Sugar Crash by Elena Aitken

This is a story of a women name Darci whose daughter Taylor is diagnosed with diabetes. Darci is a single mother who works hard to provide her daughter with a good life and the reality of her daughter’s illness is hard for her to come to grips with. Taylor is a soccer player and she and her mother struggle with a women-once a friend-not accepting Taylor’s illness and wants her to step down from the team.

It’s truly amazing the prejudices and fear people have over diabetes. This story gives you a clear picture of what a person and their family goes through living with this disease.


Interview with Author Nancy Bilyeau

1.    Who or What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve had wonderful teachers at different points in my life that encouraged me. First there was a third grade teacher who praised a report I wrote after a class field trip and mounted a sign on the wall: “Have You Heard of Nancy Bilyeau, the Famous Writer?” Then in high school my English teacher, Lorene Erickson, filled me with appreciation for good writing. After college I went on to work as a reporter and editor for various magazines, and although I’ve always been a total bookworm I didn’t think I was meant to write fiction. But then about seven years ago I was asked to join a novelist workshop run by an author named Rosemarie Santini. They had one person drop out and needed that fourth writer for the workshop to function properly. In the workshop I came up with my idea for my first novel, which became “The Crown.” I think the reason I wanted to switch over to fiction was a hungering to tell my own stories and create characters.

2.    Please tell us about your novel, The Crown.

It’s a historical thriller set in Tudor England, during the reign of King Henry VIII. My main character, Joanna Stafford, is a Dominican novice at Dartford Priory. She leaves her priory without permission to go to the execution of her cousin, a condemned rebel against the king. This decision triggers her arrest and puts her in the grasp of some of the most powerful and ruthless men of the kingdom, who force her to search for an object of mystical importance in her own priory, an object that they hope can halt the Reformation and destruction of the Catholic church.

3.    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I wanted to tell the story of a strong, intelligent, resourceful woman who overcomes a great many obstacles in a time when many readers assume it would be especially difficult for an unmarried female to do that. I did extensive research of the lives of nuns in the late medieval and early modern age, and their independence and intellectual growth within the structure of the priory was impressive.

4.    What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I think I am good at balancing description and action. I try to use just the right detail to evoke a different place and time. Readers say they feel submerged in 1537, I take that as the finest of compliments.

5.    What are your goals as a writer?

I want to tell stories that entertain and intrigue people. I’m always very grateful when readers say they were up late at night because they really wanted to know what would happen next. But I don’t want to create page turners just for the sake of that. I want to bring complicated characters to life.

6. What books have most influenced your life?
There are so many! I’d start with Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” and Norah Lofts’s “The Concubine” and Antonia Fraser’s “Mary, Queen of Scots.”  My other most cherished novels are “Persuasion,” “Anna Karenina,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Eight,” “Possession,” and “The Age of Innocence.”

7. What is your next book project?
I’ve finished a sequel to “The Crown” called “The Chalice.” It takes Joanna Stafford through 1538 and 1539 as she gets caught up in a frightening conspiracy while struggling to cope with life outside of the priory. Most of the main characters of “The Crown” are in it, along with a lot of new people, including historical figures such as TWO women who would marry Henry VIII.

8. What is your favorite quote?
 Sir Thomas More: “If any good thing shall go forward, something must be adventured.”

9. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read very deeply in the type of writing you enjoy most and consider workshops where you can share your work with other authors and get constructive feedback. You don’t have to do everything they say but it will help you know if you’re on the right track!


Nancy Bilyeau is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Rolling Stone,” “Entertainment Weekly” and “Good Housekeeping.” She is a native of the Midwest, born in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. She now lives in New York City with her husband and two children. “The Crown” took five years to research and write. It was published by Simon&Schuster’s Touchstone in January 2012, by Orion Books in the U.K. in February 2012. It is also available in the Netherlands and Italy, and will appear in Germany, Brazil, Portugal and Poland by the end of the year.
Thank you Nancy for this lovely interview!

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun in the sixteenth century discovers her cousin is sentenced to burned at the stake at the orders of King Henry VIII. She leaves the priory to go to her cousin to show her support and she is arrested along with her father and they are sent to the Tower of London. Joanna is forced by Stephen Gardiner-a horrid man-to spy for him and to find a relic. He believes this relic, a crown is at the Dartford Priory where Joanna is a nun. She is sent back to Dartford along with two monks.

Joanna starts to unravel the history of the crown and as she discovers the mystery little by little things become very dangerous for her and the Priory. Who can she trust? Who can she turn to for help? Will she be able to save the Priory and the people she cares about including her fathers life?

This extraordinary, beautifully crafted story of mystery and intrigue held me into suspense to the very end leaving wanting more. I really enjoyed the historical details that Nancy included in this novel and the mystery surrounding the relic Joanna must find.

Historical Fiction at it’s best!


White Heart by Sherry Jones

King Louis VIII has died and Queen Blanche de Castille has discovered disturbing news surrounding his death. Blanche’s son becomes King and they face many enemies all around them who wants the crown for themselves. Who can they trust? Will Blanche be able to save her sons crown and their lives?

I haven’t read a whole lot about Queen Blanche de Castille. Author Sherry Jones has sparked an interest in me to learn more about her. From what I read from this story. She was a beautiful and courageous women and that is rare during her time. White Heart is a wonderful and entertaining story! A must read!


Interview with Author Elena Aitken

1. Elena would you please tell us about your latest book Sugar Crush.

Thanks, Stephanie! I’m so excited about Sugar Crash. It’s the story of a single mom, Darci who has always handled everything on her own. But when her twelve year old daughter, Taylor, is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she has to learn to open her heart and let others in.

I’m so excited about Sugar Crash because a lot of the events surrounding Taylor’s diagnosis are based on the real life events of my good friend, Deb and her own journey with diabetes.

2. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Obviously I want readers to gain a better understanding on diabetes. I feel that so often, diabetes is a very misunderstood disease and it doesn’t get the recognition and attention that it needs in order to help find a cure.

But Sugar Crash is about so much more than diabetes. Besides educating people, my goal is always to entertain and it’s my hope that readers relate to Darci’s story and her journey to accept help from others. Too often, women particularly, feel like we need to do it all on our own. And that’s just not true! As a society we need to get better at asking for and accepting help.

3. What is your next book project?

Oh, I have so many projects percolating in my brain right now. There’s just never enough time, it seems. BUT, my next book will be the second in the Castle Mountain Lodge Series. It will be set at a mountain lodge in the Canadian Rockies, the same as Unexpected Gifts, but will follow the story of two different characters. Although Andi and Colin will make an appearance in this next book as well.

4. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. I started writing stories in elementary school and won some short story contests in high school. I took a break from writing after I graduated and didn’t start up again until my twins were born in 2002. I tried my hand at writing a novel in 2005 and completely rediscovered my love for fiction again.

5. What are your goals as a writer?

My number one goal has always been to be able to reach someone with my stories. It’s always my hope that someone can pick up my book and be totally immersed in the story that they don’t want to put it down. But it’s when I hear that my story touched them in someway or made them think, or even opened a dialogue with someone they care about, that I know I’ve achieved my goal.  It sounds crazy, but I’m always pleased to hear that I’ve made someone cry because it means I’ve done my job as an author.

6. What books have most influenced your life?

This is a very tough question. But I’d say the books that influenced me most were every book that I ever picked up as a child and couldn’t put down. I devoured the Laura Ingels series, Babysitter’s Club, Anne of Green Gables and Sweet Valley. They’re all very different books, but the one thing they had in common was their ability to totally transport me to that time and want to be in the story. To me, as a child, that was amazing. And I knew I wanted to be able to do that too.

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

Another super hard question. I don’t know if I can answer this. I love so many books for so many reasons. BUT if I had to pick one it would be Diana Gabaldon because her books are truly amazing and she is a lovely and very giving person as well.

8. What is your favorite Quote?

“If you can dream it…DO it!” and “A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.” ~George Bernard Shaw.

9. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

If you want to write, WRITE! There are a million things that will get in your way…if you let them. Make time for what is important and put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and get it out. Write, write and then write some more.

Author Bio:

In no particular order, I am: a writer, a mother of twins, a swimmer, a wife, a volunteer, a runner, a friend, a triathlete, a daughter, a sister, a Brownie leader (recently retired), an auntie, a cyclist, employee and…

I’m trying to do it all and have it all because nobody said I couldn’t. And even if they did, I probably wouldn’t listen because I’m too busy.

I’ve been writing in one form or another since elementary school but although I always knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, instead I earned university degrees in Marketing and Psychology and writing got put on the back burner. After my twins were born I was buried in diaper changes, middle of the night feedings and mountains of laundry, so obviously it seemed like a logical time to start writing again. I guess it took me while to grow up.

I turned to non-fiction and became a regular contributor to local parenting magazines, published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and a compilation by Seal Press. It wasn’t until 2005 that I tried my hand at writing fiction and wrote my first novel. It’s buried on my hard drive where it should be, and I’ve since written three more.

Elena Aitken

Thank you Elena for this wonderful interview. I’m currently reading Sugar Crash and I’m enjoying it very much.