specific, Medici Florence about 1475. My two main characters are painters, Benedetto Tagliaferro and Morello, brought together by art and murder. I’m hoping to continue in this setting with the two painters getting involved in all sorts of mayhem around 15th century Florence.

How does Ardent Fire differ from other works in its genre?

Perhaps it doesn’t? Funny, looking backwards through history, artists in this era appear the equivalent of our rock stars–how fascinated we’ve become by Leonardo DaVinci and his secrets, how he thought and what he meant. And that hair! How about Michelangelo and his famous temper, that rocky relationship with the Pope? And Caravaggio, quite the talented bad boy…

Okay, I’m stretching it some, so sue me.

Perhaps only the setting and whatever my writer’s soul adds to it, a personal alchemy.

Why do you write what you do?

There’s a particular challenge to reading and writing both history and gay history. During this time in Florence, there is a relative lull between the fiery San Bernadino (d. 1444) and Savonarola (d. 1498). Both these men hated homosexuality and urged the persecution and punishment of gay men (though those terms weren’t in use then). Remember Jerry Fallwell blaming the 9/11 attacks on homosexuality and tolerance? Much like that but in graphic, late Middle Ages sermonizing. Sodomy was considered a criminal offense and a vice, and the Night Office was created to literally go out on the street to find the folks indulging in this particular offense.

Addendum: The Night Office originally looked for folks breaking the law after dark, from prostitution to sumptuary law to sodomy….

Florence was a man’s man’s world and in ways and reasons too many to recount here, homosexuality and bisexuality thrived and burgeoned in the Renaissance. How these men lived and loved fascinates me, as does anyone, man or woman, who manages to live through persecutions with their humanity intact. And, oh man, the art‚Ķ!

So, for me, setting is character and adds to the dramatic tension for Benedetto and Morello, putting up obstacles for their love to survive and thrive and to solve a murder.

Addendum: If I ever really finish the damn thing.

How does your writing process work?

I submerge myself in the research in order to figure out how people thought, why they felt the way they did so long ago and in their context. It’s a fantastic moment when the character starts to act and think like he should from the little sketch I have to start with. Then it’s back and forth between the research books and sites, asking questions that lead to more questions, trying not to get sidetracked by all the other possibilities out there. Fortunately, writing is my crack. It’s the other stuff like cleaning the bathroom or mucking out the office that I need discipline for.

Addendum: This still holds true for If I Were Fire, my new release from Dreamspinner Press.

My source and inspiration for this post is “Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence” by Michael Rocke.

A Dio, all. Hel

One thought on “Writing Fictional History: Ardent Fire

  1. Pingback: Got Tagged! | Halls Without Shame

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