For our 220th post, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Devika Fernando’s character on March 10th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Diana Rubino, the author of The End of Camelot, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Vikki McGlory Ward, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Diana in a bit, but now we have on stage…Vikki!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Vikki. Please have a seat.
Character Vikki McGlory Ward: Hello. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Vikki: Of course.
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Vikki: I’m living my dream as a housewife, but I design costumes for my father’s Broadway musicals. I’m also busy with our two kids—although Al and I decided we want four, so I’m hoping for twins.
Marie: That’s great! So, what is your family like?
Vikki: A bit crazier than others, mainly because my father was in the rackets in the 1930s and he’s a composer of Broadway show tunes. I had an unforgettable childhood. My father took me to every Broadway musical that came out. We had famous people to the house all the time for dinner and cocktails, and to me, they were just folks; I didn’t care how famous they were, or if their albums played in the background. Dad gave me piano lessons, although it wasn’t my calling the way it was his—I preferred painting, sewing and designing fashions as a creative outlet. I never knew my mom. She died tragically and suddenly when I was an infant. But my father’s second wife Greta treated me like her own daughter. We went everywhere together – museums, hair salons, shopping, for long strolls through Central Park. But in school nobody cared whose kid I was. It was a strict Catholic school and I was in a uniform like everybody else. My family is Roman Catholic and we still have all the saints’ statues in the hallways and backyards.
Marie: What did your childhood home look like?
Vikki: A stately Tudor in Bronxville, then a red brick colonial in Westchester County. My father also brought us to his beach house on the New Jersey shore, which he bought the year I was born. I don’t like to go there, though. It’s where my mother overdosed on pain pills and I don’t want to be reminded of that. She died in the hospital the next day.
Marie: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! (Squeezes Vikki’s hand.) Let’s try a different question, shall we?
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Vikki: Designing costumes, going for bicycle rides with my husband and kids. I love to sing opera arias, although I’m not trained, and I make sure I’m alone when I do it. Fortunately, Al and I share a lot of interests – opera, painting, fashion—and one that most couples don’t share—guns. We have contests at the shooting range to see who’s the best shot. He also likes to hunt, which I don’t. But I’m good at cooking the venison he brings home.
Marie: So, what is your greatest dream, Vikki?
Vikki: To write my father’s memoirs with the notes he won’t let me see until, as he says, “I’m planted.”
Marie: (Laughs.) I wonder what he meant by that!
So, what kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Vikki: I want to be more introspective, to look within and find my spiritual path. But I’m always out there doing something with the kids—it never ends. I’m too exhausted at night to meditate or do any soul-searching.
Marie: I see. Yeah, obligations can often tear you away from the things want. But, I’m sure you love your children considerably.
Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Vikki: My first husband Jack Ward. I stayed in D.C. after I graduated Georgetown, still thinking I wanted a career in politics. I got a job as a political consultant with a couple of ex-CIA agents. Jack was a reporter for the Washington Post. I always enjoyed his articles—they had a clever undertone of cutting-edge humor. Sometimes he mentioned personal details: his close calls as a stunt pilot, his solo in a sailboat around Cape Horn, the political and show business parties he attended…I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for him to reveal another personal item, like the next installment in a serial. Then he became a television reporter for NBS. I was in my glory, able to see him every night at six and eleven. When So Far So Good came out—that was his memoir—I took the day off from work to read it. I devoured it, tore out the pictures and taped them to my walls. On television, he was as commanding and powerful as any president, and that was it—I had to meet him. So I spent every spare moment in front of NBS Studios waiting for an ‘accidental’ encounter. Finally it happened. First it was eye contact and a little small talk, ‘I’m your biggest fan,’ that kind of stuff. I had to talk fast. I read up on the items he reported so I’d be able to hold a conversation with him, and one day just blurted out an invitation to my place for dinner. He was so surprised, he accepted. I had him over the next night, and he fell in love with my aglio olio. I was already in love with him. When that evening ended, I’d already planned out the rest of my life… I wasn’t going to let him get away. I wanted him and I got him.
Marie: Aww…that’s a sweet story.
So, Vikki, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Vikki: Losing Jack. He was found dead in the bathtub of his Dallas hotel room the same day President Kennedy was shot. He wasn’t supposed to be in Dallas. He never took baths. I immediately knew he’d been murdered. I found his notes and his tapes, and learned that he was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. From that horrific day on, I vowed to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and my husband. Bringing that bastard to justice became my quest, and once I found him, I knew that Jack could rest.
Marie: How terrible! I’m so sorry. 😦
Well, let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Vikki: To be a wife and mother, and indulge my passion for painting, designing costumes and seeing them on the stage. I must say I am living that dream, despite having lost Jack so tragically. But I know everything happens for a reason. Al told me many times if he hadn’t met me, he doesn’t know if he’d be alive today.
Marie: (Sighs.) I love romance.
So, who is your role model, Vikki?
Vikki: It’s got to be my stepmother Greta. She rescued my father when he was still deeply grieving for my mother. She brought him back from the brink and gave him two beautiful kids.
Marie: I agree. How inspirational!
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Vikki: Al’s former fiancée, Mona. He was forced into the engagement by both their families, and the times I met her, she seemed silly, self-centered and took advantage of Al. But I was very cordial to her, and would never tell anyone how she rubbed me the wrong way.
Marie: All right. So, what is your deepest desire?
Vikki: To give my kids a normal life, and I hope they never have to face crime or murder or even greed.
Marie: Yes, I think we all want the best for those we love.
Let’s switch to another question. What is your greatest fear?
Vikki: That some underworld figure will come after me. It’s an irrational fear, but when you learn your father was a gangster, and my having met killers such as Jack Ruby and underworld figures on my quest to find Jack’s killer, that fear never leaves you.
Marie: Wow, that’s terrible! 😦 I can certainly understand your fears.
Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Vikki. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Diana Rubino on the stage today. Hi, Diana!
Author Diana Rubino: Hi. Thank you so much for having the two of us here, Marie! 🙂
Marie: My pleasure!
As you know, we just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Vikki. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Diana: Vikki’s father Billy McGlory brought her up alone, until he married Greta, his second wife. Vikki has a degree from Georgetown and a Master’s in Political Science. She met Jack Ward in D.C. when he was a newspaper reporter. She and her father are very close; they get drunk together and have a good time.
She’s wanted to be everything from a cop to a ballerina to a singer to a lawyer to a jewelry designer. Her grandmother Vita urged her to do whatever she wants. She’s 90 and very feisty.
Marie: Wow, what a unique background!
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Diana: She’s brave and doesn’t care about putting her life in danger; she lived for Jack and finding his killer.
Marie: Okay. Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, is her greatest weakness?
Diana: She inherited her father’s impetuousness and flighty nature, but hopes she’ll grow out of it.
Marie: So, what are some of her favorite foods?
Diana: Anything Italian, especially lasagna and strufoli (honey balls).
Marie: Italian food is pretty awesome!
Let’s try something else.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Diana: Her courage is admirable. But she didn’t consider it courage; she had to find her husband’s killer because she believed that was her mission, and if she got killed trying, that was her fate.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Diana: I believe readers will like Vikki because she’s a strong, brave, loyal woman who put her life on the line for justice for her murdered husband. Besides that, she’s pretty cool. She sings opera but has every Beatles album and dances up a storm when Shindig is on.
Marie: She is pretty interesting! Now that we have a real taste of Vikki, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for The End of Camelot?
Diana: This is going to date me, but I was six years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Everyone who was alive that day knew exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was in my first grade classroom. The teacher got a call on the classroom phone and told us ‘the president was shot.’ A collective gasp went around the room. It was ten years before I saw the footage of Ruby shooting Oswald, on a documentary.
My grandmother was a huge JFK assassination buff. She listened to all the radio talk shows and recorded them. She got me embroiled right along with her. I never lost my fascination with all the conspiracy theories. I always wanted to write a novel centering on this event, and it fit in perfectly as the third book in this series.
So, Diana, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Diana: Absolutely a plotter. Just like I couldn’t drive cross-country without a GPS, I’d never attempt a coherent novel without a detailed outline. Of course it changes along the way, but the basic structure keeps me from going astray.
Marie: That’s understandable. Eventually, I have to break down and plot mine as well.
So…I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The End of Camelot or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Diana: I took some flack from a member of my crit group because he didn’t think it was realistic for Vikki to be sleuthing, seeking out underworld figures, and going after them with her gun, as she tried to find her husband’s killer. So I made it as believable as possible, although this is a thriller and Vikki is larger than life. It was also a challenge to write the sewer scene–I won’t spoil it and say how, but Vikki winds up in the New York City sewer system and finds her way out. That scene was hard to write. I needed it to be realistic and incredibly gross–and I managed to do both. 🙂
What would I do differently next time?
My editor needed me to change the scene where Vikki visits Jack Ruby in prison. He’s the guy who shot Oswald after Oswald shot JFK. She didn’t want me to write the scene as it happened, with dialogue, in case there was a problem. So I had Vikki tell the hero Al about the visit later on.
Next time I’m writing a historical with people who lived more recently, I’ll have to be careful about who I can put directly into a story and who I can’t!
That’s good advice. I’m glad it worked out for you! 😉
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The End of Camelot appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Diana Rubino, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for The End of Camelot.
November 22, 1963: The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.
Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband. With the help of her father and godfather, she sets out to uncover the truth.
Aldobrandi Po , the bodyguard hired to protect Vikki, falls in love with her almost as soon as he sets eyes on her. But he’s engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they ever hope to find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00UF3XYI2
About Diana Rubino
Diana Rubino’s passion for history and travel has taken her to every locale of her stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. Her urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband Chris. In her spare time, Diana bicycles, golfs, plays her piano and devours books of any genre.
Coming June 1st:
Coming June 17th:
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Diana Rubino, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Diana-Rubino/e/B005C4ZSHO/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Vikki, the female main character of The End of Camelot, and Diana Rubino, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out Diana’s latest release! 🙂