Kate Quinn's Blog: Ave Historia - Posts Tagged "q-a"

Back to On Fiction Writing today, having volunteered to subject myself to the ruthless Q&A they affectionately call "The Rack." No tepid questions here; "How did you get your ideas?" was replaced by such beauties as "Which literary character would you like to sleep with?" My answer:

"Bernard Cornwell's Uhtred from the Saxon Stories. A strapping Viking warrior with a dry sense of humor and a soft side revealed only to his girls. Actually, I'd nail pretty much any of Cornwell's heroes – Richard Sharpe, Derfel Cadarn, Thomas of Hookton. I have a weakness for unapologetically alpha-dog men who live hard, laugh a lot, love their women, and kill their enemies."

I suspect the Spanish Inquisition's rack was far less enjoyable than this! For the rest of the interview/torture session, read here!

My experience on the Rack was a lot more fun: no Larry King OR Torquemada!
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Published on February 07, 2012 08:13 • 623 views • Tags: on-fiction-writing, q-a
Judith Starkston wrote my first and fabulous blogger review for "Empress of the Seven Hills," and I was delighted when she also invited me over to her blog for a Q&A! She has some great questions, like whether it was harder to find lasting romance in ancient Rome than in the modern day. Plus, there's a sneak preview on what I'm writing about in my next book!

Hint: not ancient Rome.

To find out, click on over to Judith's blog! Judith, thanks so much for having me.
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Published on April 12, 2012 06:28 • 318 views • Tags: blog-tour, empress-of-the-seven-hills, judith-starkston, q-a
I'm hopping over the water today for my first UK-based blog - a Q&A with Calum at "The Secret Writer." Calum had some great questions, like asking what made me decide to write historical fiction in the first place - but I can't promise my answers are always serious.

"Female characters in historical books get to wear much better clothes than modern heroines. I'd much rather be describing a silk stola or a Renaissance kirtle than some appalling tunic-and-jeggings combination."

Come on over to England to read the rest! And Calum, thanks again for having me.

I'm going to pretend I'm actually over in the UK in person, not just in a blog. Yorkshire, sigh.
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Published on April 16, 2012 06:04 • 211 views • Tags: blog-tour, empress-of-the-seven-hills, q-a, the-secret-writer
I'm over at C.W. Gortner's blog "Historical Boys" today for another Q&A - only by now, I'm a bit tired of talking about myself! Christopher is a friend of mine, and rather than do the standard interview, he and I ended up in a conversation about everything under the sun: our respective books (his "Queen's Vow" about Isabella of Castile comes out in June), our dream casting if HBO ever offers either of us a mini-series, and what's good, what's bad, and what's controversial about writing historical fiction.

Sigh - Christopher gets the best book covers!

Click here to read our convo!
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Published on April 17, 2012 05:37 • 212 views • Tags: blog-tour, c-w-gortner, empress-of-the-seven-hills, historical-boys, q-a
I met Heather Web at last year's Historical Novel Society Conference - she was such a delightful dinner companion that I couldn't resist her invitation for a Q&A on her blog! And she's got interesting questions too - forget "Where do you get your ideas?" Heather asked me what my favorite vices are that get me through the bad times. My answer?

Click here to find out!

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Published on April 23, 2012 06:36 • 298 views • Tags: blog-tour, empress-of-the-seven-hills, heather-webb, q-a
Something sweet and silly for the weekend: the fun blog Coffee with a Canine, where I got invited to talk about my dog. Something I can never resist!

Click here to find out how a mixed-breed rescue pup has become an Outer Mongolian Temple Dog named after a Roman dictator.

My boy on cleaning day, safely out of the way of the vacuum
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Published on April 27, 2012 04:58 • 324 views • Tags: blog-tour, coffee-with-a-canine, empress-of-the-seven-hills, q-a
Sherry Jones is perhaps best known for her controversial novels, The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, international best sellers about the life of A’isha, who married the Muslim prophet Muhammad at age nine and went on to become the most famous and influential woman in Islam. Her new book, Four Sisters, All Queens, a tale of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy, comes out in just a few short days.

I've been a fan of Sherry's since reading A'isha's story – and not just the story of the Prophet's extraordinary wife, but the story of how her tale came to be published! (Two words: death threats. So much for my belief that a writer's life is uneventful.) I was delighted when Sherry agreed to a Q&A here on my blog – my very first author interview! Enjoy her entertaining answers.

1. What drew you to write historical fiction and not, say, chick-lit or young adult or sci-fi?

A'isha, the protagonist of my first two novels, "The Jewel of Medina" and "The Sword of Medina." I've always tended toward literary fiction in my reading tastes, but she called to me to write her story. In doing so, I discovered the satisfaction of discovering inspiring women in history and getting to know them deeply, and of bringing them to life on the page. Now I'm hooked!

2. You've written two novels about Prophet Muhammad's wife A'isha – and now you're on to medieval France and four sisters who all became queens. That's quite a jump! What drew you to write about such widely disparate time periods?

I had intended "The Jewel of Medina" and "The Sword of Medina" to be part of a trilogy. After all the controversy around these books, however, I felt a bit beleaguered -- burned out on 7th century Arabia. I'd paid several thousand dollars for an English translation of an Arabic biography that I needed for the third book, but I couldn't get myself motivated to write. In the meantime, I found Nancy Goldstone's "Four Queens" in a Seattle bookstore which specializes in biographies and histories. After reading it, I yearned to know more about Marguerite, Eleonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice of Provence, these 13th century Kardashians, haha! I wanted to know their emotions, their relationships with one another, their lives with their husbands, their ambitions and frustrations. For me, the way to know them was to imagine them -- to write a novel about them.

3. Tell us a little about your research process.

I immerse myself as completely as possible in the time and place while I'm researching. I read everything I can find about the era and the people in my books. I take classes, write to historians, visit the locales where my stories take place, when I can. I go to museums, listen to the music of the time, read the literature. I consult primary sources when they've been translated into English, cursing my decision not to study Latin in college. I fill myself up with facts until I feel as if I'll burst if I don't start writing -- and, even then, I continue researching.

4. Do you have a set routine when working on a book?

I roll out of bed and start writing. Once I get into the "dream state" of writing I lose all track of time -- but I'm not one of those marathon writers who goes and goes for days on end. My brain gets tired, my writing gets sloppy. So I stop, usually after about 6 hours. I take lots of long walks to process and dream, after which I may write some more.

5. “Four Sisters, All Queens” has not just one but four very powerful women – and your recent e-release “White Heart” has yet another powerful queen. If you could be any one of your characters, which would you pick and why?

I already am my characters, and they are me! And yet -- if I had to choose one, I'd be Eleonore. She had a husband who respected her -- dare I say loved, in a 13th century marriage? -- as well as true queenly power, a close relationship with her children, and a knockout wardrobe. She was also, it's rumored, a writer.

6. You've had to face considerable controversy and uproar when you chose to write about Prophet Mohammed's life. What did you learn in dealing with that? How has your experience differed with “Four Sisters, All Queens”?

I learned that I'd rather focus on how to live -- in love, courage, wisdom, and peace -- than live in fear of death. I learned that people believe what they want to believe. I learned that I have all the strength I need within myself. I learned that, contrary to popular belief, bad publicity is not the same as good publicity. "The Jewel of Medina" and "The Sword of Medina" are about the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad who, according to the Islamic traditions, was 9 when she married him, and he was 52. A history professor read an advance copy and freaked out because, she said, of the book's sexual content (it is PG-13). She scared Random House into dropping publication of my books 3 months before "The Jewel of Medina's" pub date, and told a Wall Street Journal reporter that I had written softcore porn about Muhammad, Understandably, the Muslim world went nuts, especially radicals in the Middle East and, surprising to me, the UK. My British publisher's home office was set on fire, causing him to cancel publication, too. I had death threats. It was a very frightening time. "Four Sisters, All Queens" doesn't have that kind of controversy attached. Well, I DO portray Saint Louis as a religious nut, which he was, having himself flogged every day, wearing hair shirts, ordering the lips cut off a man for blasphemy. So the French may taunt me. But I'm not afraid.

7. Are you currently reading a book, and if so what?

I'm reading a master's thesis on Abelard and Heloise and a French biography about them. I'm also reading C.W. Gortner's "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici" and "The Dovekeepers" by Alice Hoffman.

8. Favorite vice that gets you through the stressful times?

Wine, chocolate, and good lovin'. ;)

9. From ancient Arabia to medieval France – where will your next book take you?

I'm staying in medieval France for a novel under contract with Simon and Schuster about the storied French lovers Abelard and Heloise. It will be the first novel about them since the discovery of letters they wrote to each other during their courtship. It will also, like all my books, be a feminist novel exploring women's power, or lack of it.

10. What other question if any do you think I should have asked you in this interview, and what would be the answer?

"Every writer, it is said, writes about one thing. What is that one thing for you?"
Women's power in patriarchal society. Girls mature faster than boys and, judging from patriarchy's sorry history of war, exploitation, and oppression, we stay that way. When women run the world -- and we will -- will things be different? You bet!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sherry! And I cannot wait to read “Four Sisters, All Queens” - just a few days to go.

Sherry's website

Sherry's blog

"Four Sisters, All Queens"

Amid the lush valleys and fragrant wildflowers of Provence, Marguerite, Eléonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice have learned to charm, hunt, dance, and debate under the careful tutelage of their ambitious mother—and to abide by the countess’s motto: “Family comes first.”

With Provence under constant attack, their legacy and safety depend upon powerful alliances. Marguerite’s illustrious match with the young King Louis IX makes her Queen of France. Soon Eléonore—independent and daring—is betrothed to Henry III of England. In turn, shy, devout Sanchia and tempestuous Beatrice wed noblemen who will also make them queens.

Yet a crown is no guarantee of protection. Enemies are everywhere, from Marguerite’s duplicitous mother-in-law to vengeful lovers and land-hungry barons. Then there are the dangers that come from within, as loyalty succumbs to bitter sibling rivalry, and sister is pitted against sister for the prize each believes is rightfully hers—Provence itself.

From the treacherous courts of France and England, to the bloody tumult of the Crusades, Sherry Jones traces the extraordinary true story of four fascinating sisters whose passions, conquests, and progeny shaped the course of history.

Pre-order "Four Sisters, All Queens"
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Published on May 01, 2012 06:08 • 237 views • Tags: four-sisters-all-queens, jewel-of-medina, q-a, sherry-jones, sword-of-medina
Ten fun questions in a Q&A with Kayla Posney, the Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner. Kayla's got some fun questions like "What 5 historical figures do you invite to dinner?" (Depends if I want a good party or a bloodbath!)

To find out who made my historical guest list, click here! And thanks again to Kayla for interviewing me.

Here's an eventful dinner party: a Roman Emperor who had his guests smothered with two tons of rose petals descending from a specially rigged ceiling.
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Published on June 20, 2012 11:36 • 456 views • Tags: blog-tour, empress-of-the-seven-hills, pittsburgh-examiner, q-a
So said Shakespeare in "Taming of the Shrew," when Petruchio woos his Kate. There are a lot of us Kates around (Henry VIII married three of 'em, not to mention Prince William!), and now we have our own website: Kate-Book.com, a website for Kates, by Kates, and about Kates! Credo: "We Kates are collectively very proud of our name. It’s one quick, clean syllable that at the same time denotes strength, creativity, class, beauty, and feet that smell like roses." Here, here!

This month Kate-Book.com is launching a book club feature. I'm the first author being interviewed, so check it out!

The most famous Kate around today? Probably La Middleton!
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Published on July 11, 2012 08:12 • 538 views • Tags: empress-of-the-seven-hills, kate-quinn, q-a
I had a bit of a fan-girl moment when I met Sarah Bower (well, virtually met through email). Her "Sins of the House of Borgia" was one of the first Borgia novels I read, a lush and gorgeous evocation of the Renaissance with a twist ending that sucker-punched me right in the gut. I was more than delighted to do a Q&A with Sarah for the Historical Novel Society website. I have to say, any resolve we may have had to keep this interview solemn and professional swiftly crumpled in the assault of our mutual enthusiasm!

Sarah: I never imagined the Borgia Pope as much of a reader – too busy talking!

Me: Definitely. A blogger on my blog tour asked me a fun question – if the Borgias could have used social media, what would they use? And I immediately saw Rodrigo Borgia on Twitter, thumb-tapping away on his iPhone between papal meetings: “College of Cardinals has no idea what just hit them” at his @IamPope handle!

Sarah: That’s fabulous! And I can imagine Lucrezia posting photos of her kids on Facebook, and really wishing those selfies she took at Borgia orgies weren’t still doing the rounds elsewhere on the net . . .

Me: What an image. “Me at the Banquet of Chestnuts – lolz!”

To read the rest, click here!

And remember - I'm down at The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore tomorrow evening, talking Borgia rumors and more fun stuff. Come join me for champagne and chocolate!

Sarah Bower's lush Borgia book on Lucrezia's later years - recommended!
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Published on August 23, 2013 12:30 • 901 views • Tags: blog-tour, q-a, sarah-bower, the-serpent-and-the-pearl

Ave Historia

Kate Quinn
An irreverent look at historical fiction today: books trends, historical tidbits, and random tangents.
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