Interview with Amy Maroney, author of The Girl from Oto! With giveaway!

Happy Monday, dear readers! Today is a busy day at Passages to the Past! First up, I am very excited to share my interview with Amy Maroney! Amy's blog tour for The Girl from Oto, the first book in her Miramonde series, kicks off today. I will be posting my review later. It is an exceptional read. I inhaled it in one sitting!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Amy as much as I did....

Hello Amy and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Girl from Oto!

Hello there! Thanks so much for hosting me and my book on the blog! I’m excited to be here.

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I was a nonfiction writer and editor right out of the gate after college (and, not surprisingly, I majored in English literature). It wasn’t until I reached my 40s and a health crisis turned my life upside down that I realized it was now or never if I wanted to write fiction. What inspired you to write The Girl from Oto?

What research did you undertake when writing The Girl from Oto?

I was lucky enough to spend most of a year traveling through Europe with my family when our two daughters were 9 and 12. During that time I became obsessed with the lost stories of women who have been ignored or erased from history. So I started researching Renaissance-era female artists and writing the Miramonde Series. The Girl from Oto was originally going to be a standalone novel, but my story just exploded and I soon understood that it would have to be a trilogy (Mira’s Way is Book 2, and I’m working on Book 3 now). I did a lot of research in museums and libraries in Europe, plus most of my settings were inspired by places we visited. After returning to the United States, I kept researching online. I did graduate work in public policy so I knew how to navigate academic databases and I just went to town! I absolutely love doing research but now I limit my research time so I can get more writing done.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Girl from Oto?

My goal with this series is to write thrilling historical mysteries that shine a light on real women who have fallen through the cracks of history. Although my character Mira is fictional, she is based on actual women artists of the Renaissance era whose stories were forgotten or silenced. I wove in a contemporary thread with my heroine Zari to show how modern-day technology allows us to look beneath layers of paint and uncover clues about who really made these works of art.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a scene where Mira has to flee for her life through the rain-soaked woods of the Pyrenees mountains, pursued by men and hounds. I listened to thunderstorms on my headphones and got so immersed in her story that I could hear the snarling dogs behind me, feel the damp chill of the mountain air in my bones, see the golden leaves filtering down through the trees ahead of me. At that point in the book Mira had already been through so much that I was confident she’d make it out alive, but still, I was worried!

What was the most difficult scene to write?

There’s not just one. The contemporary scenes with Zari were the most difficult because they’re very research-intensive and they bounce off (or react to) the historical narrative. I have to use the left side of my brain a lot to weave in the contemporary thread, which is a wonderful challenge but also hard to pull off.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was one of those kids who was always reading and daydreaming. I haunted our local library and was happiest when I was lost in a fictional world. I started writing stories when I was very young. But I never thought I would be able to make a living as a fiction writer so I didn’t pursue that at first.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I write in the mornings. I usually start by editing whatever I wrote the day before and then dive into whatever I’m working on today. I typically write between 1,000-2,000 words per day, sometimes less, sometimes more. Then in the afternoon I do publishing and marketing tasks.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Because I was first a nonfiction writer, it was hard for me to give myself permission to make things up. I always examine the historical record to see if there’s an example of something I want to create. But at the same time I recognize that history is full of holes. So even as I feel the looming presence of the “historical fiction police” over my shoulder, checking for accuracy, I also feel a bit defiant since I’ve learned about many erroneous, fabricated, or missing stories in our history.

Who are your writing inspirations?

There are so many! Geraldine Brooks’ novel People of the Book was a big inspiration for The Girl from Oto. For many years, I’ve been inspired by the work of Wallace Stegner, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, Paulette Giles, Henning Mankell, and Anthony Doerr. I love sweeping historical sagas like Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I also read Mary Oliver’s poetry for inspiration.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I was a ravenous consumer of historical romances starting as a middle-schooler and I’ve forgotten most of the titles. I loved Philippa Gregory and any European royal/noble stories featuring mystery and intrigue.

What is the last historical novel you read? 

The Women of The Castle by Jessica Shattuck.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I speak French and have a certificate to teach English as a foreign language. I take a drawing or painting class once a year or so. I love swimming in lakes.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love historical fiction when it transports us into a different world and teaches us something new at the same time. Throw in a mystery and I’m hooked!

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I enjoy medieval and Renaissance-era settings. I’ve gone through major WWII phases and Jane Austen-era phases, plus I occasionally dabble in Viking or early Anglo-Saxon stories. Honestly, if the story hooks me I’ll read any time period or setting.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Read, hike, dance, spend time with friends and family.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I just sent the third book in the Miramonde Series to the editor. I’ll spend the next few months revising it and writing a suite of short stories about various characters in the Miramonde Series world. Once those are all published, I’ll be working on a new historical mystery series.

So exciting! I can't wait to read more of the series. It's phenomenal! Thanks for spening time with us today!

The Girl from Oto by Amy Maroney

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Artelan Press
eBook & Paperback; 532 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: The Miramonde Series, Book 1

A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…

The secrets of the past are irresistible—and dangerous.

1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?

2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Mira’s story to life?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Girl from Oto

"I loved the lush descriptions and the hard-nosed female characters who find a way to get what they want in a man's world. An exquisite novel." -Martha Conway, winner of the North American Book Award for Thieving Forest

"An absorbing debut novel. I couldn't put it down." -Deborah Swift, author of The Gilded Lily

"A rich and intriguing evocation of the fifteenth century is interwoven with an emotionally satisfying mystery in the present day." -Emma Darwin, author of A Secret Alchemy

"A powerful story and an intriguing mystery. A Red Ribbon winner and highly recommended." -The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, U.K.

"From the very beginning, I was enthralled with Mira, Zari, and their entwined journeys through history and the world of art. As a curator and art historian, it's a rare treat for me to find a novel that so lovingly reflects our joys and challenges. The Girl from Oto delivers--and I can't wait to spend more time with Mira." -Jennifer Dasal, host of the ArtCurious podcast

About the Author

Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She studied English literature at Boston University and public policy at Portland State University, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, painting, drawing, dancing and reading. The Girl from Oto and Mira's Way are books 1 & 2 in The Miramonde Series.

For a free prelude to The Girl from Oto, for the full scoop on the research behind the book, and for news about the sequel, please visit

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 11
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Thursday, March 14
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, March 15
Feature at What Is That Book About
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Saturday, March 16
Feature at Broken Teepee

Sunday, March 17
Interview at T's Stuff

Monday, March 18
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, March 19
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, March 20
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, March 21
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, March 22
Review at Coffee and Ink
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away 10 eBooks of The Girl from Oto by Amy Maroney! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Girl from Oto


  1. Replies
    1. Sorry about that, here is the link to enter:


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