Sunday, May 4, 2014

Meet My Main Character (Guest post by Sophia duBay)

Statue of St. Catherine of Siena, in Rome

This week I'd like to welcome one more guest poster in the "Meet My Main Character" blog hop.  Sophia duBay is working on a novel based on the life of Saint Catherine of Siena, a novel I'm very much looking forward to reading when it's complete.  Its working title is World Between Worlds.  Though our time periods differ slightly, we are both avid students of Italian history, and it has been a real pleasure exchanging ideas and information with Sophia. 

 To whet our appetites for the book, she's here to tell us something about Saint Catherine of Siena.  Let's welcome author Sophia duBay, whose biographical sketch follows:

Sophia duBay's passion for historical accuracy and the drive to remain true to Caterina of Siena's soul has led her to travel extensively to the places most prominent in her main character's life. A scholar of medieval history, she and her husband, Brian, have journeyed to Siena, Florence, Rome, and Avignon in a quest to capture the essence of the 14th century and the spirit of Caterina. If you'd like updates on World Between Worlds or would like to contact Sophia, she can be reached through her Facebook page:

Sophia duBay

What is the name of your character?  Is he/she fictional or a historical person?

Caterina of Siena, better known by the English version of her name, Catherine, is a historical person of the 14th century. In 1461 she was canonized a saint, and in 1939 she, along with Francis of Assisi, was named co-patron saint of Italy. In 1970 she (along with Teresa of Avila) was named the first female Doctor of the Church for her contribution to spiritual understanding and wisdom.

When and where is the story set?

The story is set between the years of 1362 and 1380, and takes place in various cities in Italy (mainly Siena, but also Florence, Pisa, and Rome), as well as a few scenes in Avignon.

What should we know about him/her?

During a time of class division and predictable gender roles, Caterina steps outside the bounds of what is expected of her to refuse marriage and instead follow a bold path of her own design. Through teaching, writing, travel, and being a political spokeswoman, Caterina struggles to reform the corruption of her times by commanding senators, bishops, emperors, and even two popes. A social advocate, Caterina risks the accusation of heresy and the torture of public execution to work tirelessly "for the benefit of souls."

Portrait of St. Caterina, Basilica of San Domenico, Siena (Andrea di Vanni)

What is the main conflict?  What messes up his/her life?

Caterina lives in what historian Barbara Tuchman called “the calamitous 14th century.” The entire region of Tuscany is victim to nearly constant mercenary raids, internal revolts centered on class division, and a decadent papacy gone awry. Political chaos runs rampant, while spiritual distortion mingles indiscriminately with true devotion. Yet in this time of international wars and continuous plagues, of hatred between neighboring cities and the overreaching corruption of the lush Avignon papacy, Caterina’s petite presence speaks more boldly than the shouts of those around her.

What is the personal goal of the character?

“Never allow yourself to rest” is Caterina’s motto. Known not for her political riches or military might but for her calm and other-worldly ability to command queens, mercenaries and even popes, Caterina is accused of being both saint and heretic, yet she must overcome the inner turmoil of self-doubt to follow the path she’s convinced God is demanding of her—to bring peace and a glimmer of hope to an apocalyptic world.

What is the title of the book?

This novel is still in draft form, so the title may change, but at the moment it’s tentatively being called World Between Worlds.


Many thanks to Sophia for this very interesting post.  I know all of us wish her every success with her book, and I hope that one day she'll share some of her thoughts about research here in another guest post.

And after this string of delightful guest posts, next week it's back to me, in the first of three posts about three unusual medieval moms, inspired by Mother's Day. 

1 comment:

Alana White said...

I enjoyed hearing about Caterina--and I can't wait to read the book:)