I would like to welcome author Susan Higginbotham to the Tudor Book Blog today! Thank you for offering this fascinating Q&A and a copy of your novel to one lucky reader!
1) What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to scribble, so that’s a hard question to answer! I wanted to be a writer since I was very young, although I’ve taken a couple of detours along the way to publication of my novels.
2) Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a certain space or routine you work within?
I work full-time, so my biggest challenge is finding the time to write and not letting myself get distracted by other things, such as posting on Facebook. My writing space is simply a corner of the kitchen, and I do most of my writing at night when the house is quiet.
3) What books or authors have most influenced your writings?
My favorite authors are Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Tyler, Barbara Pym, and P.D. James. I don’t pretend to be on the same level as any of these writers, but I’ve tried to learn from them—especially in their depiction of character.
With historical fiction, I’ve learned a lot about how to write a good historical novel by reading authors such as Sharon Penman, Jean Plaidy, Margaret George, and Margaret Campbell Barnes.
4) What inspired your book Her Highness, the Traitor?
I read Leandra de Lisle’s biography of Jane Grey and her sisters, The Sisters Who Would Be Queen, and was fascinated at how different the historical Frances Grey, Jane’s mother, was from the way I’d always seen her portrayed in books about Jane. I decided to make Frances’s story into a novel. When I was doing the research, I encountered some writings by Jane Grey’s mother-in-law, Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland, and they moved me so much I decided to give half of the novel over to her.
5) Which character(s) did you relate to the most? The least?
Probably Jane, the Duchess of Northumberland was the one I most related to. Not much is known about her personality, except that she was devoted to her husband and didn’t seem to get on very well with her daughter-in-law Jane, so I was free to endow her with some of my own sterling qualities!
I found Mary I the most difficult character to relate to. It’s hard for our modern mindset to understand how a woman who in many ways was very likable could condemn nearly 300 Protestants to death by burning and could send young people like Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley to the block. It’s also very hard, I think, for us to understand those people who were willing to die a horrible death for their religious beliefs.
6) What was the hardest part of writing this book? The easiest?
I love doing research, so the hardest part for me of writing this book, or any book, is to stop researching and start getting on with the much more difficult task of writing!
In some ways, this was the easiest book I’ve had to research, because so many primary sources relating to the Tudor period are online, and in English. On the other hand, the sheer volume of material sometimes became overwhelming.
7) What other time periods interest you?
I’m particularly interested in the reign of Edward II and the Wars of the Roses, and have written novels set during this period. Generally, I’m interested in English history from around the thirteenth century through the seventeenth century, in the American Civil War, and in revolutionary France.
8) Do you have any advice for other writers?
Too many would-be writers wait for that perfect moment to start writing—when their children are older, when they’re retired, when they have a “room of their own” to write in, and so forth. My advice would be to forget all of these things and to start writing now. You’d be surprised how much writing time you can squeeze in, particularly when you give up nonproductive activities such as watching television and—er—surfing the Internet.
9) What is your current project?
I’m working on a novel about another niece of Henry VIII, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, who sent her son Lord Darnley to court Mary, Queen of Scots, with fatal results.
About Susan Higginbotham
Susan Higginbotham is the author of four historical novels, including The Stolen Crown, The Queen of Last Hopes, and Hugh and Bess. The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family.
To purchase Susan’s latest release, Her Highness, the Traitor please go here.
Thanks so much for the fascinating Q&A! Now, for the Giveaway:
To enter once to win a copy of Her Highness, the Traitor:
1) Leave a comment here (+1)
2) To increase your chances of winning:
- Become a follower of The Tudor Book Blog (+1)
- "Like" Everything Tudor on Facebook (+1)
- Follow Everything Tudor on Twitter (+1)
You have until June 20th to enter. The winner will be announced on June 21st. Good luck!