history

Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

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My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

>Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I’ve been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.

My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It’s a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry’s court. That’s how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she’s given her word not to talk and won’t. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King’s permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn’t stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.

Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.

Why did you put these two together?

Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? 🙂 Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other — they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?

I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII’s court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?

The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn’t be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake 🙂 .

What are your current projects?

I’m about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I’m by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. 🙂

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
A copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT
** International shipping **
Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.

Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Queen’s Gamble by Barbara Kyle

>

Barbara Kyle’s upcoming release, The Queen’s Gamble, is as rich and intricate as it’s gorgeous cover. 
Before I forget, I have 5 beautiful bookmarks to give away!
AND a print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble!
Comment  or ask Barbara a questions to enter.
Open internationally.

I am the first to admit to a historical knowledge deficit, alarming (or maybe more embarrassing) considering my father was a history teacher for 30+ years. But I can’t deny my fascination with Barbara Kyle’s ability to weave true history with her own brand of fiction–complex story lines, unexpected twists, seething passion and drama galore. Add in rich characters with seemingly insurmountable conflict, stakes high enough to spear clouds and a smooth, engaging writing style … you’ve got a real can’t-put-it-down read.

I could go on and on about how this book held my attention and gave me a read beyond anything I anticipated, but RT Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly — the REAL reviewing professionals — already do it so well:

” … action-packed adventure that expertly blends fiction with history … a pulsating story of valor and greed, love and passion, and the tremendous cost of loyalty. – Publishers Weekly blog

Not only does Kyle create memorable characters, but she infuses her stories with lush historical detail, fascinating intrigues and court drama. History and romance merge, loyalty and passions run high and readers are riveted to the pages of her highly addictive novels.”  – RT Reviews

Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…

Now, a little about Barbara
First let me say to Joan, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. It’s a pleasure to reach out to your readers. (Everybody, check out Joan’s upcoming novel, Fever.)

Q: You weave real history in with fiction to create your novels. That’s fascinating. What sparked that idea?
Movies. Filmmakers have used this technique forever; it’s a grand tradition that I’ve incorporated into my novels. I’m scrupulous about not deviating from the historical record – for example in 1558 Queen Elizabeth did secretly send money to help the Scottish rebels fight their French overlords, and when this “cold war” broke into a hot one she sent an army. Then, into real frameworks like this I set my fictional characters – members of the rising, middle-class Thornleigh family – to play crucial parts in the historical drama.

Q: What is your writing routine?
In the early morning I answer emails for about an hour. For the rest of the morning I fix what I wrote the day before. That’s my favorite thing to do – I could fix forever – so I have to cut myself off at noon. Quick lunch (often eaten at my desk: messy). Then I buckle down to create the next bit. I aim to create five pages a day, but rarely make it; usually it’s three or four pages. At about three o’clock I’m done, and I go for a walk or to the gym.

Q: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Great writers of big stories like Leon Uris, Margaret Mitchell, Herman Wouk. And fine writers of narrative non-fiction like David McCullough on John Adams; David Starkey on Elizabeth I; Adam Hochschild on WWI; Erik Larson on Berlin as Hitler came to power. I never tire of reading how we got where we are now, a.k.a. history. 

Even more vivid and beautiful in person.
Reminds me of red velvet cake – YUM!

Q: How does your family view your writing career?
My husband is my biggest supporter and best editor, really almost a co-author. We talk about my characters all the time. If people overheard us they’d think we’re brainsick. (Isn’t that a terrific word? It’s a 16th century word. I use it whenever I can in my Tudor novels.)

Q: How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My Facebook Author Page at http://tinyurl.com/3jljjrl is fun. I respond to almost every comment that readers post there. Also, I love running contests; the one I’m running now is to name the grand new manor house that my characters have built. I also send out a Newsletter every few months. And I adore Twitter and tweet every day. Follow me at @BKyleAuthor.

Q: What authors do you like to read?
Anyone, in any genre, who brings to life the human condition with grace and panache. I’m always reading, about half fiction and half non-fiction.

Q: Do you have a second career? If not, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I write full-time, plus every few months I run my “Master Class: Your Novel in Workshop” weekend for writers. I really enjoy helping emerging writers. Before I became an author I enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in theater and TV.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Characters that readers care about. And, always, characters who face huge challenges.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Perseverance. And a love of humanity. I don’t mean sentimentality, which is all surface, I mean a deep empathy for the shared values of all peoples in all times.

Q: Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Yikes, that’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most! Truly, all of them. Except the work-in-progress, which at the moment is an unruly adolescent, but I have faith that it’s just a stage. Writing, like being a parent, takes a lot of faith.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I cannot write with any noise around; even a radio in the next room makes me crazy. I can, however, write anywhere, as long as I have silence, heat, and tea.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Walk, just about every day. Sail – my husband and I have a Cal-46 ketch and we sail her on beautiful Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. And I cook. I’m a very good cook. Vegetarian.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming release.
The Queen’s Gamble is the fourth book in my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series. Isabel, the Thornleighs’ daughter, returns to London from the New World with her Spanish husband Carlos Valverde and their young son, and is swept up in the first international crisis of the young Queen’s Elizabeth reign: the French, who control Scotland, have landed troops along England’s border, threatening an invasion. The Queen recruits Isabel to take money secretly to aid the Scottish rebel faction trying to drive out the French. But when Carlos is sent to Scotland as a military advisor to the French troops, he and Isabel find they are on opposite sides in this deadly war – and the Queen has made their little boy her hostage.

Q: Where can we find you online?
http://www.barbarakyle.com. Do visit!

Comment or ask Barbara a questions to enter for a chance to WIN:



1 of 5 beautiful handmade bookmarks
A print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble

Open internationally
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era novels The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, all published internationally, and she is pleased to have recently signed a 3-book deal to continue this series. Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’ including Beyond Recall, a Literary Guild Selection. Over 400,000 copies of her books have sold.

Her latest contemporary novel Entrapped is available as an e-book at amazon.com.

Barbara is passionate about helping emerging writers. She has taught her “Writers Boot Camp” for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. She offers her own Master Class workshops focused on each participant’s novel-in-progress.

Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com

>Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Queen’s Gamble by Barbara Kyle

>

Barbara Kyle’s upcoming release, The Queen’s Gamble, is as rich and intricate as it’s gorgeous cover. 
Before I forget, I have 5 beautiful bookmarks to give away!
AND a print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble!
Comment  or ask Barbara a questions to enter.
Open internationally.

I am the first to admit to a historical knowledge deficit, alarming (or maybe more embarrassing) considering my father was a history teacher for 30+ years. But I can’t deny my fascination with Barbara Kyle’s ability to weave true history with her own brand of fiction–complex story lines, unexpected twists, seething passion and drama galore. Add in rich characters with seemingly insurmountable conflict, stakes high enough to spear clouds and a smooth, engaging writing style … you’ve got a real can’t-put-it-down read.

I could go on and on about how this book held my attention and gave me a read beyond anything I anticipated, but RT Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly — the REAL reviewing professionals — already do it so well:

” … action-packed adventure that expertly blends fiction with history … a pulsating story of valor and greed, love and passion, and the tremendous cost of loyalty. – Publishers Weekly blog

Not only does Kyle create memorable characters, but she infuses her stories with lush historical detail, fascinating intrigues and court drama. History and romance merge, loyalty and passions run high and readers are riveted to the pages of her highly addictive novels.”  – RT Reviews

Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…

Now, a little about Barbara
First let me say to Joan, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. It’s a pleasure to reach out to your readers. (Everybody, check out Joan’s upcoming novel, Fever.)

Q: You weave real history in with fiction to create your novels. That’s fascinating. What sparked that idea?
Movies. Filmmakers have used this technique forever; it’s a grand tradition that I’ve incorporated into my novels. I’m scrupulous about not deviating from the historical record – for example in 1558 Queen Elizabeth did secretly send money to help the Scottish rebels fight their French overlords, and when this “cold war” broke into a hot one she sent an army. Then, into real frameworks like this I set my fictional characters – members of the rising, middle-class Thornleigh family – to play crucial parts in the historical drama.

Q: What is your writing routine?
In the early morning I answer emails for about an hour. For the rest of the morning I fix what I wrote the day before. That’s my favorite thing to do – I could fix forever – so I have to cut myself off at noon. Quick lunch (often eaten at my desk: messy). Then I buckle down to create the next bit. I aim to create five pages a day, but rarely make it; usually it’s three or four pages. At about three o’clock I’m done, and I go for a walk or to the gym.

Q: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Great writers of big stories like Leon Uris, Margaret Mitchell, Herman Wouk. And fine writers of narrative non-fiction like David McCullough on John Adams; David Starkey on Elizabeth I; Adam Hochschild on WWI; Erik Larson on Berlin as Hitler came to power. I never tire of reading how we got where we are now, a.k.a. history. 

Even more vivid and beautiful in person.
Reminds me of red velvet cake – YUM!

Q: How does your family view your writing career?
My husband is my biggest supporter and best editor, really almost a co-author. We talk about my characters all the time. If people overheard us they’d think we’re brainsick. (Isn’t that a terrific word? It’s a 16th century word. I use it whenever I can in my Tudor novels.)

Q: How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My Facebook Author Page at http://tinyurl.com/3jljjrl is fun. I respond to almost every comment that readers post there. Also, I love running contests; the one I’m running now is to name the grand new manor house that my characters have built. I also send out a Newsletter every few months. And I adore Twitter and tweet every day. Follow me at @BKyleAuthor.

Q: What authors do you like to read?
Anyone, in any genre, who brings to life the human condition with grace and panache. I’m always reading, about half fiction and half non-fiction.

Q: Do you have a second career? If not, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I write full-time, plus every few months I run my “Master Class: Your Novel in Workshop” weekend for writers. I really enjoy helping emerging writers. Before I became an author I enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in theater and TV.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Characters that readers care about. And, always, characters who face huge challenges.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Perseverance. And a love of humanity. I don’t mean sentimentality, which is all surface, I mean a deep empathy for the shared values of all peoples in all times.

Q: Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Yikes, that’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most! Truly, all of them. Except the work-in-progress, which at the moment is an unruly adolescent, but I have faith that it’s just a stage. Writing, like being a parent, takes a lot of faith.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I cannot write with any noise around; even a radio in the next room makes me crazy. I can, however, write anywhere, as long as I have silence, heat, and tea.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Walk, just about every day. Sail – my husband and I have a Cal-46 ketch and we sail her on beautiful Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. And I cook. I’m a very good cook. Vegetarian.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming release.
The Queen’s Gamble is the fourth book in my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series. Isabel, the Thornleighs’ daughter, returns to London from the New World with her Spanish husband Carlos Valverde and their young son, and is swept up in the first international crisis of the young Queen’s Elizabeth reign: the French, who control Scotland, have landed troops along England’s border, threatening an invasion. The Queen recruits Isabel to take money secretly to aid the Scottish rebel faction trying to drive out the French. But when Carlos is sent to Scotland as a military advisor to the French troops, he and Isabel find they are on opposite sides in this deadly war – and the Queen has made their little boy her hostage.

Q: Where can we find you online?
http://www.barbarakyle.com. Do visit!

Comment or ask Barbara a questions to enter for a chance to WIN:



1 of 5 beautiful handmade bookmarks
A print ARC of The Queen’s Gamble

Open internationally
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era novels The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, all published internationally, and she is pleased to have recently signed a 3-book deal to continue this series. Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’ including Beyond Recall, a Literary Guild Selection. Over 400,000 copies of her books have sold.

Her latest contemporary novel Entrapped is available as an e-book at amazon.com.

Barbara is passionate about helping emerging writers. She has taught her “Writers Boot Camp” for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. She offers her own Master Class workshops focused on each participant’s novel-in-progress.

Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com