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Author, visual artist self-collaborate for novel ‘Botticelli’s Muse

Dorah Blume aka Deborah Bluestein (Photo/Claire Brueckner)

By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Boston – Dorah Blume is the pen name created by visual artist Deborah Bluestein of Boston. Now, they’ve become collaborators. Bluestein is the illustrator for Blume’s debut novel, “Botticelli’s Muse.” The two are compatible personalities, Blume noted.

“We all have multiple selves,” she said. “It’s not psychosis; it’s part of the human condition. I don’t think you can write fiction unless you’re able to have insights into different personalities.”

While studying at Bennington College, Blume fittingly chose split majors: literature and print design. Also realizing a passion for the Italian language, she studied painting in her junior year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy.

“When I got to Italy, it was mystical,” she said. “I felt very connected, like I had been there in another lifetime. That year was the happiest I had ever been in my life.”

She received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and literature at Bennington in 1965. Three decades later, she was a single parent with two sons living in Brookline. One of her sons shared that he enjoyed a friend’s mother’s servings of Hamburger Helper.

“I like to be creative with my cooking,” she acknowledged with a laugh. “I got Hamburger Helper and added some spices into it. My son said, ‘It’s another one of your concoctions!’ I felt like I had to write about the humor and pathos of being a single parent.”

That night, Blume went to Brookline Booksmith and purchased “Becoming a Writer” by Dorothea Brande.” After taking a writing course at Cambridge Center for Adult Education, she applied and was accepted to study creative writing at Emerson College. She was in her late-40s and taught by professors younger than her.

“Finding that book put me on a trajectory of consistent writing,” she said. “I had writing samples that helped me get into graduate school. For the first time, I was surrounded by people including professors and students who felt that writing was a worthwhile endeavor.”

Blume earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Emerson in 1995. While studying at Emerson, she became a certified facilitator of Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA), whose philosophy is that everyone is a writer. In 2003, she founded Juiceboxartists at Vernon Street Studios in Somerville and facilitated writing workshops with the AWA method through 2010.

“Part of who I am is to access my own creativity, but an equal passion is to ignite it in others,” Blume said. “My students were from ages 20s to 60s. Some of their work was astounding. I’d like to help publish some of them.”

The two creative personalities also collaborated on publishing her novel. Blume’s “Botticelli’s Muse” is a publication of Bluestein’s independent micro-press, Juiceboxartists Press.

According to the “Botticelli’s Muse” back cover synopsis, “In 1477, Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli never thought his life was going to be easy after being fired by his prestigious patron and friend Lorenzo de’ Medici. The artistic freedom he is granted by an annoying new patron half his age only increases the artist’s paralysis and depression. Sandro’s creative well runs dry until the day he sees Floriana, a Jewish weaver imprisoned in his sister’s convent. But obstacles threaten to keep his unlikely muse out of reach. So begins a tale of one of the art world’s most beloved paintings, The Primavera, as Sandro, a confirmed bachelor, and Floriana, a headstrong artist in her own right, enter into the most turbulent of relationships.”

The Publisher’s Weekly review described the novel as “Sensuous and provocative as well as mysterious. … Blume’s interpretation of master painter Sandro Botticelli is at once a florid love story and a chilling political drama.”

Available in print and e-book, “Botticelli’s Muse” was released July 21, 2017. It’s a significant date for Blume and Bluestein.

“On the first page of the novel, an event takes place on July 21, 1477, “she said. “I had worked on the book at Emerson, but only had 50 pages. On July 21, 2002, is when I made a commitment to write at least 250 words a day. At the end of 14 months I had 850 pages. I didn’t give up.”

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Dorah Blume aka Deborah Bluestein (Photo/Rob MacIntosh)

“Botticelli’s Muse” book cover designed by Jo Walker



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