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10 questions with historical fiction author: Vivien Shotwell

Vivien Shotwell is the author of "Vienna Nocturne".
Vivien Shotwell is the author of "Vienna Nocturne".
Courtesy of Marvin Moore

Vivien Shotwell, author of "Vienna Nocturne" 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?

There are many figures from history I would like to have known -- Shakespeare, Frederick Douglass, Mozart, Virginia Woolf, the Buddha, Samuel Johnson, my paternal grandparents, to name a few. And there are many opera singers I wish I could have heard live. So it would be nice to have been a peripheral figure in such people's lives. I think I would still have liked to be a writer and performer; it would have been fun to be an actor in Shakespeare's Globe or one of Verdi's leading singers. But I would miss modern science and medicine, not to mention dentistry and sanitation! And I would not have liked to live during times of slavery and sexism.

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

Perhaps in Ancient Greece or Ancient Japan.

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

Marian Anderson, Katherine Hepburn, my paternal grandparents, and Oscar Wilde.

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

The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

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

Karen Shepard and Jim Shepard; they are friends and mentors from my years at Williams College and would be delightful traveling companions.

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

Louis XIV -- he was a wonderful dancer and not so murderously inclined toward his lovers.

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

I can't decide.

8. English monarchy or French monarchy?


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

"Middlemarch", "Pride and Prejudice", and "The Hero and the Crown".

10. Tea or coffee when writing?

Either, as long as it's hot and good quality. If there is a third option, I actually write most happily with hot cocoa!

Vivien Shotwell's official website:

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