Helen Carey, author of "Lavender Road", "Some Sunny Day", and "On a Wing and a Prayer" answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.
1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
I would love to have been an adventurer, someone like Lady Hester Stanhope. She was born into the heart of the English aristocracy in 1776 but had wanderlust from an early age. After her husband’s death she set sail for Athens (where Lord Byron swam to her ship to welcome her) with a plan to work her way back to Paris and spy on Napoleon. British diplomats put a stop to this plan so Lady Hester went to Egypt instead. She was the first European to visit several Arab cities and was received with courtesy (and considerable surprise!) by their rulers. Sadly she went a bit mad in the end but her earlier life was full of adventure!
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
I am fascinated by the Second World War. It is a great era to write about because it was a period of intense change and emotional turmoil. But having written three novels set in London during the war I already feel as though I have lived through that period! If I had to go further back I would choose 1819, the end of the Regency period, the era of Jane Austin and Georgette Heyer novels.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Well, Lady Stanhope of course, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare – that should make for a lively party!
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
My favorite castle is Cilgerran Castle in Wales, near to where I live – it has a beautiful location and is small enough to feel almost quite cozy.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
I would ask Matthew Kneale to go to Australia with me and Louis de Bernières to go to Turkey with me.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
I believe Louis XIV was the more dashing and interesting, the only thing Henry VIII really seemed interesting in was hunting (and trying to produce an heir!)
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
In my opinion, Catherine Parr was probably the best of the bunch. She was a bit of an early feminist and it was she who persuaded Henry to pass an act allowing Mary and Elizabeth to succeed him.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
Impossible to choose between them – they both had periods of being extremely unpopular. The French monarchy was ultimately overthrown because the monarchs had too much power and abused it, the British survived because their powers were (and are) more limited.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
"Venetia" or "Arabella" (or pretty much anything) by Georgette Heyer, "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell and "The Far Pavillions" by M.M. Kaye.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Iced coffee (and a chocolate biscuit!)
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