Interview with Sarah Butterfield

I would like to introduce Sarah Butterfield. Sarah is a blogger and an avid reader who has a passion for History.

Sarah, are you currently in school studying history?

I am indeed! I have always enjoyed reading history for pleasure, but it wasn’t my first choice for a degree. As well as history, I have a passion for science and have A-Levels (English higher education qualifications) in physics, chemistry and biology. I wanted to study molecular physics at degree level, but failed three times to pass with a high enough mark in advanced maths. After a lot of thinking, I decided not to admit defeat, and instead to work at gaining the appropriate qualifications in history to study that at degree level instead. Looking at my life now, with my excellent marks and success on this path, it is the best decision I ever made.

What will you be doing with your degree?

I am planning to stay on at university when I have completed my BA degree to gain a Masters.
 

Please tell your audience about your blog.

Sarah’s History is a place where I write factual articles about interesting people and events in history, mainly medieval, with book reviews and a few opinion posts thrown in. I blog a lot about anniversaries of births, deaths, executions, battles and so on. Things that interest me, and hopefully other people! I have hosted one guest post, have another guest lined up for January, and am willing to host any other guests.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Sophie Perinot’s novel, “The Sister Quuen’s,” about the Provencal sisters Eleanor and Marguerite. It is set in the thirteenth century and is a novelised life story of the queens of France and England. I have not read very much of it yet but am enjoying it very much. I am also reading Wallace’s nonfiction about the European Reformation for my current university modules.
 
 

What will you be reading next?

I am planning on reading a book called Cromwell to Cromwell by Schofield, which is a study of the English Reformation.

 

What is your favourite all time book?

My favourite book is, Douglas Adam’s, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

 
How long does it take you to read a book?

It really does depend on whether it is fiction or not. I can usually spend a week to ten days on a novel, less if I really like it! Nonfiction takes a little longer because I tend to read them slower and take in the information.

Which format do you prefer to read in, paperback or ebook?

My partner bought me a kindle for my birthday in March and I really love it for novels. It is so much easier for commuting and reading in bed. I do not have any nonfiction on it, though. So, I prefer my nonfiction in paper or hard back format but my novels in ebook format. I’ve also discovered lots of great new authors through kindle-only releases and freebies.

What is your opinion on how reviewers are viewed today by authors and readers?

Oh, wow. I have quite a strong opinion about this. I think there is nothing more off putting about an author than their behaviour towards negative reviewers. Just this year, I have seen attacks on reviewers that are really quite appalling; I’ve been subjected to one myself, in fact. If an author publishes their work, then they obviously want people to read it. Some people that read it will then want to tell people about it. There’s nothing unusual about that. Seeing an author then go on to link bad reviews, along with spiteful words, calls to arms and accusing the reviewer of a personal attack is horrible. I’ve seen blog posts about reviewers that makes me think, “why do you hate your readers? Why do you accuse them of illiteracy / stupidity / attacking you?” Of course, some reviews are not as good as others, but readers are generally clever enough to sort the wheat from the chaff. There are authors out there that I refuse to read now because of their online behaviour. To accuse a reviewer of bullying, writing blog posts, linking bad reviews and generally whining in public is bullying in itself, really.

I will never forget the reaction of one of my author friends to a two star review. “Thank goodness!” she said. “Some balance! I was worried people would think my good reviews were all plants!”

The truth is, people don’t trust a book with all good reviews, because it does look suspicious. Take with the good with the bad, and your readers will love you for it.
 

What are your opinions about self-publishing vs. mainstream publishing?

I used to think that self-publishing was mainly for rubbish books that could not get published any other way. How blind! Of course, some self-published books are not great, but the same can be said for traditional publishing. Two of the best books I’ve read this year, ‘Before the Storm’ by Melanie Clegg and ‘Betrayal’ by Michele Kallio, were both self-published. Now, I think that self-publishing is a good option for some great authors to be noticed, and I am not so quick to dismiss it. If the book is up my street and the author has done nothing to draw negative attention to themselves, I’ll read it regardless of publishing method. Self-published books tend to be cheaper too, which is always a bit of a bonus!

 
What is your favourite time in English History?

The thirteenth century, no contest. John, Henry III and Edward are all fascinating men in very different ways. The two queen Eleanors, Provence and Castile, also interest me greatly. There’s the civil wars, Magna Carta, a boy king, Louis of France’s attempt to steal England, Simon de Montfort’s grab for power, Lewes and Evesham, the conquest of Wales, wars with Scotland, unrest with France…. Seriously, what is there not to love about this period?

Who is your favourite monarch?

Ooh, this is a tough call between Henry III and Edward I. Can I have both? Of course I can’t! OK, I will say… Edward, Henry’s son, because he really was everything a medieval warrior king should be.
 
 

Will you be writing a novel?

It is not in my immediate plans, to be perfectly honest. I am a student, blogger and a mum of three, so my time is pretty well spent already! Never say never though. I love to write, blogging is my favourite thing to do, so it is something I may look at doing in the future.
 

Coffee or tea?

I’m going to be a typical Brit and say tea. Milk but NO sugar!

 
Sarah’s Links:
 
 Sarah’s blog, Sarah’s History, can be found at http://sarahshistoryblog.wordpress.com

Sarah’s facebook page can be found at http://facebook.com/sarahshistoryblog

Sarah can be followed on twitter: http://twitter.com/thirteenthCsara

Sarah can be friended on goodreads: http://goodreads.com/thirteenthCsara

 

Thank you Sarah!

Stephanie
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9 thoughts on “Interview with Sarah Butterfield”

  1. No comments, Sarah, we can't have that… ;)I don't bear grudges re book reviews! Well done on choosing history as your main subject, and sincere good wishes with your masters. History is my passion, too. Has been since old enough to read books for myself. What bugs me most about historical novels is when facts are twisted to fit with a specific plots, alongside lack of sufficient research. To often authors follow information that easily available within the public domain and accept such as gospel. There is much about the past (written accounts) of which propaganda and religious overtures have played a major role in concealing true facts. Basically glossy fibs, often spouted for personal advancement in political terms and have then become gospel according too (?), and sadly the lies in themselves become historical fact by(novelists)whom commit to Internet surfing research instead of in depth research.bestF

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  2. Hi Francine,Stephanie didn't ask me about historical accuracy, and I'm glad you've commented so I can talk about it 🙂 I don't mind a bit of fact bending in novels. I think IF it adds to the story, speeds things up, makes for a characters happiness (or sadness, I guess) then bring it on. There are things I don't like, though. I don't like being told I'm being presented with a factually accurate novel when that is not the case. I don't like historical women being turned into whores, especially queens (the amount of searches that reach my blog asking if Eleanor of Provence was an adulteress makes me want to cry!) and I do not like the deliberate demonisation of someone's character to make another character look better. That's a good way to make a novel fly across the room! 🙂 I do love historical fiction, it is a relaxing way to enjoy my favourite subject. Thank you for wishing me well, I really appreciate it! Sarah

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  3. As an author, I am indebted to reviewers, including this blog. I am published with a small press, and unpaid reviewers have been key to letting readers know my book even exists. My No. 1 rule for dealing with reviewers is to be nice. I also believe that the key word to historical fiction is "fiction." I try to be as true to history as possible, so you won't hear my medieval heroine say she won't marry a guy because she's apathetic to him. But my book is a creative work rather than a scholarly one.

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  4. As Kim Renfield says above, I am indebted to independent reviewers, including this blog. I am self-published and having reviewers of the quality of Sarah and Stephanie review my work is very important, without them it would be impossible to get the word out about my book.This is a wonderful interview between two very knowledgable and approachable women. Thanks so much Stephanie for this interview.Kudos to Kim and other historical fiction authors who know that while historical fiction is 'fiction' it is also historical and needs to stay true to the facts.

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