Good morning all. I hope you will help me welcome a favorite historical fiction author, Barbara Kyle, author of the Thornleigh series and the recently released, Blood Between Queens. Welcome Barbara!
Blood Between Queens is about Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I. What made you decide to write about these iconic rivals?
Like many history lovers I'm fascinated by the deadly rivalry between these two royal cousins. When Mary escaped her enemies in Scotland and arrived in England asking for Elizabeth's help, she could never have suspected that Elizabeth would keep her under house arrest for the next nineteen years, and finally, after Mary's incessant plotting for Elizabeth's crown, execute her. For over four hundred years this story has enthralled the world. It enthralled me even more when I began the research. And I quickly learned that Mary generates high emotions in people: they either love her or hate her. Once I'd done enough research to form my own opinion, I had to weigh in. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say that Blood Between Queens takes no prisoners!
From what I can tell, Blood Between Queens appears to be your first historical novel that is not part of the Thornleigh Saga (please correct me if I am wrong!). Do you have plans to return to the Thornleigh’s at any point or is their story completed?
Actually, Blood Between Queens is book #5 of the Thornleigh Saga, which follows a rising, middle-class English family through three tumultuous Tudor reigns. But each book stands alone, so readers don't need to have read the previous books to enjoy this story. And, yes, there are lots more adventures of the Thornleigh family in the works, with the next book in the saga scheduled for release in 2014 and another after that.
Your historical novels are all set during the Tudor dynasty – what is it about this period that draws you to set your stories there?
The Tudor/Elizabethan era is endlessly fascinating, not just to me, but to so many readers. That's because of its larger-than-life personalities, like Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. Their actions had a tremendous impact on the people of England and the world. One example is Henry's amazing creation of a national church just so he could divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boleyn. Another is Elizabeth's famous rivalry with Mary Queen of Scots, keeping her under house arrest for nineteen years and eventually executing her. I call crucial events like these the hinges of history, and I set my Thornleigh stories during these times to test my characters’ mettle as they're forced to make hard choices about loyalty, duty, family, and love.
I am assuming that Blood Between Queens is a stand-alone novel. How has the writing of a single novel compared with the experience of writing a series?
Blood Between Queens is indeed a stand-alone novel, introducing a new Thornleigh family member, Justine, but it also carries on with the storylines of some characters who appeared in previous Thornleigh books, so there were challenges in creating it. On one hand, some background about the ongoing characters is essential for readers who may be meeting them for the first time, but on the other hand the background has to be brief enough and distilled enough for readers who already know these characters. It's a balancing act.
Are you currently working on any projects, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?
Yes, I'm just finishing the next Thornleigh book. It's set in 1572 and features my fictional seadog Adam Thornleigh joining the Dutch rebels who called themselves the Sea Beggars in their real-life fight against the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands. (I liken them to the Resistance in World War 2 fighting the Nazis.) It's been a pleasure to write because it brings back a young Scottish woman, Fenella Craig, who was a minor character in The Queen's Gamble. Her story in that novel was so intriguing I gave her the "starring" role in this new one. After I finish it I'll start the next Thornleigh book, which will return to the crisis between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. It will also feature Honor, my fictional heroine who began the saga with the first Thornleigh book, The Queen's Lady. I'm eager to get started on that.
What is your process for writing a novel? Are you a outliner or a write the story as it comes person?
I always develop an extensive outline first. For me, the outline is where the heavy lifting of creation gets done: the development of characters and plot. My books always have complex plots, so I take a long time creating them in the outline, about three months per book, during which time I'm also doing lots of research.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? The research, writing, marketing, etc?
I adore the research. It's so absorbing, delving into biographies and poring over letters and maps, that I have to cut myself off after a few months and get to writing!
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I take a long walk almost every day after writing. (That's actually where a lot of story wrinkles get ironed out in my mind.) Also, my husband and I are sailors and we sail our Cal-46 ketch on beautiful Lake Huron. And I have to say that one of the things I enjoy doing most is hearing from readers and replying to them. That interaction - connecting with the readers I write for - makes my work a joy.
Barbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed Tudor-era Thornleigh novels Blood Between Queens, The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady which follow a rising middle-class family through three tumultuous Tudor reigns. She also writes contemporary thrillers. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold in seven countries. In July 2013 Barbara will be a speaker at Ontario's world-renowned Stratford Festival with her talk "Elizabeth and Mary, Rival Queens: A Study of Leadership Lost and Won" about the cousin-queens Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots featured in Blood Between Queens.
Barbara has taught writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations and conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the US.
You can visit Barbara on her website for further information.
Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court