Please join me in welcoming Nancy Bilyeau to Debbie's Book Bag today. Nancy is here promoting her debut novel, The Crown, a book I am sure many of you will enjoy. The is also a giveaway for one copy of Nancy's book, see details at the end of the post.
DEB: Nancy, this is the first time you've been with us here at Debbie's Book Bag. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
NB: Hi, I'm a Midwesterner moved east. I live in New York City with my husband and two children. I worked in the magazine business for years--I was deputy editor of InStyle magazine when I sold this book. I've been in love with Tudor history since I was about 11 years old, and decided to write a thriller based in the 16th century.
DEB: Tell us about your latest release, The Crown. Is this a single title, a part of a series, etc.
NB: The Crown is my debut novel, the first one I've ever written. It's in the first person, from the point of view of a young Dominican novice named Sister Joanna Stafford. She leaves her priory without permission to stand by the side of her rebel cousin who is being executed at Smithfield. There Sister Joanna is arrested, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and forced into a conspiracy around finding an object of mystical importance. I've already written the second book in the series, The Chalice.
DEB: Has historical fiction always been a genre that interested you, or is it something more recent?
NB: Historical fiction is my first love: Norah Lofts, Jean Plaidy and Mary Stewart. Through the years I'd come back to it, from Mary Renault to A.S. Byatt. I also love thrillers, so I decided to write a historical thriller.
DEB: What kind of research did you do for this novel? Were there specific aspects of the book that you needed more information for?
NB: I started with my own library of more than 20 books about Tudor England, mostly biographies and studies of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Pilgrimage of Grace. I then read more books and doctoral dissertations on live in late-medieval monasteries. I also corresponded with curators and researchers in England, specifically at Dartford Borough Museum, Malmesbury Abbey and the Tower of London.
DEB: Do you have to have specific things in place to write comfortably? A quiet house, a certain drink etc.
NB: I wish I had a quiet house! That would be fantastic. I usually get up very early and make Earl Gray tea. Music can help me get in the mood, like Beethoven or Thomas Tallis.
DEB: How did you feel when you got the word that your first book would be published? What was your reaction...
NB: I was ecstatic and could hardly believe it. I danced around my apartment.
DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
NB: Join a workshop and have others read your work so you know you close you're coming to your goal in writing. You have to find out if it's clear and dramatic and affecting before you submit to an agent.
DEB: What are you working on right now? Or what are your plans for the future as far as writing goes?
NB: I have a third book in the series planned. I'm also interested in writing historical fiction in other periods--and other countries.
DEB: Do you have a favorite author or genre? What do you read when you have the opportunity?
NB: I love so many, many writers, but if pushed into a corner I'd have to say Daphne du Maurier. I read suspense fiction and biographies when I have the chance. Right now I am loving Robert K. Massie's "Catherine the Great."
DEB: Tell us one thing about you that readers may not know?
NB: I went through an intense horse phase at the same time I fell in love with Tudor England and taught myself to draw horses. I can still sketch a horse with skill, though nothing else.
~ US addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST March 7th.
1. Please leave a comment for Nancy and tell us why you like historical fiction?
2. Please fill out the FORM.