Press release

Contact Dottie Jeffries
(917) 445-7876;

A Stunning Magical Tale for Superwomen From Gifted New Novelist and Noted Art Historian Cynthia Robinson

The Will of Venus (Otherwise Known as a Fairy Tale for Superwomen)

Cynthia Robinson’s digitally published debut launches Black Seal, Shoto Press imprint for fine prose fiction
Praise from Amazon reviewers:

“Does not fail to impress.”

“…Vivid accounts of a southern childhood, evocative adventures in Manhattan, and a fantastical denouement in New Orleans, the novel never loses focus…”

“The story locates deep but subtle points of insight and wisdom at the intersection of…Spanish and southern American elements.”

“Throughout the novel the author includes many rich descriptions of Livia’s culinary creations and as many references to the history of European painting–so this novel should appeal to gourmands and art lovers. This is a solid example of a great first novel.”

Livia has overcome the ghosts of her Southern childhood by driving herself to become a successful Manhattan chef. Her sister Danae has selected a different path, building her world on the foundation of her striking beauty.

But Danae’s perfect life is crumbling: her ambitions for a career in theater or movies have long been abandoned, her husband is straying and tiny wrinkles have begun to appear. She concludes that the only solution–unless something truly magical occurs–is to end her life on her 40th birthday.

Livia turns to her friend Éster, an aspiring santera, for some magical assistance in the form of enchanted seasonings for the birthday meal, and heads south to her sister’s rescue. Other forces, however, conspire to complicate her best intentions. Past, present and future converge on the fateful night of Danae’s birthday, an occasion that will determine the fates of all those in attendance.

Humorous, sensual, and introspective, The Will of Venus (Otherwise Known As a Fairy Tale for Superwomen) is the debut title for Shoto Press’s ( new imprint for fine prose fiction, Black Seal. Weaving together elements of Southern Gothic, romance, chick lit, fairy tales, and the author’s unique and lyrical voice, the book is readable yet intricate, filled with gorgeous depictions of the title character Livia’s culinary creations, the rich texture of life in the South, and engaging portraits of an array of intriguing characters. Learn more about the book on the Shoto Press website at 

CYNTHIA ROBINSON was born in Tennessee and has lived and traveled extensively abroad.

She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania and is Professor of Islamic and Medieval Art History at Cornell University. Most of her publications to date are academic. Though The Will of Venus is her first published novel, she has long had the fiction habit. She is currently working on two other novels also for publication by Shoto Press Black Seal.

The rich world of Robinson’s academic work – which focuses on the visual, literary, and mystical culture of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) – informs her work as a novelist on a number of levels, and is particularly apparent in her evocations of lovers and of landscape. Elements of The Will of Venus revolve, likewise, around John Everett Millais’s painting Ophelia, relating the image and its complex history to the inner states of two key characters. Robinson’s signature technique is to bring to life lush descriptions of otherwise ordinary places or tragic events, drawing poetry from the mundane. In The Will of Venus, Robinson animates everyday scenes with magical beauty, and then weaves enchantment, in the form of the white magic of santería, into the story.

In addition to her work on two upcoming novels, Robinson is recreating a story she began nearly twenty years ago—which has since been lost—on her blog on the Shoto Press website. The recreation of the work features Robinson’s dialogue with her demanding and sometimes irascible muse, the Voice, who questions the author on elements of the original story, prompts her to reinterpret and reconsider her earlier work, and provides insight into the creative process. Read The Lost Novel at the Shoto Press website at

The Will of Venus (191 pages, ISBN 978-0-9717564-8-9) is available exclusively in digital format for the Barnes & Noble Nook, for the Amazon Kindle, and iOS devices via Apple’s iBookstore.

To request a review copy, please email for more information. To schedule a reading, appearance, an interview or a guest blog by Cynthia Robinson, contact Dottie Jeffries at (917) 445- 7876.


About Shoto Press

Founded in 2002, Shoto Press is an award-winning, US-based cooperative publishing house that moved to digital publishing in 2010. Shoto is dedicated to bringing exceptional fiction to readers in a variety of innovative high quality formats.

Shoto has imprints for graphic novels (Shoto Press) and literary prose fiction (Shoto Press Black Seal). Shoto’s catalog of published and upcoming titles features the work of four authors, nine illustrators, and one photographer.