Victoria Strauss is the author of eight novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone fantasy duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) and Passion Blue, a YA historical. In addition, she has written a handful of short stories, hundreds of book reviews, and a number of articles on writing and publishing that have appeared in Writer’s Digest, among others. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.
She's co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that provides information and warnings about the many scams and schemes that threaten writers. She received the Service to SFWA Award in 2009 for her work with Writer Beware.
Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed—or cursed—with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors as she creates them in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness and rekindled her passion to become a painter—an impossible dream for any woman in fifteenth-century Italy.
But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession—the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue—Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color. Faced with the prospect of a life in the convent barred from painting as punishment for keeping Humilità’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice?
Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s Passion blue. And Venice, she discovers, with its gilded palazzos and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, and where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?
This stunning, compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks, What does it mean to risk everything to pursue your passion?
When seventeen-year-old Giulia, the orphaned, illegitimate daughter of a Milanese nobleman, learns she’s to be packed off to a life behind convent walls, she begs an astrologer-sorcerer for a talisman that will secure what she’s certain is her heart’s desire: true love and a place where she belongs. But does she really know the compass of her heart? The convent of Santa Marta is full of surprises, including a workshop of nuns who are creating paintings of astonishing beauty using a luminous blue mixed from a secret formula: Passion Blue. As Giulia’s own artistic self is awakened she’s torn: should she follow the young man who promises to help her escape? Or stay and satisfy her growing desire to paint?
This richly imagined novel of a girl’s daring journey towards self-discovery transports readers into the fascinating world of Renaissance Italy where love and faith and art inspire passion – of many different hues.