Friday, August 21, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

We’ve all heard it said that everyone has a twin. There always seems to be someone who resembles someone else. Or, so they say.
In “Illuminations of the Heart” by Joyce DiPastena, this saying is a reality. However, Siriol de Calendri does not just resemble the beautiful Clothilde, they are almost interchangeable. In fact, one might say that Siriol de Calendri is merely Clothilde’s ghost.
Such is the welcome Siriol is given after she made the long journey from Venice, Italy to her father’s homeland in Poitou, France. In Poitou she is given as ward to the handsome Sir Triston de Brielle, as dictated by her brother’ will. Here, she plans to find employment in an illuminator’s shop, but Triston unexpectedly captures her heart with a simple kiss.
His kiss.
Triston is tortured by the death of his late wife, Clothilde. Her life and death have left him lonely and tormented. And every time he looks into Siri’s face, he sees Clothilde. But as he begins to allow the audiences of suitors, he finds himself recognizing the differences between his late wife and the spirited girl that has become his ward. He must decide if he can give her away in marriage or banish Clothilde’s ghost and keep Siri for himself.

If you love a good romance book, this book is clean and beautifully written. The characters come alive on the page as the vivid images of the summer 1179 are brought to life. Joyce has done a stunning job at weaving a masterful tale and sharing it with the world. This is the sequel to her first book, Loyalty’ Web. And if you loved Loyalty’s Web, you will love this too! You can buy either book at or Desert Books.

I have also interviewed Joyce DiPastena. She is a lovely woman and most friendly. I hope you will enjoy learning a little more about her.

Rachel: Joyce, tell us a little about yourself. What are your passions in life? (Outside of writing.)

Joyce: Well, I love music. Mostly "old" music. I love Classical (Tchaikowsky being my favorite), but my parents also raised me on the music they grew up with, songs from the 30's, 40's, and 50's. They both played the piano, so we (my brother, sister and I) were basically raised on their music from birth. We stood by the piano and sang with our parents while they played the songs of their youth, we sang their songs in the car when we travelled, and we all ultimately learned to play the piano ourselves...using, of course, their high school and college sheet music as our course of study. LOL! I still love those songs. What melodies, what poetry! They don't write beauties like those anymore. (Or not often, anyway.)

So I guess you could say I'm passionate about music. I'm also passionate about the Church I attend, reading, my cats, and chocolate.

Rachel: Did you always want to be a writer?

Joyce: I never thought about writing until around junior high school. That's when I first started dabbling a bit with pencil and paper (outside of school, I mean), but I didn't really think about it as "writing". In high school, my stories began to become a little more complex, but I never finished anything I started, so again, I didn't really think of myself as a writer. It wasn't until college that I actually walked into a bookstore and bought a book on writing, and then felt so embarrassed to show it to the cashier, because he asked me the dreaded question, "Oh, are you a writer?" I don't know what I stammered out, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a direct "yes". I mean, at that stage in my life, writers/authors were like gods and goddesses to me! That's how much I respected the written, published word. And who was "little Joyce DiPastena" to think she could aspire to so high an estate as that? And now I've published two books of my own, and there's still a part of me that feels like "little Joyce DiPastena" who couldn't possibly have actually done such a thing!

Rachel: What kind of journey have you taken as a writer? What inspires and motivates you? What brings you down?

Joyce: Oh, my journey was so long and torturous, I don't think I have time to tell you a tenth of it here! Just kidding. Kind of. Suffice it to say my road was very long with some highs along the way, and many, many lows. What brings me down? Like most writers, rejection letters have got to be right up there near the top. Don't ask me for advice on how to deal with them, I don't have any. Personal or not, they just plain hurt. Comparing my writing to other authors can also bring me down if I let it. Comparing my new WIP to my published works can bring me down. "It was all a fluke! I can't write to save my life. What was that publisher thinking?" We really are our own worst enemy sometimes.

What inspires and motivates me? Readers who actually take the time to write or email me to tell me they love my work. More importantly, readers who tell me they can't wait to read my next book! The "next book" being the one I haven't written yet, of course. But when I feel discouraged, I now think to myself, "So-in-so is waiting for me to write another book. There really are people out there who want another story from me!" So when I feel discouraged or don't feel like writing, I think of those readers and tell myself I have to keep writing for them, even when some days I don't feel like writing for myself.

Rachel: What drew you to write Triston & Siri’s story? What intrigues you most about them?

Joyce: Triston was a secondary character from my first novel, Loyalty's Web. Initially, as with most secondary characters when I first begin a novel, he was "just a character" with a part to play in my book. I didn't write him intending to fall in love with him, but that's what I ended up doing. And because I left him with such a sad ending at the conclusion of Loyalty's Web, and because I couldn't see any hope of him ever achieving full happiness with the situation I'd left him in, I (romantic that I am), wanted to see if I could write a book just for him and find a way to turn his sad ending into a happy one. By the opening of Illuminations of the Heart, I wouldn't call Triston an emotionally damaged man, but I would call him an emotionally wounded one. He needed a healing agent, and that was the role Siri came to play. What I loved most about Triston was his sense of honor and a sincere desire to make good choices in his life, even if somehow those choices kept seeming to go wrong, instead. What I loved about Siri was her strength and cheerful heart and bright optimism (most of the time) and a wisdom I wish I had myself.

Rachel: What is your favorite part of being an author?

Joyce: Having a "legitimate" reason to write. After all, I actually get paid for it now! My favorite part of being a writer is never knowing exactly what my characters are going to do next, even when I think I do. I love it when they do things that surprise me! That's the very best part of writing fiction. :-)

Rachel: Of every book you have ever read, what would you consider your favorite?

Joyce: Goodness, that's an almost impossible question to answer! If I choose by the number of times I've read any particular title, I'd have to say: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas; Georgette Heyer's Regencies (with These Old Shades being right near the top), and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. Yes, I know you asked for one, but I told you it was impossible!

Rachel: If you could do anything or be anything, what would it be? Why?

Joyce: If I could do absolutely anything, I'd have the stories in my head just magically appear on the page without me having to laboriously type them in word by word by word by word... But then, if that wish came true, maybe my characters wouldn't surprise me anymore? If I could "be" anything, I would "be" closer to my sister without having to move from Arizona. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon, either.

Rachel: Loyalty’s Web precedes this book – and is fabulous! Do you foresee another sequel after Illuminations of the Heart? And which character will that book focus on?

Joyce: Yes, my new WIP is based on a character from Illuminations of the Heart, and includes a few characters from Loyalty's Web, as well. I won't tell you who my new hero is, because I don't want to spoil the readers' fun in trying to guess at what his motives might or might not be in Illuminations of the Heart. But I'll give you a hint. I've nicknamed my WIP "my troubadour book". If you've read Illuminations of the Heart, you'll know who my new hero is!

Rachel: Joyce, thank you so much for letting us sit down with you and learn more about you and your book. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Joyce: Thank you for inviting me, Rachel! I enjoyed chatting with you today.

Joyce DiPastena’s book, Illuminations of the Heart, is available at and Deseret Books.


Jaimey Grant said...

Wonderful interview, Rachel! I enjoyed reading it and learned some things about Joyce that I hadn't known. Excellent job! :o)

(I skipped the review part of this post since I'm not quite finished with the book yet but I think I can already guess who the third book is about...)

Valerie Ipson said...

Great review, Rachel. I enjoyed learning some new things about Joyce, too.

Donna Hatch said...

I know what you mean about being our own worst critic! If I had a penny for every time I doubted myself as a writer, I could have the mortgage paid off. Then I'll get and email from a fan and I'm back in the saddle, so to speak. I also write because I can't not write. I know that's true for you as well. BTW, I loved Tristan and am excited to read his book!

Rachel Rager said...

I'm glad you ladies stopped by! I hope to do more of these in the future! It was lots of fun!

Joyce DiPastena said...

Thanks for the review and interview, Rachel. I never quite know what I'm going to blurt out when I answer interview questions, so it's always an interesting (and sometimes scary) experience for me!

I'm looking forward to returning the favor. :-)

Editt said...

Great review. I like to read author interviews. I definitely want to read this book!

Theresa Small Sneed said...

Lovely interview!-Your questions were interesting and intriguing! -Theresa Sneed

Cami Checketts said...

Great interview Joyce and Rachel. I know who the new hero is! Oh, I can't wait. I loved Illuminations of the Heart.

Susan G. Haws said...

Enjoyed the interview Rachel. I just fininshed Loyalty's Web and hated to put it down. It was comforting to know that such a good writer has times of self doubt like I do. Can't wait to start Illuminations of the Heart.

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I have a hard time understanding how alike Clohilde and Siri and I do know some identical twins.

JenniferB said...

Great interview, definitely want to read this one. Love historical romances that are "clean"