Oct 19, 2009

Giveaway and Interview with Diane Haeger, author of "The Queen's Mistake"

Today, I welcome Diane Haeger to The Burton Review! A special treat indeed. She answers some of my questions, then see below for another special treat for you!

I had really enjoyed Diane Haeger's novel on the sister to Henry VIII, The Secret Bride: In The Court of Henry VIII (get it at a bargain price on Amazon through that link) on Mary Tudor. This was the same Mary that he named a ship after, The Mary Rose, that you may have heard about lately in regards to a restoration project for this ship. The novel was an entertaining read on Mary's brief time as Queen of France and her love of Charles Brandon, who was a favorite of Henry's. Diane has also written several Historical Fiction novels that are quite popular, starting with her debut Courtesan in 1993.

The interview:
You say that your profession of "writing found you" when you decided to write your first book "The Courtesan" in 1993. The journey has taken your writing to Rome, to the American Civil War, to a Scottish village to the courts of Henry VIII, among others.. what has been your favorite era to write about?

Tough question! That’s a little like asking a mother to choose a favorite child, especially for me, since I spend every day for over a year, usually closer to two years, with each of my stories and characters, and I always spend time in the specific countries and towns in which they are set, hopefully to bring more realism to the books. But I think there is always a special fondness for the first one, and in my case that is definitely true. I will always love the Renaissance, particularly the French Renaissance, in which Courtesan is set.

Despite the many intrigues of the courts of Henry VIII, there are many novels that focus on this era. What has inspired you to write these stories for yourself?

Well, first of all, I really hope that my background in psychology helps me to see characters and present them in a full, perhaps multi-dimensional way that potentially has not been done before. Doing that has most definitely been part of the motivation. I really enjoy looking at the intricacies of my character’s lives, such as why they might have done what they did, and how it could have affected them, not just presenting the incidents. Second, I try to only spend a year of my life with a character who has really moved me and who I think perhaps I can portray for readers in a way that has not been done before. I like to think that is the case with Catherine Howard.

What has been the most surprising thing that you learned for your research in your latest novel, "The Queen's Mistake"?

The most surprising thing is that I don’t now believe Catherine was simply the silly, spoiled girl as many others have portrayed her, and as popular history has contended. I found that she was far more complex than that. I believe that she was a person, like the rest of us who, at her core, was human, one who made mistakes, but one who matured and changed and who tried to learn from those mistakes while she was queen. Yet sadly, she was still a person who ultimately paid an enormous price for them in the end.

"The Queen's Mistake" focuses on Catherine Howard, the young fifth wife of the older King Henry, who seems to have been a naive yet promiscuous young woman. Do you think that she loved King Henry or was she merely a political pawn of advancement for her family?

I do absolutely believe that, over time, she came to love her husband. It likely wasn’t the passionate love she had for Thomas Culpeper. The age difference was too great and Henry’s ailments were far too many at that point in his life But there are several kinds of love, and I think history shows us that Catherine worried greatly about his health, took care of him, and in some cases tried to make him a better man and a better king for the brief time that she was able to influence him.

Lady Rochford was a character in your novel and also in reality who had a lot to do with allowing the adulterous affair between Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper. Why do you think she aided the two to secretly meet? What does this tell you about her character?

Ah yes, Lady Rochford. I believe her motivations were as complicated as Catherine’s. Primarily, I came to believe she was likely driven to help the lovers out of a sense of her own guilt for misdeeds in her earlier life involving Anne Boleyn. She seems to have wanted to make amends for that to a degree. I also think in their time together she actually came to care for Catherine as a friend, and as we all know, good friends help one another. That is my take on it anyway and it was my premise in the novel.

After having so much success with the historical fiction genre with your writing, what are one of the secrets of your success?

Well thank you for that. I suppose I would have to say, if there is a secret, it is in never giving up, never taking a break, or taking a leave from the business, even as the market has changed in the last 2 decades. It has been quite a winding career path for me, as the varied subjects of my 11 novels shows, but I have just kept writing, and stayed flexible for that ever-changing market so that I could remain published and keep putting things out there for readers to hopefully connect with. It is my greatest hope that I have done that.

Do you have any works in progress that you would like to share with us? What is a topic that you would like to explore for future works?

Sure. Next up in the story of a much younger Henry VIII and his early mistress, Bess Blount, the mother of his only acknowledged natural child, his son, Henry Fitzroy. Beyond that, there is an incredible Italian Renaissance true story that I have been dying to tell since I wrote Courtesan, back in the ‘90’s. It’s full of unbelievable twists and turns, intrigue and great romance. Italian stories haven’t been easy for me to sell (Other than The Ruby Ring) but in a publishing market that changes as fast as this one does, I suppose there is always hope!

By the way, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. This has been a pleasure.

~
(You're welcome, and thanks for answering my questions!)


Her newest release this October and available now is The Queen's Mistake, and it is being given away right here! The publisher is offering a copy to two of my lucky readers!
I apologize but this is USA only.

The Queen's Mistake
So here is what you have to do in order to enter for this book:
1. Follow this blog publicly via google friend connect.
2. Comment with your E-mail Address.
3. 1 extra entry each for a Twitter, Blog Post or Sidebar Graphic Link, or Facebook Share (max. 5 total entries). Please provide links.
4. For an extra bonus +2 entries, comment on Catherine Howard, books you've read that included Catherine Howard, what you think her big mistake was... or comment regarding our guest author, Diane Haeger, and what books have you read of hers and which of these you enjoyed the most and why. (*Must be a cohesive comment that adds to the conversation. The comment I have not read any of Diane's books but would like to win this will NOT be counted as a bonus!)



Contest ends November 6, 2009, Good Luck and thanks for entering!

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