Tonya Hurley: Passionaries Q&A

Posted January 30, 2014 by shipload5 1 Comment


To prepare myself for Tonya Hurley’s new book ‘Passionaries’ which is book 2 in The Blessed series I re-read ‘Precious Blood’ on a trip I took recently.  I admit I had ‘Passionaries’ with me as lovely folks at Simon & Schuster sent me a copy so I read both books in one weekend.  Since I was on an airplane and had a TON of questions about the books I created a list on my iPad to ask Tonya later.  Shout out to Tonya for being willing to answer my very random questions.

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When I was re-reading ‘Precious Blood’ I picked up on the fact that you use numbers at the beginning of each chapter for each girl: 3 Agnes, 7 Lucy and 13 Cecilia.  Since it is throughout both books I wondered if it was related to theBible or from something else you had read about the Saints. (Example photo from ‘Passionaries’ on right)

I wanted to use numbers like the Bible so I chose 13, 7 and 3.  All considered holy numbers.  Cecilia is 13 because she’s badass, Lucy is 7 because she’s known as Lucky Lucy, and Agnes is 3 to represent a trinity – which, other than the 3 girls themselves, will be revealed.

How did you come up with the special pages for the specific characters Hymns, visions, and elegies that are throughout the series?

I wanted to incorporate some aspects of the character’s sainthood that would be very personal and relevant to the story but not part of the narrative. Also, it’s a way for the characters to act out their feelings – perfect for love scenes and fantasies.

The headpiece on page 104 of ‘Passionaries’ for Lucy is the headpiece from ‘Precious Blood’. Did you find one like it somewhere online or in person or did you dream it up?

I basically dreamed it up.  I wanted to combine something I thought would be fashion forward, since Lucy is all about style in many ways, and also a piece that suggested a relic.  A piece of art. The bones and pearls seemed to make sense to me.  Beauty, death and immortality.  Three big themes that run through the series.

Sister Dorothea and Agnes discuss the phenomena of Bilocation. How did you learn about that? (pg 170/1)

In my early research for the book on the legends of saints and martyrs.  There were certain special abilities attributed to these men and women and bilocation was one of them.  I thought it would be interesting to endow the characters in the Blessed with some of these powers or at least the suggestion of them.

Jude speaks to Agnes every time he sees her and yet Agnes has the feeling something is different about him.  Sister Dorothea tells her that he is ecstatic.  What does that mean? (Page 171) 

It can mean many things. An ecstatic is someone who undergoes mystical experiences and who often believes that the truth is revealed to them in visions.

On page 200 of ‘Passionaries’ we end up at the Borgia Apartment. Can you tell me what a Borgia Apartment is?

Sala Dei Santi - Borgia Apartment

It is one of several Papal apartments in the Vatican.

Did you interview any clergy or was all of your research conducted via books and the internet for the background and saints of this series?

I was raised Catholic so I had some idea about the lives of the Saints and the traditions that surround them but most of my background information came from research. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with several priests since I wrote the Blessed and that has been interesting to say the least.

Where did you find the Latin phrases and how did you fit them in? A bit like the chicken and the egg question. Had you read them during your research and then add them in or did you write the story and go back later to add in the phrases once you had them translated?

They come from several places.  Some Biblical, some not.  Bits of prayers, poems and other things I’ve read and researched that fit that moment.’I felt strongly that I needed to connect this story, which is a very gritty and modern day fantasy, and the characters to the ancient and mystical aspects of the martyr traditions. The use of Latin felt like one way to do that.

We are so thrilled Tonya could answer my burning questions about The Blessed series.  I can not wait until Book 3 is out!!

Stop by our Giveaway post and enter to WIN copies of ‘Precious Blood’ (book 1) and ‘Passionaries’ (book 2). Then check out our Photo based post about the characters!  To learn more stop by the newly updated ‘The Blessed’ webpage, Tonya’s Webpage and THEN go follow Tonya on Twitter. You know you want to.


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