Nancy Bilyeau, author of "The Crown" and "The Chalice" (available on March 5 in the United States) 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?
Elizabeth the First, who said “If I were turned out of my realm in my petticoat, I would prosper anywhere in Christendom.”
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
I’m torn. Part of me would like to see for myself 1537, the tumultuous time in Tudor England when I set the narrative of my first novel, "THE CROWN". But part of me wants to be there when my ancestor, the French Huguenot Pierre Billiou, touched ground in America in 1661. I have read that New Amsterdam was quite the party town before the British took over, made it New York City, and amped up the Puritanism.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
- Zenobia, rebel queen of Palmyra
- Geoffrey Chaucer
- Queen Elizabeth the First
- Mary Shelley
- Benjamin Franklin
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Oh, I think Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. During one of the 11 days King Ludwig stayed there.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Sophie Perinot, author of "The Sister Queens", and Christopher Gortner, author of "The Tudor Conspiracy", "The Queen's Vow", and "The Confessions of Catherine de' Medici".
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
No slight on the Sun King. But no one was more dashing than Henry VIII—in his youth. Being vastly obese with ulcerated legs is hard on the dash factor. Yet even when he was on his sixth and last wife, Henry could summon up the charm and he was extremely knowledgeable in music, décor and architecture, art, the sciences, the latest fashions.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
I am fondest of the first, Catherine of Aragon. She was the strongest.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
English, but French as close second. I do love Henry IV, who said “Paris is worth a Mass.”
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
"Anna Karenina", "The Great Gatsby", and "The Age of Innocence".
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
I drink coffee before I write. But during the writing: Earl Gray tea, milk, no sugar.
Nancy Bilyeau's official website: