Susan Elia MacNeal, author of "Mr Churchill's Secretary", "Princess Elizabeth's Spy", and "His Majesty's Hope" 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'm a huge admirer of Native American dancer Maria Tallchief, who was George Balanchine's muse and a prima ballerina with New York City Ballet. She was graceful, strong, and powerful—both on and off-stage. And she combined career and family in a way I find admirable. I would love to be her for a day, especially if she were dancing the Stravinsky/Balanchine Firebird, which was created specifically for her.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
I’m actually pretty fond of the present day, as I like modern medicine and indoor plumbing. The thought of giving birth in any historic period gives me the chills.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Oooh, I love this question! I would ask: physicist Richard Feynman, ballerina Suzanne Farrell, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, choreographer George Balanchine, and composer Igor Stravinsky.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
I’m absolutely in love with Edinburgh, one of the settings for my next novel, "The Prime Minister's Secret" Agent, so I’ll go with the Palace of Holyrood House. http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palaceofholyroodhouse
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
What fun! I’d pick Kim Fay (fellow Edgar nominee and author of "The Map of Lost Memories"), because she knows all about southeast Asia. I’d also pick Hilary Davidson, author of "Evil in All Its Disguises" (the latest in the "Lily Moore" series) as well as a travel writer. Not only are both women intrepid and knowledgeable travelers, they’re great fun, too.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
King Louis XIV was perhaps more dashing (the man could really wear stockings), but I have to say, I’ve always been endlessly fascinated with King Henry VIII.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Catherine Parr. She was kind, smart, and she outlived King Henry VIII to marry her true love.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
English monarchy. I can’t really say why, but it just appeals to me more.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", and "Persuasion". And I do go back to them over and over, and always see new things.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee – but just one cup!
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