Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Author Interview: Lindsay Townsend

Current Read: Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Today is Wednesday and you know what that means! It's time to welcome this week's "Word Wizard"...

Today is an historic day for Armchair Heroines! I'm thrilled to welcome our first author from England, Lindsay Townsend!

*confetti flying, horns honking*

Lindsay graciously took time out of her busy schedule during this crazy week to spend some time with us. Why is this a crazy week for Lindsay? Because her new book, Flavia's Secret, was released yesterday from Bookstrand. I bought it and can't wait to get started! We'll be talking about Lindsay's latest release as well as her print book, A Knight's Vow, available from Kensington. I've had a wonderful time getting to know Lindsay over the past couple weeks. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it! So, let's get started.

Thank you, Lindsay for being here! When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I started writing stories when I was about six years old, and I've just carried on doing it. My memories of childhood involve my brothers charging about the house and me sitting in a quiet corner with a pile of books - when I wasn't out with friends, climbing trees.

Mmm, I love curling up in a quiet corner hidden away behind a pile of books! Can you tell us a little about your road to becoming a published author?

I took a degree in medieval history and worked for a while in libraries. After I married, we did the sums and decided I could concentrate on writing full time. It took a while, but my first unpublished historical got me an agent and the second got a publisher interested. They wanted me try a modern setting, which I did and enjoyed it, but historicals are really my first love.

Congratulations! And a degree in medieval history - what a great background. What differences and similarities do you see in publishing in England versus in the United States?

It's a question of opportunities, really. The kind of book I like to write is more valued in America and there are more publishers willing to take it. I'm certainly grateful to Kensington, who have been very encouraging and supportive from the start, and to Bookstrand, too.

A Knight's Vow takes place in the 12th century which isn't a time era we see very often. Why did you choose this particular time period?

My specialism in university was the Crusades, so the period chose itself. This is also the period of Stephen and Matilda, two rival claimants to the English throne, which creates an interestingly turbulent background - Ellis Peters' Cadfael mysteries are set at the same time (possibly for the same reasons!). The UK is also full of medieval churches, castles and buildings of all kinds, so there's no shortage of inspiration.

I have to get over there for a visit! In A Knight's Vow you are so adept at evoking the era - even your narrative words reinforce the time period! How do you do that?

I've read a lot of historical fiction, but a lot of straight history and documents from the time, too. My study is crammed with books for research and I have an ex-librarian for a husband (which comes in handy!). It's just a question of soaking up the flavour of the period and then writing as directly as I can. I can't explain it any other way.

What inspired you to create Guillelm? Alyson?

I wanted my hero to be a blond man with a brave but difficult past, rather than an assured, dark, brooding type. Guillelm's scarred background and his battle with his own uncertainties allow him to develop as his relationship with Alyson deepens. Alyson herself is plucky, caring and idealistic, but strongly committed to Guillelm from quite early on. The masculine world she inhabits gives her an inner strength shared by many medieval women.

Your newest novel, Flavia's Secret, was released by Bookstrand yesterday! Can you tell us about it?

Yes, it was released on July 29th., earlier than originally scheduled, so it's out now! 'Flavia's Secret' takes place in Roman Britain in 206 AD, when the Romans had occupied Britain for two centuries. Flavia is a slave, a scribe in the house of a rich Roman woman who has died in suspicious circumstances, and Marcus is the brusque military officer who inherits the house. The romance between them is entangled with the mystery of the older woman's death.

What inspired this story and its setting, especially the time period?

My other favourite historical topic is ancient Rome. My husband and I had our honeymoon at Corbridge in Northumberland, near Hadrian's Wall, and when I visited Bath, years later, I thought the Roman Baths would be a wonderfully atmospheric and sensual setting for a historical romance! The reality, too, of a Roman freeing a slave and marrying her - which certainly happened - allowed me to explore a developing relationship from a new historical perspective.

I imagine both of your novels involved a great deal of research. Can you share with us how you go about researching your books?

A lot of reading, both of scholarly books and articles and more general ones, even children's history books (which are strong on pictures of everyday life). I'm also quite a keen Internet surfer, and find a lot of useful material quickly that way. If possible I like to visit the locations where I set my books, which in practice means a lot of holidays linked with research for novels. This may partly explain why I set my English modern romantic thrillers in Italy and the Greek islands...

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Walking, reading, cooking and going out with friends. Oh, and long languid baths with scented candles (and perhaps chocolate).

And here is a random question for you: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

There are a few to choose from, but if you'll allow me two I'll pick Henry II of England and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was such a strong, independent woman and had to be if she was married to a fiery and temperamental Plantagenet like Henry. I'd also like to see for myself if Henry actually rolled on the floor and chewed his blankets when he was angry, as the historians claim he did, but perhaps I'd have to watch from behind a large piece of solid furniture for protection!

Ha-ha! Thank you so much for being here, Lindsay. We wish you the best of luck with your writing!

Thanks and best wishes!

Can't get enough of Lindsay? Visit her website at and her blog at

We have a signed copy of A Knight's Vow for one lucky commenter! Let us know what you think of the interview, ask Lindsay a question of your own or just let us know what's on your mind. We will have a random drawing for the contest winner on FRIDAY! Good luck and thanks again to Lindsay for being here today.


BethRe said...

Both books sound interesting to be honest I don't believe that I have read many stories that take place during these time periods

Tiffany James said...


That was my thought also when I was first introduced to Lindsay and her writing. Lindsay is a master at evoking the era! She really made the 12th century come alive for me - the words and the phrases and the happenings of daily life. I've only read a bit of Flavia's Secret, but I can feel the same "time period immersion" in that book as well.

It's wonderful to see you at AH! Happy Wednesday.

Tiffany :0)

Lee Silver said...

I just had my first chance to read an excerpt from Flavia's Secret. Lindsay's attention to detail is marvelous! She weaves Flavia's feelings and emotions into the story as expertly as she makes the setting come alive for someone who is not a student of history. Well done, Lindsay!


Lee Silver
"Romance with a Twist"
THE TWIST, BookStrand #1 Bestseller

Jane Beckenham said...

A great interview Lindsay, really enjoyed getting to 'know' you a bit more.
Jane Beckenham

Tiffany James said...


Thanks for stopping by. I completely agree with you and can't wait to read more of Flavia's Secret!


BTW, You can also get Lee's book, The Twist, at got it yesterday along with Flavia's Secret... So many books, so little time! :0) I need to take a reading vacation - where all I do is read!!


Tiffany James said...


Thanks for stopping by AH. Glad you enjoyed Lindsay's interview!


P.S. Jane has a new book coming out in a couple of days called Love In sounds, I need to go check the couch cushions for money, honey...I want to buy Jane's book!

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Lindsay! Great interview. Loved A Knight's Vow and am really looking forward to starting Flavia's Secret.

You write in wonderful time periods and the research you've done is obvious.

Thanks for sharing with us!



Tiffany James said...


Hello! Great to see you. Thanks for stopping by. I love the little historical tidbits that are filed away in Lindsay's brain!


Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Bethre, Tiffany, Lee, Jane, Renee!
Thank you all for your kind comments! Tiffany James is a real sweetheart and I loved doing this interview with her!
I love writing about the past but always it's the romance, the characters, the hero and heroine getting together that matters most to me. If I can toss in some adventure and high stakes along the way, that's even better!
Thanks again, Tiffany!

All the best, Lindsay

Tiffany James said...


That is so true - I love great characters. It doesn't really matter where or "when" in time they are. If I can relate to and bond with the hero and the heroines, then I'll go just about anywhere with them!

I'm so happy to have you here at AH.

Tiffany :0)

DeeSKnight said...

Hi, LIndsay and Tiffany *waving!*

What a wonderful interview! I learned a lot about my friend I didn't know, and I'm so impressed. *G*

A Knight's Vow was great. Flavia's Secret is on my e-book reader waiting for me...waiting for me...

robynl said...

Hi and welcome Lindsay; went to your site and read the following about the book:

Little do they know, however, that there is an enemy in their very midst - one who won't resist until he destroys their chance at everlasting love...

This is exactly what it takes for me to want to read the book to find out WHO is the enemy and what they do.

kimmyl said...

I loved reading the interview.
What is the one thing that has surprised you most about being a published author?

Tiffany James said...


Great to see you! So glad you enjoyed the interview! Thanks for sharing. :0)


If you like it hot, check out Dee's website at A little more demure and reserved? Check out Dee's sister, Anne Krist at!

Tiffany James said...

Hi, Robyn!

You won't be disappointed with A Knight's Vow! It is wonderful and Lindsay is such a caring, supportive person - it makes me love her book even more! :0)


Tiffany James said...


Great question! I sent Lindsay an e-mail to let her know there is a question awaiting an answer. :0) It's 3:30 in the morning in Yorkshire where Lindsay lives...hopefully she is getting some sleep right now, so be sure to check back tomorrow!

Good luck in the contest.


Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Dee! (Waving!) Thanks!
Dee is also multi-talented! She writes wonderful, passionate novels! And she creates super graphics. Two are on my blog - come see my pretty moving banners!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Robyn!
Thanks for the kind comment! Good luck with the contest! I like writing 'bad guys in the midst' - it adds tension and can give my heroines and heroes more conflict. I'm not keen on characters who bicker about nothing much but real quarrels where both have valid points - those are interesting to do, and, I hope, interesting to readers.
Glad you enjoyed the interview. Tiffany is lovely! (And thanks, Tiffany for all those comments about me - I'm blushing here over in Yorkshire!)
Best Lindsay

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Kimmy!
I'm delighted you enjoyed the interview!
Interesting question! Surprise?

Being published for the first time in the USA this year, I've been surprised and delighted at the reader feedack. It's so great to chat to readers on yahoo message groups and to have readers email to ask me things. A reader gave me an idea for another novel - she enjoyed one character in A KNIGHT'S VOW so much she asked if I was doing a book about him. The instant I read it, I thought, 'Why not? Sir Tom is an interesting guy.'
I'm not working on a Sir Tom book just yest but I do intend to.

This positive reader feeback surprised me because in the UK readers rarely get in touch. And glowing reader feeback is the best thing a writer hopes for - it always makes my day!

Thanks again for the question, Kimmy, and good luck with the contest.