Interview with Award Winning Author Conrad Taylor

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Conrad Taylor is one of the first two Guyanese admitted to West Point. He attended the highly-regimented United States Military Academy on a scholarship in 1969, as one of ten students from Latin America and the Caribbean. He studied and trained there at the height of the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and the 60s counterculture upheavals, before returning to Guyana, South America. Conrad lends the unique perspective of that life-changing opportunity – and eventual hasty emigration – to his award-winning memoir, PATH to FREEDOM: My Story of Perseverance.

The former Guyana Defense Force officer and semi-retired executive uses his extensive business experiences, including as a CEO, as an adviser on Strategy, Leadership, and Change Management. He holds a Master’s degree in Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, a Bachelor’s in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and an Executive Program certification from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. An avid soccer fan, Conrad represented ARMY on an undefeated freshman team and in three NCAA playoffs. The husband, father, and grandfather has also been an Assistant Coach to four Illinois Youth Soccer State Championships teams.

Stephanie: Hello Conrad! It is an honor to be chatting with you today. Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion. Please tell me about your book, “Path to Freedom.”

Conrad: Hello Stephanie! Thank you for making time for this interview. I am honored that indieBRAG’s book enthusiasts chose to award a B.R.A.G. Medallion to PATH to FREEDOM: My Story of Perseverance.

“PATH to FREEDOM: My Story of Perseverance” is an uplifting coming-of-age memoir with a subtle love story. It charts a sometimes-humorous journey from a remote mining town in the jungles of Guyana, South America to the wind-swept plains of West Point, New York – and back. It is set during the controversial Vietnam War, the fractious counterculture of the late 60s, and the geopolitically-charged Cold War era. The historically-accurate narrative sums up rude awakenings, especially after West Point – because of West Point. Pro-American and democratic when I left to attend the highly-regimented United States Military Academy, my government had turned repressive, anti-American, and paranoid by my return after graduation. The new Soviet-leaning dictatorship feared regime change. Its power-hungry leaders obsessed about my being a spy for the United States. Mine was the impossible task of proving a negative!

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Stephanie: What is the message in your story that you would like readers to grasp?

Conrad: The message that I would like readers to grasp from my story is that each of us has a greater capacity to deal with adversity than we think. So, Stay the Course!

Stephanie: Were there any challenges you faced while writing your story? Was there a scene or subject in your book you found difficult to write about?

Conrad: Yes. One of my challenges was developing, or maybe discovering, a writing style that I could sustain comfortably for a whole book. Until PATH to FREEDOM, most of my writing were occasional short essays for company newsletters. My most significant writing project had been researching and completing a master’s thesis in business school.

I found it difficult writing about my first moments at West Point. It took me a while to find the right words to adequately convey the shock of the rude awakening that followed. I had known very little about West Point, when I arrived there. I believed that it was merely a place to receive a college education!

Stephanie: Based on your life experiences, looking back would you have done anything differently or would you do the same?

Conrad: I would be less reluctant to ask for the help, before adversity struck.

Stephanie: What was the most profound moment for you at West Point?

Conrad: My most profound moment at West Point was the long collect call, which I made from West Point to my parents in Guyana, South America. My purpose was to complain about the difficulty of being a Cadet at West Point – and to say that I wanted to quit. I made the call during a particularly physically and mentally demanding period of rigorous training at the United States Military Academy aptly known as – Beast Barracks.

Stephanie: The Vietnam War was controversy at best. What are your thoughts and do you feel that the US made the right decision in getting involved?

Conrad: The Vietnam War severely damaged the psyche of America. The trauma was so deep that feelings about it placed husbands, wives, brothers, sons, daughters, and friends on different sides of the argument. Many of my classmates lost girlfriends because of their decision to attend West Point. Death announcements of fallen West Point graduates was an all too common occurrence during my four years as a Cadet!

I believe that the nature and extent of US involvement in Vietnam was more the issue, than the actual decision to get involved.

Stephanie: Are you working on another book project?

Conrad: Yes, I have started another book. The working title is, “ARE WE THERE YET? My Immigrant Journey of Assimilation.” I am in the early stages of that project.

Stephanie: What advice could you give to an aspiring author?

Conrad: Just do it! When I started writing PATH to FREEDOM, my goal was merely to provide my kids and grandkids with a glimpse of their cultural heritage – and the mayhem of Third World politics – in an interesting, readable way. I had put off tackling such a project for many years for a myriad of reasons, including not knowing where to start. One day I just started writing, progressing by trial and error. I will readily admit that my approach may be inefficient and frustrating for some. However, it proved effective for me. I enjoyed finding the perfect word or turn of phrase to convey my thoughts. Surprisingly, the process has produced a B.R.A.G. Medallion winner. So, just start writing and see what happens!

Stephanie:  How did you discover indieBRAG?

Conrad: Bookbaby.

Stephanie: What is your favorite quote?

Conrad: A mistake made, corrected, and learned from, is a mistake well made.

You may visit Conrad’s Website

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Conrad Taylor, who is the author of, Path to Freedom one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . 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, Path to Freedom merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Author Darcy Eikenberg

1-Darcy Eikenberg Photo.Black Jacket over Purple Shirt

 

Stephanie: Hello, Darcy. Congrats on winning the BRAG medallion. Please tell me about your book, Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control.

Darcy: Thank you! I’m honored that “Bring Your Superpowers to Work” was chosen!

The book is a practical guide for anyone who’s successful “on paper”—good job, good company, good pay—but feeling less than successful on the inside. It’s filled with real-world, simple ideas to help you change your life at work without having to change everything in your life.

 

Stephanie: What genre does it fall under? And how long did it take you to write it?

Darcy: It’s a non-fiction business book in the career development and leadership space. However, I’ve had some people refer to it as self-help because of all the simple, practical actions and tools the book shares that any one of us can use in our work-life.

The book started as a series of posts on my blog, www.RedCapeRevolution.com. I wasn’t focused on writing a book, but an agent who had subscribed to my monthly email newsletter suggested I consider it. I started to work on a nonfiction book proposal to pitch the book in the traditional way, and soon realized I could spend that same time actually writing the book! I stopped focusing on the proposal and started focusing on the book, and it took me about four months from that point to finish writing and another five to complete the editing, design, and publishing process.

 

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Stephanie: Is there a message in your book you want your readers to grasp? If so, please explain.

Darcy: The message of my book–and the theme of my ongoing writing at http://www.RedCapeRevolution.com–is that no matter what the state of the economy, your company, or your profession, you have all the tools you need to revolutionize your life at work–without having to change everything in your life.

It makes me sad when people start to believe that nothing can ever change for the better in their life at work.  I’ve met so many people who think that way–it’s such a waste. That’s why I urge people to think back to when they were a kid–when you grabbed a towel or a sheet and flung it around your shoulders. You felt strong, confident–like you could do anything, right? What if you could feel that way every day at work? What might change in our companies, communities, and our world if we all started wearing our red capes again and bringing our unique superpowers to work?

 

Stephanie: Is this your first published book?

Darcy: Yes. I’ve published many articles and blog posts in the past, but this is my first book.

Stephanie: Was there any research involved?

Darcy: Yes, the work is based on thousands of hours of work with my coaching and consulting clients, and includes success stories from many of them. Since I also do quite a bit of public speaking, I tested these ideas with audiences during the writing process, and that also helped me see what ideas resonated and which needed work.

Stephanie: What inspired you to write your book?

Darcy: As an executive coach, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people who seem extremely successful “on paper,” but who felt stuck and unhappy in their life at work. The traditional career advice of “find a new job” or “work harder to get a promotion” doesn’t work for these talented individuals who were often ashamed to admit they worried that they were wasting their life. To grow my expertise and to be of the most help to them that I could, I read many books on different career transition and growth strategies. But I found the advice in most career books either too academic and not applicable to today’s workplace, or too immature and naive of how to grow and succeed in the new world of work.

So I wrote the book my clients needed, and their successes–and now the successes of my readers–continue to inspire me.

Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?

Darcy: I have a new e-book coming out in mid-October called “27 Days to Change Your Life at Work.” It will initially only be available free to members of my community who’ve signed up at www.RedCapeRevolution.com. Later next year it’ll be available for sale on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.

I’m also researching topics for my next book, based on the problems and concerns I’m hearing from my clients about keeping more humanity, fun, as well as success in our workplaces. I welcome any stories from readers about what’s happening in their world of work–and what would help them change it for the better. You can email me directly at Darcy@RedCapeRevolution.com.

 

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Darcy: “Bring Your Superpowers to Work” is available in both paperback and e-versions on Amazon and B&N.com. You can also download it on iBooks. You can also buy bulk copies for team or client gifts directly from my team at book@RedCapeRevolution.com. It’s been a great present for corporate people to give during the holidays or as thank you gifts–one size fits all, and it’s fat free! 🙂

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Darcy: When I decided to publish independently, I searched for organizations who were supporting and advocating this business model in the marketplace. indieBRAG was one I’ve followed, and we submitted my book for submission. It’s an honor to be one of a growing number of non-fiction works recognized there, and I look forward to reading other Medallion books soon!

Thank you, Darcy!

Author Bio:

In addition to her coaching work with executives and leaders, Darcy founded career and success site RedCapeRevolution.com as a way to help successful professionals at all levels discover their “superpowers” and make a bigger difference in the new world of work. Her book, Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence and Control is available on Amazon and BN.com. You can download a free chapter and explore more free tips and tools at RedCapeRevolution.com.

Darcy is a popular speaker on career and leadership issues, working with organizations such as the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and the Risk Management

Society (RIMS). She’s been quoted in the Harvard Business Review, CNN.com,

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Modesto Bee, and CareerBuilder.com among others.

Darcy is the past president of the Georgia Coach Association and earned her credentials through the

International Coach Federation. She graduated from Northwestern University and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She welcomes hearing from you and supporting your success.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Darcy Eikenberg, who is the author of, Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control   one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . 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, Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

Interview with Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown

Stephanie: I would like to introduce Debbie Brown. Author and admin of the English Historical Fiction Authors Group on Facebook and co-editor of Castles, Customs, and Kings. 

Hello Debbie! I am so delighted to be chatting with you today and I’m really looking forward to reading, Castles, Custom & Kings! I do know that this is a collection of essays- if you will- from authors and it is non-fiction? Please tell me more about it and who the contributors of the book are.

 

Debbie: Thank you for having me on your wonderful blog, Stephanie!

 

Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors is an anthology of selected historical posts from the first year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. The articles are written from the research done by fifty-five authors in preparing to write their novels.  Some are regular members of our blog group, and some are guest posters—some are mainstream published, and others are independent authors.

 

Stephanie: Who designed the book cover?

 

Debbie: The publisher works with a book designer named Masha Shubin. I love the work she did on this book! It is beautiful inside and out.

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Stephanie: She did an amazing job! What was your inspiration to put this book together?

 

Debbie: After celebrating our blog’s first anniversary, Deborah Swift suggested the year’s posts be made into a book. It was a wonderful idea!

 

Stephanie: It is a fabulous idea and your readers are delighted it came about. How has the response for this book been so far and will there be a sequel in the near future?

 

Debbie: The response has been fabulous! We were at #1 in the Amazon Hot New Releases > Historical Study > Essays section for some days after it was released, and #4 in Kindle eBooks > History > Europe > England.

 

Stephanie: Will there be a sequel?

 

Debbie: I hope so. This book is amazing to read, and the second year would be additional, unique posts of equal fascination. We do need to see if “Volume One” turns out to be profitable for the publisher before we can decide on a “Volume Two”.  It was a lot of work!

 

Stephanie: I discovered you and M.m Bennett through the English Historical Fiction Group on Facebook among other authors. In your opinion, how has this group reached readers and authors? And how do you think this group has benefit everyone?

 

Debbie: Part of setting up the blogging group was planning the promotion strategy. We all agreed to promote the daily blog post and a weekly giveaway, and we reached many people through our social media efforts along those lines. There is a link on the blog to join the FB group, and I’m sure many Facebook group members have been invited by friends.

 

I think the group is successful because we all have the same love of British history. The continual flow of blog posts means we have something new to discuss each day. I hope people feel, as I do, that they are always learning, and I hope the real historians among us are enjoying sharing what they know.

 

Stephanie: I completely agree and it is like being part of a wonderful community. I adore the EHFA Website. Who are the contributors of the site and how long has the site been up?

 

Debbie: The launch date of the blog was September 23, 2011. We had a starting membership of thirty British historical fiction authors, all of whom I invited. Others contacted me, and over time, some moved on to other projects, other genre, etc., and new members have taken their place.

 

Stephanie: Please tell your audience a little about yourself and the books you have written?

 

Debbie: After a lifetime of doing other things, I found myself free of other obligations, and my love for English history asserted itself. I had always read historical fiction and watched period movies, and once free to do so I wanted to write a story of my own. The Companion of Lady Holmeshire was my first book. It is the story of a former servant turned companion who is dragged into polite society where she receives a rude reception.

 

Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?

 

Debbie: Besides marketing Castles, I am writing a story I call For the Skylark. I started to base it on a character similar to Dickens’ Miss Havisham, but my character’s adult twins took over the story. They are Dante and Evangeline, who are raised isolated on a large estate by their reclusive mother. Evangeline finds it hard to cope when her beloved brother and only friend, Dante, finds the woman he loves.

 

Stephanie: Sounds wonderful! What period is your favorite in history and why?

 

Debbie: Though I have a general knowledge about England’s history, I have not yet dug deep enough to find anything I like better than the snobbery of Victorian society. I probably will move on someday, but for now, I am still researching there.

 

Stephanie: Reading about the Victorian society is always fascinating. One more question about Castles, Customs & Kings. What is your publishing method and where can readers buy this book?

 

Debbie: Madison Street Publishing did a wonderful job on the book. It is currently available on Amazon in paperback—a 7” x 10”, 514 page book; it is also on Kindle, on Kobo, and it will soon be available on Barnes and Noble and other online bookstores. Though it is a large, informative book, we kept the paperback price below $20 so people would find it affordable. I hope everyone enjoys it thoroughly!

 

Stephanie: Thank you, Debbie! It is always pleasure chatting with you!

 

Book Website Blog: English Epochs

Interview with Author Juliet Grey

Juliet Grey

Stephanie: Juliet Grey  is the author of Becoming Marie Antoinette and Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. She has extensively researched European royalty and is a  particular devotee of Marie Antoinette, as well as a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and  villainesses to her credit. She and her husband divide their time  between New York City and southern Vermont. 

Juliet, thank you for chatting with me today about your book. Your trilogy has been a wonderful discovery of Marie Antoinette. Although, many know the story of her and what happened. You give us a clearer and in-depth look at her life and the life of her family. Please tell your audience about Confessions.

 

Juliet: Thank you so much for hosting me today, Stephanie! It’s always a pleasure. Confessions of Marie Antoinette is the third novel in my historical fiction trilogy, spanning the time period from October 5, 1789 when the fishwives and tradeswomen of Paris (along with some infiltrators) march to Versailles demanding bread to the execution of Marie Antoinette on October 16, 1793, just days before her 38th birthday. This book details the last few years of her life, those of increasing deprivation, but they are the years when Marie Antoinette really comes into her own as a woman, wife, and mother. Circumstances compel her to mature. As the youngest daughter of the formidable Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, these reservoirs of courage may have been in her all along, but were dormant for decades. The occasions had never before arisen where she needed to discover how strong and resilient and brave she really was. The action of Confessions. follows that of the middle novel in the trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, which depicts Marie Antoinette’s golden years as queen of France from 1774-1789, and the first book, Becoming Marie Antoinette, which profiles her childhood as an Austrian archduchess and the astounding physical makeover she had to undergo before she was judged fit to become dauphine of France, to her wedding to the grandson of Louis XV (the future Louis XVI), as well as her years as dauphine at Versailles until the death of Louis XV on May 10, 1774.

 

Confessions of Marie Antoinette, like the other two novels, stands alone, but right at the top of the novel I throw readers right into the midst of the march on Versailles. Those who are well versed in the era will already be familiar with the world of the narrative. However, in order to gain a full understanding of how things came to be so dire, and how Marie Antoinette came to be so detested, it is helpful to read the first two novels in the trilogy, not only for the character development over the 3-book narrative, but for historical perspective. All three novels were heavily researched and I relied on the historical record rather than playing fast and loose with the facts. Author’s notes at the back of every novel (there is also a bibliography at the back of each book) explain any deviations I made from the historical record and why I did so. Marie Antoinette has had enough lies told about her over the past 250 years. I wanted to finally tell the real story.

 

Stephanie: When reading Confessions I found myself emotional over the decisions King Louis made and did not make regarding the protection of his family. He seemed like a lost child and was not able to protect his family because of his will not to put his subjects in harm’s way. Do you approve of how he handled their situation and if he had acted differently could there have been another out come to their plight?

 

Juliet: Louis’s vacillation was maddening. And it drove his wife crazy. But it was imperative to her to keep the family together as a unit; she refused to flee with their children and leave him alone to the mercy of the mob. They were in it together as a family. That’s what noble people do. But Louis was also too naïve. He just refused to conceive that his own “good people” as he always called them, would revolt against the crown. He knew they were rumblings of discontent. There is proof that the monarchs did not in fact have their heads in the sand about this and about the possibility of revolt, and I include these scenes where they would chronologically appear, toward the end of the second novel in the trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, when the Three Estates are meeting in the town of Versailles in June 1789 to demand governmental reforms. It was important to me to show that the monarchs were aware to a certain degree of what was going on beyond their walls—but that Louis was both credulous and stubborn. He felt the Estates had no right to try to railroad their king. And he genuinely had the welfare of his people at heart. In fact he had a love-hate relationship with his progressive Finance Minister Jacques Necker (father of the famous Germaine de Staël) over the minister’s forward-thinking policies. Necker started out as a Swiss banker and he believed in taxing the wealthiest segments of French society in order to alleviate the poorer segments from their crushing tax burdens. Louis XVI was compelled to agree that the rich should pay some taxes (they paid none), although he knew the first two Estates, the clergy and nobility (see question 7) wouldn’t be happy about it. But he needn’t have worried. The Parlements refused to ratify his edict. So the rich were never taxed after all. Still, he never believed that those who had had enough taxation and starvation would foment a full-scale revolution. He wasn’t ready for it, militarily or emotionally. And in any case, he never believed that the military should fire on his own subjects. Louis took the high road in refusing to sanction the use of force against them. In a way, one has to admire that. The Revolutionaries were so violent and bloodthirsty and so adamant in their agenda to topple the monarchy that I don’t know if it would have made things better if Louis had authorized the use of force against them. It might have resulted in a complete civil war in France. What did happen during the Revolution is that for the most part one side (the Revolutionaries) killed the other (the Royalists).

 

Confessions

 

Stephanie: Marie seemed somewhat delusional at times –if you will- and in the beginning of their capture often times I don’t think she quite grasped the seriousness of their situation. Or was this a way for her to shield her children? Do you think she did all she could in the situation they were in?

 

Juliet: Marie Antoinette was raised royal. It begins that simply. She always had servants, always had an entourage, always had things done for her. In fact, at the French court, she was not allowed to do things for herself, which at the beginning of her existence there drove her nuts. French queens didn’t handle their own things! It was considered beneath their station. Certainly, when she is helping to plan their escape to Montmedy and overpacks, she is thinking like a queen and not like a fugitive. I would not call her delusional and I think she certainly recognized how desperate their situation was, more so than Louis did because she didn’t trust their subjects as far as she could spit. But the trappings of royalty were ingrained within her and she felt it necessary to appear regal at all times. I think readers need to step outside their 21st c. heads and remember who Marie Antoinette was and think about the world she was born into and what was expected of her from the cradle. Queens dressed and comported themselves a certain way. They didn’t show up at the border looking like refugees. This is undoubtedly what was in her head as she packed for Montmedy, ordering all those clothes, and Axel von Fersen isn’t thinking life and death stakes, but thinking “royalty has to travel in style even when they are fleeing to safety” when he commissions the largest, heaviest, slowest coach in manufacture. I tried my best to stay inside the characters’ heads when I was writing the novel, rather than comment, as the author, from the outside looking in at them. Otherwise, yes, I would have screamed “What are you thinking?!” more than once.

 

Stephanie: What are your opinions of the National Assembly and how they handle things? Do you agree with the laws that they were setting in place for the French people?

 

Juliet: The National Assembly (which was actually one of a number of legislative bodies at the time because the legislature was re-named every time a new revolutionary faction gained power) passed a lot of nutty laws, like creating a new calendar that no one could understand, with absurd names for months and seasons and festivals, in their zeal to purge religion and God from society. They didn’t fix the problem of raising money, because they made the existing money of no value, replaced with assignats that ended up being worth less than the paper they were printed on. The poor remained just as poor and just as hungry, and the National Assembly had no new ideas and no system in place to ameliorate their problems. It was far worse than centuries of monarchy with government ministers placed in charge of various departments.

 

Robespierre was an arch-hypocrite, dressing and behaving like the very aristocrats he despised. The trials in Confessions of Marie Antoinette, which are drawn from the historical record, show what a sham the new Republican government (France was declared a Republic after the National Assembly abolished the monarchy in 1792) was. There was no justice for the royal family. The Revolutionaries had an agenda and nothing short of abolishing the monarchy would do. The National Assembly allowed a certain amount of anarchy and lawlessness to destroy France far more than the monarchy had ever done, yet looked the other way when the streets ran with blood. And when things were just as bad for the lower classes, the Assembly did nothing, but blame the monarchs, whom they had already stripped of their power!

 

Stephanie: There were people who were against the royal family that had close contact with them and later changed their mind how they felt about them. They realized what a devoted mother Marie was and a loving wife. Could those people have stopped what happen to them or were they very few to make that kind-of impact?

 

Juliet: If only! Once the Revolution got underway, it became so bloodthirsty that good people were afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. In fact, in Confessions of Marie Antoinette, there are characters who come to know her personally and realize that she is hardly the caricature she had been demonized as for so many years. Those with no power could not possibly have been able to say anything. Even within the prisons there were reprisals. And even when she makes alliances with those in power, and at least one in the novel, does risk his reputation and credit with the Revolutionaries to stick up for her—things do not end well for him. Reason and Revolution did not go hand in hand after the fall of the Bastille in July, 1789. All of the principles of Enlightenment that were discussed prior to that, in the sophisticated salons and coffee houses of Paris, and the ideas of Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité, went out the window once the more—and then the most—radical, violent, fringe elements of the Revolutionaries took over, displacing those who had wanted to foment a revolution for more high-minded reasons and ideals.

 

Juliet: What motivated you to write about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution? What did you hope to discover in doing so?

 

Juliet: I first fell in love with Marie Antoinette (and Louis) when I was profiling their marriage in my nonfiction book (as Leslie Carroll) Notorious Royal Marriages (NAL, 1/10). As I researched their lives, I discovered so much that has been disseminated about them for centuries is propaganda, written by the winners of the French Revolution and handed down through the years as fact. I felt that she had been so maligned that I had to tell her true story. So the discovery actually came first.

 

Confessions of Marie Antoinette is the last novel in a trilogy, so I was bound to write about the French Revolution in the third book, as the action begins three months after the storming of the Bastille—which happens at the end of the second novel, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. The events of Confessions of Marie Antoinette begin with the famous Women’s March on Versailles of October 5, 1789 and end with Marie Antoinette’s execution on October 16, 1793. It wasn’t so much that I hoped to “discover” anything by writing about the Revolution, but I hoped to set the political record straight for readers. For more than two centuries the monarchs were blamed for the events of the Revolution; but by and large, they were scapegoats. Their own subjects had no idea how their own government worked. The king was an autocrat but all of his edicts had to be ratified by the 12 judicial bodies spread across France, known as the Parlements. The members of the 12 parlements came from the first two Estates (the clergy and the nobility) that historically had never paid taxes. Only the middle class (the bourgeoisie) and the poor paid taxes. And whenever a king (this happened during the reigns of both Louis XV and Louis XVI) had a progressive and far-seeing minister who realized that France would be utterly bankrupted with no hope of getting out of the hole unless the first two Estates were not taxed, and the king then issued an edict regarding some sort of levy on the nobility and the clergy (who were the only 2 social classes who had any real wealth), the parlements consistently shot the edict down and refused to ratify it. So the rich stayed richer and the bourgeoisie and the poor got poorer thanks to increased taxation to cover increased government expenditures, as well as bad harvests. Wars had gone unpaid for, from the Seven Years’ War during the reign of Louis XV to the military aid sent to the American colonies during our own Revolution. But the demagogues who sought the ouster of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette for their own reasons (for example, the deep pocketed duc d’Orléans wanted to be declared the constitutional monarch) were intent on destroying the sovereigns and the monarchy, and informing a people who were ignorant of the way their government really worked, that their sovereigns were to blame. In fact, the demagogues and the obstructionist parlements who repeatedly socked the lower classes with heavy tax burdens were the ones who deserved the blame. Marie Antoinette herself had no personal political clout. She was a queen-consort. A queen of France did not govern. But she received the lion’s share of the blame for all of France’s ills.

 

Stephanie: What ever became of Marie and Louis’s children and is their bloodline still remaining today through the children?

 

Juliet: Madame Royale, Marie Thérèse, the sole surviving daughter of Louis and Marie Antoinette, remained incarcerated for another three years, after which she was released in exchange for imprisoned commissaries of the Revolution. She eventually married her first cousin the duc d’Angoulême, the eldest son of Louis’s youngest brother, the comte d’Artois. After their marriage in 1799, the couple, who would always remain childless, moved to Buckinghamshire, England, returning to France only after the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814, following the enforced abdication of Napoleon. Upon the death in 1824 of her uncle Louis XVIII (the former comte de Provence), her father-in-law Artois became King Charles X of France, which meant that Marie Thérèse was the dauphine. In 1830, during yet another revolution, Charles X abdicated in favor of his eldest son. But Marie Antoinette’s daughter was Queen of France for less than an hour, because her husband was urged to immediately abdicate in favor of his nephew, the duc de Bordeaux. Marie Thérèse spent the remainder of her life in exile, first in Edinburgh, then in Prague, and finally on the outskirts of Vienna. She died of pneumonia in 1851.

 

Louis Charles, Marie Antoinette’s only surviving son, who technically became Louis XVII upon the death of his father, died in the Temple prison on or about June 8, 1795, at the age of ten. He had become fat from a poor diet, yet had not grown much taller. His jailers left him to stew in his own filth for weeks on end. His sister described how his bed had remained unmade for six months, chamber pots went unemptied; and her brother, as well as the room’s meager furnishings, were covered with fleas and other bugs. Because the windows were never permitted to be opened, the stench in the room was unbearable. For many years after Louis Charles’s death, it was suggested that he had been replaced with a hapless changeling and smuggled out of the Temple. Several young men came forth during the beginning of the nineteenth century to claim that they were the dauphin of France. Marie Thérèse refused to meet any of them. However, the boy’s heart was taken away by the doctor who performed the autopsy on his body, and it finally came to reside in a crystal urn in the Cathedral Saint-Denis in Paris. According to the duc d’Anjou, a representative of the Spanish Bourbon royal line, mitochondrial DNA testing on the organ in 2000 proved conclusively that the DNA sequences were “identical with those of Marie Antoinette, two of her sisters, and two living relatives on the maternal side.”

 

 

Stephanie: Were there any creative challenges you faced while writing Confessions?

 

Juliet: The greatest challenge was maintaining the tension and suspense when 99.9% of readers know the end. But of course the characters don’t know the end of their story. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI are trying to survive and remain in power and keep their children safe. Since I was writing most of the novel from the queen’s perspective, I saw her world through her eyes and it was her thoughts and emotions I felt as I wrote the story. So even though the author and the readers know the outcome of all of their trials and tribulations, for all of the characters, the events were happening in real time, for the first time. And so I strove to give the narrative that immediacy that they would have felt under the circumstances.

 

Stephanie: Well, you certainly did a great job at maintain the tension and suspense! So much so in fact I had to put the book down for a minute to collect myself! What is up next for you?

 

Juliet: My next nonfiction title, Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demimillennium of Unholy Mismatrimony, (NAL 11/14) is in the revision stages. After I complete the revisions for that book, I’m working on a few other projects.

 

Stephanie: Oooo…sounds exciting and intriguing. Where can readers buy your book?

 

Juliet: Wherever books are sold—in major bookstore chains as well as independent bookstores, and online retailers as well). All three titles in the trilogy are available for Kindle and Nook.

For more information please visit www.becomingmarie.com.  You can also find Juliet Grey on Facebook.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/confessionsofmarieantoinettevirtualtour
Twitter Hashtag: #ConfessionsOfMATour

 

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Review: Confessions of Marie Antoinette: A novel by Juliet Grey

Confessions

Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Ballantine Books
Paperback; 464p
ISBN: 0345523903

Review:

Versailles, 1789.

The Confessions of Marie Antoinette is a deeply moving and emotional story, which provides new insights into the period during which the French royal family was held hostage and into the last moments of Marie Antoinette’s life. Juliet Grey’s story emphasizes real historical events and provides perceptive and haunting descriptions of the king and Queen’s demise. The story is told in Marie Antoinette’s point of view and Grey creates a convincing portrait of Marie and her devotion as a wife, mother, queen and the lengths she goes to protect those roles as best as she can. There are vivid and heart wrenching descriptions of the revolution and Grey gives a clear picture of rage and determination of the people.

This novel is third of a brilliant trilogy and I say that because it has been a long time since I have enjoyed a trilogy so much. As the story goes we know that Marie was a spendthrift and her subjects saw a selfish women with lots of food and clothes while others starved. However, from what I came away with in this trilogy, was that if Marie never bought that stuff those businesses would have been even worse off. I believe she truly felt she was helping them.

Writing good historical fiction is an art. Writing a master piece takes undoubted skill and talent that reaches into the very depth of the reader’s soul. Grey has accomplished both and I believe, “Confessions”, has truly changed me and brought to surface an emotion inside of me that has been quiet for some time. I was beyond deeply moved. My perceptive of Marie and the French people of that period is forever changed. Grey writes with a deep feeling of loss, betrayal, love, and devotion. I cannot express enough how I much I enjoyed reading this story. Words cannot achieve that emotion. I HIGHLY recommend to all!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

My interview with Grey is coming up tomorrow on Layered Pages. So please be sure to return! You won’t want to miss what she has to say!

Juliet Grey

Juliet Grey is the author of Becoming Marie Antoinette and Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. She has extensively researched European royalty and is a particular devotee of Marie Antoinette, as well as a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit. She and her husband divide their time between New York City and southern Vermont.

For more information please visit www.becomingmarie.com.  You can also find Juliet Grey on Facebook.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/confessionsofmarieantoinettevirtualtour
Twitter Hashtag: #ConfessionsOfMATour

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Review: The Luxe (Luxe, #1) by Anna Godsbersen

luxe

When the Holland’s find out that their perfect 19th century New York high society, life is no longer secure. Everything depends on the eldest daughter, Elizabeth Holland to save what is left of their good name or will she follow her heart and choose true love instead.

There was so much scandal, romance and betrayal, I could not put the book down! This exiting period is filled with secrets and intrigue and is the perfect book for me. To the gorgeous gowns and stunning balls to the romance and mystery that surrounds them. The Luxe is well written and it appears to be historically accurate.

Reviewed by Savannah

Interview with Author Crystal Marcos

Bellyache

 

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: http://crystalmarcos.com/

LINKS to buy her book can be found at http://crystalmarcos.com/locations.php

LINKS to Crystal:

Twitter: @CrystalMarcos

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CrystalMarcos

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3437107.Crystal_Marcos

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/crystal-marcos/2a/979/b9b

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/crystalmarcos/boards/

 

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 www.bragmedallion.com . 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.