When HarperCollins Canada asked me to participate in their blog tour for author Anne Fortier and her novel Juliet (that I loved and you can check out my review here!), I was delighted to take part. Each reviewer of Juliet – recently invited by HarperCollins Canada – was invited to be a part of this blog tour and we got to ask Anne Fortier several questions that were burning in our inquiring minds!
1. What was your inspiration for writing JULIET? Are you a big fan of Shakespeare’s play or did the inspiration come from something else?
ANNE: It was actually the city of Siena that inspired me to write a novel set in Tuscany in the Middle Ages. In 2005, I visited Siena with my mother for the first time, and was instantly swept away by this magical place. It wasn’t until Mom and I started looking into Siena history in order to find a juicy setting for my story that we came across the fact that the very first version of the Romeo and Juliet-story was actually set right there, and not in Verona. Obviously, I had to embrace this golden opportunity. The funny thing is that I wasn’t even a great fan of that particular Shakespeare play before I started writing JULIET. But now, of course, I love it.
2. Have you discovered anything interesting and/or exciting about your own ancestry before or after writing JULIET?
ANNE: I don’t think I am descended from anybody even remotely famous, but I certainly do identify with Julie Jacobs when it comes to growing up in a family of many secrets. My grandparents were very much members of the stiff-upper-lip approach to parenting, and so emotions and frustrations were never expressed openly – nor were people’s past ever fully laid open. As a result, Mom and I often – even now – have moments where I cry out, “Really? I never knew that! That’s incredible!” and I don’t think I will ever feel that I fully know my family history.
3. There are several different covers for JULIET and my personal favourite is the Danish cover. Which one is your favourite and why?
ANNE: The Danes were the only ones who actually asked me how I envisioned the cover, and where I worked directly with the designer from start to finish. So, inevitably, the Danish cover is very special to me. That said, the business of cover design and the choices of individual publishers depend so much on their particular market, and their knowledge of what appeals to certain groups of readers, and I completely understand that the Danish cover might not work everywhere. A lot of countries have adopted the American cover with the rose, and I do think it is very beautiful, and that it makes the book stand out.
4. Who would you want to play Juliet in the movie if there was one?
ANNE: I am always reluctant to put specific features on Julie Jacobs, because I know my readers envision her in so many different ways. And this, of course, was what I hoped would happen. Some see her as a blonde, some as a brunette … the truth is that, to me, she actually changed hair-color half-way through the writing process. Originally, she was a sort of Scarlett Johansson ‘esque blonde, but towards the end she had become more of an Anne Hathaway. We shall see what the producer says; by the time the book is made into a film there are probably a dozen new faces in Hollywood, who would all do a good job as Julie. As for the original Giulietta Tolomei, I hope the whole 1340-narrative will be cast with relatively unknown, Italian actors.
5. Your research about Siena for this novel was very thorough. Where will your next novel take place?
ANNE: Once more, we will be going back and forth in time between the present day and a very distant past. The present-day narrative will start in North Africa and travel through some rather remote parts of Europe, while the historical chapters will take place mostly in the Mediterranean region during the Bronze Age. It is hard for me to say too much right now without giving away the plot, but I promise there will be another unusual treasure hunt as well as many legendary characters, both good and evil.
[And finally, the question I MOST wanted to know the answer to!]
6. Why did you choose to basically “cut to a commercial” when it came time for the love scene between Giulietta and Alessandro and not write a detailed passionate love scene befitting a Romeo & Juliet?
ANNE: Excellent question. On the one hand, I am not entirely sure it does befit Romeo and Juliet to have a very detailed love scene – Shakespeare never wrote stage directions, remember? On the other hand, I certainly share your frustration with the commercial break; it’s just that I – as an author – need to make sure the book is not branded as “a certain kind of book”. I see it all the time: it doesn’t matter how great the book is, if the love scenes are not censured, the book will be snubbed. I wish it were otherwise, but there you have it. So, how about this: I challenge my readers and the readers of this blog to write the missing scene, and we will all vote for the best one?
That should be fun 🙂
HarperCollins Canada is going to hold a contest for Anne’s challenge to her readers (see above) and you have until October 31, 2010 to submit your written version of the love scene between Giulietta and Alessandro to HCContests@harpercollins.com – The winner will receive an autographed copy of JULIET!
You can sign up for HarperCollins Canada’s contests newsletter here:
P.S. For a wonderful photo tour of Julie’s Siena, visit www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/features/anne_fortier/photo-gallery.php