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. Jennfer Smeth from Book-alicious Mama, a contributor to SheReads and BookTrib, and someone who leads the new releases book club at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia answers 10 questions about the genre she so loves.
1. What was the first historical fiction novel you ever read?
I have always loved reading and can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book in my hands. The earliest set of historical fiction books I remember picking up are the "Little House on the Prairie" series and "Anne of Green Gables". I’m not sure which came first – my watching the TV series on TV and then deciding to read the books or vice versa – but I vividly remember reading them and then acting out scenes from the book with my sister, Alexis. I think your first historical read is like your first love. You just can’t forget them.
2. What are your favorite historical fiction novels?
Oh that’s tough. That’s like choosing one for your children as your favorite—you can’t because you love them all for their own reasons. If I had to choose, it would be in no particular order "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell (this was the first book I remember staying awake to finish), "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, and for a more recent author I’d have to say Erika Robuck’s books. Erika has an uncanny way of pulling you back in history and delving into people’s lives with the power of her words. I am counting down the days until "Fallen Beauty" publishes (March 2014).
3. Who are some historical fiction authors you have interviewed or worked with?
While I have been reading for almost my whole life, blogging is a new venture for me. I been blessed to interview and work with a number of wonderful authors (like Beth Hoffman, Erika Marks, Jolina Petersheim, Mia March, and more), all fiction, but to date only a handful of historical fiction authors. This month I’ll be working both Stephanie Lehmann ("Astor Place Vintage") and Jillian Cantor ("Margot: A Novel"), with more historical fiction author interviews lined up in the coming months. To read all my interviews, please visit my blog at: http://www.bookaliciousmama.com/.
4. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
Cleopatra—in my mind, she’s really the first example of a strong woman in history.
5. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
I’m a history fiend, as that was my major in college, but the two eras in history that really excites me are the 17th and 18th Century – specifically the time of Marie Antoinette and Catherine the Great. The other era is the end of the Romanov Empire. I feel like there are so many stories and unanswered questions from that time period. Is Anastasia still alive?
6. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
For any party you need to think carefully about the list as you want a lively crowd of people. People who can carry on a conversation. I would pick Spartacus, Zelda Fitzgerald (so many wonderful authors have written about her this year and I’d love to meet her!), Amelia Earhart, Queen Victoria and Marie Antoinette.
7. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
That’s hard. There are so many wonderful castles and examples of architecture to choose from. For the sheer size and scope, I would say Versailles; for the uniqueness to history (Muslim and Spainish royalty) I would pick the Alhambra in Spain; and for the iconicism from my childhood I would pick the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, which is the castle Walt Disney used to create Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
8. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
That’s another tough question and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite since none of them seemed happy or to stay alive, except Henry’s last wife, Katherine Parr. Not sure I can pick a favorite, since I feel sorry for all of them. They all married a man who used them for his own gain and then discarded them when he was done.
I recently reviewed "Queen’s Gambit" and a fellow blogger Jen Hartling (The Relentless Reader) summed Henry and his wives up well: “Can you imagine if you saw Henry eyeing you up at court? Holy smokes, I would have chopped off all of my hair and ripped out my eyelashes and…whatever else I could to get him to back off. Sardines sewn into the hem of my gowns? Something.”
9. Do you read traditional books or use an E-Reader?
While I read/use both as that is how I receive many advanced copies of books, I prefer traditional books. There’s nothing like the weight of a book in my hands and the feel of paper on my fingers. I love going into libraries and bookstores, especially independent ones, browsing the shelves and walking out with books in my hands!
10. Tea or coffee when reading and reviewing books?
I am definitely a coffee and iced coffee gal, despite living in the South (home of sweet tea) for 15 years.