I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Susan Appleyard today to Layered Pages. Susan was born in England, which is where she learned to love English history, and now lives in Canada in the summer. In winter she and her husband flee the cold for their second home in Mexico. Susan divides her time between writing and her hobby, oil painting. Writing will always be her first love. She was fortunate enough to have had two books published traditionally and is very excited about soon publishing her fourth ebook.
Susan, how did you discover indieBRAG?
Hello, Stephanie, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and my work.
I first came across IndieBrag through an author posting in one of my groups about her success in winning a Brag Medallion. I submitted one of my books and soon I was the one doing the ‘bragging’.
Tell me a little about your story, Queen of Trial and Sorrow.
The book I submitted relates the story of Elizabeth Woodville, mother of the Princes in the Tower. The story juxtaposes Elizabeth’s happy marriage to King Edward IV with the perilous years of war. When death removes the King’s shielding hand, Elizabeth is unable to protect her family from the enmity of those who regard her and her family as upstarts.
Please tell me a little about the period in which your story is set.
My book is set in the fifteenth century during the turbulent period known as the War of the Roses. The war encompassed all of Edward IV’s reign and Elizabeth was inevitably caught up in it.
What fascinates you the most about Elizabeth Woodville?
To a large extent Elizabeth was a typical medieval queen, in that she sat in her palaces and received news of the exciting events going on beyond. Nevertheless, her life provides a wealth of drama, from her controversial marriage to her ultimate capitulation to the man she believed murdered her sons. It must be admitted that Elizabeth’s story is enriched by the people who moved through it: her handsome and charming husband, whose reign is marked by war and treachery; her two brothers-in-law, the volatile faithless Duke of Clarence, and the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III. Supporting characters include the matriarch, Cecily, Duchess of York, whose tragedy was to outlive all her sons and all her legitimate grandsons; and the Earl of Warwick, the ‘Kingmaker’. In this list I must also include the two doomed princes, whose lives, though short, contribute so much to the fascination of Elizabeth’s story. I doubt there was a queen who suffered such tragic losses as Elizabeth Woodville.
What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?
I hope the mood of my characters in the beginning of the book is one of optimism, with a new and idealistic king on the throne and a new marriage for Elizabeth, but as the story progresses and storm clouds gather, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the future. When the king dies the mood foreshadows the tragedies to come.
What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?
As queen, Elizabeth is motivated above all by the need help her family rise in the world and to avoid the impoverishment she suffered with the death of her first husband. She believes with wealth and power comes safety. But it is fatal reasoning. The more wealth and power her family accrue, the more they are resented by the old nobility. The Woodvilles pay a high price for Elizabeth’s elevation to the throne.
What is your personal opinion of Richard III?
My personal opinion of Richard III is expressed in my book. It is not a popular opinion these days. Nevertheless, I hold that he usurped the throne and then realized that as long as the princes lived they would be a danger to him and his son, and had them murdered. I have read extensively on the subject, fiction and non-fiction – I was even a member of the Richard III Society for a few years – and I have engaged in debate with those who hold the opposite view, but I have never read anything to make me change my mind.
Why do you love English history so much?
The period of the War of the Roses has been overwhelmingly popular with authors, and no wonder. Although it is my favourite, there are so many others, all with their share of drama, surprises, interesting characters, triumphs and tragedies. English history in incomparable, and it is all around in ruined castles and abbeys, in museums and libraries. Wherever you travel it is impossible to avoid reminders of England’s wonderful past.
How long did it take to write your story and where in your home do you like to write?
I always write in the mornings at my antique roll top desk in my office/spare bedroom. I cannot tell you how long it took to write my book. It went through several versions over several years before I arrived at the present one. I’ve become a little quicker since.
Where can readers buy your book?
In the U.S. my book can be found here
In the U.K. here
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Susan Appleyard who is the author of, Queen of Trial and Sorrow, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Quuen of Trial and Sorrow, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money
Stephanie M. Hopkins -indieBRAG Interview Team Leader