Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Before Evita: A Book Review by Warren Bull


Fortune’s Child and Too Soon The Night  are two novels about Empress Theodora by James Conroyd Martin that trace the remarkable life of the woman who willed herself out of the lowest rungs of society to the very top of an empire. Dancer, actress, rape survivor, prostitute, mistress, mother, and empress. It had to be based on real history. Nobody would believe it as fiction.

In the interest of full disclosure, Jim is a friend. We are in the same critique group. I had the pleasure of watching a masterful author at work while both books evolved. Like many before me, I fell under Theodora’s spell and became madly in love with her early on. Relentless, scheming, brilliant, beautiful, seductive, and always dangerous. 

Jim, tell the truth, weren’t you in love with her too?

-Most days, yes.

How long have you been writing?

-45 years

How many years passed between the idea for these two books and publication? 

-44 years

Wow, persistence really pays off.

I know you’ve won awards for The Boy Who Wanted Wings and your Polish Trilogy. 

- The Independent Publisher Book Awards for The Boy Who Wanted Wings in 2017 and The Polish Trilogy Box Set in 2018. I felt honored.

With all the fascinating people in history, how do you decide who to write about?

- The Polish Trilogy started with a friend’s asking me to do something with the diary of his

ancestor, a Polish countess in the 1790s. That was Push Not the River. St. Martin’s Press asked

for a sequel and that got the trilogy going. The Warsaw Conspiracy completed it. In all my talks

at Polish clubs and festivals, the Battle of Vienna kept coming up. King Jan Sobieski leading the

winged hussars down Vienna’s mountainside to save western Europe from the Turks left such

an indelible imprint on people and history that I determined to create a story about it. To make

it different and establish the theme of “the other,” my main character a Tatar raised by Poles

The reviews are great. Have these books earned your best reviews?

- The duology about Theodora has probably brought the best reviews. In Chanticleer’s 2019 book awards, Fortune’s Child not only won its category’s (Chaucer) Grand Prize, but it also won their Overall Best Book Award over a total of seventeen categories. Amazingly, Too Soon the Night followed that up with another Chaucer Grand Prize, 2021.

Fortune’s Child

KIRKUS REVIEWS: "A meticulously researched historical account presented in the form of a thrilling political drama."
OVERALL GRAND PRIZE WINNER, 2019 Best Book, Chanticleer International Book Awards

Too Soon the Night  

Chaucer Grand Prize Winner, 2021 Chanticleer International Book Awards
IPPI Bronze Medal Winner

Palace eunuch and secretary Stephen records Empress Theodora's life as she navigates wars, political and religious crises, a citywide rebellion, and the first world plague pandemic, all in a male-dominated world. "A gorgeous tapestry of impeccable research and intricate worldbuilding." ~Kate Quinn, Author of The Empress of Rome Saga and The Alice Network


Shari Randall said...

Both of these books sound fascinating. Thanks for putting them on our radar, Warren!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Thanks for an insightful interview. On my TBR list.

Kait said...

Thanks for an introduction to a new to me writer!

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for the heads up on an author with whom I am not familiar. I do like historic fiction. These are worth a look.