Saturday, June 18, 2011

Author Interview with Anne Easter Smith & Givaway!!!


As apart of Anne Easter Smith's virtual book tour, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to interview one of my favorite Wars of the Roses historical fiction authors today. And not only am I bringing you this interview, but a chance to win one brand new copy for yourself! Now, let's forgo any more buildup and get straight to this delightful event:



All of your novels are steep in historical accuracy and detail, please tell us a bit about the research process behind your fantastic novels.

First of all, thanks so much for inviting me to post, Svea.

As well as the usual book research I do, studying the contemporary chroniclers, reading well respected biographies or non-fiction history, and using the internet, I like to walk all the paths my characters would have walked, which meant in Cecily’s case going to Richard of York’s main residences, like Ludlow, to Anglesey in Wales where the couple set sail for Ireland, to Dublin Castle, to Rouen in Normandy and of course talking to historians at those locations and delving into their archives (with previous appointments, of course!). I spent a whole day reading the transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial, because Cecily and Richard were in Rouen at the time of her trial and burning. I am never NOT researching, even when writing--there are always questions that pop up about the life and culture and costumes that need to be right before I am happy with my day’s writing. I cannot write about a place unless I have seen it, so yes, traveling to all these castles, towns and villages constitutes a huge part of my research. Once in a great while, I have to resort to the internet, but I can count the places on the fingers of one hand. Some of the highlights were Belgium (for “Daughter of York” and “The King’s Grace”), Lisbon for “The King’s Grace, and Ludlow Castle for “Queen By Right,” where I really felt Cecily’s presence the most.



When did you first discover your passion and great talent for writing?
How nice of you to say that I have a "great talent" for writing. I cannot compare myself to Jane Austen, Tolstoy or Dickens or my favorite historical fiction author, Anya Seton, but I try! I actually never knew I could put a sentence together that people other than my Mum wanted to read was when I wrote a couple of articles as a favor for a friend who was starting up a little magazine in Plattsburgh NY in 1980 when the Olympics were held nearby in Lake Placid. I was folksinging at the time and she asked me to write something about the local musicians. She liked it enough to ask for another one about playing tennis (another thing I was passionate about), and I became a regular writer for her. No money though :-( That happened when the local newspaper hired me to be the features editor a few years later in my 40s, and then I really learned how to write!



Cecily of York, with her strength, courage and passion, is such an inspiring woman, can you tell us a bit about what might have instilled these characteristics within her?

I hope you won't mind a tiny correction, Svea. Cecily Neville was the duchess of York, yes, but in fact the person known as Cecily of York was Cecily's granddaughter by her son Edward IV. Cecily Neville was known as The Rose of Raby in ballads of the period because of her fair-haired beauty, and in later life, she was also called Proud Cis for her regal bearing, intelligence and no-nonsense demeanor. I have been intrigued by Cecily Neville since enjoying Sharon Kay Penman’s Sunne in Splendour almost twenty years ago. She never appeared in my first book, A Rose for the Crown, but you could almost imagine her imposing presence every time I mentioned her. Some of my favorite scenes in Daughter of York were between Margaret and her mother, and it occurred to me that after three books describing the lives of her children and grandchildren, that I should go back to the beginning of the York family in the Wars of the Roses and tell their parents’ story. I think being the youngest of 22 meant she had to assert herself to be noticed from a young age, and I am sure she was probably her father's favorite! As a mother, I cannot imagine losing a child--let alone half a dozen. I think that made Cecily strong. I also think her faith sustained her in times of tribulation--something I am not familiar with, but which was common in those days.



Your stunning novels have so far been focused on the political intrigue between the rivaling families of the Wars of the Roses, are there any other time periods that you are inspired to write about?
I am quite interested in the Regency period and I could probably get passionate about the 17th century in New England now that I know more about how this region was settled. Living in Newburyport, MA, I am steeped in that history.



Is there any advice you can give for those aspiring to write historical fiction novels?

Be passionate about your subject, do your research, and have faith in yourself. Just don't expect to become a millionaire overnight! A good friend and best-selling author, Andre Dubus III told me when my first book was sold to Simon & Schuster that only a tiny percentage of writers ever get to find an agent, only a tiny percentage of those find a publisher, and only a tiny percentage of those actually become rich and famous! It was good advice, and once I heard that and it didn't deter me, I knew that my reason for writing is because I loved it.


Publish Date: May 2011
Format: Paperback 598pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"From the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and The King’s Grace comes another masterful historical novel—the story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories. Anne Easter Smith’s novels are beloved by readers for their ability “to grab you, sweep you along with the story, and make you fall in love with the characters.”

In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet.History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country. Queen by Right marks Anne Easter Smith’s greatest achievement, a book that every fan of sweeping, exquisitely detailed historical fiction will devour."

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