Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Alexis Masters Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Alexis Masters
Photo: giulianalegacy.com

Alexis Masters

An interview with Alexis Masters

Alexis Masters offers a personal glimpse into her past, how she became a novelist, her favorite music, and what books have most influenced her life.

Can you tell us where you come from?
I was born in the heart of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury and I graduated from high school during the Summer of Love, a time of enormous exuberance and vision, especially for those of us who didn't get caught up in the drug scene. Free love wasn't my scene either, but I suspect "All you need is love" instantly became my subconscious mantra, and in a sense, still is. I've spent most of my life right here in the Bay Area, where I've been blessed with ready access to the Human Potential and Goddess Spirituality movements since the 1970s. All of this colors my writing, dousing it with the qualities that characterize the era--optimism, innovation, mysticism, alternate realities, and concern for our environment. I've traveled abroad quite a bit in recent years and have never found a more beautiful region than Northern California. The stunning loveliness of Tuscany, where my novels about the Giuliana Legacy are set, may be the one exception. Tuscany is physically very like California, only less environmentally exploited and overdeveloped. The more I come to know it, the more I love it. My husband and I plan to spend a good bit of time there in the years ahead.

How did you become a novelist?
I began writing early in life but seldom shared my work with others. After my first trip to Greece in 1982, I was determined to write a book exploring the Goddess Aphrodite. I pursued intensive research on the Goddess, plowing through countless archaeology reports, studying ancient writers and modern scholarship, visiting some fifty ancient sites of her worship all over the Mediterranean Basin. I now know I was searching for something that couldn't be found in books or reports--call it the mystical kernel of her meaning to the people of ancient times, a meaning I sensed was very different from the shallow one we are taught today. But this knowledge didn't jel and my writing didn't really take off until I found the right genre for my voice. In 1990, when I started the novel that became The Giuliana Legacy, I told my self it was "only for fun," a little rest from my "real" work in history and theology. Immediately, though, I discovered an essential truth about myself: I am essentially a storyteller, not a social scientist or theologian. This discovery was very exciting,but it still took an act of will to call myself a writer, and several more years of hard work and perseverance before I finally felt comfortable calling myself a novelist. This year, with the release of The Giuliana Legacy, I became a published novelist. I can assure any aspiring authors reading this that it was well worth the work and the wait!

What books have most influenced your life?
I have always been an avid and voracious bookworm, and I'm sure there are countless books that have influenced my writing. In fiction, I work in the tradition of Charles Williams, who wrote classic "metaphysical thrillers" during the 1930s and was one of the original Inklings, along with C.S. Lewis and Tolkein. Marion Zimmer Bradley also influenced me, especially with The Mists of Avalon, as did the extraordinary novels of Dorothy Bryant and Elizabeth Cunningham. The philosophers of Western philosophy played a huge early role in shaping my writing. During my twenties, esotericists like Annie Besant and Dane Rudhyar, the renowned astrologer and "modern Renaissance thinker," influenced me powerfully. In my thirties, feminist scholars and theologians expanded the philosophic and political base of my worldview. However, the largest single influence on my work has been Paramahansa Yogananda. From the perennial bestseller Autobiography of a Yogi to the more recent God Talks With Arjuna, the writings of this ecumenical World Teacher and devotee of Divine Mother have illumined my path and brought me the most profound and lasting sense of personal transformation. Yogananda also helps me to write more deeply and honestly and it was he who inspired me to break the mundane rules of fiction in creating Julia/Giuliana, a unique and uniquely spirited heroine for our new millennium.

What music do you listen to while writing?
I love music--the Classics, the Beatles, Dylan and Baez, folk and ethnic music of all sorts, even some electronic compositons like Stephen Halpern's and Brian Eno's--but I find listening far too distracting when I write. I usually need silence to work effectively. Unless, of course, I'm writing a scene in which music is essential. There were some of those in The Giuliana Legacy, one in which the villain, Gregor Danilenko, recalls Katchetourian's Masquerade Suite and several inspired by devotional Cosmic Chants. There is one especially thrilling musical scene I'm working on now for Giuliana's Challenge, volume two of the Giuliana Legacy trilogy. Yatri's Crystal Spirit, Original Improvisations on Glass Armonica is in my CD player most often right now. This haunting music is the inspiration for the scene I mentioned above, which is set on a moonlit night in the majestic city of Florence. It's a spine-chilling scene I can hardly wait to develop, because it is taking me farther into the Renaissance years of the Giuliana Legacy than I've ever been before.

What books are you reading now?
The books I'm reading now are mostly non-fiction research materials for Giuliana's Challenge and for The Lady Giuliana, the third book of the trilogy. My reading stack is tall and includes several works by Renaissance philosopher, Marsilio Ficino, and his contemporaries, books on pregnancy and midwifery, especially Jacqueline Marie Musacchio's The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy and Peter Kingsley's Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition, along with Women in the Classical World edited by Elaine Fantham et alia, Etruscan Life and Afterlife, edited by Larissa Bonfante, Ancient Astrology by Tamsyn Barton, and a delightful new book by Frances Bernstein called Classical Living, Reconnecting with the Rituals of Ancient Rome. In fiction, I recently finished Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, which I enjoyed immensely and strongly recommend. I've never read any of Stephen King's fiction, but I have to say that his new memoir, On Writing, is probably the funniest book I've read in years! I found it hilarious--I mean laugh till it hurts hilarious. At the same time I found it poignant, articulate and brilliant--a totally unexpected delight!

Is there anything you'd like to add to your remarks above?
I would like to thank those readers of The Giuliana Legacy who have taken the time to share their reactions to my first novel. And I'd like to invite the rest of you to leave me a note or simply a greeting in my guestbook at GiulianaLegacy.com. I enjoy hearing from readers. Like most authors, I've often felt that writing is a very isolating occupation, yet when I read notes from Giuliana's audience, I feel the loneliness of this work is a small price to pay, because people are really getting the story in a very intimate way. I absolutely love that!

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Alexis Masters at BookBrowse
The Giuliana Legacy jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Alexis Masters but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Layne Maheu

    Layne Maheu

    Layne Maheu lives in Seattle with his son and makes his living as a carpenter. After taking a degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, he traveled to Alaska to work on fishing boats. Later, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Giuliana Legacy

    Try:
    Song of the Crow
    by Layne Maheu

  • James Redfield

    James Redfield

    James Redfield has been keenly interested in human spirituality all of his life. Born on March 19, 1950, he grew up in a rural area near Birmingham, Alabama. Brought up in a Methodist Church that was loving and community-... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Giuliana Legacy

    Try:
    The Secret of Shambhala
    by James Redfield

We recommend 3 similar authors

View all 3 Read-Alikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Kind of Madness
    by Uche Okonkwo
    The word "madness," like many others that can be used to stigmatize mental illness — e.g., "...
  • Book Jacket: Long After We Are Gone
    Long After We Are Gone
    by Terah Shelton Harris
    Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhibit
    Exhibit
    by R O. Kwon
    Exhibit, R.O. Kwon's sophomore novel (after The Incendiaries, 2018), introduces readers to Jin Han, ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.