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10 questions with historical fiction author: Kathleen Tessaro

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Pittsburgh's own Kathleen Tessaro, author of "The Debutante", "Elegance", and "The Perfume Collector" 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 be George S Kauffman writing brilliant hit comedies for the Golden Age of Broadway and having a love affair with Myrna Loy.

2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?

Most time periods have been dreadful for women on so many different levels, so I would choose to be an intellectual in 1920s Paris, preferably with a large fortune, a string of lovers and an amazing art collection.

3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?

I would like to flirt with Albert Camus, have Mozart play the piano with Duke Ellington while Josephine Baker dances, hold a drinking contest between Dorothy Parker, Lord Byron and Winston Churchill, and introduce Shakespeare to P.G. Wodehouse, Billie Holliday to Handel, and of course I've always wanted to meet Kingdom Brunel, who would no doubt appreciate the wiles of Eleanor Glynn, who would no doubt appreciate the manly virtues of Hemingway, who would buy us all drinks at the bar in the Ritz, Paris, which is now, of course, named after him. (I know that's too many but a good party has to have crashers.)

4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?

None. I loathe castles. I like apartments, overlooking Central Park or the Thames or the Seine and with plenty of central heating (which you never find in castes).

5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?

Hummmmm ... perhaps Daphne du Maurier and Edith Wharton.

6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?

Actually, I'm a fan of Charles II and the Restoration - anyone who brings back the theatre and Christmas is worth getting excited about. Besides, the others sound like arrogant bores to me.

7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?

I can't even name them all, let alone have a favorite.

8. English monarchy or French monarchy?

Neither. The history I enjoy belongs to the artists and intellectuals, not the rulers.

9. What three novels could you read over and over?

A.S. Byatt's "Possession", Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love", and Homer's "The Odyssey".

10. Tea or coffee when writing?

Coffee, coffee, coffee, tea, tea, and finally, coffee.

Kathleen Tessaro's official website:


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