Author Profile: Deborah Harkness

As a follow-up to my book review about A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to focus on Deborah Harkness.  I wanted to find out how a History professor dives into a Historical/Paranormal Romance book and becomes very successful on her first try.

Deborah Harkness grew up outside Philadelphia, Pa.  She has lived in New England, California, Illinois and England.  In the last 28 years she has become an accomplished scholar.  She has received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis.  During her years of scholarly work she worked in many different and prestigious libraries.  Libraries from the Bodleian at Oxford University to the Newberry Library.  Having acquainted herself so intimately with the inner workings of these prestigious libraries she developed a love and affinity for all libraries.  She is currently teaching at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

According to Ms. Harkness, her best-selling novel A Discovery of Witches came about when she wondered “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?”  This simple statement catapulted her into writing her first book in the All Saints trilogy.  Her writing style is very visually descriptive. Yet, Ms. Harkness’s writing  flows in a way that makes every word important to the plot.   She can bring you into her world so very easily.  Her descriptions of the surroundings brings you into the story in a way that few authors can.    Once drawn in you don’t want to leave.  You fee the need to find out what is going to happen next.  As, a history teacher myself I enjoyed all of the historical tidbits in her book.  The historical parts do not weigh the story down, but enhance it.  Not only are they accurate but they added an element of realism that only a story grounded in truth can.  I must say that I envy her students.  If her lectures are half as good as her book I really wish she had been one of my professors in College.  I would have loved to have gotten into historical discussions with her and be able to pick her brain.

Ms. Harkness’s next book Shadow of Night, continues the story of Matthew and Diana.   Here is a small excerpt from Shadow of Night due to hit bookstores July 10th:

“My eyes adjusted to the dim light as I surveyed the room. A substantial bed, small table, narrow benches, and a single chair came into focus. Through the carved uprights supporting the bed’s canopy I spied a doorframe that connected this chamber to another room. Light spilled from it onto the coverlet and floor in a misshapen golden rectangle. The walls were covered with the linen-fold panelling that I remembered from the few times I’d visited Matthew’s home in present-day Woodstock. Elaborately herringboned bricks lined the chimney, their outlines sharpened by the fire’s flames. They looked right, too. Such ornate brickwork would appeal to the stonemason Matthew had once been. Tipping my head back, I saw the ceiling – thickly plastered, coffered into squares, with a splashy red-and-white Tudor rose picked out in gilt in each recess.

‘The roses were obligatory when the house was built,’ Matthew commented drily. ‘I can’t stand them. We’ll paint them all white at the first opportunity.’

My gaze returned to my husband and I smiled with sudden excitement. ‘I really did it. I didn’t mess it up, or take us somewhere else like Monticello, or-‘

‘No,’ he said with an answering smile, ‘you did beautifully. Welcome to Elizabethan England…'”

 After reading A Discovery of Witches and now the small excerpt from Shadow of Night I know Ms. Harkness will have yet another hit on her hands.  I recommend you running out and getting A Discovery of Witches now before Shadow of Night comes out.  That way you can be ready for Shadow of Night.  I for one already have it pre-ordered and plan on attending a signing for Shadow of Night in July.  I can’t wait and if you read Ms. Harkness’s books then you too will end up in the same boat as myself.  Waiting with twitchy fingers, anxious to get your hands on the next installment of the All Saints Trilogy. 
For more about Ms. Harkness you can go to her website:   For more information about A Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer. 

4 Comments (+add yours?)

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