The world of historical fiction features great authors and great bloggers and book reviewers who help promote the wonderful novels written by these fantastic historical fiction writers. These bloggers and reviewers have a passion for historical fiction and are proud to promote the works they read and enjoy. Caz from Caz's Reading Room and contributor to All About Romance and AudioGals and editor of Romantic Historical Reviews answers 10 questions about the genre she so loves.
1. What was the first historical fiction novel you ever read?
This is a difficult one because it was so long ago, but I can tell you it was by Jean Plaidy. Back in the seventies when I was growing up, there was no such thing as “Young Adult” when it came to books. You went from reading books for kids to reading books for adults – and in some ways, I think that’s not such a bad thing. It’s not just that it helped increase my vocabulary or made so many more books available to me, it also meant that I was challenged in terms of understanding – concepts and language – and learned how to interpret texts and read between the lines - in a way that the majority of today’s eleven and twelve year olds do not experience. When I was that age, I’d pretty much exhausted the children’s section in the local library, so I asked my English teacher if she could recommend some books for me. Bless her – she came up with two sides of closely written foolscap, and at the top of the list were authors like Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt, Norah Lofts, Anya Seton, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney (I know she’s more suspense than historical, but still...) and many more. I really can’t remember why I picked Plaidy (it’s almost 40 years ago now, after all!) – probably there were lots of her books in the library. I’m not 100% certain, but I think I picked up her Katherine of Aragon trilogy – "Katharine", "The Virgin Widow", "The Shadow of the Pomegranate" and "The King’s Secret Matter". I’d read all her books at least twice by the time I was in my twenties – I still own a large number of paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. I admit it’s been a while since I read one of them, and reviews I see around these days complain that her books are “dry” – but I maintain to this day that I learned more about the history of England from reading her books than I ever did in history lessons at school.
2. What are your favorite historical fiction novels?
My favorite HF novel is, hands down, Sharon Penman’s "The Sunne in Splendour", but I also fell in love with Francis Lymond (don’t we all?). Anya Seton’s "Katherine" is excellent and most recently I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Laura Andersen’s first two novels in her Boleyn Trilogy – "The Boleyn King" and "The Boleyn Deceit" (the third novel, "The Boleyn Reckoning" is due out in the next few months) I admit to having been rather skeptical at first – the premise is that Anne Boleyn bore Henry VIII a son who lived to become king, and I normally like my historical fiction to be accurate, historically. But I was hooked from the start; Ms Andersen has really skilfully blended fact and fiction and has created some compelling characters.
3. Who are some historical fiction authors you have interviewed or worked with?
I’m relatively new to this blogging malarkey, so haven’t got a huge list of names for you, but I worked with Ms Andersen recently when she guested at one of the blogs I write for and edit – Romantic Historical Reviews (www. romantichistoricals.com). I am also pleased to count the British author, Stella Riley as a friend. She writes some of the best historical romance around – plenty of emphasis on the history and she writes heroes to die for.
4. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
I think I’m going to use this to answer both questions 4 and 5. I love historical fiction, and I love watching historical drama on tv and film. I like looking back to the elegance of earlier times, the gorgeous dresses and the parties and balls... but then I think about the poverty, the lack of education, lack of personal hygiene, the lack of healthcare, the dangers faced by women in childbirth, the lack of rights for women... then I say the past is a lovely place to visit, but I’m not sure I’d want to live there!
5. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
(See Question 4!)
6. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
I’m not sure how they’d all get along, but from a purely selfish point of view: Charles Dickens – Franz Liszt (I’d be hoping for a recital after dinner!) – Fanny Trollope – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – H.G Wells. An eclectic mix – and will probably be different tomorrow!
7. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Leeds Castle in Kent. Not only is it very picturesque, it feels incredibly “comfortable” – for a castle! If I wanted to be really grand, Chantilly in northern France.
8. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Tricky! They were all badly treated, despite getting to be Queen of England. I think Katherine Parr – she was lucky enough to survive Henry, but even then, things didn’t end especially well for her. I like her fortitude and quiet dignity.
9. Do you read traditional books or use an E-Reader?
I use a Kindle for the majority of my reading these days. When I get paperbacks, they’re either things I’m sent for review or books I’ve bought second-hand because they’re not available as ebooks and are out of print.
10. Tea or coffee when reading and reviewing books?
A nice cup of Earl Grey.