Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Interview with Traci L. Slatton

Traci L. Slatton, author of IMMORTAL

I wanted to interview Traci because I adore historical fiction (even non-fantasy!) and I wanted to learn more about her book. When I first checked out her website, I saw that she had sold the film option rights to her novel. Since her novel has only been out a short while (since the end of January) I became even more curious, and I thought you might be too. Traci took some time to provide some very thoughtful answers, and here they are.

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Please tell us a little bit about IMMORTAL and about your inspiration for this novel.

In September 2004, I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter. Every pregnancy is different, and this one was waking me at 4:00 am. At the time, I was working on my non-fiction book PIERCING TIME & SPACE (published by the ARE Press in October, 2005), for which I was researching hard science. I loved that, but I also longed to write fiction. One pre-dawn morning I got up and sat down and give in to that longing.

Luca, the main character, sprang partly out of my love for Renaissance art, which was always present but which my husband sculptor Sabin Howard has carefully nurtured. Luca also arose out of my experiences as a hands-on healer, and my questions about the nature of the Divine, of loss and of suffering, and of love. How do we affirm hope, love, faith, and communion with the Divine in the face of the terrible things we all face every day?

So IMMORTAL is a journey of faith, an education of the heart, and a mystery of our deepest origins, both spiritual and physical.

Full cover image for IMMORTAL
IMMORTAL's film option rights have been purchased by TwinStar Entertainment. Can you explain what that means and how it came about? And how thrilled are you?

I can't begin to say how thrilled I am!
This came about in an interesting way. I used to put the kids on the school bus and then walk the dog with another dad from the bus stop. He's a good guy, smart and interesting, and we would chat. Naturally I told him about the novel I was working on. Turns out he's an entertainment lawyer named Steven Beer who handles matters relating to film, music, publishing, etc. After IMMORTAL was published, Steven read it, and he fell in love with the story. Steven took the book to Lane Bishop at TwinStar, who fell in love with it, also. The great thing about Steven is that he has a broad vision for projects and a keen sense for commercial possibilities. I am very lucky to work with him.

I met with Lane in Los Angeles and she was amazing. She knew my novel inside-out, upside-down, and backwards. It had spoken to her and she was passionate about it. She is another of these visionary people who can see possibilities, and I feel very, very lucky that she is handling the novel.

The film option means that TwinStar has the right to make a film from IMMORTAL. What they will do is set up a package for the film, which includes a partnership with other producers, a director, screenwriter, cast, etc. This is my understanding now, though it may change!

Hermes, by Sabin Howard
Your husband's sculpure adorns your site. ( Does it get chaotic to have two creative types in one household?

My husband Sabin Howard is a classical figurative sculptor (like Michelangelo). I think, as do a growing number of art critics, that he is the finest figurative sculptor working today. He recently finished an APHRODITE piece, a life-size nude female, and she's absolutely, breathtakingly gorgeous. You could put together a sculpture show with pieces from Michelangelo, Bernini, and Canova and include Sabin's Aphrodite, and she would hold her own!

You can tell I am very proud of my husband's artistic talent. I also admire his artistic integrity: Sabin has a ruthless dedication to the perfection of the piece, even if that means taking a power saw to the arm, cutting it off, rewelding the steel armature, and redoing 6 months of work because the gesture isn't right. He doesn't grumble, he doesn't complain--he's that committed to his vision.

There tends to be a lot of creative ferment around the home because he's an artist and I'm a writer. Art, the history of art and ideas, the importance and value of art and story, tend to be things that get discussed. It's the stew we all boil in. So my two older daughters write poems, stories, and songs; the little one is constantly at her easel, coloring; my step-daughter will be interning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the summer.

Your bio states that you have a hands-on healing practice. How does that work? Do you have any other day job, besides raising three daughters (which would keep anyone busy)?

IMMORTAL'S Russian cover
My practice is mostly defunct right now. I had a small but active practice for ten years, working with people who were ill or who just wanted spiritual unfoldment. Then, at a certain point, the Universe said, "It's time to write now." And my clients vanished, almost all of them in the same month. A few months later I had my first book contract for my non-fiction book PIERCING TIME & SPACE.

Now I do healings for friends, family, and other healers.

At this point, writing and mothering are my day jobs!

You have two daughters and a stepdaughter who are teenagers at home. How thrilled are they to have an author mom? Do they brag about you at school?

My kids. I guess they're proud of me. The joke I tell is that I returned from meeting with TwinStar in LA and my family welcomed me back with their usual aplomb: "A movie of Immortal? Great! Can you raise my allowance? Can you iron my dress for the party this weekend? Are there any snacks in the house?"

Mothers are so often not people to their children, they're NGO's: Needs Gratifying Objects.
My oldest daughter and my step-daughter are going off to college, so that will be a transition around here. It will give me more time to write, but I will miss them, even if they have been evil teenagers!

Which are your favorite scenes in IMMORTAL

My favorite scenes in IMMORTAL are the ones with the young Leonardo and the final scene.

Which scenes gave you the most trouble?

The scenes that gave me the most trouble were the early ones at the brothel with Marco. I had a vision for those scenes but it wasn't working for my editor, who is brilliant. So we went back and forth many times over them. In the end, I went with what she wanted, because she has the experience.

Please tell us how you researched IMMORTAL. Did you have a lot of background knowledge beforehand, or did you research as necessary while you wrote?

I did have plenty of background knowledge before I started the novel, primarily because I live with a man for whom the Renaissance is alive and well. Sabin and I had made a number of trips to Italy, both with and without the kids, and we always spent a lot of time in museums and churches looking at the art. He has every book imaginable on Renaissance art, which helped immensely. I also used the internet. I bought books, borrowed books from neighbors and from the library, and examined books at bookstores. When I wrote, there would often be two books on my lap, two on my desk by my computer, and books open atop stacks on the floor.

IMMORTAL'S Polish cover
Please share with us the story of how IMMORTAL came to be published.

My editor bought IMMORTAL on two chapters and an outline. She just had to know what happened to Luca!

It was my oldest daughter who inspired me to send in the chapters. After I'd written the two chapters, I gave them to her to read. She gave them back to me raving about them. Then, a week later, she came home from school one day and grabbed me. "Mom, I've been thinking about your story all day. I can't get Luca out of my mind. Have you written any more? I have to know what happens to Luca!" She was so insistent that I knew there was something there.

Have you completed any other novels besides IMMORTAL? If so, can we expect to see any of them in print?

IMMORTAL was the 5th or 6th novel I wrote...though only the first one was really bad. I am hoping that some of those old ones can finally see the light of publication!

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Thank you, Traci! Here is my original debut showcase from January, which has all the usual info.


Kimberly Swan said...

Great interview, and Immortal is so well done. :)

Carole McDonnell said...

Wow, wow, wow!!!! I loved the interview. I haven't read Immortal but I was wondering how she treats the divine in her book and how her spirituality is shown in the book. You know me and my love of anything spiritual and theological. -C

Tia Nevitt said...

Carole, check out her website; there's more info there. Thanks, Kimberly!

Robert said...

Thanks for the interview Tia :) I've been really looking forward to reading "Immortal" and I loved the interview! It's also cool that the film rights have been sold. Hopefully it makes it into production...

Tia Nevitt said...

I would love to see this movie. I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of the book soon, too.