Friday, April 06, 2007
Brenda Rickman Vantrease at the library
Last night, Brenda Rickman Vantrease spoke at our library, the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ. She's the author of the new historical novel, The Mercy Seller, a sequel to her international bestseller, The Illuminator. Vantrease was a teacher and librarian before chasing her dream to be a writer. She had 136 rejections for the book she wrote prior to The Illuminator. The full page color ad in The New York Times publicizing that book coincided with her 60th birthday. Not a bad birthday present. That book has been optioned for film.
Vantrease said she loved the Middle Ages since she was a child reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine. She set The Illuminator in the 14th century in Medieval England. It's the story of a man who illuminates translations of the Bible. The Mercy Seller is set thirty years later, and features the granddaughter of the illuminator, as well as a pardoner, a man who sells pardons with a permit from the Catholic Church to do so. He is based on Chaucer's Pardoner, but Vantrease had the task of making her pardoner into a likeable character, despite the fact that they were despised during the Middle Ages. The Mercy Seller brings together two plotlines, one set in England and one in Prague.
Brenda Rickman Vantrease found a period in history she was interested in. She said she then found the people who were dominant during that period, and added her fictional characters. She puts together two timelines as her outlines. One is a historical timeline. One is a timeline featuring her fictional characters. She then weaves the two timelines together into her stories.
The third book in her historical fiction series will be set in Tudor England. A friend of the Vantrease family summed up The Illuminator well. He was a nonfiction reader only, but after reading and enjoying the book, he said, "This is just nonfiction with imagination."
The Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease. St. Martin's Press, ©2007. ISBN 9780312331931 (hardcover), 432p.