Historical Novel Conference 2013

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Q & A with Maryka Biaggio, author of PARLOR GAMES.

Maryka-biaggio-authorMaryka Biaggio will be at the Historical Novel Conference this June speaking on the panel Writing About Women in History: Animating Their Times and Voices. Her novel PARLOR GAMES, based on the true story of a gilded-age baroness who tangled with the Pinkertons, was published by Doubleday in January 2013.

How do you find the people and topics of your books?

I stumbled across the subject of my debut novel, Parlor Games, quite by chance. While vacationing in Michigan I stopped at the Menominee Visitor’s Center. Displayed in a glass case was a written account of the city’s most infamous resident, May Dugas. The first line read, “The Pinkertons had her down in their files as the most dangerous woman in the world.” How could any self-respecting writer not take that bait?

If your book were made into a movie, who would play the principals?

First, we need someone with verve and poise to play May, our enchanting protagonist. I believe Scarlett Johansson would be a great pick. Shea??s saucy and knows how to charm and allure. And about that dastardly Pinkerton detective — he must be, by turns, suave and brash. Add a dash of swaggering confidence and who should appear but Harry Connick, Jr., sporting a waxed and downturned mustache.

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.

I picture May’s true love, Johnny, as a blond, blue-eyed young man who oozes joie de vivre. He should not be overly familiar, but rather a fresh face, one without any baggage to interfere with him portraying the honest cordiality, sportive cheeriness, and touch of naivete that May found a “pinch-me beguiling.”

As for the director, he or she must be versed in capturing nuanced exchanges. He should be adept at coaxing all manner of complicated interactions out of the cast who play such games as wangling, romancing, baiting, and hoodwinking. Calling David Fincher. Let the fun and games begin!

What reads are piled on your nightstand?

Webster’s Dictionary:
you never know when you might encounter an unknown word.

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte (I confess, I’m a grammar and usage geek).

Always a novel, usually historical — right now its Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore.

A notebook for those times when the elusive passage I’ve been seeking pops into my head at 2 a.m.

To learn more about Maryka — and her beautiful, con-artist heroine — visit www.marykabiaggio.com. And lets keep our fingers crossed about Harry!