Interview with author Donna Russo Morin + giveaway of THE KING'S AGENT

As part of the virtual book tour for THE KING'S AGENT, Passages to the Past is pleased to be hosting an interview with author Donna Russo Morin and a giveaway of her exciting new release!

I hope you enjoy the interview...

Can you please tell us a bit about The King's Agent and the inspiration behind writing it?

It will be my pleasure, and thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with your followers.

While doing the research for my third book, To Serve a King, which dealt a great deal with King Francois I, the rival of Henry VIII and an avid art collector, I came across his art agent…the king’s agent. Battista della Palla is a Florentine, a friend to the great Renaissance artists of his age and a bit of libertine. He could be called a patriotic plunderer or a religious rogue, but most often he could be called a thief. Having spent some time at court with Francois, a deal was struck…Battista would deliver the Italian masterpieces that Francois craved, and the King of France would supply the military power necessary to defend Florence, should any such defense be required. The dichotomy of the man that was Battista was just too much for me to ignore and it gave me a good excuse to return to the land of my Italian heritage.

The King’s Agent is inspired by Battista’s life, what it might have been, but of course, with my own personal finger prints splattered all over it. He meets the Lady Aurelia, the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, a fictitious woman with a profound duty and a longing for adventure. But meet is not the right word for the inception of their relationship—collision is more apropos. As a result of another of Francois’ requests, they set off on a search for an ancient relic, crossing the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.

If The King’s Agent were to be made into a movie, who would you like to see cast for the roles of Battista and Aurelia?

Well, Battista and Aurelia aren’t your typical antagonists; they aren’t ‘kids’ in their late teens or early twenties as can be the norm. So they would require actors possessing age, wisdom, and beauty.  I have to confess from the very beginning I pictured Battista as Johnny Depp. He’s the right age range and has that marvelous mixture of bad boy, magnetism, and vulnerability; characteristics that are Battista’s truth. As for Aurelia, both physically and constitutionally, I could see Julia Roberts play her with ease. She has not only the femininity and the strength, but also the wisdom that Aurelia possesses and needs to endure all that she must.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?  And did you always want to write historical fiction?

Well, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. My mom has my first stories, written while in grade school; they’re turning yellow and cracking at the creases. But it’s been a long and winding and sometimes bumpy road to get to book publication. I worked in advertising and marketing for many years, ‘writing’ press releases and brochures and such. I wrote book reviews for newspapers and magazines nationwide, back before the internet, when you saw your work in print and it was paid for. My first published short fiction was actually in horror, having been lead down the dark path by the King. It wasn’t until I contracted a chronic illness that the signs in my life told me writing was meant to be the main focus of my life. It wasn’t until I finally learned how to hear my own ‘writer’s’ voice that I knew I was meant to write historical fiction.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  What do you find the most difficult?

Would I sound ridiculous if I told you that I love every part of the writing process? I love the research; following clues, uncovering treasures, having one nerd-rejoicing fact lead to the next. I love the moment of conception, when the true story has shaped in my mind and then the joy of merging the research with the story. The actually writing can sometimes be, surprisingly, the most difficult, but only because of my circumstances; a single parent with sons—young men now—that don’t understand that mom’s fingers flying across a key board mean she’s working, who stand within inches of my desk and chatter away; the flotsam and jetsam of a bad marriage and an even worse divorce that must be dealt with still. These things make fighting for the time to write a challenge as well as the health of mind and soul that are a must, for so much of both goes into the process. I love the polishing, the rubbing on my words with a keen eye till they’re as smooth as I can get them. I love the editing process with the publisher; seeing it through someone else’s eyes and learning, each and every time, something that makes me a better writer. I love promoting my work; to bring that which I have labored over for so long out to the world, and discussing it with readers. The hardest part, by far, is when all is said and done and I must say good-bye to my characters—true and fictional—that have been a part of my life for so long.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Learn tenacity. The tenacity to write and write and write some more until you know what you’re doing, because, believe me, it is a continuing process (if you think you know what you’re doing with the first words on the page, you’re only fooling yourself).  You must possess the tenacity to be rejected, then rejected, then rejected again for the industry is more competitive and difficult than it has ever been. And when you’ve made it through all that, you must have the tenacity to endure any reader’s criticism—knowledgeable or not—stating their opinions in a world where every word is made in public. 

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the first book in a trilogy; as with The King’s Agent where I write partially from a male POV, I’m expanding my craft to a place I’ve never gone before. In essence, it is the birth of the female artist in Renaissance Florence; they birth place of the Renaissance. Previous research keeps pushing me deeper and deeper into the art world and yet I grow tired with the male-centric atmosphere of the historical men’s club. I have found evidence of the female artist during the age, working in secret. Each book will center on a major event in Florentine history, the first being the Medici Assassination, or the Pazzi Conspiracy as it is also known. It is an enormously traumatic event that throws Florence into chaos and these women, The Secret Society of Saint Catherine, are thrust into the middle of the fray as they keep to their mission of honing their craft. While I have the crux of the following two books decided on, the trick with a series is to create characters that people will want to read about again and again. Most of all, I want the series to be an homage to the power of the female bond, the bond of girlfriends, a bond that has meant so much to me, especially in the last few years.

If you could read any book again for the first time, what would it be and why?

Oooh, such questions makes me squire, like being forced to say which child I love best. Even I must choose only one, it would be To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker. It was an epic story that encompassed three generations involved with the French court; characters so well-crafted I’ve never been able to forget them, merged perfectly with their historical context. I believe I’ve read it five or six times at this point. Following close behind (yep, cheating) The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

What books have you recently read and enjoyed?

Well, completely out of genre, I recently finished Open by Andre Agassi. It was a wonderfully, nakedly truthful memoir and very well put together. Currently, I’m obsessed with Stephen King’s 11/22/63, and I do mean obsessed, an obsession that is anxious to see if it will be satisfied by the ending.

What authors have inspired you?

I spoke of some in a previous question, Alexandre Dumas, Rosalind Laker, Diana Gabaldon. But to that list I would have to add James Michener, John Jakes, Jean Plaidy, Colleen McCullough and, for more than just her skill with a story, J. K. Rowling.

A huge thanks to Donna for answering my questions, I just loved her responses and really appreciate her spending some time with us today!  To throw in my own 2 cents...excellent choices for the roles of Battista and Aurelia, who would not want to see a movie with the delectable Johnny Depp and uber-talented Julia Roberts?!  I too LOVED the novels To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker and 11/22/63 by Stephen King - I also highly recommend them!  And I can't wait for your next novel, Donna...the trilogy sounds amazing!

About The King's Agent

Release Date: March 1, 2012 | Publisher: Kensington |432p


To the casual observer, Battista della Palla is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe’s burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive objet d’art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own…

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture—a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart—and chance the course of history…
About Donna Russo Morin

Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.
Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse.  Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book   scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. 

In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.

Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

For more information on Donna and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE.

And now, folks...on to the giveaway....

Giveaway Information

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on March 23rd.



  1. What a beautiful dress on the cover. The story sounds really good. I would love to read it.

    I am a gfc follower

  2. Thank you for the chance to win. I also enjoyed your interview.

    +5 for following (griperang0
    +3 fb follower (Angela (angela newcomb Holland)
    +3 twitter follower (@griperang)
    +1 posted on twitter!/griperang/status/180255396521443328
    +1 posted on facebook!/permalink.php?story_fbid=316198158434735&id=100000589520359
    +1 posted on blog
    +1 google + (Angela Holland)

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  3. I can't wait for this one. Thanks for the giveaway. I'm a follower.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  4. This sounds like a good read from your review. Thanks for the chance to read it.

  5. Loved the interview! I can't wait to read this book.

    +5 gfc - mamabunny13
    +3 FB - mamabunny shelor
    +3 twitter @mamabunny13

    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  6. Adore Johnny Depp!
    Ok, now that that is out of the way....
    I love hearing about the writing process, and how authors connect to their subjects!
    I'd love to win, I follow you!

  7. Enjoyed this post. I am also a fan of Rosalind Laker's To Dance with Kings. I would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    +5 -- Google follower

  8. Ohhhh I want to enter cos it sure sounds good :D

    booksforlife01 /gmail)dot com

    I follow on google 5

  9. Beautiful cover! Intriguing story that has not been told (as far as I know). I would be interested to read it. Although I will have trouble not picturing Johnny depp and Julia Roberts as the characters now. I really liked reading about how she became a writer.

    +5 for following on GFC
    +3 for following FB page
    +3 for following on Twitter

  10. Quite an interesting plot line - the machinations of the European courts during the Tudor period. Kudos to Ms Morin for being able to do part of her research in Italy.
    - +5 additional entries for following by email (carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx)
    - +3 additional entries for being part of the Passages to the Past FB Page.
    - +3 additional entries for following on Twitter.
    - +1 additional entry for Tweeting (!/carlrscott/status/180353523190472704)

  11. Count me in! Thanks for the giveaway!

    +5 GFC follower = Simona S
    +3 joined FB group
    +3 twitter Simona S

    simonastefanuca at yahoo dot com

  12. I've never read anything by Donna Russo Morin, but Battista sounds fascinating..can't wait to read about him!

  13. This is a "I have to have this book" book lol! Thanks for the giveaway!

    +5 follower

    +3 fb follower

    +3 twitter follower

    +1 tweeted on twitter


  14. I'm a follower- thanks for the giveaway!

  15. I absolutely love novels set in the Tudor period, and now that I have Johnny Depp to picture in one of the roles, I am totally sold on this book! Thanks so much for the awesome interview and giveaway:)

    +5 follower
    +3 FB fan: both Julie Witt
    +3 Twitter: @jwitt33
    +1 tweet:!/jwitt33/status/180469423558238209

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  16. already added to my WishList.......
    thank you for the giveaway!!!!

    +5 follower of Passages to the Past
    +3 'liked' the Passages to the Past FB Page
    +1 posted this giveaway on Facebook

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  17. enjoyed the interview, can`t wait to read this intriguing story

    follower of Passages to the Past(Lori Thomas)

    joined the Passages to the Past FB Page(Tudor Rose)

    follow u on Twitter(CrftyDuchess)

    shared on fb(


    ctymice at gmail dot com

  18. This sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    Carolyn rexmoy at gmail dot com

  19. Wow...I love the cover!
    Thanks for giveaway this book. I have followed via GFC, joined the FB group and share this on twitter. My email:

  20. "having one nerd-rejoicing fact lead to the next"

    -love this line and I can certainly relate to the meaning of it. When discoveries start to build on another it is fabulous and satisfying.

    Great interview and I LOVEd your book Donna.

    [not an entry]

  21. I love the cover. The book sounds really good and I have added it to my wishlist.

  22. Hi! I'd love to win a copy. I'm a long-time historical fiction lover and can't wait to read this book.

  23. Great giveaway! I'd love to be entered.

    Please count me in. Thanks.


  24. As a reader some of the hardest part can be saying goodbye to the characters and their world. Sometimes a sequel is required or more continuation in a series and other times it's obvious they need a conclusion (even fi I don't want it). It sounds like you find research fun and I feel the same; it's great learning things you didn't expect to.

    +5 GFC: Na
    +3 Twitter: Fiery Na
    +1 Tweeted:!/FieryNa/status/180888969838460929


  25. What a great giveaway! Please enter me!
    +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past.
    +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page
    +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter

    bethsbookreviewblog2 AT gmail DOT com

  26. Thank you for your reviews. I am a follower receiving updates by e-mail and I am thankful for them. Being French and living in France, I do not have the opportunity to browse in bookshops to keep informed on the latest releases in English.
    A story on a spy and art dealer for Francois I, king of France, fascinates me. I would love to know more about Battista who is an actual historical character. Thanks for opening the giveaway to people living abroad!

  27. This sounds fascinating. I love novels with protagonists who aren't teens and that period of Italian history was so complex and colorful it should make for a great novel. I'll definitely pick it up.

  28. Ooooh thanks so much for making this giveaway international! I am a follower on facebook and this lovely blog.
    Really enjoyed this interview, fascinating insights :)


  29. Thank you for sharing your insight into being a writer!

    And thank you for the giveaway!

    I am a GFC Follower

  30. I've been seeing this around, but didn't know a lot about it till now. Of course now that I do I'd really love to read it.


    And I'm a follower

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. Sounds like a great read!
    +5 GFC follower as Patricia N
    +3 Joined FB group as Patti Mercier Nicklas
    +3 Twitter follower as pmernick1
    +1 Tweet:!/pmernick1/status/182207334938980352

  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  34. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I'll love to read your next post too.

  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  36. hi donna..nice to meet you...

    i love the cover..full colour,,,very beautiful,,,and great interview...
    thanks for the giveaway..

    +5 gfc - dian aesha
    +3 FB - annisa belikov xasillas
    +3 twitter @d14n_74!/d14n_74/status/182631921216536576

    icha09 at gmail dot com

  37. Your book looks excellent!

    +5 Joined as a follower - Networked Blogs
    +3 Joined the Passages to the Past FB Page.


  38. Great post and Giveaway.

    +5 For Following Blog - Samantha

    +3 Facebook Follower - Sammi Smith

    +3 Twitter Follower - Sammi_Bird

    +1 Posting on Twitter -!/Sammi_Bird/status/183134615882571776

    +1 Posting on Facebook -

    +1 Post on my Blog -

  39. Any historical fiction is worthwhile yummy fiction..I look forward to the book!


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