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Books and Authors Discussions > Lucretia Borgia by David Krae (The Borgias Thread)

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message 1: by David (last edited Nov 23, 2012 10:25PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) First of all, thanks to Hazel for inviting Indie Authors and History Buffs to create threads about specific books and historical discussions in general. :)

While this particular thread is prompted by Lucretia, we can discuss anything related to both Lucretia and the Borgias in terms of the actual history and any historical fiction inspired by or based on the lives of the Borgia family.

Please feel free to post thoughts, questions or discussions about any of the Borgias or Lucretia. I'll try to provide whatever historical information I can.


message 2: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) To get the ball rolling...

In the research for my book, I pored through a lot of historical material in order to give a more truthful rendering of the time period and of the actual characters themselves. I felt it was important, considering how Lucretia has been vilified throughout history, giving her a salacious and murderous reputation, which the historical records strongly suggest has been undeserved and false.

Sadly, that negative portrayal continues even to this day in much of the popular literature, in film and television and other media, despite historical records that indicate Lucretia to be the relatively virtuous member of her family.

message 3: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Thanks for posting a topic, David!

I have a question for you: What attracted you to Lucretia as a character and how you went about changing popular feelings toward her in your book? I'm always a fan of taking characters who are commonly taken the wrong way and portraying them in a different light.

message 4: by David (last edited Nov 24, 2012 12:28AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) My initial inspiration to write about Lucretia in particular initially came from the discovery that she had been wrongly vilified. When I did some further research, I discovered that she was apparently a very intelligent, capable, virtuous and well-respected person in her time -- on the basis of her actions, not the dramatized accounts and legends that came later.

The challenge was to write about her as the person she appeared to truly be, who was, at first blush, far less interesting than the darkly exciting incestuous poisoner murderess fiction that has been propagated over the last 500 years. However, I looked at Lucretia's character as compelling through her struggle to maintain her integrity in the middle of all the murders, poisonings and betrayals, many of which were perpetrated by her father, Pope Alexander VI and her brother, Cesare, Duke of Valentinois/Duke of Romagna.

Lucretia's struggle is one to which many people can relate. She starts off as something of an ingenue who is abused by life and family circumstance and she must find her way forward toward some sense of self determination as obstacles and traumas are thrown in her path due to her family circumstances.

If we take the popular idea that the Borgias were a crime family (although they were not unique in terms of how many noble families in Europe operated), imagine, if you will, being born into such a family. That was the central challenge for Lucretia as a character. While her situation might be more dramatic than most people's lives, the question of self determination is essentially one we all face, in light of family expectations, social pressures and situations in which we find our loyalties sometimes divided between family and those we choose to love or the lives we chose to lead.

To put it simply, I thought the idea or challenge of being the 'good' person in a bad situation or setting was much more interesting than just being the baddest of the bad. It was more dramatically interesting as well as more historically accurate to portray her in such a way. Not that Lucretia was some paragon of purity...she certainly had some sex and there is a strong case she gave birth to a mystery child who may have been the product of incest, though more likely from an affair she had with a poet named Perotto, but, from what I could ascertain, Lucretia had a virtuous heart and lived honorably, in the context of her time and personal situation.

message 5: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Definitely an Interesting outlook. I don't know a lot about the Borgais apart from a smattering of common history, but it sounds like you've definitely done your research.

message 6: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments David, I'd like to ask about your cover image. I saw it in a thread and went, wow. Where/when's that from, who by? Isn't it beautiful?

Any thoughts on what the portrait means to you?

message 7: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Hi Bryn. It's from an old painting (public domain) called 'Flora' by Bartolomeo Veneto.

It is believed by some to be Lucretia, but there are doubts about whether she is the person depicted in the painting, an historical confusion that lines up thematically with my inspiration for writing the story. :)

I like the portrait visually for this story as I believe it captures the essence of Lucretia in context of the time. The woman pictured is adorned with leaves and flowers, holding a thoughtful bouquet of tiny flowers in her fingers, which conveys a feeling of the simple elegance of nature to go along with her own fresh and natural beauty. While she is also richly adorned with a jeweled necklace as well as a matching piece circling her brow, it is not overt or ostentatious and the rest of her clothing looks to be of a fine quality, but simple, comfortable and clean.

As for the exposed breast in the picture, notice there is no acknowledgement of it in the portrait, not even a slight tilt to the head or drop in the gaze to suggest some kind of sexual undertone. As I understand it, that was the true morality of the time -- far less prudish than even our society even now, in the sense that sex, sexuality and sensuality were far more an accepted part of everyday life.

On a related note, it was very commonly known in Rome that Pope Alexander VI had a mistress. Her nickname was "the Bride of Christ" because everyone knew she was sleeping with the Pope.

I chose that portrait because I thought it to be visually representative of my portrayal of Lucretia Borgia. Also, it is a lovely portrait on its own.

message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 137 comments I'm starting to think the Borgias will soon take the place of the played out Tudors. Any opinions on this?

message 9: by David (last edited Nov 27, 2012 09:32AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Well, as far as the TV show is concerned, the series appears to be quite popular and there are countless storylines with fascinating characters that can be woven in and out of the main historical plot.

In my research into the subject of the Borgias, I discovered there were a lot of books, plays, operas and movies made several generations ago -- as the Borgias were better-known in the public consciousness. Perhaps the popularity of the TV show will spur a renewed interest with today's generations, so I think you're right.

In my case, I wrote Lucretia originally as a five-act Elizabethan play in verse -- as a study in Shakespearean language when I was a starving young actor/writer wanting to gain a better understanding of Shakespearean rhythm and language, both from a writing perspective and in terms of performance. The play was more fictional in terms of the story, in which I took some additional liberties with the historical record, my focus being on writing an exciting drama rather than going for historical accuracy. I then wrote a screenplay, based on the play, which won the Golden Palm Award for Best Script at the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2007. My film/tv lit agent shopped it around and there was some interest but a lot of people had not heard of the Borgias. Also, we got word that Neil Jordan had been trying to get a Borgia project off the ground for a number of years and the preference was to go with someone established, rather than a young, no-name writer/actor type who had no reputation in Hollywood. A few years later, Neil Jordan ended up behind the current hit TV series and I decided to do additional historical research and turn the story in to a novel.

I will probably rework the screenplay with some of the updated material that came from writing the book and re-approach the powers that be in Hollywood at some point, and its reception will likely depend on how well the book does.

In the meantime, I anticipate a lot of writers will be inspired to tackle the Borgia story in new ways, which is pretty cool because there is so much material to work with.

message 10: by Bryn (last edited Nov 27, 2012 10:37AM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments The painting dated 1515 I see. I went to Wiki. Wiki is saying he learnt better from Leonardo and did more realistic after this, but I like this style. It's - iconic, I guess, which you can call stiff if you don't like it.

Her exposure seems entirely asexual to me. It's called 'Flora' and as such she'd want to a bit exposed?

I'm a fan of using old paintings on covers! Wonderful choice.

message 11: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments David wrote: "In my case, I wrote Lucretia originally as a five-act Elizabethan play in verse..."

For me, I hope there's a trace of that left in your novel. Do you use an old-fashioned language, in part, or do you eschew that?

message 12: by David (last edited Nov 27, 2012 02:51PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) I didn't push too hard on old-fashioned language, though I tried to give it just a hint of a 'period' feel and I did make an effort to avoid anything anachronistic in terms of being overtly modern sounding. I see it as striking a balance between sounding overly pedantic in the use of old-fashioned style and being modern, which would also sound 'wrong', especially with regards to dialogue.

As for the overall language used, the switch to prose and narrative is a major transition from the Elizabethan play, which is composed almost entirely of dialogue, with a few minor stage directions as per the usual format for a stage play. The play is also in verse, using Shakespearean-era vocabulary and an attempt at Iambic Pentameter, with breaks to alternate rhythms to create certain dramatic effects.

With regards to the novel, some of the rhythm and flow of the play remains, at least I hope it does. :)

message 13: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments What was the status of your play, again? Is it spoken for, or is it in limbo? If the latter... no chance you'd issue that in ebook, as an aside to the novel?? I know there won't be a huge audience for mock-Elizabethan plays; but what I like about indie, too, is that you can issue things at little cost with expectation of little sales. Here's me, for one. I like Thomas Lovell Beddoes for his mock-Elizabethans.

My Chaucer class was set an exercise to write a new Canterbury tale: in modern prose or Chaucerian verse, at your discretion. I do suspect I was the only one to give them Chaucerian verse. I can tell by the peculiar looks from both tutors...

message 14: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Good question. I've been debating whether to do exactly that. :)

One thing I have always wanted to do is to workshop the play with some Shakespearean actors. I believe the reason the language and drama in the Shakespearean plays are so refined is that the versions we read today have been through the process of numerous rehearsals, performances and various edits. Not to detract from the work of the Bard in any way, but I think there were a lot of brilliant things added to the plays by the various individuals who participated in their production, making them, to some degree, the end product of many artistic and creative minds working to create the most effective performance.

Except for writers like Pinter, Mamet or to some degree Kevin Smith, who are very specific about their words, most plays and films are the collaborative process of writers, directors, actors, art directors, costumers, editors...everyone who contributes their best effort at being brilliantly creative with the goal of raising the production to the highest level possible. In my own film work, I have directed actors in a script I wrote and openly encouraged the cast to find their own ways of saying lines that might be better suited to their character. Occasionally there are debates about the meaning of a scene, and as the director, it is my decision whether to accept the proposed alternate line, but for the most part, when an actor comes up with another way of saying something, very often it is better, or at least a 'smoother' variation compared to the original line written on the page.

For that reason, I would love to workshop the play in some form, since the likelihood of anyone wanting to produce an Elizabethan play in verse these days is probably a chance of zero to none.

I wonder if Goodreads might be a fun forum for workshopping a play like this one -- maybe in the Shakespeare group.

As a side note, I was fortunate enough to have a very well-known, world-class Shakespearean director read the play a number of years ago and his comment was that he liked the play, but he could tell I was still learning the use of the language -- and while parts of it were a bit wonky (and I paraphrase) a good portion of it worked quite well, so it isn't all bad. :)

Anyway, let me know your thoughts. I think I'd be prepared to do a 'free' publication of the original play, with the idea of creating some kind of discussion group(s) about the play as well as Elizabethan language and verse in general. It might be a fun way to workshop the play, through an online forum, and be a fun community project for interested Thesps, Literati and Shakespeare buffs.

message 15: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments That Shakespeare group needs a liven-up, and I know there are theatre people there. - I'm not, I just spout his plays at home. One has to tread gingerly with the less writerly groups... maybe contact Candy?

message 16: by David (last edited Nov 28, 2012 06:40PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Great idea. I just msg'd Candy about it. Thanks, Bryn. :)

message 17: by David (last edited Nov 30, 2012 10:47AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) No response as of yet. Maybe I'll just go ahead and post it and see if anyone is interested. I'll let you know when it's up.

In the meantime, I forgot to mention, Lucretia Lucretia by David Krae received its first reader review the other day and it was a good one. I must admit, it kind of made my week, knowing that someone enjoyed reading it. :)

message 18: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments 'Fess up, it made your year.
Candy has dropped out of sight lately. Busy with life, she warned us.

message 19: by David (last edited Nov 30, 2012 01:05PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Lol. :) I've simply been waiting patiently and hoping folks would be entertained and find it an enjoyable read. Like many creative people, I am highly critical of all my own endeavors and I try not to have expectations one way or the other about how my work will be received, but yes, it's a very good feeling when someone has a positive reaction and even better when they feel motivated to publish a positive review.

Thanks for the heads-up that Candy's busy.* I'll just go ahead and give it a whirl. Will try to post it ahead of the holiday season. :)

*Update. Candy just got back to me. Will keep you posted. :)

message 20: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments Yes, I grok that, we can be hyper-critical of our own. No critic so fierce as the writer.

The past couple of days I've got an odd lot of stars - a five, a one, a three, in that order - none with text. And you know what? After a brief unsettlement, it's excitement and gratitude, my end. A person read a book of mine? - in Indonesia? How great is that?

message 21: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Yes, oftentimes, we are our own worst critics -- as the saying goes.

It is pretty cool when someone a world away connects with something you created. I have the same reaction. :)

message 22: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
It is always totally awesome to get an actual review instead of a star rating. That way you know why the person did/didn't like the book. I usually try to review books I either really loved or didn't like so I can state my reasons. I try to review all books, but I sometimes run out of time. Or I might not review really popular books unless I really have something to say about them :P

message 23: by David (last edited Dec 01, 2012 06:27PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) I find there's a kind of dead zone between being a 'reader' and being an 'established author' wherein as a reader one can write whatever without consequence and as an established author one can write whatever with impunity, whereas being in the middle, as an indie author, it can be easy to unintentionally alienate readers or invite vindictive backlash from the world of 'fandom' if a comment or review isn't in slavish total agreement with it.

As for my work, I'm staying away from review services and letting my work stand on its own. If people like it, then that's great and I'm grateful for their support. If others don't like it, then either the book just wasn't for them and/or I have to keep working at being a better writer, this latter being something that is a worthwhile never ending pursuit for every author, no matter how well established one might be. :)

message 24: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 137 comments Posted by David: I find there's a kind of dead zone between being a 'reader' and being an 'established author' wherein as a reader one can write whatever without consequence and as an established author one can write whatever with impunity, whereas being in the middle, as an indie author, it can be easy to unintentionally alienate readers...

I know exactly what you mean, David! In fact, I've only reviewed a handful of books since my first novel came out over a year ago. Before that, I reviewed every book I had a reaction to, and never gave it a thought. Now I agonize over word choice, worry about how my thoughts could be mis-interpreted, and usually give up.

And yes, a glowing review will always leave me glowing too!

message 25: by Bryn (last edited Dec 01, 2012 09:14PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments I never finish books I don't like, so I don't have much of a worry. If I'm going to hate it, I won't get through the sample. If I'm going to half-half like it, I haven't incentive to get to the end.

With well-known authors, I don't feel my review's a cruelty, though I soften the blow even there, from an obscure fellow-feeling I think. With indies: see above.

message 26: by David (last edited Dec 01, 2012 08:35PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) I just checked out your novel,
Daughter of the Goddess Lands, Sandra. It was hard to find via your profile (I had to click '...more' on your bio and find out the title then search for it separately). You might want to switch to a 'Goodreads Author' profile and highlight your book on your profile.

Also, the description says it is set in prehistoric Europe so you might want to also check out the Ancient & Medieval group and see if there is an appropriate thread for promoting your book there. I know there has been some lively discussion of prehistoric books there lately, the Cavebear stuff and a few others too. Just check the group rules or contact the moderators, Terri or Dawn before promoting a book if you're not sure what's the best way to go about it. Like this one, it's a really fun group with a lot of interesting people and engaging discussions.

message 27: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 137 comments Thanks David. And yes, I have a Goodreads profile now. I'm just so new at this (not to mention technologically challenged) that it takes me awhile to get the hang of it. Not a helpful thing in a world where authors have to be their own promotors!

I've checked out a few of the other HF discussions, but I will probably be starting a new one soon. Hope to see you there!

message 28: by David (last edited Jan 19, 2013 08:37AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) I recently stumbled across an interesting blog site that has some information on the Borgias, covering historical research and cultural references.


The site also covers a lot of Renaissance History and some other periods as well and brings up a lot of interesting points (includes bibliographical references also.)


message 29: by David (last edited Apr 04, 2013 05:29PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) In honor of Lucretia Borgia's birthday this month (b. April 18, 1480), Lucretia will be on promo sale until the 18th!

Promo price $1.99 (reg. $4.99)

Promo sale available for Nook, Kindle, and at Smashwords*.

*At Smashwords, use this promo code: UE79D

Also, new artwork for the book is now up. :)

message 30: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Thanks David, I'll post this on the next newsletter.

message 31: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Thanks, Hazel. Much appreciated. :)

message 32: by Daisy (new) - added it

Daisy This is a question for anyone: What are your opinions on the TV show The Borgias?

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