Thursday, June 13, 2019

Melissa Muldoon Interview

Eternally Artemisia – Some loves, like some women, are timeless.

By Melissa Muldoon

A circle of women: Spotlight on three exceptional women who inspired “Eternally Artemisia”

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My novel “Eternally Artemisia” celebrates strong women whose heartfelt connections transcend time. The story is primarily focused on the real life-story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a seventeenth-century artist and how she overcame adversity to become one of the most influential female painters of her day.
As I began my in-depth research about Artemisia’s life and the different eras my main character Maddalena experiences over time, I couldn’t help but also be influenced and inspired by a whole host of other strong, fascinating women—two in particular—Elsa Schiaparelli, and Anna Banti. I’d like to begin by focusing the spotlight on Artemisia—then, as secure, confident women are apt to do, Artemisia is happy to share the stage with Elsa and Anna as well!
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Artemisia Gentileschi
Eternally Artemisia begins with a scene from biblical days—with Judith, an Israelite heroine beheading Holofernes, an Assyrian General. It is a famous old testament story that Artemisia Gentileschi depicted over and over again throughout her painting career. The story resonated with the seventeenth-century artist because in real life Artemisia too had been raped by a man who held his power over her—a trusted painting instructor and family friend Agostino Tassi. In a time when it was unheard of to do so, Artemisia took her abuser to court. By the end of the trial, her reputation was left in tatters, and the fallout from the ordeal nearly ended her painting career. Despite all odds, however, this did not prevent Artemisia from maturing into a strong, independent woman, a successful artist, and the first female to ever be admitted into Florence’s exclusive Art Academy. She painted for Kings and Dukes all over Europe and even in England. She surpassed her male peers because she developed her own unique style did not merely imitate the work of other men.

It could be said Artemisia was one of the first to champion the woman’s movement, refashioning traditional biblical themes, repurposing them so that in her canvases, women become the center of the viewer’s focus. In her paintings, she demonstrates that when women unite and take control of their lives and their destinies, they become the heroes of the story.
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Elsa Schiaperelli
Maddie, my main character travels through time, in one of her past lives, is a trend-setting fashion designer working in Rome in the 1930s. As I researched fashion designers during this era, I couldn't help but base her persona on the real-life adventures of the whimsical Italian designer, Elsa Schiaparelli. Here's why. Before the war, Elsa Schiaparelli worked in Paris during the 1930s, and she was outspoken in her criticism of both Hitler and Mussolini. As a result, she wasn't welcome in the city of her birth—Rome. Elsa started her Couture House in Paris in 1923, and between the two World Wars, she was more well-known than Coco Chanel.  
Schiaparelli or Schiap as she liked to be called, collaborated with many surrealist artists, including Salvador Dalì, Man Ray, and Jean Cocteau. Elsa's fashion shows became a form of entertainment and were known as much for their artistic flair as for their fashions, set against a background of dramatic lighting, music, and fully-realized sets. She was a single mother who started a fashion empire and raised a child on her own. Among her clients was Katharine Hepburn. She was the first to use zippers in evening gowns, made pants popular for women to wear, and came up with the color shocking pink. Her creations were works of art, sometimes odd, but entirely imaginative. Elsa is shown above wearing her famous shoe hat designed in collaboration with Salvador Dalì.
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Anna Banti
My character Lucia, the Jewish art history researcher, who helps Matteo discover more about Artemisia during the 1930s is based upon the real-life woman Anna Banti. While Artemisia achieved great acclaim during the seventeenth-century, over time she fell by the wayside and was forgotten and overlooked because she was a female painter. Banti who was an art critic in the early 1930s was the first art historian to bring Artemisia back into the public eye and shed a positive light on her art.
Born in Florence, along with her husband Roberto Longhi, Banti founded the art magazine Paragone. In the early 1900s, Roberto, fascinated by Caravaggio’s work, first brought to light Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter, Artemisia. However, his assessment, like many men of his day, was disdainful of Artemisia claiming her to be a “first-rate painter technically,” but still he rated her intellectually inferior to her male counterparts. It was Anna who saw the true genius of Artemisia and decided to write a book about her to challenge her husband’s assessment. When her first biography on Artemisia was destroyed when her home in Florence was bombed during the German evacuation in 1944, she resolutely began again, turning her work into a semi-autobiographical novel.
Banti wrote from 1938 until 1981, and throughout her work is the recurring theme of intelligent Italian women’s low and lonely position resulting from societal pressures, oppression by family, personal relationships, and their duties. She believed suffering was the common bond uniting the female gender.  
All three women—Artemisia, Elsa, and Anna—to me are inspirational and provided so much rich background information to help develop my real and fictional characters. They all represent strong female models who I’m happy to include in my circle of women.

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Book Synopsis:

They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints on her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current reality. When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it. As Maddie's relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together. In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are

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Author Bio:

Melissa Muldoon is the author of three novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia.” All three books tell the stories of American women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future in Italy.

Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all three of her books. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Eternally Artemisia, Waking Isabella, and Dreaming Sophia. She also curates the Dreaming Sophia Art History blog site and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy, where you will find companion pictures for all three books. Visit for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

Youtube Video Trailer for Eternally Artemisia

Buy Links for Eternally Artemisia: (Available through many popular distributors in print & epub & Kindle) here are a couple:

Amazon – print and Kindle:

Apple iBook:

Connect with Melissa Muldoon!

Author Website:

Melissa Muldoon’s Dual Language Italian Blog:

Studentessa Matta Facebook Page:

Dreaming Sophia Art History Blog site:

Dreaming Sophia Art History Facebook page:

Pinterest Book Site—Art of Loving Italy:

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 Disclaimer: "All opinions are 100% honest and my own."  Thanks to Goodreads and Amazon for the book cover, about the book, and author information. Buying via these links allows my site to get a % of the sale at no cost to you.  FTC Guidelines: In accordance with FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers, I would like my readers to know that many of the books I review are provided to me for free by the publisher or author of the book in exchange for an honest review. If I am compensated for any reviews on this site I will state that post has been sponsored. 


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