How Long is a Piece of Rope: Suzanne Tyrpak
Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin–priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in Rome. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but the emperor, Nero, holds himself above the law. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? She stumbles on dark secrets. No longer trusting Roman gods, she follows a new god, Jesus of Nazareth, jeopardizing her life and the future of The Roman Empire. (From the “Tales from the Adytum” collection.) 336 pages.
*New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks says,
“A writer of real talent, a promising new voice.”
* New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen says,
1. Vestal Virgin is way better than it was when I wrote the first draft—I love psychological suspense, and Vestal Virgin contains psychological elements, but one day I’d really like to be as good as Ruth Rendell, my fave suspense author.
2. You will just love my book if you enjoyed Pompeii by Robert Harris, but if you’re a fan of vampires and zombies, and have no tolerance of stories about real people, steer well clear.
3. Nothing beautiful comes from the barrel of a gun.
4. How do you see the role of food in the contemporary thriller and where does Vestal Virgin fit into the spectrum?
Vestal Virgin takes place in ancientRome, and food plays a big role in the story. How can you go wrong with food and sex? One of my characters is the emperor Nero—a sociopath who threw great parties. Food and sex played important roles at his soirées, and, I promise you, the food he served is memorable. The only downfall (in fact, this may have led to the downfall of theRoman Empire): no chocolate.
5. How would it affect the direction Vestal Virgin takes if the action were moved wholesale to the set of Glee in chapter 7?
I’ve never seen Glee (except I saw them filming an episode inWashington Squarewhen I visitedNew Yorka few weeks ago), but if it has anything to do with singing, Nero would love it. I don’t think Chapter 7 would work, but any chapter where Nero appears usually includes singing, because—even though he couldn’t sing on key—he aspired to being a musician and singer. He often forced his guests to listen to him for hours, with no bathroom breaks.
6. When you’re writing, would you rather look out at the sea, or in at your thoughts?
If there’s any way I can find to procrastinate, chances are I’ll find it. So, I’d prefer to look out at the sea. Of course, if I’m looking at the sea, I’m not writing, am I?
7. When writing, do you start at the beginning and keep going, or start at the end and work back?
I start at the beginning, but I usually have a pretty good idea of the ending. Sometimes I write the first turning point, second turning point, darkest moment and ending, before writing the rest of the book. I’ve done that with the novel I’m working on now, Agathon’s Daughter.
8. A great villain or a great hero?
The hero is only as great as the villain. I like heroes with faults and villains with charm. Any good relationship needs both people to show up.
9. Vestal Virgin will change the way a reader looks at ancientRome and the role of women. Vestal Virgins were the most powerful women in the empire. They were literate, in charge of legal documents, political, able to own property, and considered sacred—at a time when most women couldn’t read and were treated like property. The big bummer: you were sworn to thirty years of chastity on penalty of death.
10. How long is a piece of rope?
Long enough to trip me up!