5 Questions with Two-Time Diamond Reviewed Author James Markert [INTERVIEW]

James Markert

Each week, countless books come across our desks. Over time, we’ve learned to be quite discerning about which titles we share with you, and which we would just as soon brush under the carpet and forget about altogether. It is one of the reasons we introduced our Diamond Reviewed titles in the first place, to make it easier for you to find compelling selections to add to your to-be-read pile. Last summer, we were thrilled to introduce you to author James Markert’s unforgettable fiction, first with What Blooms from Dust, and most recently with Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel. As our very first author to receive two of these distinguished reviews, we wanted to find out a bit more about Markert, his writing style, and his captivating new book. We hope you enjoy the following interview. —J&H


 

Jathan & Heather: Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel has a certain Stephen King-type element to it as it blends the tragic with the possible (thinking of The Green Mile). Was this challenging to achieve and how have your favorite authors influenced your work?

James Markert: The Green Mile is one of my favorite novels, and movies! I remember reading the serialized books as they came out, and that blend of tragic and beauty has stuck with me for years. That story certainly influenced Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel, and although it was a challenge to pull it off, the hotel’s piazza fountain having the ability to restore memory, it was a fun challenge! I’m not comparing myself in any way to John Irving, because I’m not sure that’s possible, but his novels have been a big influence on how I try to build my own characters. With elements of tragic side by side with humor.

James Markert's MIDNIGHT AT THE TUSCANY HOTELJ&H: Although this story is set just after World War II it feels particularly prescient today, especially in regard to veterans. Why do you think relationships like the one between Vitto and John are important and what do you think we can do to help troops returning home today?

JM: John is one of my favorite characters, and he’s one who I gave very little forethought before writing him. I needed a fellow soldier in a bed beside Vittorio in the army hospital and Johny Two-Times was born. Through dialogue, his character suddenly came to life, not only out of necessity for the story, but for Vitto in that moment. They were cathartic for each other, even as unlikely friends, because they’d shared similar experiences from the war. Having never been in a war, but knowing people who have, from WW2 to Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq, I would think the biggest help would be speaking about it, telling their stories, however painful they may be, so they don’t get buried. Something similar to how I had it play out with the veterans in the book. Vitto’s experiences from the war, and his battle with “combat exhaustion” were pulled quite closely from my grandfather’s experiences during and immediately after WW2.

J&H: Robert’s battle with Alzheimer’s is vividly penned, especially Valerie’s response to it. While writing this book did you gain a new appreciation for caregivers and what surprised you most about how they cope with their patients/loved ones?

JM: Indeed, I certainly did develop a new appreciation for caregivers, as the story evolved, in part, due to my own fears of possibly one day developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. I could not imagine what it would be like to deal with that on a day-to-day basis, until I did imagine it with this novel. What came to me most often was the importance of humor and laughter in dealing with the tragic circumstances of a loved one losing his or her mind and memories.

J&H: This story is filled with great references to art and music. Did your research broaden your own interest in the humanities or did you already have a passion for the subject? And who are some of your favorite creative minds from the past?

JM: I’ve always had a passion for the humanities, even though I may not have realized it until my college years. I grew up in a house full of artists. My sister is a pianist. One brother majored in sculpture and both of my brothers grew up drawing. My father has made stained glass windows since the 1960’s and is still at it today, not to mention his work with painting and mosaics and sculpture as well. With the books we had and the art all over the house, it felt at times that I’d been raised in a museum. I remember leafing through books on Michelangelo and da Vinci when most kids my age would have been scanning picture books.

J&H: When readers finish the story, what do you hope they take away from it? And what are you working on next?

JM: First and foremost I write to entertain and tell a good story that will emotionally stick to the reader long after the last page is turned. But one thing I like to bring about is in the question itself, and that is hope. Alzheimer’s and old age don’t discriminate. And if this story can give just a bit of hope to those dealing with the disease, I would consider it a job well done. Although the dealings with the hotel’s piazza fountain are fictional and magical, the emotions provoked are quite real, and when pondered, could be healing. As far as what I’m working on next, I’m actually juggling a few projects. One is a now finished Victorian era suspense thriller with a Jekyll and Hyde theme. Another I’m working on is a WW2 historical set in Tuscany, with a Renaissance art slant to it. And I’m also working on a contemporary suspense with a theme of nightmares!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Markert is the award-winning author of A White Wind BlewThe Angels’ ShareAll Things Bright and Strange and What Blooms from Dust.

A USPTA tennis pro and coach, he is also the screenwriter and co-producer of the feature film 2nd Serve.

Markert graduated from the University of Louisville where he received a scholarship as the school’s most outstanding history major.

He currently lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. Readers are invited to visit him at his home on the Web at JamesMarkert.com, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

MIDNIGHT AT THE TUSCANY HOTEL
By James Markert
362 pp. Thomas Nelson. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel at one of these fine online retailers: AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndieBound, and Powell’s.

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

 

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to 5 Questions with Two-Time Diamond Reviewed Author James Markert [INTERVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I’m really excited to read this book and the author sounds like a dynamic person. Thanks for featuring this! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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