Describe your latest book/project/work.
Well, it's a new series, Songs of the Seraphim, about angels working on earth and enlisting human beings to work with them as special Children of the Angels. Angel Time is the first of the series, and introduces my new hero, Toby O'Dare, a government assassin, who turns his life around, seeks salvation, and becomes a willing worker for the angels. Malchiah, a charming Seraph, is the main angel hero of the series but there will be other angels as the books move on, and Toby will meet other Children of the Angels. One aspect of it all that is key for me is that Toby is often sent back in time to do his work. The angels see all of time as present. They call it "Angel Time." This makes writing the books especially rewarding. Two are finished already and a third is mapped out. I'm excited about it.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
I would love to acquaint readers with Carson McCullers, a great southern writer who had a profound influence on my writing. I recommend her great novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter for its sensitivity, scope, and psychological depth. It is a gentle and compassionate book.
How do you relax?
How do I relax? Almost exclusively through watching television series or films of high quality. There has to be a narrative for it to relax me and there have to be engaging characters. Sports don't relax me at all, and music and opera stimulate me so much that they don't relax me either. But a good series like Bones or Battlestar Galactica will do it.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Yes, I made a literary pilgrimage to the home of Emil Zola when I was in Paris. And while in England I visited Charles Dickens's home in London. I loved Dickens with all my heart. I would have gone more places in connection with him if I'd known where they were.
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
The best breakfast of my life is scrambled eggs with Tobasco sauce, with grits and thin fried slices of veal. Very New Orleans.
Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
The best television series I ever saw was Deadwood on HBO. It was incredibly original, and bold in conception. It showed a horribly raw "western gold rush town" in which all sorts of people were morally tested and struggled not only to survive but to do good. I loved the moral depth of it and the willingness of the producers and writers to go all the way with the horrors of life back then. I wish it had continued.
Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
My favorite characters in history are Jesus Christ, without any question, and various monarchs who were especially heroic and influential. Peter the Great of Russia is one for sure; Queen Elizabeth of England is another. But Jesus tops the list.
Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
Artists who inspire me: well, surely this includes great composers. Beethoven and Mozart totally inspire me, as do Brahms, Puccini, and Verdi. I love music with my whole heart and it is very encouraging to me as a writer to read about the battles that great composers fought for their originality and their creative intregrity.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
A list of five books on a favorite subject: With me it would be monarchy. I love Alison Weir's Henry VIII; Queen Isabella (English queen); and her The Life of Elizabeth I. Alison Weir is top notch at historical biography; she fills her books with fascinating details and has a wonderful feel for the entire scope of a person's life. After those three, I would have to say Ian Mortimer's The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III. Mortimer has given us a very valuable biography of this important and often misunderstood medieval monarch. Lastly, I would list Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie. He's another fabulous biographer. And Peter the Great is one of my personal heroes because he traveled outside of Russia to learn about the world, and he had the vision to build St. Petersburg, a beautiful city.