25th Trillium Award

The Kingston WritersFest Interview Series, with Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk

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 Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk

It's time! The Kingston WritersFest is just around the corner, and now is the time to start planning how to fill your weekend. Open Book: Ontario will be giving you a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of the festival all month long, so that when you finally meet some of your favourite authors face-to-face, you'll know everything from what books they've got in their bags to how they're calming their nerves.

In our first Kingston WritersFest interview, we speak with Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk, coauthors of The Wolves of St. Peters (HarperCollins Canada), a haunting page-turner that follows the tumultuous lives of young artists and lovers in Renaissance Rome.

Gina and Janice will appear on stage at the Kingston WritersFest on Friday, September 27 at 10:00 a.m. To find out more about their discussion, The Cathedral and the Courtesan, visit the Events page. You can purchase your tickets here.

Open Book:

Tell us about what you?ll be reading at this year?s festival.

Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk:

We will be reading from our latest work, The Wolves of St. Peter?s, a historical mystery published by HarperCollins Canada in April 2013. Set in Renaissance Rome during the time Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, it casts artists both charming and arrogant, a warrior pope who commits more sins than the devil himself, a shipping magnate modeled on Silvio Berlusconi, a woodcarver who thinks he?s a bat, and a brothel full of courtesans. Our detective is Francesco, a young lawyer to a wealthy Florentine landowner. After falling in love with said landowner?s wife, he flees to Rome, where his father forces him to take the menial job of houseboy to the prickly Michelangelo as penance. The story opens with Francesco recognizing the body of a courtesan floating in the Tiber River.


How do you manage the shift between being a solitary writer and a public reader?

GB & JK:

Since we?re coauthors and so not very solitary to begin with, it isn?t a great leap. A large part of how we write is through talking — on the phone, via Skype, and through email. We get together in Kingston or Toronto whenever possible, usually around four to six times a year. (This past winter, for our ten-year anniversary as coauthors, we took our first research trip together to Venice, the setting of our next novel, a sequel to The Wolves of St. Peter?s.) Whether in person or virtually, we sketch our characters, plot our narratives and bust through each other?s writer?s blocks. Written drafts go back and forth dozens of times, and when we?re both satisfied, we read every word we?ve written out loud together. This of course leads to more revisions and another out-loud reading. So by the time we come to the public portion, we?re feeling pretty comfortable. (For those interested in finding out more about our coauthoring process, check out this article (co-written of course) for the Huffington Post.)


What is one luxury you allow yourself when you go "on tour" with a book?

GB & JK:

?On tour? for us is mostly traveling back and forth between Kingston and Toronto for book launches, readings, interviews, photo shoots and the occasional writers? festival. So our biggest luxury is having time together in person to work on our next project.


What book will you have with you in your bag while you're attending the Kingston WritersFest?


I plan to bring Sarah Dunant?s latest novel, Blood and Beauty, which is about the Borgias. Not only are we fans of the hit Showtime series of the same name, we now have a vested interest in reading as much as we can about the Italian Renaissance, and Dunant has long been a favourite.


I hope to get through the histories of Venice stacked by my bedside table in time to read Ross King?s Leonardo and the Last Supper.


What are you most looking forward to about this year's festival?

GB & JK:

We?re really excited to be taking part in the festival. Janice is a longtime resident of the city, and Gina, who lived there for a few years, has a real soft spot for it. Kingston is such a literary city that it sometimes feels like the ratio of writers to readers is 1:1 — okay, maybe 1:2. And while being coauthors means we generally don?t slave away in solitary confinement, we are excited to get out and meet some of these writers and readers. We know we?ll come away inspired and reenergized to face the hard work on our Venice sequel.

Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk live in Toronto and Kingston, respectively. After meeting in a French class in Kingston, they became writing partners and coauthors. They are the authors of two previous novels, The Sidewalk Artist and Ciao Bella. Find out more about their Kingston WritersFest appearance, The Cathedral and the Courtesan, here.

For more information about The Wolves of St. Peters please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at the publisher, Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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