Interview with Author Crystal Marcos



Stephanie: Award-winning author Crystal Marcos has been a storyteller her entire life. Being the oldest of five children, she had a lot of entertaining to do. She is a member of SCBWI. Crystal lives on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State with her husband and their daughter, Kaylee. Author of BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE.

Hello Crystal! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Bellyache.

Crystal: Thank you very much! I am very excited to receive this honor!

 BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale Awards & Honors:

~2013 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

~2012 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS Award-Winning Finalist in both categories of Children’s Fiction & Children’s Book Series

~2011 READERS FAVORITE Silver Award in its category

~2010 Nominated for the CYBILS Awards

A lip-smacking, mouthwatering, absolutely delectable debut, BELLYACHE: A Delicious Taleby Crystal Marcos is a literary feast for ages seven and up. In the vein of Roald Dahl’s best-loved adventures, Marcos offers a mystical, character driven escapade that intertwines strands of reality with a larger-than-life fantasy world. When Peter Fischer sets out to help his grandfather at Papa’s Sweet Shop, he will quickly learn that sneaking sweets and covering up his sugar-dusted tracks will have major consequences. As Peter is transported to a mysteriously delicious, faraway land, a curious people known as the Candonites, some of whom have no time for a non-Candonite, will teach Peter a lesson on what it means to be different and what it means to forgive.

Look for Marcos’ exciting second book in the children’s series, HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE.

 Stephanie: Is there a message you would like your young readers to grasp?

Crystal: Yes, the book contains a message on forgiveness and its importance. It also has other lessons sprinkled throughout the novel that I hope children understand and learn from.

Stephanie: That is a worthy lesson. Is this your first published children’s book?


Crystal: Yes, it is my first published children’s book and the sequel HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE is currently out. I have plans for future children’s books and I am currently working on my first Young Adult novel.

Stephanie: How exciting! Who designed your book cover?

Crystal: I am blessed to have an artist in the family. My sister and I worked together to create the covers of my books. It was a wonderful process and the covers turned out exactly as I pictured them. I had a vision and my sister, Marie Marcos, made it come to life through her art.

Stephanie: How wonderful to be able to work with your sister with your cover. What’s up next for you?

Crystal: As I had mentioned earlier, I am currently working on a Young Adult novel. I have plans for its release early part of next year. It is a post-apocalyptic dystopian book. I am very excited about this project!

Stephanie: I can’t wait to hear more about your young adult book. Will you self-publish again?

Crystal: Yes, definitely. Self-publishing is no longer the wave of the future, it is now! I have no regrets about becoming an Indie author and I love having creative control over my works. I have been blessed to receive recognition in the industry and believe it will continue with my future works.

Stephanie: It is definitely a wonderful industry. What advice would you give to someone who wants to write children books?

Crystal: Stop saying you want to write books and write them! Go for it. There is no better time than right now!

Stephanie: Great advice and I agree! What is the most single challenging thing about writing in this genre?

Crystal: The most challenging thing for me is finding the time to write. I have a little one at home and she comes first. I may not get my work done by when I originally planned but it always gets done. My daughter comes first, I have years to write and plan on doing just that.

Stephanie: I’m finding it hard to find time to write as well. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Crystal: I believe I actually discovered indieBRAG originally through Twitter. I am happy I did so. I enjoy what they are doing and think it is fantastic!

Crystal business card

You can visit Crystal at her website:

LINKS to buy her book can be found at

LINKS to Crystal:

Twitter: @CrystalMarcos






Stephanie: Thank you, Crystal! It was a pleasure chatting with you today.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Crystal Marcos, who is the author of, BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Interview with Author Barbara Ann Mojica



Stephanie: Hello Barbara! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE.


Barbara: Little Miss History Travels to Mount Rushmore is the first in a series of books using the Little Miss HISTORY character as a guide. She looks like a wannabe park ranger with pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. With her as your child’s guide learning about people and places of historical importance will be fun and educational. The aim of these books is to whet your child’s appetite to learn more about history and perhaps even visit these landmarks with you. Little Miss HISTORY presents information in a whimsical and factual way while amusing your child. I hope you will invite her into your home and enjoy this first adventure, and those to follow, with your loved ones.


Stephanie: What genre does this fall under?


Barbara: This book is children’s non-fiction. In the US it would be generally be aligned with fifth grade core curriculum which studies American history.


Stephanie: What inspired you to write children’s books?


Barbara: I am a historian with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in history who has New York State teaching certifications in elementary, special education and educational supervision. I spent several years as a principal of a special education preschool special education supervisor. Now that I am retired, I write biweekly historical articles for a local news magazine, but I also wanted to stay involved with children. So I married my love of teaching with history by using the Little Miss HISTORY character to inspire children to learn about historical people and visit landmarks such as the one covered in this book,

Mount Rushmore.


Stephanie: Are there any challenges writing children’s books?


Barbara: There are two challenges. The writer needs to make the text clear and concise. In my books, the pictures are really important in displaying the message as well as adding a level of humor and fun.


Stephanie: Is this your first published book?


Barbara: This is my first published children’s book. Previously I have published my master’s thesis and historical magazine articles.


Stephanie: Is there a message you would like your readers to grasp?


Barbara: I would like children to understand and appreciate our connections to our past history and its relevance to our future. At the same time, I want them to appreciate them as part of our heritage not a dull collection of facts.


Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

My husband, who is a talented illustrator and writer, designed the cover, the illustrations and all the computer set up for the book. We sit side by side and align the text with the illustrations.


Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?


Barbara: My second book in this series in which Miss HISTORY visits the Statue of Liberty will be released shortly before this interview. I am already working on final editing of the third book to be released before the end of spring 2014.


Stephanie: Will you submit it to indieBRAG?


Barbara: My second book is already on its way to indieBRAG, and I do plan to submit the third book when it is released.


Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?


Barbara: I discovered indieBRAG while surfing online and doing research on independent authors and websites. So glad that I did!


Again, I would like to thank you Stephanie for the time you took to chat with me and get to know more fellow indie readers and writers out there on the internet!


Barbara, it was a pleasure! Thank you!


Barbara Ann Majica


About Author:


I have two children and four stepchildren. My husband and I are also blessed with six grandchildren including two sets of twins! We live in Columbia County, New York where we write and draw daily in the studio located in our home. I spent many years studying history and have traveled extensively. My teaching career has involved working in the classroom and being a principal and administrator. Being able to combine my love of history, travel, and teaching in writing children’s books with the Little Miss

History character is a dream come true for me.


Author website:

Author blog:




Linked in:


Google +




A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Barbara Ann Mojica, who is the author of,   Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as,  Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE  merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Interview with Author Florence Osmund

Florence Osmund


Stephanie: Florence Osmund grew up in an old Victorian home in Illinois, complete with a coach house, the same house she used as inspiration for her first two books. She earned her master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and has obtained more than three decades of experience in corporate America. Her notable website is dedicated primarily to helping new authors—offering advice she wishes she had received before starting her first novel. Osmund currently resides in Chicago where she is working on her next novel.

Florence, thank you for chatting with me again and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your story, Daughters. Please tell me about your book.

Florence: The year is 1949, and twenty-four-year-old Marie Marchetti has just discovered the identity of her father, Jonathan Brooks, the father she never knew. She hopes the invitation from him to spend two weeks with her newfound family over Thanksgiving will help uncover vital truths about herself. Discovering who her father is also means discovering her own ethnicity, and her strong need to understand who she really is and where she belongs drives her to seek peace and truth in her life. A lot happens as a result of Marieʾs Thanksgiving visit. But the most life-altering consequence of it unexpectedly grows out of an encounter with a twelve-year-old girl named Rachael.

Why did you chose 1949 to write your story, and what interests you about writing period pieces?

Florence: The reason I may be drawn to that era is because I like developing a story without regard to modern technology. Cell phones, the Internet, iPads, iPods, and the like add a dimension in life’s situations I don’t care to consider. I would rather develop characters who use their raw talents to approach what life throws at them, without the advantage (or encumbrance, depending on the situation) of technology. But I also like the romanticism of that era— the music, the movies, the way people dressed up for the theater, and the way men courted women.




How long did it take you to write your story, and were there any challenges?

Florence: Oh, there were challenges, alright. The first book I wrote (which was later cut in two, resulting in “The Coach House” and “Daughters”) was written without any training whatsoever. I made just about every mistake an author can make. After taking a few classes, reading every article and book I could find on how to write a novel, and scrutinizing other authors’ works, I spent so much time fixing the mistakes, I think it may have been easier to start over. As a result, it took three and a half years to publish my first two books.

Please tell me a little about Marie Marchetti. What are some of her strengths and weaknesses?


Florence: I created Marie to be a woman before her time. Marie worked her way up to manager of Marshall Fields’ flagship store in downtown Chicago, when back then, only men held the higher level management positions. I created her to be strong, intelligent, and perseverant, yet vulnerable and sensitive.

What inspired you to write this story?

Florence: Long before I started writing, I had a myriad of thoughts about what could make a good novel. My inspirations came from everyday life —in business meetings, observing strangers out and about doing their business, listening to friends talk about their lives, etc. Every time I had an idea, I wrote it down. Then when I retired and was ready to start writing my first book, I gathered all these scraps of paper I had accumulated, sorted them into piles, and before long Marie Marchetti’s story emerged.

What genre does it fall under, and who designed your book cover?

Florence: I have been categorizing this book under literary fiction. I believe it could also be classified as mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, and in some cases, historical fiction. The cover was designed by Rachael Mahaffey.

Where can readers buy your book?

Florence: There are four ways to purchase this book.



What is your next book project?


Florence: I am currently writing a novel titled “Red Clover.” Lee Oliver Winekoop is born into exceptional wealth, but despite having been given extraordinary opportunities, he struggles with even the smallest undertakings. The increasing feeling of inadequacy he endures as a result eventually affects everything in his life. What Lee does on his journey into manhood is surprising; the variety of roadblocks he confronts is unnerving; and the implausible cast of characters he befriends along the way is amusing. This book is about Lee’s life journey to success—as he has exclusively and creatively defined it.

How often do you write, and where in your home is your favorite spot to do so?

Florence: I write just about every day at my desk that’s nestled into a bay window of my bedroom overlooking Lake Michigan. I find the water and the activity on the lake both thought-provoking and calming.

What do you like most about writing?

Florence: In addition to stimulating the creative side of my brain, writing gives me the opportunity to make sense of things that trouble me and then share my views with others—vicariously through my characters.

Thank you, Florence!


Facebook author page:


Amazon author page:


A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Florence Osmund, who is the author of, Daughters, one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Daughter merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


No Greater Evil by R.A.R. Clouston

No greater evil

For only the second time in American history, the nation teeters on the verge of civil war as home-grown extremists threaten to do what foreign terrorists were unable  to accomplish; destroy the Republic. And now, like Abraham Lincoln before him, the President must suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus and let slip the dogs of war. However, this time it is not an army that marches into battle; it is an elite group of covert professionals known simply as the Section. Their mission is to capture or kill domestic terrorists, although few of their targets will be brought in alive.

Jericho  Kerk, a wealthy CEO, ex-Marine, and former member of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, is recruited into the Section. He is given a license to kill, which he does with ruthless and seemingly invincible proficiency. However, a dark side to Kerk’s complex persona soon emerges. He is tormented by dreams filled with the image of a terrifying beauty who wants to take his soul.

No Greater Evil is currently free on Amazon Kindle until the 13th. Please get your copy today!  You don’t want to miss this wonderful offer! Here is a review from a reviewer in Amazon about the book:

Link to download for free:

Interview with Author Steven A. McKay

Steven Mckay

Stephanie: Steven A. McKay is a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Doug Jackson, Anthony Riches, and Robert Low et al.

His first book, Wolf’s Head, is set in medieval England and is a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. His take on the theme is quite different to anything that’s been done before. It is available NOW on Kindle as well as paperbacks from Amazon.

The second book in the trilogy is coming along and should be available not too long after Wolf’s Head…

Hello Steven! Welcome and thank you for chatting with me today. So tell me about your book, Wolf’s head. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about your story.

Steven: Hi Stephanie, thanks for having me on your page! Wolf’s Head is my reinterpretation of the Robin Hood legend, but rather different from other versions of the tale. It’s set in Yorkshire, rather than Nottingham, and in the 14th century rather than the 12th. The old familiar characters are mostly there, but hopefully I’ve given them a fresh new slant. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and it’s showing up incredibly well in the Amazon charts so I really couldn’t be happier with things.

Stephanie: Really interesting that you change the dates. I’m looking forward to reading your story. When did you fist become interested in this legend and when did you know you wanted to write your story?

Steven: To be honest, I was never particularly interested in Robin Hood. I mean, I thought he was an interesting character, but I wasn’t drawn to him any more than other mythical figures. I wanted to write a novel about someone like King Arthur, I just couldn’t think who should be the protagonist. Literally two minutes after I started to think about it, I drove into a street and saw a house called “Sherwood” and, well, my decision was made for me! I couldn’t ignore a sign like that.

Stephanie: That is great! You definitely couldn’t ignore a sign like that and it looks like you made the right choice. There seems to be quite a lot of historical aspects to your story. What is some of the research you did and what fascinates you most about the period this story is written in.

Steven: Again, like the previous question, I didn’t really choose the period to set the story in. My first task was to look back at the very first, original stories about Robin Hood and his men. I was surprised to find these ballads said he lived in Yorkshire, around Barnsdale Forest, and the evidence suggested he lived around the time of King Edward II. I didn’t want to simply tell an interesting story – I wanted to make it as realistic and historically accurate as I could, so my period was chosen for me by those ballads.

I read whatever non-fiction books on Robin I could find, watched a lot of “Robin of Sherwood” which was great fun, and I read general history books. Two of my favourite sources were Ian Mortimer’s “Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England” and Terry Jones’s (of Monty Python fame) “Medieval Lives”. Both are scholarly history books, but they’re also fun, with lots of silliness and bizarre facts, I highly recommend them!

Wolf's Head

Stephanie: That is clever you chose your period by those ballads. And I had not realized that he lived around the time of Edward ll. How fascinating. I adore Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s guide! Fantastic read! I will have to check out Terry Jones’s book.  

In the blurb on Amazon about your book it says, “Wolf’s Head” brings the brutality, injustice and intensity of life in medieval England vividly to life, and marks the beginning of a thrilling new historical fiction series in the style of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow and Anthony Riches.” What fascinated you about these three men and how do they impact your writing?

Steven: I wouldn’t say I’m fascinated with them – I just thought comparing myself to them might sell a few books! No, seriously – the biggest inspiration for me to write a historical novel was Bernard Cornwell and his King Arthur books. I just loved how he took a well-known old legend and made it fresh, vibrant and somehow REAL. He continues to lead the way in the genre with his Saxon books – he’s the MAN when it comes to this sort of fiction. Simon Scarrow and Anthony Riches both write quite straight-forward ass-kicking books with interesting characters, in interesting locations, and in a contemporary style. I’ve greatly enjoyed their books over the years. I had one of my early reviewers telling me what I’d done with Wolf’s Head reminded them of Simon’s stuff, and another suggested if Bernard tried writing Robin Hood it would be something like mine. I wouldn’t class myself among those guys, but I was very pleased to get compliments like that.

Stephanie: I really want to read Cornwell’s King Arthur books and his Saxon books. The other two authors sounds intriguing. I will check them out. Well, I’m sure your book is among the class of theirs from what I hear. 


What is the most challenging thing to write about Historical Fiction and what advice would you give someone who is considering writing in this genre?

Steven: I read a lot of histfic and it seems many authors either don’t put in enough of the historical background, or, more often, too much. Ultimately, a reader wants a great STORY, not a history lesson. But if you’ve researched your period it can be tempting to throw in random facts here and there, just to prove you know what you’re talking about. To an extent, I think that’s fine – but I’ve read books recently that must be about 140,000 words long and they could have been told much better in 100,000. One of them in particular started with a description of a Templar going down some stairs to an underground meeting – the walk took him about three chapters!

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to do your research, but never lose sight of the fact you’re telling a story, and don’t “over egg the pudding” with too many words.

Stephanie: Three chapters?! Oh, my! That sounds like it would be daunting to read. And I completely agree with your advice.  


How long did it take you to write, Wolf’s Head and who designed your book cover?


Steven: I started researching the book about three years ago. At the time I was doing an Open University degree, so I waited until I completed that, then I started writing my novel. I work full time, and my daughter was only 2 or 3 years old at the time, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time (or energy!) to write. Then, during that period we suffered some very difficult and upsetting events and, at times, nothing seemed important, especially not writing. But the closer I came to finishing it, the more determined I became to do something with it, especially after I hired a highly-respected editor to go over the manuscript.

In comparison, I’ve been working on the sequel, The Wolf and the Raven for about six months and its half-finished already, so fingers crossed that will only take one year rather than three!

The cover was by the guys at GB Print (you can find them on Facebook). I loved Gordon Doherty’s cover for Legionary and he told me who’d done it for him, so I contacted them with a basic idea of what I wanted and they came up with what you see now. It was, I think, worth every penny. It’s eye-catching, striking, and looks professional which is important for a self-published author I think.

Stephanie: Crossing my fingers it won’t take that long for the sequel and I’m sure it will be great! Well, they did a great job on the cover! And I agree, the cover is important!


How often do you get a chance to read for pleasure and what is the name of the book you have just read?

Steven: I try to read at least a little every day. I’m re-reading Glyn Iliffe’s King of Ithaca just now, since his newest book is due out soon, and I’m also reading Ben Kane’s Spartacus, after just completing Robert Southworth’s great book of the same name! All are highly recommended.

Stephanie: Goodness my reading list is getting longer from our chat! But I’m not complaining one bit!  


Are you a paperback or e-reader sort-of guy?


Steven: Well, if you’d asked me a month ago, I’d have said paperback every time. But I own Ben’s Spartacus on both formats and the weird thing is, I haven’t touched the paperback, I’ve been reading it on the Kindle app on my tablet. So, I suppose I’m a convert to e-readers.

Stephanie: Wow! You’re the first I have interviewed who has said that about what format they prefer to read in.


Do you write reviews for all the books you read?

Steven: I try to now that I’ve realized how important it can be to an author. Although there have been times recently where I just didn’t enjoy a book very much so I haven’t left a review, rather than giving it a kicking. Obviously I don’t have a great deal of free time, so if a book doesn’t grab me within at least the first third I’ll move onto something else. Leaving a review for a book I haven’t even finished wouldn’t be on. I’m not saying no one should leave bad reviews- just that- as an author, I don’t think it’s my place to do that. However, if I genuinely enjoy a book, I’ll be more than happy to tell everyone that will listen about it!

Stephanie: I agree. Where is your favorite reading/writing spot in your home?

Steven: Bed! Beds are great places for all sorts of fun things – like watching TV or sleeping. I put my earphones on so I can’t hear “Big Brother” or whatever other nonsense the wife’s got on the TV and lose myself in another world for a while.

When I’m writing I do it in the dining room, where I can see our back garden which is mostly flowers, bushes, trees – nature basically. When you’re writing about life in a medieval forest it’s nice to be able to look out at a nice view like that and I’m thankful to have it.

Stephanie: I like to write and be able to see out a window as well. I have a really big maple right outside my window. It’s nice….

What are some of your thoughts on the self-publishing industry and where do you see it in five to ten years?

Steven: Before I published Wolf’s Head I was desperate to find an agent and a publisher, but none of them were interested and at first I found it crushing. It feels like you’ve wasted years of your life working on something no one wants to know about. However, since I self-published the book I’ve been blown away by the response. People DO want to know about it, and, unlike what some agents suggested, there IS a market for Robin Hood. Without the ability to put Wolf’s Head out there myself the manuscript – and my dreams of becoming a writer – would have been forgotten. I think writers today are very lucky to have the opportunity to do this sort of thing and they should grasp it with both hands.

Hopefully the market will continue to grow and in five years readers all over the world will be able to buy affordable books – lots of people aren’t able to pay £20 for a hardback, so it’ll be good for everyone to have access to the same book on an e-reader for £2 or £3 or even less. Let’s get the whole world reading!

Hopefully they’ll all buy Wolf’s Head…


Stephanie: I feel that publishers/agents don’t always know that readers want and I’m so glad you decided to publish anyways and congrats on a good job well done!

Steven: Thank you!

Thanks for having me, and for such interesting questions, it’s been fun

Steven’s link:

Interview with Author Elizabeth Fremantle

Elizabeth F

Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN’S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects see  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Hello Elizabeth! Welcome and thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about your book, Queen’s Gambit. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about your story.

Elizabeth Hello to you, and thank you so much for hosting QUEEN’S GAMBIT on your blog. I’m obviously delighted that you have heard such good things about it. When you launch a first novel it’s impossible to imagine how people will react, so the lovely things people have said are a source of great joy.

QUEEN’S GAMBIT tells the story of Katherine Parr, the wife who ‘survived’ Henry VIII, describing the period from when she first catches the eye of the King until the demise of her disastrous fourth marriage. It is told from three points of view: that of Katherine Parr, her doctor Robert Huicke and her maid Dot Fownten, giving a prism of perspectives on the Tudor court at a time of great turbulence.

When did you fist become interested in this period and when did you know you wanted to write your story?

I have always enjoyed reading history and read Jean Plaidy voraciously as a child, which is when the seeds were sown for my own historical fiction. It was when I first read Stephan Zweig’s two wonderful historical biographies (of Marie Antoinette and Mary Queen of Scots) in my early twenties that my desire to discover more about the lives of women from history was born. However having studied English as a degree, I felt I wasn’t qualified to write about history. So my first (unpublished) novels were contemporary fiction but I failed to find my voice, until I decided to try my hand at writing the past. Once I began work on QUEEN’S GAMBIT everything seemed to fall into place – it was as if I’d unlocked something in myself and began to realize that much of what I had learned reading English was also history. It all comes down the study of texts.

Queens Gambit

What is some of the research you did and what fascinates you most about the royal court surrounding this story?

So much of my research is textual and there are some extraordinary biographies of Katherine Parr but I also explored renaissance etiquette books, recipe books and social histories as I felt it was of great importance to create as close to an authentic world for my characters to inhabit. I spend a great deal of time wandering around old houses and castles, trying to imagine myself back in time. A course I took in Tudor and Stuart clothing, looking at all aspects of dress, from its construction to its symbolic value, was invaluable as I have used clothing to represent the restricted lives of women in the book. Research is an on-going process and inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. A documentary series about Amish women, for example, gave me insights into the lives and beliefs of Tudor women, as they operate under some of the same social restrictions.

As for the court, it is the constant sense of impermanence and danger that I find particularly fascinating. These people, however privileged, were living on a constant knife-edge and I wanted to articulate that in QUEEN’S GAMIT.

You have certainly done a lot of research and I’m sure it’s paid off. I love visiting old homes and hope to visit castles one day. I often wonder at times how the people at court could stand it for so long and the pressure they were constantly under….

Katherine Parr is my favourite among King Henry’s wives.  What sets your book apart from others about her? And were there any challenges writing about her?

Katherine Parr was a gift in the sense that her life is a perfect narrative arc with drama, romance and ultimately tragedy. I have tried to show her as the vibrant, politically astute and intelligent woman she was, rather than the dull nursemaid that history has remembered her as. But one of the things that interested me most about her is the essential contradiction in her character, in that she, a clever, canny woman, makes a disastrous decision in the name of love. For me this is what makes her story resonate with modern women.

To be honest, I have never read another novel about Katherine Parr, only historical biographies, so I am not the person to ask about comparisons, but each novelist will have created her in her own particular way. What I have tried to do is get beneath her skin and understand how she might have thought and felt (how might it have truly felt to be the wife of such a tyrant) whilst adhering as much as possible to the historical facts as we know them.

What is the most challenge thing to write about Historical Fiction and what advice would you give someone who is considering writing in this genre?

I suppose the challenge is getting the balance of fiction and history. For me it was important to remain faithful to history but it is the inner worlds of characters that make for good fiction and creating characters, even those based on real people, is an act of imagination. I find having a restrictive framework of history to work within forces you to explore different narrative possibilities more deeply, but it can be frustrating at times. In QUEEN’S GAMBIT, for example, a main character dies half-way through the narrative – that is something I couldn’t change and had to find a way for that death to make sense within the arc of the story.

My advice is to do all your research, then set it aside and write your story without trying to pack it full of evidence of your knowledge. One of the greatest complements I have received is that QUEEN’S GAMBIT wears its research lightly.

How long did it take you to write your story? Will you write others that take place in this period?

From start to finish QUEEN’S GAMBIT took about eighteen months but it came at the end of a ten-year period of writing fiction (an MA in Creative Writing and three unpublished novels). I had said to myself that I would have to stop if I didn’t find a publisher for it. Happily it has worked out for the good and I have realized that the wilderness years all contributed to honing my skill as a writer.

I have written the second in my Tudor trilogy. SISTERS OF TREASON is out next year and is about the two younger sisters of Lady Jane Grey, a pair of girls who were born dangerously close to the throne at a time of great instability. It begins in Mary Tudor’s bloody reign but when Elizabeth comes to the throne things become increasingly difficult for the Grey girls. In SISTERS OF TREASON, though we don’t revisit any of the main characters from QUEEN’S GAMBIT we are reacquainted with some of the characters in the background, and of course the two Tudor princess, watching their rise to the throne and the consequences of this.

Tough question. What are your thoughts on the Reformation and how the Church of England was established?

I find it impossible to have a straightforward opinion on this because in many ways the Reformation was a force for good, in that it counteracted a deeply corrupt Catholic church and offered ordinary people a way to think, read and learn about faith in a personal and intimate way. Some of the violent acts perpetrated in the name of religious reform though, were unconscionable. But then again religion and politics were inextricably linked in those days and faith was used as a means to control people. You only have to think of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition or the 280 odd Reformers who were burned in Mary Tudor’s reign to understand that terrible things were done in the name of both Catholicism and reform, but such acts were political at heart. It does make me deeply sad though, when I visit the ruins of the great monasteries and abbeys in England and wonder about the violent erasure of a tradition that had persisted for centuries and all the beauty and tradition that was lost forever.

I agree with you. How often do you get a chance to read for pleasure and what is the name of the book you have just read?

All reading is a pleasure for me, even if it is work, but I am on holiday at the moment, with a stack of novels on my Kindle to read without having to make notes.  The book I am reading today is Blood Royal by Vanora Bennett, about Catherine de Valois and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Are you a paperback or r-reader sort-of gal?

Elizabeth: I have a reader for convenience and for reading when I’m traveling but I do prefer a good paperback if I’m honest.

Same here. I love my e-readers but prefer a paperback. Do you write reviews for all the books you read?

If there were time enough…

Also, if I particularly enjoy a book I often want to share that with other people even if it’s just via a Tweet. I don’t think wholly negative reviews are helpful, unless there is something very specific to say. But then I’m a writer so I would think that.

Where is your favourite reading/writing spot in your home?

I have a study, filled to the gunnels with books and I sit at my desk beside the window to write, with my dogs by my side to keep my company. As for reading, my favourite place is in bed, in the morning!

Stephanie: I to have my desk by the window. It’s a beautiful spot to write. There is a beautiful Maple Tree right outside my window and just beyond that great big Holly Bushes….and love all my books around me and my dog loves to sit beside me when writing.

 Elizabeth it was a pleasure chatting with you! Thank you!