Friday, September 12, 2008

C. W. Gortner

From a Q & A with C. W. Gortner about his new novel, The Last Queen:

How did the idea for THE LAST QUEEN originate?

I’m often asked how I became interested in Juana la Loca. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I was raised in Spain (I am half Spanish by birth and fully bilingual). My maternal grandfather, Tomás Blanco, was a famous film actor in Spain whose career spanned from the early 40s well into the 70s; and my grandmother Pilar Gomez del Real was a well-known theater actress who portrayed Juana on stage. I lived near a castle that belonged to Juana’s parents, Isabella and Ferdinand. Clambering to its highest tower, I knew Juana had touched these same stones, perhaps had even marveled, as I did, at the landscape’s arid beauty.

During a school trip to Granada, where Juana is buried, I found myself entranced by the marble effigy of this woman, whose face is turned away from the figure of her dead husband beside her. Most school children in Spain know the tale of Juana la Loca; she is legendary. But I immediately wanted to know more. What was she like in real life? Did she really pull her husband’s bier behind her throughout the country, venerating his corpse? What happened to cause her such despair?

Love is madness. And Juana la Loca is famous for both. Yet what if her legend only tells half the story? My vision of this vibrant princess who became the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne was at odds with the bereft queen of legend.
Read the complete Q & A.

Visit C. W. Gortner's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Queen.

--Marshal Zeringue