Interview and Giveaway with Author Michele Kallio

It is a great pleasure to introduce Author Michele Kallio. Thank you Michele for the honor of an interview.


1.      Please tell us about your novel ‘Betrayal’.

Betrayal is the story of two women separated by thousands of miles and almost five hundred years.  Modern day Lydia Hamilton is haunted by dreams that even invade her waking hours – dreams in which she is Elisabeth Beeton, a lady’s maid to Anne Boleyn.  Lydia tries to ignore these vivid nightmares as long as can, that is, until Elisabeth’s diary arrives in the mail.  Suddenly, Lydia is caught up in the quest to uncover the truth behind Elisabeth’s betrayal.

2.      How long did it take for you to complete your research for this book?

I would say I was researching Betrayal until I wrote the last line.  New facts about the Tudors are being uncovered almost yearly, which required several re-writes of certain parts of the book to bring them into line with current research.

 3.       What was your biggest challenge in writing Betrayal?


I had two big challenges to face when writing the novel.  The first being the lack of reference books. As I live in a rural area I had to purchase all my reference books. I now have an English history library that comprises some two hundred books.   The second challenge was my lack of faith in my ability to write such a complex and complicated story.  This stopped me for years, making the whole process much longer than it should have been.

4.       Is there a character in your book that you feel most connected to?  Is so, explain.


I must say I feel a strong connection with Lydia.  I worked for twenty-six years as the office manager of my husband’s medical practice.  Leading Lydia to work every day was like going home.  Although I must point out neither she nor any of the other characters are biographical in any way; they are composites of people I have met through my life.

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


I would have to say that Elisabeth’s story was my inspiration.  The idea of telling Anne Boleyn’s story through the eyes of a servant intrigued me.  I felt this was a story that had to be told. In fact, at times it seemed as if I was merely taking dictation as the Muse whispered in my ear.

 6.      What is your strength as a writer?


I believe my strength is in character building.  Betrayal presented me with the challenge to build believable characters in two different countries and time periods.  The characters had to be true to time and place, in their dress, speech and actions. Historical figures had to be brought to life while remaining true to history.  All the characters had to be three-dimensional and believable.

7.       What book influenced your life the most?

This is a difficult question to answer. To pick one book out of a lifetime of reading is hard, but if I must choose, I choose WINNIE THE POOH AND THE HONEY TREE as Milne teaches Pooh the importance of thinking – “think, think, think.”

In our modern world we do very little thinking for ourselves – we listen instead to the television, radio, movies, computers, celebrities even criminals!  We allow others to form our thoughts and opinions, sometimes on a very unconscious level.  It is time we all took Pooh’s advice to think for ourselves, “think, think, think.”

 8.       What is your next book project?
My next book is a sequel to Betrayal, where Lydia’s daughter Kate will search out information about Elisabeth’s missing daughter (missing from the family history, that is).


Like Betrayal this new book will be told in alternating chapters following both women’s lives: Kate’s in twenty-first century England and Mary-Elisabeth’s in sixteenth century England with Mary, Queen of Scots.

9.       What is your favorite quote?

I must say it is the quote you use here on your site, Cicero’s: A ROOM WITHOUT BOOKS IS LIKE A BODY WITHOUT A SOUL.  I have recently given in and bought my first e-reader and while it is lightweight and comfortable to hold; I miss the heft and smell of books, so I continue to surround myself with books. I’d be lost without them.

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

First and foremost: NEVER GIVE UP!

I once read the following in a magazine for writers:

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

Never let anyone steal your dream, not your friends or your family, but importantly, do not allow yourself to steal your dream with excuses. If you can dream it, you can do it.

Bio:

Michele Kallio is a former teacher/librarian and retired medical office manager. She lives with her physician husband, David and their eleven year old golden retriever, Sara, on the shores of New Brunswick’s beautiful Bay of Fundy, in Canada.

A link to Michele’s website: http://michelekallio.com/

Layered Pages Review for Betrayal: http://layeredpages.blogspot.com/2012/05/betrayal-by-michele-kallio.html

Giveaway Details:

Michele is giving two copies of her wonderful novel, Betrayal. One is paperback and one in e-book form. To enter to win a copy please comment on the interview above with your emaill address. For US and Canada only. The contest will end on June 23. The winners will be announced on the 24th.

Stephanie

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2012 Recommendation Summer Reading List

This list is based on the books that I have read for this year so far. They are in no particular order.


Top Ten Historical Fictions:

The Queens Pawn by Christy English
I am the Chosen King by Helen Hollick 
Folville’s Law by David Pilling
Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
Jocasta by Victoria Grossack
Betrayal by Michele Kallio
White Heart by Sherry Jones
The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs
The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

Top four Contemporary Fictions:

The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken by Mari Passananti
Sugar Crash by Elena Aitken
Finding Emma by Steena Holmes
Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson

To Succeed in Self-Publishing by Layered Pages

I will be sharing four key elements that I believe makes for a successful book that is self-published. There are so many wonderful and potentially wonderful stories out there that need help to succeed and as a book reviewer my aim is for that to happen.

1.      Editing: I have read so many books that were poorly edited or not edited at all. It is one of the most important aspects of publishing to have your book edited. Many writers say they don’t have the money for an editor. If you are a writer and want your book to succeed, then you must have an editor and be willing to put out the money to do so.

2.      Cover design:I believe it is important to have a good cover design to catch the reader’s eye. Yes, you will have to hire a graphic designer but it is well worth it to do so.

3.      Book Reviews: It is vital to use book reviewers instead of using just family and friends to review your book. You need someone (such as me) who will be objective and who will give you their honest opinion-putting your pride aside- is vital to make it succeed. Also, have your fellow authors review your book is a wonderful idea to.

4.      Marketing: Social Media is a great way to promote your book. There are so many options we have available to us. Book blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, IndieBRAG, Historical Novel Society and so on…Don’t limit your-self to just one site. Also, contact your local bookstores for book signings. That is a great way to promote.
Stephanie
Layered Pages

Book Launch Party! The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

TODAY’S THE DAY…The Book Launch Party is now in full swing for The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby – stop by my blog and learn how to join in the fun. Lots of prizes and giveaways – including a $25. Amazon Gift card. Check it out http://wp.me/pNOkn-r7

www.betteleecrosby.com

Stephanie

Interview with Author Sherry Jones

1. Please tell us about your novel, “Four Sisters, All Queens.”

“Four Sisters, All Queens” is the story of the lives and careers of four remarkable women, all sisters from the illustrious House of Savoy, daughters of the Count of Provence, who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Sicily. Told from alternating points of view of the four sisters, it provides the splendor and intrigues of four courts, each very different and yet, in terms of the frustrations and limitations on women’s power, all very much the same. And yet Marguerite, Eléonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice worked together to broker peace between England and France for the first time in 200 years. They were among the biggest celebrities of their time – more famous than the Kardashians! Beauty, wealth, adoration – they had it all, until a family dispute threatened to tear them apart.

2. How did you research the lives of the historical characters of your story?

I read as many books as I could find, plus perused the pipe rolls from the reign of Henry III. I had been to England and France, and recently returned to France for further research. I listened to music from the era and read the literature of the age, including the songs of the troubadours, which play a big role in the book, and the Arthurian legends.

3. What was your biggest research challenge?

Finding specific information about the women, which is usually the case. It’s a man’s world, and most of the contemporary chroniclers as well as the historical research and writing has focused on the men.


4. What is the most surprising thing you learned in writing Four Sisters, All Queens?

How little we have changed as human beings! Xenophobia swept England in the 13th century, spurring anti-immigration measures aimed, in particular, at the French.  Today, we still see widespread fear of, and resentment toward, “foreigners” who come to our own countries to live. Also, anti-Semitism was growing. I was very surprised to learn of the mysterious death of Floria, the wife of Richard of Cornwall’s Jewish employee, Abraham. What happened to her is still unknown, but what happened to him – the false confession he was forced to sign, denigrating the Jewish race – is atrocious. Islamophobia – and the Crusades, in which thousands of Muslims were killed out of greed which was justified by religious bigotry, ran rampant, as it does today. And women struggled then as now for power, personal as well as political, amid patriarchal attempts at infantilization and objectification.


5. What is your next book project?

I’m under contract with Simon & Schuster for a novel about Heloise and Abelard, the famous 12th-century Parisian lovers. It’s going to be an erotically charged love story and a feminist tale at once, for Heloise dared to live on her own terms and lost everything that mattered to her – but what she found, instead, may have been even more precious.


6. Who or what inspired you to become and author?

My love for reading, which started very young. By the second grade I knew I would be a writer someday.


7. Who is your favorite author and why?

I have many more than one! Eudora Welty, Alice Hoffman, Jane Smiley, Anne Patchett, Ellen Gilchrist, Rose Tremain, Hilary Mantel, Edith Wharton, Debra Magpie Earling, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Salman Rushdie, Rick Bass, Cecelia Holland. I love beautiful writing and stories that make me want to keep turning the pages. I especially appreciate literature written about women, for women.

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

In this age where e-publishing allows anyone to publish anything at any time, the temptation is great to put out your work before it’s ready. Resist that temptation. Remember: The first draft is always shit (Hemingway said this). The second draft usually is, too. Even the third draft may not be good enough yet. My advice is to read as much good writing as you can – “Garbage in, garbage out” – and find a really good freelance editor to help you polish your work. It’s well worth the money. And when you feel discouraged, remember this: the late, great John Gardner wrote that if your book is good, someone will publish it. This I believe to be true.

Bio:

Sherry Jones is perhaps best known for her controversial debut novels, “The Jewel of Medina” and
“The Sword of Medina,” international best sellers about the life of  A’isha bint Abi Bakr, the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad. Her new novel, “Four Sisters, All Queens” (Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books) tells of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy. This tale of love, lust, intrigue, and sibling rivalry on a royal scale follows Jones’s recently released e-novella, “White Heart,” about the formidable French “White Queen” Blanche de Castille.
When she’s not working on her next book – about the famous 12th century French lovers Heloise and Abelard — Sherry is traveling the world as a speaker on topics including free speech, Islam, the middle ages, and women’s rights. In particular, Sherry aims to empower girls and women with her tales of extraordinary women in history.

Learn more about her and her books at http://authorsherryjones.com.
Thank you Sherry for this wonderful interview!
Stephanie