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Marty Ambrose

“There is that within me which shall tire/ Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire.”  Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV, Stanza 137)

When I first read these lines at twelve, I already knew that I wanted to be a writer—for the very reasons Byron noted in this poem:  the excitement of creating a story that would actually live beyond my own life and “breathe” to generations beyond.  Perhaps it was an overreaching ambition at that age (!), but it is the dream of every writer.  I tell stories and I create worlds that are real to me, yet I want to transport my readers into those very worlds and make them connect with the characters and conflicts of my novels.

I love mysteries.

I’m one of those people who is always curious about what lies just under the surface of life, what is beyond that door, what is hidden behind the façade.  Those are the areas that interest me as a writer because they motivate characters but are not always visible.  I also find it intriguing to create puzzles that my readers have to solve in my plots.  There is no better moment as a writer than when a fan sends me an email, saying the ending of my book was a surprise. 

I love great poetry.

It’s no secret that I have been inspired by the great Romantic poets:  Byron, Shelley, and Keats.  But especially Byron.  Certainly, his big, messy, compelling life was checkered with extremes of behavior that ranged from public heroism to personal pettiness.  And through it all, he wrote poetry that made me appreciate that sounds and rhythms of combining words and images and beats—all with a narrator who was an extension of his own complex personality.  He lived and wrote with a passionate commitment to his own beliefs, and I’ve always come back to that idea during times in my life when I needed to dig deep for my own compass.  Poetry guides us when reason and logic sometimes fail us. 

I love history.

Again, this is no secret considering I always put some “history in my mystery,” and my new trilogy is based on the “Haunted Summer” of 1816 when the young Romantics convened in Geneva—and the result was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The currents that draw people together and the historical frames that provide the backdrop are the shadings of a novel that bring characters to life.  But I also like seeing history from the perspective of the “bit players” or as Emily Dickinson said, “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.”  The sideways perspective of history gives voice to new ways of seeing old truths. 

I love Italy.

Who doesn’t?  I was raised in the Midwest and have spent most of my professional career in Florida—teaching and writing and enjoying the island life.  But when my husband and I traveled to Italy to research my latest novel, I was enthralled.  The crooked little Florentine streets that radiate off the Duomo like spokes of a wheel were both maddening and enchanting.  The. Tuscan. Countryside.  Enough said.  The shadows and whispers of the past that seem to cling to the ancient buildings spoke to me with untold stories.  And the beautiful, exuberant, generous people we met were kindness itself.  I can hardly wait to return and start researching the next book.  Belissimo.

Most of all, I love my readers.  Thank you for going on these journeys with me in my novels.


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