Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Glassblower's Interview with Review & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Joanna Campbell Slan back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Joanna and I last spoke about her Jane Eyre Chronicles. You can check out that interview here. Today we're talking about her newly released short story.

Kathy: Even though I visited Versailles (many, many moons ago) I was totally unfamiliar with the story behind its mirrors. Were you aware of any of the history before you began writing The Glassblower's Wife?

JCS: No, I wasn't. Now I really want to go back and view the Hall of Mirrors with new eyes.

Kathy: I love reading fiction that's based on historical truths. The research behind such books must be quite thorough. What were your favorite research methods for this book?

JCS: I love the Internet. In particular, it's useful to follow links at the end of any particular article. Sometimes those links are more important than the article itself. I've also learned to print out my research because website get taken down. I also really enjoyed reading Daphne du Maurier's book because it was based on her own family's journey.

Kathy: You write a mystery series set in 19th century England. Why the change to a short story in 17th century France?

JCS: My sister stumbled over a reference to the Doge and the glassblowers. I found the idea totally captivating, so I pursued it. History was one of my favorite subjects in school. Oddly, once you start delving into a time period, you find yourself seeing more and more linkages. For example, I recently read a book about Madame Tussaud, the wax portraitist, and there were many references to Versailles in it. That book showed me how the palace was used by the King and Queen. In turn, that enhanced my understanding of the importance of the Hall of Mirrors. Everything builds on the foundations of the past—and everything in life is linked to a million other happenings. Nothing occurs in a vacuum.

Kathy: Aside from length, how does writing a short story differ from penning a full length novel?

JCS: A short story gives you less time to develop the characters and the setting. You can't go on as many tangents. Each word has more weight. I had thought about expanding The Glassblower's Wife, but everyone who read it loved it just as it was. There seemed to be a certain impact that might have been diluted if I'd made the story longer.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

JCS: My sister stumbled across a reference to the Doge and his assassins. Then I found the scholarly article suggesting that the glassblowers were Jews. Again, it was a building process. But that's often how I write. From an idea, I cast a wide net and see what I dredge up. Often there are really interesting tidbits that lead me to new ideas, and on and on.

Kathy: Do you have any future plans for any of the characters in The Glassblower's Wife?

JCS: I must admit, Ruth Telfin is a fascinating person, isn't she? I do wonder how her relationship with Esther will grow and evolve. Hmmm….

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

JCS: I have a full agenda for my work this year. I have three-quarters of a Kiki Lowenstein Mystery written. That book is Glue, Baby, Gone. My Beta readers will be getting it soon, and I rely on them to help me decide how to finish it. Then I want to write a textbook that authors can use. Its working title is Wow the Crowd and Sell Your Books. I also want to start a new mystery series set pre-WW1. The central character is a real woman, the first woman to die in WW1, but I shall be fictionalizing much of her life. I haven't decided what to call the first book in that series. Stay tuned!



The Glassblower's Wife by Joanna Campbell Slan

In 17th Century France King Louis XIV is creating his palace in Versailles with its magnificent Hall of Mirrors. At that point in time creating mirrors was a very specialized and secreted skill, of which very few glassblowers could craft. Indeed, the Doge of Venice moved all of the glassblowers to the island of Murano, making them captives so that only he was able to benefit from their skills and allow Venice to hold a monopoly on producing mirrors. However, 18 were smuggled out and moved to France and commissioned to make the 357 mirrors for King Louis' Hall of Mirrors. The Doge was not one to be crossed, however, and he sent an assassin to kill each of the Dix-Huit, as they were known.  

 The Glassblower's Wife gives life to these Jewish craftsmen. We meet Rabbi Saul Telfin, master glassblower, and his wife Ruth, as well as the assassin, and see how the Hall of Mirrors was completed. Joanna Campbell Slan weaves an intriguing short story around this little known nugget of history. Although the story is short, the she still manages to give us richly developed characters.

Looking for a quick read that will also give you some historical knowledge? Look no further than The Glassblower's Wife by Joanna Campbell Slan.


For a chance to win an e-book copy of  The Glassblower's Wife leave a comment about this post no later than 11:59pm EST Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Be sure to include your e-mail address so that I may contact you should you win. Also be sure to enter the Rafflecopter Contest for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

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  1. Joanna Campbell Slan is a new author for me, and I am intrigued how she gets inspired to write books (based on history).

  2. Hi Jen, something there's a story that really needs to be told, and I sort of feel like it's my job. Even if the finished product isn't entirely in-line with my other offerings, I follow my heart. I hope you'll give my work a try!

  3. I enjoy learning some history along with my reading enjoyment---so this should be a good book.

  4. This sounds like such an interesting story, and I am impressed at how much research went into to it. As a reader I would have initially thought shorter is easier but it's not. And I always enjoy Joanna's stories!

    1. Sally, you would think that--and I did, too--but I guess it depends on the subject matter!

  5. This is such a well written short story, totally leaving the reader wanting to know more.

    1. Have a blessed Passover, my friend. Hope you are feeling much, much better.

  6. congrats to Joanna...
    continued success!!!
    thank you for the giveaway..........

  7. Thanks for the intro to a new author for myself. This sounds like a great read! Thanks!!

    1. Angie, I hope you'll consider signing up for my mailing list, as I frequently give away samples of my work. Go to

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  9. This was really a great read and her website is wonderful too

  10. This was really a great read and her website is wonderful too