Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is celebrating the new release of Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith whom I had the great pleasure of interviewing. Queen By Right is Smith's fourth novel, which tells a fascinating story of an equally fascinating woman: Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York.Today I am sharing my interview with Anne & I will also be giving away a copy of her latest novel Queen By Right, and on Friday the 27th I will be posting my review.
Q. What inspired you to tell the story of Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York?
A. I needed a fourth book to fulfill the second part of my second contract with Simon & Schuster and as it seemed I was telling the York-family story during the Wars of the Roses through my three other books, I felt compelled to begin at the beginning of that story with the matriarch of the family, Cecily Neville, duchess of York. Besides, Cecily had "spoken" to me during the writing of "Daughter of York" and I thought then she would make for a compelling read. She a wonderfully strong medieval woman who was right there with all the trials and tribulations of her husband, Richard, with whom, history appears to think, she had an unusual love match.
Q. What type of research did you conduct for the writing of Queen by Right?
A. As well as the usual book research I do, studying the contemporary chroniclers 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.
Q. How much of Queen by Right is based on historical fact and do you ever find it hard to stay true to those facts while also trying to entertain your readers?
A. That’s always a fine line, Taylor. Of course we don’t know what people thought and said back then, but I try to stay true to whatever we do know about a person. I don’t have people in the wrong place at the wrong time--and that takes a lot of researching--but if we DON”T know they weren’t in a place I put them, then that’s where a novelist can use his or her imagination. I don’t know if Cecily Neville and Joan of Arc met when they were both in the same building in Rouen at the same time, but we also don’t know that they didn’t! I am pretty up front in my Author’s Note about what dramatic liberties I take. What astonishes me is how often truth is stranger than fiction when we study history and a novelist doesn’t have to do anything but tell the truth!
Q. Who is your favorite historical figure…man or woman and why?
A. It has to be King Richard III, who occupied my leisure reading for thirty years before I decided to tell his story in “A Rose for the Crown.” He was only king for two years, but there has almost been more written about this king -- good and bad -- than any other English monarch (barring those pesky Tudors, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, of course!)
Q. Who are your writing influences and how have they influenced your writing?
A. Love Charles Dickens and Jane Austen from the classics and Edward Rutherfurd, Anya Seton and Sharon Kay Penman in my own historical fiction genre. I wanted my book to be as good as Anya Seton’s “Katherine” -- it was a tough task I set myself!
Q. Have you always wanted to be a writer of historical fiction or was it something you just fell in to?
A. Actually, Taylor, yes I did fall into by accident. I never had aspirations to be a writer--became an executive secretary after leaving high school and eventually landed in the US at 24 with a girlfriend on a lark for two years. Forty-two years later, I am still here! I have had so many different kinds of jobs, I can’t go into them, but I finally got landed one in Plattsburgh NY at the daily newspaper writing features and went on to become the features/arts editor for ten years there. And so I learned to write. Then my oldest friend from home suggested I write a book about my aforementioned obsession, Richard III, and so I tentatively began “A Rose for the Crown” in 1997. In 2004, after finding an agent in New York, Simon & Schuster acquired it and gave me a two-book deal, which meant I had to write “Daughter of York” immediately. It was a bit daunting for someone who had no idea she was a “writer.”
Q. How do you feel your writing has developed since your novel, A Rose for the Crown?
A. I’ve learned so much about writing since those days of thumping out pages and pages in my spare time. My editor at Simon & Schuster helped me structure a story better and I learned what my readers like and don’t like. It’s funny really--the first book I wrote for myself and the others I wrote for my readers and my editor. It makes me smile that many of the letters I get indicate A Rose for the Crown is their favorite. I am hoping they will really like “Queen By Right,” as I think it is my best writing yet.
A. Where do you do most of your best writing?
Q. At my office outside my home. I just can’t focus when I have the dishes waiting or ironing to do. It’s no good, my homemaker hat just won’t come off unless I’m at my computer in another building!
Q. What can your fans expect from you next?
A. The story of Edward IV’s last and favorite mistress, Jane Shore. And that’s all I’m saying!
Thank you for letting me share on your blog, Taylor! I hope your readers will take a chance on “Queen By Right.”
Thanks so much Anne for taking the time out to be her today!
And now on to the Giveaway!
Anne's giving away a copy of her brand new novel for one lucky U.S. fan. Want it? Just follow the guidelines listed below by 11:59pm on Monday, June 6th. Winner will be selected at random and must have a U.S mailing address.
-Please leave a comment below stating what you enjoyed most about the interview.
-You must be a Follower of this blog through the GFC follower in order to be entered into this giveaway.
-Please leave your name and email address in order for me to contact you if you are the winner. If an email is not listed then unfortunately you will not be entered.
+1 extra entry for being a new follower of this blog.
+1 extra entry each time you post this giveaway on twitter, facebook and/or on your blog somewhere. To count please leave a link in the comment section.
Queen By Right is on a blog tour! View the schedule featuring more interviews, reviews, and giveaways from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours.