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Ancient History (Old Threads) > August/September Read: The Mistress of Rome- Kate Quinn (Ongoing Discussion) - Potential Spoilers

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message 1: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments A couple of our members have read Mistress of Rome and have raved about it. We are lucky enough to have Kate Quinn as a member and she has agreed to discuss her book here.

Please post any questions or comments you want to discuss. I only ask that you be respectful and if you have any negative feedback, please give it in a constructive manner.

Thank you and let the discussion begin.... :-)

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

message 2: by Becky, Moddess (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) | 3433 comments Mod
Awesome! Thanks so much for joining Kate! :D

Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 230 comments Thanks for joining Kate! I definitely need to find a copy of this book :)

message 4: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments I bought a copy at Borders about a month or so ago. I normally don't pay full price for books, but I fell so in love with the cover and description that I had to have it. I'm looking forward to reading it and using it for the HF Challenge.

message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Hi everybody - thanks for having me! I'll answer any questions you want to ask. Jackie, thanks for buying MoR - I hope you enjoy it.

message 6: by Marti (last edited Jun 21, 2010 06:39AM) (new)

Marti (marjay) I have been waiting until summer to enjoy the book. Thank you for the opportunity to read your book and then to speak with you about it. I am quite looking forward to it.

message 7: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (harshmallow) | 397 comments I loved it and devoured it very quickly. Mistress of Rome is a fun, fast-paced read full of sex, violence, intrigue, dramatic plot twists, and... An orgy! Come on, it's not a novel about Ancient Rome unless there's an orgy.

message 8: by Felina (new)

Felina Hannah wrote: "Come on, it's not a novel a Ancient Rome unless there's an orgy...."

Agreed. Ha ha

message 9: by Aviv (new)

Aviv | 22 comments Yay. I just finished this not too long ago. Kate, what made you set your book during Emperor Domitian's reign as opposed to any other time period during the Roman Empire?

Also, what are you working now?

message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments I picked Domitian's reign as a setting for "Mistress of Rome" for two reasons. One, I needed a bad Emperor and he had all kinds of flamboyant real-life quirks like his all-black dinner parties and his habit of stabbing flies out of the air on a pen-point. And two, he's an interesting Emperor but a relatively obscure one - a thousand books and movies have covered Caesar and Augustus and Caligula and Commodus; I didn't feel I could bring anything new to the table. But Domitian hardly appears anywhere in modern fiction, and I liked that - it meant readers wouldn't bring their own pre-conceptions into the book.

message 11: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments As for what I'm working on now, it's a prequel to "Mistress of Rome." I meant to do the sequel first - it would follow the lives of the two children who have appearances in "Mistress of Rome; " Vix the gladiator's son, and Sabina the senator's daughter. But as anybody who reads about Vix as a child will not be surprised to know, he was very stubborn with me when I tried to write a sequel. He absolutely would not do anything I wanted, so I gave up for a while and went back in time and wrote MoR's prequel first. That covers the Year of Four Emperors about fifteen years before, where you see Domitian's enigmatic Empress as a young woman: how did she end up married to this psychopath in the first place? You also see her sister and two cousins, who all have minor mentions or appearances in MoR. Tentatively, the prequel has been titled "Daughters of Rome" and should be released next year.

Though I haven't given up on Vix and Sabina for a sequel. That's about two-thirds done now.

message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin Higgins (arsinoe) | 1 comments I absolutely enjoyed your book, Kate. It was a great read. I was bummed when I got to the last page. I felt bad about Paulinus. And the without giving away a spoiler for those who haven't read it, Justina, was a very good twist. I really did find that part quite entertaining.

I liked Vix and Sabina as well. I thought the compassion for both characters quite interesting. Even Marcus Norbanus with his infirmity, particularly since any infirmity was considered a weakness.

I have to admit even though I didn't like Lepida, I decided she was probably fun to write. As power hungry as she was and debase at times, and in general cruel, I felt sorry for her because with everything around, she just didn't get "it." I will definitely look forward to those sequels/prequels. Then I began to wonder what she was like-manipulative and destructive and volatile.

message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Glad you enjoyed it! And yes, Lepida was fun. Villains always are. I actually got all the way to the end of the book and realized I had no idea who/what was going to happen to her - by then, every single character had a motive to murder her. So I picked an unlikely minor character to wind up Lepida's story.

message 14: by Aviv (new)

Aviv | 22 comments I was thinking exactly that as I was reading (hence my question), how I've read so many books about those early Emperors but don't even think I'd heard of Domitian. The Empress is a fascinating character, I'll be looking forward to learning more. Now were Domitian's unusual sexual proclivities historical fact or was that your own creation? Don't give it away if you get more into it in the prequel.

message 15: by Hannah (last edited Jun 24, 2010 08:16PM) (new)

Hannah (harshmallow) | 397 comments Kate wrote: "Glad you enjoyed it! And yes, Lepida was fun. Villains always are. I actually got all the way to the end of the book and realized I had no idea who/what was going to happen to her - by then, eve..."

I kinda sensed there would be a sequel as I was reading Mistress of Rome, and I felt a pang of disappointment when Lepida was killed. Of course, it makes perfect sense that she was since, as you said, everyone loathed her by that time. But I would have wanted to see how she would recover from her utmost humiliation and what sorts of devious wrenches she would throw in everyone's plans down the road--Particularly her daughter's and Marcus' since she's a spiteful bitch. But spiteful bitches are so amusing to read about. You love to hate them and hate to love them.

message 16: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Aviv wrote: "Now were Domitian's unusual sexual proclivities historical fact or was that your own creation?"

I based Domitian's unusual personal tastes on a line from Suetonius's "The Twelve Caesars" - he states that Domitian liked to wax the body hair of his concubines personally. I took that as a logical jumping-off point for the character. Of course, Suetonius was a contemporary source who lived in Imperial Rome, but a highly colorful and subjective one, so who knows if it was all just a juicy rumor? But that's the fun part of being a HF writer - you get to look at various versions of history and decide which one you think is true.

message 17: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (harshmallow) | 397 comments So Kate... Are there tentative plans for a film adaptation? :D

message 18: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Oh, I wish. I've had a nudge here and there, but nothing yet - and honestly, I don't anticipate it. Something like "Mistress of Rome" is tremendously expensive to turn into a movie - the CGI, the costumed extras, the fight scenes, the on-location filming. Not likely to be made into a movie unless by some twist of fate I become the next Stieg Larssen, which isn't too likely. Or unless something odd happens, like Ridley Scott picking up a copy of MoR in the dentist's office while waiting for a root canal. (This actually happened to Charlaine Harris when Alan Ball read one of her books - the result was "True Blood." Hey, I can dream.)

I ran across a website somewhere - Storycasting, or something like that - where people can actually enter their favorite books and cast them as movies. One lone person actually cast "Mistress of Rome." I believe they had Aaron Eckhart as Arius, Gemma Arterton as Thea, Natalie Dormer as Lepida, John Francis Daley as Paulinus, Rufus Sewell as Marcus, Billy Crudup as Domitian, and Sophia Myles as Julia. Not quite the casting I'd have picked, but it was definitely entertaining.

message 19: by Hannah (last edited Jun 26, 2010 10:02AM) (new)

Hannah (harshmallow) | 397 comments I've actually given this some thought. >.>
Lepida: Megan Fox looks the part (at least how I imagined her as I was reading), and is apparently as insufferable in person as Lepida is, but she cannot act. Emily Blunt then. :) She's an incredible actress.
Thea: Camilla Belle. I haven't seen her in anything but Push, in which she didn't have much of a role, but in my mind, she looks the part spot-on. I imagined Thea as having an olive complexion.
Marcus: Hugh. Laurie.
Paulinus: Rupert Friend. (Emily and Rupert have chemistry)
Domitian: Michael C. Hall. He played Dexter.
Arius: Kevin Durand.
Justina: Emilie De Ravin.
Calpurnia: Jennifer Morrison.
Vix: Josh Hutcherson.
Sabina: Jodelle Ferland


message 20: by Aviv (new)

Aviv | 22 comments Wow, I had no idea that's how True Blood came to be. Maybe all you authors who want your books turned into movies or TV should start focusing on Hollywood doctors and dentists office instead of worrying about silly bookshops!

Just make appointments for check-ups right after another and leave a trail of books behind in the waiting room!

message 21: by Tasha (new)

Tasha This book looks great so I added it to my tbr list. I've never really had much interest in this historical era but since joining this GR group I've come across so many books of this area in history that sound so good, including your book Kate! Can't wait to get my summer reading challenge complete so I can dig into some of these books.

message 22: by Marti (new)

Marti (marjay) Kate, I am one quarter of the way thru your book and am hating Lepida - want to rip her hair right out of her head. I can certainly see all of us having our own person who fits that profile.

I love the descriptions and it is clear to me the huge amount of research you must have done!! Thank you

message 23: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Thanks, Marti. And I'm glad you hate Lepida; you are certainly supposed to!

message 24: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Okay, so the questions above about a "Mistress of Rome" movie got me thinking and inspired a blog post. Here's my dream casting, if I got total control over a movie of my book (which of course would never happen).


message 25: by Felina (new)

Felina I really liked your cast Kate. I hate Russel Crowe but if he's the villian then I can manage it. And I loved the shout out to Fred from 'Angel'.

message 26: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Yes, I'm a big Joss Whedon fan, and when I saw the range Amy Acker had as Fred I knew she'd be a terrific Thea. And she looks the part - lovely but a little lanky, a little quiet. She can doll up nicely, but plain down too; essential for a girl who goes from a slave singing in taverns to an Imperial concubine.

I'm afraid I can't join you on hating Russell Crowe, but I'd love to see him as a villain for once . . .

message 27: by Liz (new)

Liz   (lizvegas) | 91 comments Just started Mistress of Rome last night. It was hard for me to stop and go to bed! I'm anxious to read more...
Great start!

message 28: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments I finished this last night. It was truly awesome and I can't wait to read more by you. It really reminded me of the Rome TV series in it's violence and raunchiness. I loved it.


The dreaded Lepida. Admittedly, I thought she was a bit one dimensional, but she really made a great villian. I also thought her ending was fitting. She went out in an understated way, even though she was far from being an understated woman.

I loved that the characters you didn't think were all that brave turned out to be the heros...like Marcus and the Empress. I can't wait to read Daughters of Rome to learn more about her. I thought she was an interesting character, especially in her conversations with Thea.

Vix and Arius...what great chemistry those two had. Vix's commentaries were great and again, I can't wait to read more about him and learn more about the prediction that Neccus (sp? Sorry I don't have the book in front of me) gave him.

A couple of questions:
So what inspired you to write this book?
Can you describe a bit of your writing process?
One thing that kept jumping out at me was the lacquered nails...how historically accurate is this and what did they use?

message 29: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Jackie, I'm glad you enjoyed "Mistress of Rome." Thanks for all the nice compliments. As for your questions -

This is a book I've been wanting to write ever since I was about nine and saw Kirk Douglas in the original "Spartacus." I thought Kirk was cute, and I thought I could get a lot of grist out of a story with a gladiator in it. I didn't get around to writing it until I was a freshman in college, when I did a lot of research and other things like the suicide-massacre of Masada and the lives of the Vestal Virgins and Domitian's all-black dinner parties also caught my eye and ended up in the book.

My writing process is pretty easy now - I'm lucky enough that I can do this full-time, at least for now, so the only thing I have to do is roll out of bed, pull on yoga pants, caffeinnate myself, and curl up with my laptop to work. When I wrote "Mistress of Rome" I didn't have a computer and I was going to school full-time, so I trekked a few miles to the university basement computer lab and wrote non-stop through the weekends. I've squeezed novel-writing around high school, college classes, and boring cubicle jobs straight out of the movie "Office Space." Wherever I could find the time, I wrote.

Nail lacquer - Roman women often used carmine or henna to color their nails, and sometimes borrowed a practice from the Ancient Egyptians where colored flower petals would be pounded and mixed with alum or gum or beeswax to create a lacquer. Roman women took their beauty rituals seriously: hair removal, face masks, curling irons, nail polish, hot steam baths for the skin . . .

message 30: by Marisa (new)

Marisa (marisaanne) I have no questions, I just wanted to say that I was not expecting to enjoy this book nearly as much as I did. Thank you for writing it, it was one of the fastest reads I've had in some time, which should be taken as a testament to how much I enjoyed it.

message 31: by Liz (new)

Liz   (lizvegas) | 91 comments Kate- Fantastic book! I loved the character development of Thea. SO vulnerable and smart! I loved her interactions with Vix. Can't wait for the your next book!

message 32: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Thanks! I'm delighted you both liked it. Next book has a release date - April 5, 2011.

message 33: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments Thanks for the info Kate! I knew henna was used, but I thought it was more of a Middle Eastern/Indian thing. I think one of the last scenes with Lepida mentioned her nail lacquer chipping which made me curious. Also, there was another one that mentioned her golden nails...which reminded me of the Minx nail coverings used by celebrities.

message 34: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Yay, I got my copy of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn yesterday from B&N! Can't wait to read this one. I love the cover :)

message 35: by Marisa (new)

Marisa (marisaanne) I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!

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