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KQ: Yes, and Giulia’s daughter Laura (who may have been another Borgia bastard; who knows?

) also married into a papal family—a nephew of Pope Julius, Rodrigo Borgia’s arch-enemy! SB: I’ve always thought another nice irony about Julius II was the name he took, given his enmity with Cesare!

To that end I used three narrators for the Borgia story, two fictional and one a real but minor figure in history.

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Just as one example: in ancient Rome, sex was viewed simply as a sensual pleasure like eating or drinking; it didn’t have the connotation of sin that it later gained under Christianity.KQ: The Renaissance itself is what drew me in—an era with such a flowering of scientific and artistic achievements, which was still so bathed in blood.And the Borgias are the poster children for that; the perfect storm of beauty and violence which draws all eyes, and lives so exciting that no novelist could make up half the things that really happened to them.SB: I love the idea of the Borgias as ‘poster children’ for the Renaissance’s contrasts!What attracted you to them as a subject for fiction?

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