Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Donna Russo Morin's Books of a Lifetime

Today we welcome Donna Russ Morin to Historical Tapestry to share her Books of a Lifetime.


I can’t remember when the concept of the power of ‘story’ first came to me; it is so firmly embedded in my memory it’s as if I was born with it. Add to that the sight of my mother, a book in hand whenever possible, and the power was firmly cemented. There are so many children’s books still alive in my mind, it’s as if I just read them again yesterday—Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Book--so profound was their impact on me. But the first to make the Books of Lifetime list would have to be Charlotte’s Webb by E. B. White.

I have no doubt that a primary reason for its importance to me was the power of the female characters, both human and insect. When Fern stood up to her father, when she showed such courage in saving Wilbur, she showed the essence of the feminist revolution taking root all around me, and I wanted to possess the same courage. In Charlotte’s self-sacrifice one felt distinctly the treasure of unconditional love (“’Why did you do all this for me?" he (Wilbur) asked. ‘I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' ‘You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.’”) Throw in all those marvelous quirky sub-characters, and my imagination was ignited beyond reckoning; I believe I slept with the book—carried it with me everywhere I went—for the better part of a year. 

Not so strangely, my next literary obsession also revolved around a spunky female protagonist. The Trixie Belden books were a part of my life for years; they were the feminist version of The Hardy Boy Mysteries. The varying settings, the clues and the mysteries to be solved, were all great escapism for the awkward and confusing pre-adolescent years while firmly giving credence and more emphasis to the female lead. Additionally (pun intended) my complete empathy with Trixie was firmly planted in our mutually struggle with math. By this time, I had already begun writing myself and that concept of empathy became very intrinsic to my literary development—the importance of it in character formation. These stories also solidified my proclivity for a forthright feminine central character; a proclivity that would shape the entirety of my own writing, and will continue to do so.

My late teenaged years and college days were held captive by two male writers…Stephen King and J. R. R. Tolkien. The King taught me, more than any of my ‘literature’ classes in college, how to tell a complex story with brilliant simplicity, a characteristic of his writing that has only gotten better with time. The Lord of the Rings ignited my imagination like little else had before, showing that, when well written (in this case magnificently written), there is nothing beyond a reader’s suspension of disbelief. Tolkien’s mastery at world building emphasized the importance of it, no matter what the ‘world’ may be.

The notes of my genre were first sung to me by the like of James Michener, Margaret Mitchell, Leon Uris and John Jakes, but the first to make me truly think, ‘this is what I want to write,’ was Rosalind Laker’s To Dance With Kings. A family saga, like Jakes, it featured women as the leads amidst the opulence of French royalty; it was a combination I found intoxicating. The historical genre was astoundingly solidified with my final book of a lifetime, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Never was the powerful female protagonist so perfectly formed and the dual edged sword of entertainment and education that characterizes historical fiction so perfectly displayed.

Taking this look back has really held up a mirror to the influences that these great books have had on my own work. It has to be the goal of every writer that they create, for some reader or perhaps some yet-to-be-writer, they’re own Book of a Lifetime.

Tour Information

Link to tour schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/2011/11/donna-russo-morin-on-tour-for-kings.html
Links for author Donna Russo Morin: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Twitter Event Hashtag: #KingsAgentVirtualBookTour

Author Bio

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.

1 comment:

  1. I won The King's Agent on Librarything back in March. When I finally get my copy I am looking forward to reviewing it. :)