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Living in the past to pay for the future

September 06, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Author Kate Quinn will be one of many authors at Turn the Pages book signing event on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Submitted photo

No one can accuse Kate Quinn of not being a modern-day woman.

She has multiple college degrees, has pursued her career dreams and is a creative and independent thinker.

But sometimes, Quinn enjoys living in the past. It’s a requirement of her job.

The Crofton, Md., resident is a writer of historical fiction — weaving stories of scandal, intrigue and romance with historical detail.

Her favorite periods in time include ancient Rome and the Italian Renaissance, which have provided the backdrop for introducing readers to the terrifying reign of a paranoid emperor, the brutal life of a gladiator and the mistress of a Borgia pope.

Quinn’s books have garnered her literary recognition, as well as a faithful legion of fans, who anxiously await her next novel and follow her blogs, where she shares everything from writing historical novels to her interests and pet peeves.

Readers will have an opportunity to meet Quinn in person when she appears at a book signing event from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro.

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In addition to Quinn, other authors will include Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, R.C. Ryan, Victoria Roberts and Yasmine Galenorn.

Born and raised in southern California, Quinn traveled to the opposite side of the country for her higher education, receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree in classical voice from Boston College.

She has held a variety of jobs, including a church soloist, a telemarketer for a theatre company and an administrative assistant for a nonprofit. But, today, she is a full-time writer.

“I adore it,” Quinn said. “No cubicles, no reports and I can work in my yoga pants.  And, since my husband is in the Navy and moves around a lot, this job means I can move with him without my career suffering. All I need is an Internet hookup and I’m ready to go.”

With extensive vocal training, it’s only natural that most people assumed Quinn would have a future in the world of music.

But ever since she can remember, she said, she had another passion: writing.

“I’ve always had those dual interests — writing, which satisfied my introvert side and singing, which fed my extrovert side,” she shared.

She was only 10 years old, she said, when she finished her first novel — “121 double-spaced pages of pure awful. Something about a gypsy girl in medieval Ireland who got tried as a witch and, of course, had a pony. But bad as it was, it was a learning experience. For one thing, it was my first brush with the need for good, solid historical research because my version of Ireland had snakes.”

Throughout the years, Quinn continued to find time for writing, even while she was studying voice.

“I was 19 years old, gone off to school in a strange city 3,000 miles away from home and rather than get homesick, I escaped into ancient Rome,” she recalled. “Having no computer, I used to hole up in the university computer lab on weekends to write, alongside all the sleep-deprived grad students working on their thesis papers.”

That book, “Mistress of Rome,” was later published in 2009. Her fifth book, “The Serpent and the Pearl: A Novel of the Borgias,” will hit stores in January and she’s currently hard at work on her sixth.

“But I’ve got probably another 16 or 17 unpublished books languishing under the bed,” she said, “from my 10-year-old effort all the way up through the college years. Once I started writing books, I never stopped.”

Quinn decided to write historical fiction, she said, because “the past has always fascinated me, ever since the days when I was six years old and I couldn’t sit down on the school steps without pretending I was Elizabeth I refusing to enter the Tower of London. Under those circumstances, I guess it’s only natural that I ended up writing historical fiction. I’ve made one or two stabs into other genres, like mystery or sci-fi, and all it really proved was that I should really stick to historical fiction.”

One of the aspects of writing historical fiction, Quinn noted, is the amount of time that is spent on research.

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