Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Author Spotlight: Joyce DiPastena, Queen of Sweet Medieval Romances

As a book blogger, I've come to meet many interesting people in the community of authors, book bloggers, book publishers and publicists. Therefore, whenever I can, I will spotlight authors who are Italian, of Italian origin or write about Italy and its plethora of subjects.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Joyce DiPastena, an American author of Italian origin. Actually, her grandfather was from the region of Abruzzo, just like my grandfather! Joyce is proud of her Italian heritage, having told me about one of her trips to Italy with her sister. One of the things that touched me about Joyce is her kind-hearted nature. I once won a box of chocolates from one of her contests and although the chocolate company did not deliver to Canada, she insisted making alternative arrangements to deliver the box even though this would have been costly. I told her she could pass on the prize to someone else, but she told me no way, you'll get your chocolates. Thank you, Joyce!

Joyce has a degree specializing in medieval history, and let me tell you, she knows her stuff when it comes to the medieval era. A few years ago I asked about the genre she writes and why, this is what she said:

"I write medieval romances, although I tend to include so much additional plot alongside the romance that I had an agent tell me I don’t really write romances at all. But they’re all romances to me. There may be a lot of other stuff going on…mysteries, assassination attempts, medieval politics…but at the heart of each story is a man and a woman falling in love against all the odds around them.

I became fascinated with the Middle Ages back in high school, when I read The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain. I fell in love with King Henry II of England. Not “romantic” love. There was just something about the way his contemporaries described him that stirred a great affection in me for him. He seemed to be one of those rare kings who was actually more interested in trying to improve his country than in simply enjoying the “glory” or “privileges” of his rank. He is described as a man who hated war, even though circumstances forced him to spend most of his adult life at war. He was a man of tremendous energy and intellect. And he laid important foundations to the legal system that we have inherited from England and enjoy ourselves today.

His legacy was marred by his quarrel with Archbishop Thomas รก Becket, and the son who succeeded him, Richard the Lionheart, is a more flashy character of legend. But everything I’ve read about Henry II since those high school days has only increased my love and admiration for this man. Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart are both set during his lifetime, and although he has not yet actually appeared on the scene in any of my books, the references I make to him, small though they might be, are my own way of paying tribute to this great, underappreciated king."

I have read two of Joyce's books, Illuminations of the Heart and Dangerous Favor, both of which I enjoyed. You can find out more about Joyce and her books by visiting her website.