Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Illustrated Who's Who

Portrait albums--bound collections of chalk portraits--became all the rage at the French court in the sixteenth century. Courtiers used the albums for entertainment, making a game of guessing sitters'  identities or composing epigrams and tags to accompany the pictures. They commissioned albums as gifts, or used them for diplomatic purposes.

Jean Clouet and his son François, portraitists who worked at the French court from the 1520's through the 1560's, were extraordinarily skilled at capturing likenesses on paper. Their precise, detailed portraits of hundreds of French nobles provide an intriguing and realistic record of physiognomy and fashion in an age that long predated photography. (You can browse Clouet portraits at the Réunions des Musées nationaux website.)

Today I created an album of my own, gathering portraits of my novel's characters on a Pinterest board. All the portraits are contemporaneous with the action of the novel, set in 1539-40. Many were sketched by Jean and François themselves, or by other artists who feature in the novel with them. For the novel's few fictional characters, I selected anonymous portraits of individuals who correspond to my mental image of the characters. It was great fun to assemble, in one place, a visual representation of the people I've tried so hard to resurrect through words.

Here, for example, are the novel's three viewpoint characters:

Catherine, the artist's daughter
Anne d'Heilly, duchesse d'Étampes, the king's mistress
Faustine, an artist's model

Come check out the board and meet the rest of the cast! The novel is undergoing a final revision before going out on submission to editors.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

THE TAPESTRY by Nancy Bilyeau: Cover Reveal

Readers (like me!) who read and enjoyed Nancy Bilyeau's THE CROWN and THE CHALICE are eagerly awaiting the third volume of her Joanna Stafford thriller series, set in sixteenth century England. Today Nancy reveals the cover for THE TAPESTRY, which goes on sale March 24, 2015 from Touchstone. A stunning cover for what is sure to be a gripping read.

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Touchstone Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Pages: 390
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Three

In THE CROWN, Sister Joanna Stafford searched for a Dark Ages relic that could save her priory from Cromwell's advancing army of destruction. In THE CHALICE, Joanna was drawn into an international conspiracy against Henry VIII himself as she struggled to learn the truth behind a prophecy of his destruction.

Now, in THE TAPESTRY, Joanna Stafford finally chooses her own destiny.

After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever--collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII's quest to overthrow the Catholic Church--Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King's attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King's mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the King's next wife and, possibly, victim.

Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna Stafford must finally choose.

Add to GR Button

To enter a drawing for an ARC of THE TAPESTRY, visit Passages to the Past.

Pre-order the book:

Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay "Zenobia" placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and "Loving Marys" reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. THE TAPESTRY will be released in March 2015.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information please visit Nancy Bilyeau's website.