My Addiction Books
Terry Stanfill received her degree in English Literature with a minor in Medieval History from the University of Connecticut. She raised funds for the restoration of San Pietro di Castello, the ancient cathedral in Venice and was decorated by the president of Italy with the Ordine Al Merito. We are honored to have Terry standoff some time for a written interview on her novel Realms of Gold.
The novel Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance is a present-day romance that combines 2007 with historical occurrences that took place in the 1953’s. In your latest release you make mention of the fact Camelot’s location is discovered by your characters in France and not England. I’m sure this statement caused many ripples to rush your way. Tell our readers a bit more about the plot and some of your favorite characters. What method did you use in writing your novel?
Really, there are two parts to this question: Part 1: So far so good as far as controversy with Arthurian friends, but I'm sure that there'll be some--perhaps many--who will disagree with me about Camelot and its location in France. Arthur was a legendary British king, and anglophile that I am, I’d have never believed otherwise. However, the historical Arthur Riothamus, now believed to have been he King Arthur of legend by top academic scholars, was indeed a Briton, a valiant soldier who fought for the Romans fending off Goths and Visigoths in what is now north eastern France.
Arthur Riothamus (chieftain, King) was wounded in battle in Bourges, and carried by his men to Avallon which was not far from where he fell. It was in Avallon that he died. This is fact and not fiction, so now we have a real Arthur with a connection to a real Avallon, and we can begin to look for other clues about his life, his places, how and where his legends might have begun--and the man whose vision gave us the idea of Camelot. .
Part 2: (PLOT, CHARACTERS) The prologue begins in the village of Vix, Burgundy, France in 1953, with the actual discovery of a massive bronze krater, in the grave of a Celtic woman. The Krater was forged in the South of Italy circa 510 B.C. How, I wondered, did this masterpiece of bronze smithing find its way from gold-rich and legendary Sybaris in southern Italy, to Latisco, a Celtic citadel, now known as Mont Lassois? Bianca Caldwell a writer of vignettes for an art magazine, pen name Fiore, and Giovanni Di Serlo, an Italian archaeologist, are determined to know how and why this immense vessel made its way from Sybaris, a wealthy ancient city in the south of Italy, to the village of Vix in Burgundy. After a series of frightening events, Bianca accepts Giovanni’s invitation and leaves New York for Italy to visit the site of his dig, and before long they begin their quest, taking the route of the Krater from Sybaris to the village of Vix. There are three other subplots in the novel, all woven together at the end.
As a writer myself I have gone through various levels of growth. I continually end up wondering whether things might have been a lot easier had I just had more information when I started. For example there is the ever so popular Snow Flake method created by Randy Ingermanson. Then we have our regular daily news from Dave Farland. How did you end up going about getting your mind to paper?
I've not used any particular method. I don't have the patience with following software directions. Once, before software for writing had taken off--maybe in the early 90s, I tried a system--but I had such a hard time figuring it out, I abandoned it and continued to work the way I always have--early in the morning, with a double espresso recording a dream or a fragment of a dream This helps to stir up the unconscious--that's where the imagination begins its work. Also free association helps, and, as a Jungian, I have great faith in the depths of the unconscious. Often while daydreaming ideas float up to consciousness and I try to snatch them, write them down before they become submerged again--during daydreaming, characters begin to have ideas, they speak, their problems get solved or they arise, the plot begins to thicken and subplots may emerge--sometimes as a surprise. Sometimes when I write this way and read the prose later, I myself am surprised. Or maybe a word or a song comes into mind and stays there. Write down the title and check out the words. Sometimes the most amazing insights arise from the lyrics and sometimes I can work them into the narrative. As for getting my mind on paper and constructing stories, for me it depends on beginning with a strong and simple narrative, a clear and purposeful voice, maybe in the first person for a new writer. And spare the description unless it has true bearing on the narrative! I remember the day my first editor gave me a serious talk about this--knowing that I loved artistic, descriptive, detail.
And reading, reading your favorite writers is so important. I've always read a lot. I entered our library reading contests--the first when I was nine years old. I read even more now that I have a Kindle. When people tell me, "Oh--I must have a book in my hand," they're usually people who don't read a lot. By contrast, my serious bibliophile friends are hardly ever without a Kindle. I never leave the house without mine--just in case I have to wait in an office, or in my car.
What tips could you give aspiring authors into achieving the level of being published? Randy for instance has a questionnaire which fellow authors can complete. The questionnaire eventually tells you where you are on your road to being published. Points he lists as parts of his questionnaire are–do you have critique partners? Do you ever attend writing conferences? As a published author yourself what do you feel is relevant on the road to get published?
Years ago I did attend two writers' conferences, but in the long run, for me it was trial and error, draft by draft, revision by revision to arrive at a polished product. This builds confidence, sometimes conferences do not--at least they did not for me. I'm very grateful to a few friends who are happy to read whatever I've written, and a good friend who is a professor of English Literature--Shakespeare and William Blake--who is always happy to share her knowledge and love of the English language with me--and to critique my work. Dr. Kenneth Atchity, long time friend, brilliant scholar, novelist, and now my publisher, is also my mentor, always ready to listen and advise. Dr. Eric Haskell, of French and Humanities, Scripps College, Claremont, California, who first listened to my ideas about Realms of Gold--and whose words, "Terry, I think you might have something here."--were all I needed for me to begin my personal quest--to tell the story of The Krater of Vix.
As a published author who is your target audience?
Young adults to senior citizens.
Are you currently working on anything new? What could fans look out for?
I’m working on Tale of the Fortuny Gown--set in 1984, the year of the Olympiad in Los Angeles. Very different from my other books.
Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance was made available on Amazon on 20 March 2012. How has it been going with reviews and sales?
We’ve just started to get the word out about the book, and doing interviews (like this one) so it’s too early to say. But responses from readers, as on amazon “reviews,” have been very positive and encouraging—and we have over 6,000 “likes” on Facebook.
What was your inspiration behind writing the novel?
My first inspiration came from reading a book on the discovery of the site of vanished Sybaris in Southern Italy. Sybaris was famous for its love of luxury. It was destroyed by Kroton, a neighboring city state in 510 B.C. In the mid-sixties the exact site of Sybaris was discovered by a team from the University of Pennsylvania. After reading the book several times, I put it away until I came upon the monumental Krater of Vix, circa 510. And when I learned that the great bronze Krater of Vix was made in Sybaris, I knew it was time to begin to tell its story from my imagination.
Where can people / fans follow your work and contact you for any enquiries?
The best way is by email, firstname.lastname@example.org and visit realmsofgoldthenovel.blogspot.com or Facebook’s Realms of Gold page where I’ve been responding personally to comments from my growing “Likes”—over 6,000 already, from all over the world.
Are there any other novels we can look out for? Where can readers find them?
The Blood Remembers, published first in 2001. Now on Kindle and also available in hard cover. A Tale of the Fortuny Gown, soon to be published as Story Merchant E[book on Kindle
Who is Terry the author?
I'm of Italian descent, majored in English Literature/Medieval History. I and Dennis, my husband, a Rhodes scholar, lived in Oxford, England for three years, then in Washington, D.C, New York City, finally in the Pasadena, California area where we are to this day. I'm a long time Director of Save Venice, Inc. raising funds to restore and preserve the art and architecture of that endangered city, a founding Life Trustee of Los Angeles Opera , and an Overseer of the Huntington Library and 'Art Collections in San Marino, California where I was a Reader. My subject of interest--the Normans in South Italy and Sicily in the 11th and 12th centuries, provided background material for my first novel, The Blood Remembers.
Tell our readers a bit more about yourself what made you decided to write. What do you do besides writing?
I have always written something--lots of long letters (by hand), poetry, a few short stories, but I was always daunted at the thought of writing a novel, creating a world. Sometimes, at bedtime, I'd write the first page of a novel in my head, and that page would change many times, until I finally wrote the words. Tomorrow I must leave my home forever. And my story, The Blood Remembers, went on from there. Those were the magic words.