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10 questions with historical fiction author: Lisa Jensen

Lisa Jensen is the author of Witch from the Sea" and "Alias Hook".
Lisa Jensen is the author of Witch from the Sea" and "Alias Hook".
Courtesy of Lisa Jensen

Lisa Jensen, author of "Witch from the Sea" and "Alias Hook" 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?

Hmmm ... probably not someone who died horribly, which narrows down the choices. Jane Austen was able to live a relatively comfortable and ordered life, surrounded by loved ones, with her own cottage to write in, so that appeals to me.

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

I love to read and write about pirates, but I wouldn't want to live that life—which tended to be short and not so merry—so that leaves out James Hook's era, the "Golden Age of Piracy" of the early 18th Century. The clothes I would most like to wear date from about 1912—I just love that pre-war silhouette! But to be smack in the middle of creative and artistic ferment, where everything is new and nothing is forbidden, how about 1925, in Paris? I'd love to be there for the first Arts Decoratifs Exhibition.

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

Queen Elizabeth I, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Dorothy Parker. Just imagine the conversation!

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

Sadly, I don't have much personal experience with castles, so I feel unqualified to choose one. Ideally, it would have an ocean view!

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

Joan Druett, for her vast knowledge of seafaring history, especially seafaring women—from captain's wives to pirates! Mary Renault, if only she were still around, who would be so skilled at bringing the Greeks and the ancient world to life.

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

Elizabeth had more on the ball than either of them! I suppose the young Henry was dashing enough, although the Sun King definitely had the advantage in terms of architecture, music and cuisine.

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

Well, I suppose Anne Boleyn is the one we'd call most "relatable" these days, meaning she seems to have had the most modern sensibilities—she had great spirit, she took risks, and she ultimately met her fate with courage and dignity. And of course, she gave birth to Elizabeth, no small accomplishment! But I've also always had a soft spot for quiet and steady Catharine Parr. A veteran at widowhood by the time she married Henry, her third (but not last) husband, she reconciled him to his children, managed affairs of state quite competently when he was off on his last campaign, and was a great influence on and surrogate mother to her step-daughter, Elizabeth.

8. English monarchy or French monarchy?

English. I'm so much more familiar with the personalities involved, at least as handed down to us in literature and movies. (Especially all those old episodes of Masterpiece Theatre I grew up on!)

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

I'm lucky to find time to read a novel once! But among those I find myself suckered into reading over again are Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (my single favorite novel, even though there are no pirates in it), "Playing the Jack", by Mary Brown (my favorite unsung novel), and "On Stranger Tides", by Tim Powers (which is nothing like the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie that borrowed its title and eviscerated its story).

10. Tea or coffee when writing?

Sweet black tea (as opposed to green), plenty of milk, in the mornings when I'm writing. My husband doesn't drink coffee, so going out for coffee with friends is a social occasion for me.

Lisa Jensen's official website:

http://ljo-express.blogspot.com/