Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with Denise DiFulco, Freelance Writer and Editor

Denise DiFulco is a freelance writer and editor whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, and numerous other publications. She is currently working on her first book, a historical novel that spans fifty years and four countries. She will be speaking on the Sunday morning panel "Historical Fiction: The Search for Research" at the 2013 Historical Novel Society Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. Visit her website here.

1. What first got you interested in historical fiction?

I’ve always loved history. In college I majored in history, what some might call the “easy history” of the 20th century. But that period always fascinated me most. I was so obsessed with World War II that I would head up into the university archives to pull the West Point war atlases for the various theaters of operations. Sound easy?  Not really. Let’s just say I wasn’t necessarily seen as dating material in college.

2. How much research have you done for your novel?

Sometimes I feel as if it never will be done. There’s always more to read, more to learn. Already I’m nearly four years into my research, which includes genealogical inquiries since the book is loosely based on my maternal grandfather’s life story. Part of the issue is that the novel spans so many years and so many countries. It starts in Germany in 1910, detours to South America in the early 1930s, then finishes in Cuba at the time of Castro’s Revolution. Getting the details and tone just right for each time period and setting has been time consuming, to say the least. Most days I just want to put words on the page, but first I need to know what that stewardess would have worn on a flight in 1953. What kinds of planes were even in the air then?

3. How do you organize your research?

For this book I began with a simple timeline, combining key dates from my grandfather’s life with major world events, as well as local history in the places where he lived. In many ways he was a victim of history, so it was critical for me to know what his mindset might have been at a particular time. I also maintain a bibliography to keep track of what materials I’ve read and what I’d still like to read. Beyond that, Scrivener helps me to stay organized. I can keep character notes and old photos and maps all in one place that’s accessible with a single click. The other thing I’ve found useful is Google Maps. I mapped all the locations where my characters live and work, so I can see how they would move about and also know what was in their range of vision. It has been invaluable for scene setting because I can imagine the physical world as they viewed it. It also helps me understand better how they went about their daily lives.

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

Since I’m writing about people who actually existed and of whom some record exists, that line would appear to be quite thin. But while the story follows the trajectory of my grandfather’s life, ultimately the main character is not actually him. It’s something of which I’m constantly reminding myself. In fact, it wasn’t until I finally divorced the real person from my protagonist that I was able to progress with the story. One of the reasons I’m writing this novel is because there is so much I don’t know about what actually happened to my grandfather. I’m imagining his life for him, which by definition makes this fiction. Above all, I want to be true to the time, the settings, the history—the things that are measurable and real. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Donald Michael Platt, Author of HOUSE OF ROCAMORA

Donald Michael Platt has published two historical novels, ROCAMORA and HOUSE OF ROCAMORA. The books tell the story of Vicente de Rocamora, a Spanish Dominican monk and confessor to the Infanta, who openly converted to Judaism, studied medicine, and became a medical doctor and philanthropic leader in 17th century Amsterdam. Donald has also completed a novel set in the 9th century Carolingian Empire and is polishing a novel about World War II American and German fighter aces. He is the author of several nonfiction works and has written for television as well. He will be speaking on the Sunday morning panel "Foreign Language, Slang and Dialect in Historical Fiction" at the Historical Novel Society Conference. Visit Donald's website to learn more about him and his work.

1. What got you first interest in historical fiction?

My parents were voracious readers, and I read early such books as ANTHONY ADVERSE, CAPTAIN BLOOD, and GONE WITH THE WIND. If I saw a film based on History, I read the real story and novels about the same period. All before age 14.

2. How do you find the people and topics of your books?

Inspiration for non-historical fiction -- little known characters who led interesting lives for Historical Fiction.

3. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

Outline the story, list initial characters, and traits, look for a "daily life" book of the period. Write and simultaneously research for the first draft.

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

No fine line except dates and events. Does anyone take a court gossip 100%? Foolish to do so. I subscribe to Napoleon's aphorism "History is a myth men agree upon." Then let mine be the definitive myth.

5. Where do you feel historical fiction is headed as a genre?

Where is HF heading? Alas, except for bodice rippers with Fabio covers, it will be for an elite few given the U.S. education system with most teachers who are sociology, economic, poli sci, psych, and PE majors teaching U.S. and Eurpean History in our public schools.

6. What are your favorite reads? Dominating influences?

I was influenced early by Sabatini, Costain, and Shellabarger, later by Dorothy Dunnett.

7. What book was the most fun for you to write?

All books are fun to write; otherwise why continue?

8. Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?

I have written two novels about the little known Vicente de Rocamora, and a direct descendant contacted me after reading both my novels about him. He loved the books, appreciated my research, and after a few exchanges was excited that I gave him information he did not have.

9. Can you tell us about your latest publication?

My most recent publication HOUSE OF ROCAMORA continues the second half of Vicente de Rocamora's life in 17th century Amsterdam in which he goes from Dominican royal confessor in Spain to Jewish physician at age 46, married to a 25 year old, father of six or nine children who survive beyond the first month of birth, receives citizenship equal to Dutch Christians, a philanthropist, and judge of poetic competitions.

My Own HNS Conference Interview and Panel Discussion

A big thanks to THE WITCH'S TRINITY author Erika Mailman for posting my HNS Conference interview today on her blog, World of Mailman.

At the conference, I will be facilitating a Saturday afternoon panel discussion on blogging. Here is a description of our session:

Virtual Salon: The Historical Fiction Blog

Today's readers (and publishers) expect authors to have an internet presence. A blog is an effective way to join the writer, reader, and reviewer of historical fiction in dynamic interaction about novels and the history that infuses them. This panel will not only examine the benefits an author derives from maintaining a blog at various stages of her career, but will explore how blogging serves the historical fiction community as a whole. Topics include: finding a niche and establishing a voice; effective blogging strategies (regular features, guest posts, contest, blog tours); blogging etiquette; expanding one's audience; and measuring success. Panelists include both authors (Julianne Douglas, Heather Webb, and Deborah Swift) and successful blogger-reviewers (Amy Bruno and Heather Rieseck). Discover how to become part of the vibrant historical fiction community through blogging!

There's still time for suggestions about topics you'd like to see us address. Just leave a note here in the comments.

See you at the conference!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interview with Lev Raphael, author of ROSEDALE IN LOVE

Today's featured Historical Novel Society Conference speaker is Lev Raphael, author of twenty-four books, among them ROSEDALE IN LOVE: A GILDED AGE NOVEL. The son of Holocaust survivors, Lev has published countless articles, stories and essays in a wide range of Jewish publications and has keynoted three international Holocaust conferences. He has been resident book reviewer for two NPR stations in Michigan and had his own public radio talk show. He currently blogs about books and culture for The Huffington Post. His novel ROSEDALE IN LOVE re-imagines Edith Wharton's HOUSE OF MIRTH from the viewpoint of one of Lily Barton's despised suitors. You can learn more about Lev Raphael and his work at his website. At the HNS Conference, Lev will share the wealth of his public-speaking experience in the Saturday morning session "How to do a Killer Reading."

1. What got you first interested in historical fiction? 

I've loved reading history since elementary school, especially books that had genealogies and maps about the ebb and flow of battles and kingdoms. Maybe also because I'm also a child of history myself in this way: both my parents were Holocaust survivors and I would never have been born had war not uprooted them from their homes and brought them together in a displaced persons camp.  Books about W.W. II and set during the war have fascinated me for a long time and eventually I will write my own.

2. How do you find the people and topics of your books? 

They always find me.  My mind is like an airport: planes are always circling, waiting to land (though there aren't long lines at Security and I can always keep my shoes on). I wish I had a clone to help me write. Or that I could type faster. 

3. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process? 

Every book has its own genesis, demands, rhythm, pleasures and challenges.  If I tried imposing a system, it wouldn't feel natural; I let the book shape how I work on it. For instance, I've only done one page of my next novel, but I'm heading to Belgium next month to do site research before I write one more word. This time, I know being there is essential so I can soak up atmosphere, take photos and notes. 

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact? 

That's actually not a problem I worry about since I'm not writing journalism, though I have reviewed forThe Washington Post and many other newspapers, magazines, and NPR stations. 

5. Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you'd like to share? 

I've read at the Library of Congress and lots of fascinating locations in my career, but nothing beat being invited to read from my Edith Wharton-inspired novel Rosedale in Love at a Wharton conference in Florence last summer.  It was a huge honor, and the venue for my reading was an amazing small Gothic church. Plus, I had a week in Florence. I felt blessed. 

6. Where do you feel historical fiction is headed as a genre? 

It's only going to get more and more popular as the interest in literary fiction continues to wane and genre fiction readers multiply.

7.  Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?

I've written about the Gilded Age and am going to write about the Middle Ages, but I read anything that tells a good story in engaging prose.  Those first few pages are crucial to me: if I'm not hooked, I'll move on even if the book is getting praised by the whole world. That's probably a result of my years of reviewing. Before that, I'd slog through to the end even if I didn't like a book, but life is too short. 

8. What book was the most fun for you to write? 

Every one of my 24 books has been a joy to write, but that's because I'm not one of those writers who complain about how hard our lives are or how hard it is to find inspiration.  I even love revisions.  Picking a favorite, though, is easy: Rosedale in Love, because it rewrote Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and I grew up in New York surrounded by The Gilded Age. My local public library was a Stanford White building. 

9. Can you tell us about your latest publication? 

My latest book is actually a guide for writers at all levels of their career: Writer's Block is Bunk. It looks at the realities of the writing life and offers advice most people don't get. 

10. Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share? 

A character in my Nick Hoffman mystery series has a cabin in northern Michigan and even friends have asked me if they can borrow it, or even rent it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Interview with author Teralyn Pilgrim

Teralyn Pilgrim is a historical novelist seeking representation for SACRED FIRE, a novel about a vestal virgin in ancient Rome who had to perform a miracle to escape execution. She is hard at work on a second novel, VOODOO QUEEN, about the infamous voodoo leader Marie Laveau, who ruled and terrified New Orleans throughout the nineteenth century. Teralyn blogs about the joys and challenges of writing fiction at A Writer's Journey. She will be participating on the panel "Depicting Religion in Historical Fiction" at the 2013 Historical Novel Society Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, this June.

1. How do you find the people and topics of your books?

I don't go out looking for my topics; they find me. My ideas have come from college courses, vacation trips, word-of-mouth stories, and non-fiction books. If a writer is ever out of ideas, I recommend exploring as much of life as she can. Eventually, an aspect of life will jump out and ask to be made into a story.

2. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

I'm still learning the best way to research, and of course the process is different for each book. I've only learned one hard and fast rule that everyone should follow: save EVERYTHING. I put every website I visit in Evernote, I have a folder on my Desktop for every image I see, and I own all my research books. I also include footnotes in my rough draft so I can remember where I get the information I used and easily find it again.

3. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

How much fact and how much fiction belongs in a novel depends on the type of book you're writing and what you want it to accomplish. If you're trying to write an accurate, true-to-life book that includes a works cited list, you darn well better get your facts right. If you want to write a romance or a mystery about people who never really lived, the story comes first. For me personally, history is more important than artistic license, but artistic license is necessary to make the history palatable.

4. What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?

My favorite modern books are POPE JOAN, MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS, and PEONY IN LOVE. My favorite classics are JANE EYRE, LORD OF THE RINGS, and LES MISERABLES.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rebuilt Ruins and Emptied Tombs: An Interview with Author C.W. Gornter

C.W. Gortner will be the featured speaker at the Saturday luncheon of the 2013 Historical Novel Society Conference, which will take place in St. Petersburg, Florida, on June 21-23. Gortner is the author of four historical novels, the most recent being THE QUEEN'S VOW, a novel about Isabella of Castile, published by Ballantine Books in 2012. THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY, Book 2 of his Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles from St. Martin's Press, hits the shelves on July 16. C.W. has been a frequent guest here at Writing the Renaissance. Today he addresses questions about his interests and his writing process.

1. What got you first interested in historical fiction?

I grew up in southern Spain, surrounded by history. Castles, battlefields, tombs in cathedrals: These were right outside my door. History was a part of my youth and it never intimidated me. I loved the sense that the past could permeate the present. I became interested in historical fiction when I read my first historical novel, MURDER MOST ROYAL by Jean Plaidy. It ignited my imagination; all of sudden the ghosts were clothed, the ruins rebuilt, the tombs emptied. I realized the past could be as exciting, as robust and real as the present, in the hands of a talented novelist. I was eleven years old and my life was never the same. To this day, I still have that battered edition of Ms Plaidy's book.

2. How do you find the people and topics of your books?

I'm usually attracted to the hidden history, the secret stories. The characters I choose may be famous, but they usually have a controversial legend that sets them apart. I'm most interested in people who did something extraordinary, whose became more than was expected, for better and for worse. I'm not that drawn to easy characters. Give me a bad girl or boy any day.

3. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

I write every day except Sundays, which is when I catch up on my reading. For me, writing is like playing an instrument. I need to keep the muscles flexible and disciplined. I'm superstitious, too, that if I take too long a break, I may never want to go back. Writing can be demanding; it requires passion and perseverance, and a willingness to be alone a lot. I'm quite social, so I can be easily distracted if I don't stay focused. Writing daily helps keep me in that zone.

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

It often depends on the story. I've read plenty of popular history that would qualify as fiction. For example, does anyone actually believe Anne Boleyn had six fingers? But, as a general rule, for me facts are: X was born on this day. X did this. Fiction, on the other hand, involves unraveling motivations, thoughts, emotions. We can research cultural and social history, read journals and letters, when available, to get a sense of how people felt and how they perceived their era and lives, but to recreate their experiences so that readers can feel them, too: That is the art of fiction.

5. What book was the most fun for you to write?

The one I'm currently working on is always the most fun - and most challenging!

You can learn more about C.W. Gortner and his books at his website. He also blogs at Historical Boys.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Interview with Donna Russo Morin

For the next few weeks, I'll be featuring interviews with some of the fabulous speakers slated to share their expertise at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Tampa, Florida, June 21-23. First up is Donna Russo Morin.

Donna Russo Morin is the author of four historical novels. "An adventurous quest in Renaissance Italy with undercurrents of the supernatural," her most recent release, THE KING'S AGENT (Kensington, 2012), earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Donna will be speaking on the conference panel "Sex in Historical Fiction: How to Make It Hot."

1. What got you first interested in historical fiction?

It really began with James Michener. My mother was reading him voraciously while I was in high school. I picked one up and became completely enraptured, captivated far beyond the books assigned in class. From there it went from one spectrum—Leon Uris—to the other—Rosalind Laker. When I found Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER in the early ‘90s and her mingling of fictional characters with historic ones, I completely discovered my voice.

2. How do you find the people and topics of your books?

I am very lucky that ideas come to me with ease. The first book I ever wrote was a self-fulfilled wish…to be a Musketeer. The second came from a two minute news story on the glass makers of Venice. Now that I am fully ensconced in the Italian Renaissance…an era I can trace my own lineage back to…I am obsessed and bursting with stories longing to be told.

3. Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

I always start with solidifying my fictional plot. Then I research the historical events of the era I’m in ad nauseum. Once I feel I have done my due diligence in that regard (typically 6-8 months of work) I’ll begin to merge the two to fully flesh out the plot and outline. Then, it’s off to the races.

4. For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

My main characters and their challenges are fiction within the rigid constructs of historical fact. The only time I’ve blurred the line, was in the case of time…bringing events closer together for a more tightly written narrative. BUT…I am a firm believer that if any such ‘blurring’ occurs, it is the duty of the author to make it clear in an Author’s Note.

5. Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you'd like to share?

I was standing in a museum, intently studying a work of art I had just used in my last release, THE KING'S AGENT, when a young woman next to me started telling me about this book she had just read and how the author had used the painting, and, best of all, how much she loved the book. It was one of the best moments in my writing career, especially when she told me that she had only gone to the museum because of that book. It was a goose bump moment.

6. Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?

I am firmly and utterly obsessed with Renaissance Italy, Florence to be exact. Not only am I a willing prisoner to the rebirth and the miraculous and wondrous changes that took place—astounding fodder for my muse and my pen—but it is a time I can trace my own lineage to. As a full, second generation Italian American, I am currently working on my Italian (dual) citizenship and hope to spend a few months of every year there (there will be a guest room!). As for reading, I am simply in love with my genre, though I do tend to stay away from periods that I feel have been overdone. 

7.What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?

Favorite Reads: All works by Alexandre Dumas, TRINITY by Leon Uris, TO DANCE WITH KINGS by Rosalind Laker, GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell. Stephen King and his ability to tell a complex story in a simple way and Diana Gabaldon’s perfect marriage of fact and fiction are, far and away, my most dominating influences. As for movies…not sure there’s enough time or space. I am a movie fanatic of all genres. Some of my top of list favorites are SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE; EVER AFTER; CRAZY, STUPID LOVE; LORD OF THE RINGS; anything Star Trek; LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE…the variety is evident I think.

8. Is there a writer, living or deceased, you would like to meet?

Those deceased would have to be Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell. Among the living are Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and Diana Gabaldon.

9. What book was the most fun for you to write?

It is most definitely THE KING'S AGENT. I combined true paranormal aspects found in Renaissance art with Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY (giving physical form to the allegory in the guise of challenges) as well as influences from my favorite video game, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA. It was a large aim of the book…to have fun. The books that came before were reflections of the extreme traumas and difficulties of my own life. When I reached THE KING'S AGENT...well, the girl just wanted to have some fun.

10. Can you tell us about your latest publication?

If I may be so bold, I would like to quote the starred review THE KING'S AGENT received from Publishers Weekly: "In return for acquiring—stealing if he must—great works of art for French King François I, the king’s royal art dealer, Battista della Palla, enjoys the king’s support, and the city of Florence enjoys his protection. When the king goes to war with Charles of Spain, he orders Battista to retrieve an ancient Greek relic that is said to “possess the strength [he needs] to reign victorious.” As Battista begins the hunt, he meets Aurelia, a beautiful, spirited noblewoman with a yen for travel and adventure, and his simple quest blooms into a mysterious journey across Italy, with Battista and Aurelia following in the footsteps of the relic’s Guardians and encountering challenges evocative of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inevitably, the two fall in love, but a secret about Aurelia’s true identity threatens the mission. Morin (To Serve a King) skillfully blends historical fiction and fantasy in surprising ways. She draws effortlessly upon influences ranging from Dante to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the authority of her presentation makes the world she’s created come alive. A wonderfully action-packed ride through the lush landscape of Renaissance Italy."

11. Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?

Well, for each book I've done some interesting physical research. For the first book, THE COURTIER'S SECRET, I learned how to fence. For THE SECRET OF THE GLASS—my second—I ‘tried’ to learn to blow glass. I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow for my third book, TO SERVE A KING, and now archery has become an entrenched hobby. And for THE KING'S AGENT, I learned how to dagger fight. It would seem my work has made me a bit dangerous.

I'll definitely be adding Donna's books to my TBR pile. Be sure to check out Donna's website to learn more about her and her books--or better yet, come to the HNS Conference and meet her in person!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Interview with Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CHALICE

Today I welcome Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CHALICE, a Tudor suspense novel published last March by Touchstone. THE CHALICE recounts the continuing adventures of ex-novice Joanna Stafford, heroine of Bilyeau's debut novel, THE CROWN (2012). I reviewed THE CHALICE yesterday.

Nancy was kind enough to answer questions I sent her about THE CHALICE and the history behind the novel.

1. Can you describe the genesis of the novel? Did a specific object or historical event serve as a catalyst? How difficult was it to mold the plot to the framework of historical events?

THE CHALICE is a sequel to THE CROWN, my debut novel. The main character is Joanna Stafford, a Dominican novice pledged to Dartford priory just when Henry VIII crushed the monasteries: the late 1530s. At the end of THE CROWN, the priory is "surrendered" to the king in 1538. What I wanted to do in the second book is explore what would happen to a person after losing their way of life, how would they handle it emotionally. What kind of despair and anger would these displaced people feel, and what would they do about it? The specific events that the book molds around are the arrests in the Courtenay Conspiracy, the king's betrothal to Anne of Cleves, the Act of Six Articles and, in Flanders, the Revolt of Ghent. I enjoy incorporating real events into my novels. The only problem they cause is elongating the timeline at some points. A thriller should move quickly but when you're working with things that really happened you have to allow the proper amount of time.

2. What was it about the years 1538-1540 that grabbed your attention and sparked your imagination?

That's a tense, strange time in the reign of Henry VIII. Most people look at it as an in-between time: after the death of his third wife and leading up to marriage to his fourth, Anne of Cleves. Part of the action of THE CHALICE wraps around the arrival of Anne. And without giving too much away, this marriage is key to the plot. That marriage--and its failure--is well known. Less well known is that England was braced for war, for invasion by a combined army of Charles V and Francis I, egged on by the Pope who had excommunicated Henry VIII. This is what runs through the entire plot: the fear, the paranoia, of Henry. Joanna doesn't directly interact with the king in this book, but his actions ripple out toward her in many ways. She sees people she cares for die because of the king's fears.

3. Joanna Stafford is a woman with strong loyalties to her Catholic faith, her noble family, and her country, England--loyalties which often conflicted with each other and complicated her course of action. As you wrote, did any of Joanna's choice surprise you? Do you think any of them surprised her?

Joanna had to make many choices in the book that have to do with faith and love and loyalty and courage. Hard choices. I was often moved by what Joanna had to do in THE CHALICE, because it required sacrifices. In this novel she is tested and yes, she would be surprised herself at how she survives those tests.

4. The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, was as important a player on the European stage as his peers Henry VIII and Francis I, yet he has been largely neglected in historical fiction. Why do you think this is the case? What are your impressions of the man?

That is a good question! He was an enormously important person--he was in power during the birth of Protestantism, the exploration of the Americas, cataclysmic wars with France and the rising Muslim power. Yet in much historical fiction he's ignored. I wonder if it's because he's not a romantic figure compared to Henry VIII and Francis I, both handsome men with multiple wives and mistresses. Charles was a homely man who I think seemed morose to others. I actually have some sympathy for him because of the absolutely enormous, crushing burden of his empire and the sense I get that he hated it and that is why he "retired" at a certain point and had a few years of quiet, private life with his family. His family was fiercely loyal to him, in a way that you don't see in the English or French royal families. His sister Mary of Hungary, after her husband was killed in battle, basically worked for her brother for the rest of her life--she took on the extremely difficult job of Regent of the Netherlands. She represented his interests and never remarried, retiring from the regency when Charles V resigned his position of emperor. When she died, she left her brother all her possessions. Hard to imagine Mary or Margaret Tudor doing any of that for Henry.

5. What prompted you to include fantasy elements in THE CHALICE?

The mid-16th century was filled with mystical beliefs in prophecy and astrology and necromancy, and I researched those very deeply. I was surprised by how the beliefs co-existed with Christianity. Devout Catholics also had their astrological charts done--by their physicians! I think it wasn't until Protestants had advanced their beliefs, and gained strength, that some of the skepticism set in and there were efforts to stamp out "pagan" beliefs. For instance, the Puritans tried to do away with Halloween...but it was too popular!

6. What was your favorite scene to write? The most difficult?

I think my favorite scenes were when Sister Joanna and Brother Edmund find themselves in an empty Blackfriars monastery all night, and I have to admit that an execution on Tower Hill was something I've always wanted to write. The most difficult were in the first third, when Joanna was in London and getting more and more suspicious and worried because all is not what it seems. The revelations had to be made so slowly and carefully, but not too subtly either. It's a challenging balance.

7. The fates of several characters are left unresolved at the end--will there be a third book in the series?

It looks that way! There will be an announcement soon. 

8. Are there other eras or settings you would like to write about?

Oh yes, I am interested in the 18th century and drawn to it almost as much as I am to the Tudor era. I wrote a screenplay about Mary Wollstonecraft, who lived and wrote in the late 18th century. I have other ideas for this time period, too.

9. How does your training in magazine journalism help or hinder you in writing fiction?

It helps me with research but with the actual writing of the prose, it doesn't help or hinder. They are completely different skill sets, editing articles for a magazine and writing a novel. Far different uses of creativity. Except for the determination to use good spelling and grammar, perhaps. I always try to do that! Too many rigorous bosses shouting in my ear to ever let that go.

Thank you for a marvelous interview, Nancy, to go with your wonderful novels!

You can learn more about Nancy and her work at her website.