Megan Chance, author of "Inamorata", "Bone River", "Prima Donna", "City of Ash", "The Spiritualist", "An Inconvenient Wife", "Susannah Morrow: A Novel of Salem", and "The Shadows" 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 you be?
Unless I’m going back to some matriarchal, pagan society, I think I’d rather not go back as a woman, actually. So, given that … probably I’d choose Lord Byron. Brilliant, charismatic, talented beyond belief, and probably biopolar. But as mad as he was, he did exactly what he wanted, regardless of what trouble it caused him. I could do that for a little while, I think.
2. What year in history would you like to have lived in?
No year in history. Why would I want to go back to a time when women had almost no power and autonomy? Plus, I like indoor plumbing and central heating. As much as I love history, I have absolutely no desire to go back in time.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite five people from history, who would they be?
Byron, of course, because I’m fascinated with him; Oscar Wilde, to make us laugh with bitter irony; Eleanor of Aquitaine (married to two kings, the mother of a king, and probably more clever and interesting than most men); Richard III, because what is up with that guy? I want to know the truth of him; and then finally, either Mary Shelley (because she wrote Frankenstein at 19, and she was married to Percy Shelley and friends with Byron and the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft), or Margaret Fuller, the proto-feminist author of "Woman in the Nineteenth Century", where she wrote “let women be sea-captains, if they will.” She led a pretty fascinating life.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
San Simeon, in California—Hearst’s little getaway. Because I am a temperate climate kind of girl, and, as I said above, I have a thing for plumbing and central heating. Not only that, but it’s just beautiful, both the house and the location.
5. Two fellow historical authors you’d like to go on a world tour with?
T.C. Boyle, who I think would be fun, and Sarah Waters, who is one of my favorite historical authors. They seem to find interesting the same things I do, and I like the way they write about the world.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting: King Henry VIII or King Louis XVI?
Well, they were both pretty progressive for their time, which works in their favor. But although I like to think of Henry VIII as Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the whole wife thing is just a tad troublesome. So … I’m going to go with Louis—there’s at least the Dumas connection there, and the "Man in the Iron Mask", and there’s a fantasy I can live with.
7. Which of the six wives of Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne Boleyn, no question. She kept him on the hook for years, and was the mother of Elizabeth I, arguably the most powerful woman in history. Add to that the accusations of witchcraft and incest … she’s just too interesting to ignore.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
I went on a kings-and-queens-of-England research binge when I was a teenager, so I’m going to say English monarchy. And I’ve always had a weakness for King Arthur.
9. What three novels would you read over and over?
"The Vintner’s Luck", by Elizabeth Knox and "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, are no-brainers here. I have read them each at least 6-7 times. For the third one, I’m torn between Donna Tartt’s "The Goldfinch", which I’ve read twice, and "Cheri" by Colette—at least twice on that one too. I can see more reads for both of them in the future.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Tea. I despise coffee.
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