1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
At first it was a toss up between Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth 1, but even though Cleopatra was a striking figure with great accessories, she didn’t live very long, so I’d have to choose Queen Elizabeth I who ruled England for almost fifty years, outsmarting her rivals, ignoring her advisors, refusing to marry, and lived and reigned the way she saw fit, both strong willed and compassionate. I greatly admire that fortitude, especially for a woman of that time.
2. What year in history would you liked to have lived in?
Pinning down a single year in history is a great conundrum. I would have loved been a fly on the wall during the Enlightenment, or perhaps experienced life in Ancient Rome (as a noble and not a slave, mind you). I have also wanted to know what is was like in the roaring twenties in the Unites States when women were first letting their hair down and finally got the vote, so I would say either 1558 to witness the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 1, or 1920 in New York when women gained the right to vote.\
3. If you could invite five people from history to a dinner party, who would they be?
If you’d ask me who’d I’d like to meet from history, I might have said Leonardo De Vinci, Shakespeare, Madame Curie, and Albert Einstein, as I understand Einstein had a sense of humor. However, I’m not sure they’d make such great dinner companions, so I’d lean toward some authors infamous for their witty banter, such as Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, Mary Shelley, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O’Connor. I’d love to see Flannery O’Connor holding her own at that dinner party!
4.What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Well, if I was in the position to own or live in a castle, then I’d have to have both city and country estates, as most nobility did. So for a city palace, I’d say the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, built just southeast of Paris during the reign of Louis XIV, that combined both interior and landscape design, which was new to that era. But for a respite from civilization, I’d have to choose the hauntingly beautiful Eilean Donan Castle located on an island on the northwest coast of Scotland near the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides Islands, although I imagine the winters there would be a bit harsh!
5.Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
I have a great deal of respect for so many authors of historical fiction, such as Sharon Kay Penman, Ken Follett, Edward Rutherford, A.S. Byatt, Sarah Dunant, Umberto Eco, and Philippa Gregory to name just a few! I’d have to choose companions that liked to have a bit of fun and share a love of adventure. My list might include Tracy Chevalier and Sarah Dunant, or perhaps Sue Monk Kidd who has a great philosophical view of life.
6. Who was the more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Considering Henry VIII had a foul temper, became grotesquely obese in his later years, tossed away his wives like spent apples for leaving him without a son (often beheading them just to rid himself of them) and had oozing lesions on his legs, the odor of which could be detected three rooms away, would make King Louis XIV of France a much more pleasing companion by any comparison. Louis was only five feet four and would make up for his height by wearing high heals and wigs that sometimes made him appear seven feet tall. He had a penchant for cleanliness, often changing his undergarments several times a day, and was quite amiable if you treated him like the king. Besides, the French had better cuisine!
7. Which of the six wives of Henry VIII is your favorite?
Hands down Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, was my favorite. She reluctantly became the King’s consort, knowing full well what she was getting herself into, and in the end, after being unable to produce the son that Henry so much needed to succeed him, accepted her fate of death by beheading with great dignity. She is my favorite because, despite Henry’s ruthless pursuit of a wife that could produce a son, it was Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth who eventually took the throne.
8. English Monarchy or French Monarchy?
I believe life would have been much more pleasurable under a French monarchy that held the visual, culinary and musical arts with greater esteem than their English counterparts. But that’s just my opinion.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
I don’t often read novels again, but there are a few exceptions. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is one due to the fact that the theme in the book still resonates in the South, where I live. "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco is another because I was fascinated with that time period. And "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is another, simply because I admire his writing and the topics he wrote about.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
I’ve never been a coffee drinker (with the rare exception of an Irish coffee on occasion), and tea I prefer hot which relinquishes it to the winter months here in New Orleans as it is too hot to drink during the summer. I have to admit (and this will show my age) that I like to drink TAB in the morning, a diet soft drink invented before Diet Coke.
Laura Lane McNeal's official website: