An excerpt from The Portraitist by Susanne Dunlap.

A special excerpt from The portraitist (Available Tuesday, august 30) by Susanne Dunlap.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

The PortraitistParis, August 1774

Whenever sleep eluded her, Adélaïde would gaze out the window of the third-floor apartment she shared with her husband and think about colors. She’d stare hardly blinking for hours, noticing all the subtle variations of hue that, to a skilled eye, gave the sky as much movement and character as a living creature. Even as a child, she had understood that nothing was fixed, that light changed whatever it touched. Take the human face: Skin was not one color, but many, and never exactly the same from one moment to the next. She knew, for instance, that if Nicolas ever discovered what she was going to do that day, his face would take on one of the shades of thundercloud that had become more and more familiar to her as they drifted apart, and then she would be obliged to cajole him back to a placid pale pink.

He lay in the bed next to her, sprawled on his back, snoring open-mouthed and dripping saliva on his pillow. With a snort, he rolled away from her, and Adélaïde eased herself out from between the sheets, nudged her toes into her slippers, and stood.

“You’re up early,” Nicolas said, making her jump.

She pulled on her dressing gown as she walked into what served as kitchen and dining area. “I’ll wrap up some bread and cheese for you.”

Nicolas threw off the covers and shook himself from shoulders to toes before whisking his night shirt over his head and dressing for his job as secretary to the clergy. Adélaïde handed him the parcel of food as he strode by on his way out. He turned before leaving and stared at her. “You’ve stopped even making an effort to be attractive. You could at least put your hair up.” He let the door slam behind him and thumped down the stairs.

He’s right, Adélaïde thought. But she didn’t have time to worry about that now. As soon as she heard the heavy outer door of the building open and close, she hurried down to the courtyard, filled a basin of water from the fountain, and brought it up to the apartment so she could bathe. When she was finished, she put on her one good ensemble—the one she wore to church on Sundays with bodice and sleeves that had been trimmed with Mechlin lace in her father’s boutique. Her plan was to leave and come back without anyone noticing before Nicolas returned for dinner.

After waiting for two women who lived below her to finish their conversation in the stairwell, Adélaïde tiptoed out of the house and took a circuitous route to the Rue Neuve Saint-Merri and the Hôtel Jabach so no one might guess where she was going. She passed as swiftly as she could along the crowded thoroughfares with their boutiques and market stalls selling everything from leather goods to live chickens, picking her way around piles of dung and flattening herself against buildings as carriages clattered by. Such strange turns her life had taken, she thought. If she had waited—as her father begged her—until someone more worthy asked for her hand, she might have been the lady she’d just seen pressing a scented handkerchief to her nose as she flew past in a handsome calèche. But at the age of eighteen, her mother dead the year before and all seven of her siblings buried, Adélaïde had been desperate to get away from home, to leave the memories behind and start a new life. Enter the dashing Nicolas Guiard, who courted her passionately and made her feel wanted. Then, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. Now, she realized she’d made a terrible mistake.

It was only ten o’clock when she arrived at the iron gates that opened into the courtyard of the Hôtel Jabach. She stood for several seconds and stared, taking in everything, fixing the image of this moment in her memory. She, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, was about to enter the first exhibition where she would not just be a spectator but a bona-fide, participating artist. Two of her pictures hung in one of the galleries within, her entries in the annual salon of the Académie de Saint-Luc—not the Académie Royale, but nearly as prestigious. Her teachers—François-Élie Vincent and Maurice-Quentin de la Tour—had put her up for membership years ago, before she married, and she would be one of only two women exhibiting that year. It was a bold step, a leap in fact, beyond the trite watercolor miniatures she sold in Monsieur Gallimard’s shop to make a little pocket money. Those were not art.

As she passed through the gates and crossed the courtyard to the entrance, sweat ran down her back under the layers of stays and bodice and petticoats, pooled at her waist, and trickled down her legs into the tops of her wool stockings. She took the printed catalogue the concierge handed her at the door and started fanning herself with it before she even opened it.

The murmur of polite commentary echoed around her. Smartly dressed men and women sauntered in twos and threes, facing the walls and pausing occasionally to admire what caught their eye, then turning to examine the portrait busts and figures that dotted the middle of the floor on pedestals at regular intervals. From her earliest childhood, Adélaïde had been to many exhibitions like this one, in rooms that had been stripped of some of their furnishings and given over to the contemplation of art. She wanted to savor it all and take her time to feast her eyes on everything, to give herself a chance to appreciate the honor of having her own work displayed alongside that of more established artists.

It was in the second of the main galleries that Adélaïde first noticed a small group comprising a slight, dapper man, an older woman who could still be called attractive, and two young ladies of startling beauty. One of them had a face of such exquisite proportions that Adélaïde wished she’d brought a sketch pad and a pencil so she could take her likeness then and there. The other one, although not quite as pretty, exuded sensuality and was clearly aware of the power she had over men in general and the gentleman in their party in particular. She cast her eyes down, her long lashes fluttering against cheeks rosy with what might have been embarrassment if they hadn’t been carefully painted with vermilion stain. That was when Adélaïde overheard the gentleman say, “No, I insist. Your allegories are perfection, Mademoiselle.”

Adélaïde froze. Her allegories? That lady had pictures hanging in the exhibition? The only other female member of the Saint-Luc she knew of was the elderly Mademoiselle Navarre, a pastellist and miniaturist who painted still lifes, not allegories. This lady, whoever she was, must have been elected very recently. No others were on the roster of exhibitors the last time Adélaïde had seen it. She held her breath, willing herself to blend into the crowd, standing sideways to the group and pretending to examine a rather voluptuous rendition of Leda and the Swan. Her ears tingled as she strained to hear the rest of the conversation despite the ebb and flow of casual comments as visitors moved through the gallery.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

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Book Description

Paris, 1774. After her separation from her abusive husband, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is at last free to pursue her dream of becoming the premier woman portraitist in Paris. Free, that is, until she discovers at her first public exhibition that another woman artist is poised to claim that role — and she has more training and better connections in the tightly controlled art world.

To have a chance of competing, Adélaïde must first improve her skills in oil painting. But her love affair with her young teacher gives rise to suspicions that he touches up her work, and her decision to make much-needed money by executing erotic pastels threatens to create as many problems as it solves.

As her rival gains lucrative portrait commissions and an appointment as portraitist to Queen Marie Antoinette, Adélaïde continues to struggle, until at last she earns a royal appointment of her own, and, in 1789, receives a massive commission from a member of the royal family.

But the timing couldn’t be worse. Adélaïde’s world is turned upside down by political chaos and revolution. With danger around every corner of her beloved Paris, she must find a way to survive and adjust to the new order, starting all over again to carve out a life and a career—and stay alive in the process.

The Portraitist is based on the true story of one woman artist’s fight to take her rightful place in a man’s world — and the decisions she makes that lead her ultimately to the kind of fulfillment she never expected.

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Susanne Dunlap author photo.

Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap, author of The Portraitist.

“Impeccably researched, rich with period detail, Dunlap brings to life the little-known true story of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, who fought her husband and society to make a name for herself as a painter to the royal family, the very apex of success. A stunning story of determination, talent, and reversals of fortune. As a lifelong Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun fan, I am now questioning my allegiances!”

-Lauren Willig

Bestselling Author of THE SUMMER COUNTRY

The Portraitist9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap

What inspired you to write about Adélaïde Labille-Guiard?

I’ve always been interested in women in the arts, and the eighteenth century has a special place in my heart (my dissertation was about eighteenth-century opera). Also, Adélaïde’s self-portrait with her two students that hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY is a huge favorite of mine. But originally, when I first conceived of the book, I thought of her in relation to her rival, Vigée Le Brun. Through research I began to know her in her own right, and to appreciate how different her life must have been from her rival’s, how much more stood in her way. I also love the difference in her painting style from Le Brun’s. It feels much more real, more present, less beautiful in a good way.

Why focus on Adélaïde instead of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun?

Originally I thought I would write about Vigée Le Brun. But I love an underdog, and after discovering that they literally followed each other’s footsteps—but Le Brun doesn’t even mention her rival’s name in her three-volume memoir—I was intrigued.

Of course art plays an important role in this book. Are you an artist as well as a musician and writer?

Alas, I am no artist! I took a drawing class in college, but… no. I love art and have always gone to museums, and have done a lot of reading about art history and artists. As research for this book, I did read an 18th-century treatise on oil painting. However, as André Vincent says to Adélaïde before he starts to teach her, there’s a great deal of difference between reading a treatise and actually making art.

While the story is based on a true story, there are some characters that you’ve created. Which of the characters are real?

Most of the characters are, in fact, historical. The ones I’ve created are Adélaïde’s first student (the rest of the named students are historical), her father’s lover, and a few very minor, walk-on characters. However, I took major liberties with the characters of her father and her estranged husband to the point where I might as well have invented them, partly because there was very little available information about them. In those cases, the story comes first.

Did Adélaïde really do a portrait of Robespierre and get a huge commission from the Comte de Provence just as the revolution was starting?

Yep. All true. All the paintings mentioned in the book existed at one time or still exist. The two mentioned in this question are among those that were probably destroyed during the Revolution.

Did Adélaïde really sell erotic pastels?

Alas, no. At least, I could find no evidence of such a thing. However, erotic drawings were a lucrative trade in 18th-century Paris, and my cash-strapped heroine could easily have decided to capitalize on her talents in this way.

What were some of the struggles of women in 18th Century Paris faced, primarily those Adélaïde Labille-Guiard would have dealt with being a female artist?

The struggles had to do with lack of access for women to the infrastructure of success. Institutionalized misogyny, so to speak. Women couldn’t belong to guilds, and were only admitted to some academies in very restricted numbers. They also couldn’t attend classes at the Louvre, except with Briard, who was allowed to teach women. All the life drawing classes were closed to them of course, and even the best women artists couldn’t get the perks given to the men, namely free housing and studio space in the Louvre. That was something Adelaide fought for, and was finally awarded in 1795, after the Revolution, but before Napoleon’s time. Royal patronage was one of the few avenues in which they could compete, and both Adelaide and her rival benefited from that.

How important is Adélaïde Labille-Guiard to the art landscape of 18th Century Paris and perhaps beyond?

I think that because she was such an influential teacher as well as an artist, she probably had an impact on many young artists that we don’t even really know about, since she was pretty much ignored as a painter throughout the 19th century. But when she died, she was Madame Vincent, her identity completely bound up with her position as a married woman. I also think that by digging into these lesser-known women artists, we learn a lot more about the norm rather than the exceptions. Her work is beautiful, beyond a doubt, but so few examples survived her that it’s hard to accurately gauge her compared to other artists.

With the arts being such central influences in your literary work, what are some other works you’ve published that readers will enjoy?

This is the first time I’ve written about a female artist. I’m a music historian, so I’ve featured women musicians more often. My historical mystery series that takes place mostly in 18th-century Vienna features a young violinist whose godfather is Haydn. Those books are THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER, THE MOZART CONSPIRACY, and THE PARIS AFFAIR. My first two novels also featured women musicians: ÉMILIE’S VOICE and LISZT’S KISS.

 

Susanne Dunlap author photo.Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

15 Questions with Juiced author, Ted Mulcahey

An invention that can save the planet?
Somehow, someway the O’Malleys have found themselves in the thick of things once again. On peaceful, bucolic Whidbey Island, they become entangled in a corporate plot to stifle a paradigm-shattering discovery, one that promises to upend conventional thinking, topple markets, and create an entirely new industry.
Kevin and Jenne, along with scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, find themselves pitted against a band of bumbling criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want—including arson and murder.
It’s another rollicking adventure for the retired interior designers ably assisted by their favorite detective, the FBI, and Emma, their ever-vigilant German Shepherd Dog.

Juiced book Cover

Juiced by Ted Mulcahey

What makes your books different from other cozy mysteries out there?
The locales and perhaps the sarcastic sense of humor from the principal characters.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Nope.

How long have you been writing?
Off and on since my high school newspaper.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
The idea for Juiced began when I came across an interesting article on vanadium battery technology.

For Little Dirt, it was more of a desire to highlight the many beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest.

With your book set in the Puget Sound area, have you ever been there?
I live there.

How did you do research for your book?
For Juiced I found a number of articles discussing the projects (including their battery research) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For Little Dirt I spent many hours researching harmful drug culture as well as the geography of the Puget Sound waters.

For both, my many years in business were immensely helpful.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
There’s a good deal of Kevin O’Malley in me, but he’s likely an improved version.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
The easiest, of course, are the O’Malleys. The mercenary corporate characters are fun to write but often difficult. Emma, our GSD is the dearest.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Paul Rudd and Sandra Bullock.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
“Ripple” by the Grateful Dead

What is your next project?
The O’Malleys find themselves enmeshed in nastiness among folks in the Walla Walla wine country.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
“I really had fun reading it”, is always my favorite.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest?
Brushed my teeth with glue instead of toothpaste as a kid. (I think that’s the answer for all three questions)

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Barbra Feldon, agent 99

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
I tried to lighten their day.

Mulcahey PhotoAuthor Bio:

Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, as the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss.

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed.

Website: http://tedmulcahey.com

Visit Amazon for Ted’s Books:

LITTLE DIRT ROAD: https://amzn.to/3P0aVq

JUICED: https://amzn.to/3RBsE9Q

See Reviews for LITTLE DIRT ROAD  and JUICED! at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60282401-little-dirt-road?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=3F5ErlwX8h&rank=1

JUICED:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60839464-juiced?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=1g0MCjNXuI&rank=1

Ted Mulcahey blog tour Image© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

New release: What Tim Knows, and other stories by Wendy Janes

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A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand.

Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character.

Separate lives linked in subtle ways.

Gerald

In What Tim Knows, and other stories, six supporting characters from my novel What Jennifer Knows share a pivotal event in their lives. Jennifer appears in each story, aging gracefully from student to grandmother.

Through the life experiences of Rollo, Cynthia, Sue, Gerald, Blythe and Tim, I explore a variety of themes, including, creativity, relationships, motherhood, marriage, adolescence and childhood.

Gerald wins my prize for the most amusing character in this collection.

He’s an English eccentric, rather self-centred and self-opinionated, and very witty. Even after I’ve finished writing about Gerald, I only need to think of him and he makes me laugh.

The inspiration for Gerald’s story came from numerous excellent writing blogs that give information about what to do, or rather what not to do, if you receive a critical review. Authors may recognise some of the sensible advice that these blogs provide through the advice that Jennifer attempts to give her husband.

When the story opens, Gerald has been a successful sculptor for many years. His confidence is high, but when he comes across a very critical review of his recent output, he fails to cope with it. I’d like to think that anyone who has received a negative review for something they have created, will find some catharsis in Gerald’s raw response.

While the next scene takes Gerald to a dark place, I hope that the resolution to the story will bring a smile to readers’ faces.

Author bio:

Wendy Janes spends her time writing novels and short stories,w4400 running her freelance proofreading business and volunteering for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. Her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows, was published in 2015, and she has recently released a collection of short stories entitled What Tim Knows, and other stories. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her writing via Twitter, her Facebook author page, and Amazon author pages (UK/US).

Links to What Tim Knows, and other stories on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Tim-Knows-other-stories-ebook/dp/B01IKYOJLS

https://www.amazon.com/What-Tim-Knows-other-stories-ebook/dp/B01IKYOJLS

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