Katherine Longshore, author of "Manor of Secrets", "Brazen", "Tarnish", and "Gilt" 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?
If I didn’t have the advantage of foresight, I’d love to be Anne Boleyn—for a little while. I’d love the chance really to get inside her head. If I had to live out her whole life, though, I think I’d pass.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
Can I choose a decade? Because the 1920s were ferociously lively. Women got the vote and the courage to abandon corsets. Writers were stretching the envelope of what made good literature. And the clothes! But I’d like to stop before the Great Depression, thanks, and come back to the present.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Elizabeth I and Joan of Arc because I’d like to know what they were really like. Eleanor Roosevelt for wisdom. Nellie Bly for her courage and daring. And Dorothy Parker for her wit. I haven’t excluded men because I don’t like them or find them uninteresting, but because women are much more likely to reveal deeper truths without men around.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
I’d love the chance to live in Whitehall during its heyday. Warrens of rooms, galleries along the river, space for all the Tudor fun and games…Of course, it would mean having to live with the Tudor court, as well, and as much as I love to write about them, I don’t know if I’d want to share bed and board.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
J. Anderson Coats and Sharon Biggs Waller. Between us, we’d have almost a thousand years of history covered, and the two of them have so much insight into the lives of women.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Excellent question! But one I feel ill-equipped to answer, as French history isn’t my forte. But from what little I do know, they were both keen on art and architecture, theater and dance and expanding the boundaries of their respective countries. Louis had more mistresses, which definitely would have provided plenty to talk about, but Henry had more wives, so there again is a balance. And, of course, both often adopted the attitude of “L’Etat, c’est moi.” In my mind, it’s pretty much a toss-up.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne of Cleves. One would think she got the worst deal of all the wives, because Henry rejected her outright and she never really got to be “queen”. But what she did get was a pension and her own houses (one being the Boleyn family mansion of Hever Castle) and a life without the fear and defamation and limitations of a royal wife. I like to imagine she lived happily—independent in a world where few women could claim it.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
English. In part because I know so little about French history, and familiarity breeds loyalty. But also because the English royal family is still very much part of English life. There will be many more stories to be told.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
"A Room with a View" by E.M. Forster—sure, it’s seen as a romance, but it’s also full of the love and adventure of travel and the philosophy of humanism. "The Lords of Discipline" by Pat Conroy because I adore Conroy’s obvious love of words (plus it’s almost a boarding school novel, and I have an abiding fondness for those). And "Charlotte’s Web" by E.B. White. It has everything—love, life, death, laughter, great characters and a story of profound significance.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee. Preferably cappuccino.
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