Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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 It took a while, but my first unpublished historical got me an agent and the second got a publisher interested.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 www.lindsaytownsend.com and her blog at http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com.
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.