Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Q&A with Anne Easter Smith

Over the last week or so I've been engrossed in Anne Easter Smith's newest historical novel, Queen By Right, and so am very excited to share my Q&A with the author.  Read on to learn a little about her, her writing process, and the book -- and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

Great question Audra, and the first anyone has asked me that. I am embarrassed to say I tried writing a Georgette Heyer book of my own when I was 19 and going back and forth on the train to work in London from my home in Surrey. I got nine chapters in and then could not make up my mind where I was going with the story -- bland and romantic or gothic and melodramatic! So I quit. Next time I attempted a book was in my 50s when I wrote “A Rose for the Crown,” my first novel (and I thought my only) about the York family in the Wars of the Roses.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to do exercise and chores in the morning, have a quick lunch and then go to my office two blocks away at 1 p.m. I usually write until 6 p.m. and then shut up shop and go home. Sometimes I am not writing, sometimes I am spending hours researching, but that’s my usual schedule. I seem to be productive in the afternoons.

Was Queen By Right the original title of your book?

Oh no! I had such a hard time coming up with a title that would resonate with readers and satisfy my editor’s need for something royal in the tile!! I wanted to call it by Cecily Neville’s nickname “Rose of Raby” but she nixed that as too obscure. I toyed with “The Duke’s White Rose” but then a fellow Richard III Society member reminded me that Cecily used to call herself “Queen By Right” when her son Edward became king (she thoroughly disapproved of Edward’s marriage to the upstart Elizabeth Woodville who would now be called Queen Elizabeth and wanted to show her that she, Cecily, should really have been queen, had her husband Richard, duke of York, survived the Battle of Wakefield).

As you were writing Queen By Right, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

I was not expecting to bump off two of my big characters--I shan’t say who and when--but I cried when it happened.

According to your bio, you're also a singer. What are some songs/singers that might make up a 'soundtrack' of Cecily Neville or this novel?

Golly that's hard, Audra. Most of the music Cecily would have enjoyed would have been by people like Hildegard von Bingen and Josquin Desprez, who probably wouldn’t make the charts today! I am sure I could find some favorite folk songs that I used to sing -- Judy Collins was a favorite (I no longer do folksinging, Audra. Nothing worse than a warbly old lady trying to sing “Blowing in the Wind”), but as I am writing this on the road on tour, I can’t access my songbooks right now!

Read any good books recently?

Yes, I have recently read (for the first time, I’m ashamed to say) Wuthering Heights. I enjoyed the language and the images Emily Bronte conjured up, but I can’t say I like Catherine and Heathcliff much! I’m more of a Jane Eyre person myself. I also loved a sweet story by fellow Brit Helen Simonsen, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. It was charming. I do have several books waiting to be read like Edward Rutherfurd’s New York, and a couple by Sharon Kay Penman that I never seem to get time to dig into as I am on such a crazy writing schedule. Already 50 pages into my next book due July 2012.

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My thanks to Anne Easter Smith for her time!

GIVEAWAY!  I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Queen By Right to a lucky reader! Leave a comment on this interview (with email or a way to contact you) to be entered. Ends 6/10, US only.  For another entry, be sure to comment on my review of Queen By Right which will be posted on Tues, May 31st.


  1. Wonderful interview! Wuthering Heights is one of my all time favorite books, so I am glad to hear Anne enjoyed it! I cannot wait to read this newest book of hers!

  2. I do like the title :) And I did not know she was known as the Rose of Raby

  3. A good British historical is like home base for me -- no matter where I travel in my reading rovings, there's nothing so restorative for me as a spending time reading in the genre of my first love. I've had my eye on this one for a while. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  4. @Gwendolyn - And this book is a meaty, meaty historical too -- really a stellar example of the genre!

  5. Fabulous interview; the book sounds fantastic!!

    raoreviews (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. I've been on the fence about reading her War of the Roses books for a while, but I think this pushed me into "gonna buy them" territory. for the giveaway :)

  7. This sounds like a fantastic book and historical fiction is my favorite genre. Need to read it and find which 2 characters where bumped off. Thanks for the chance to win! -Melanie

  8. I can't believe she cried when she had to bump characters. How sad!!!

  9. a wonderful interview...thanks for the opportunity to read this beautiful novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  10. The book sounds fantastic I would love to read it. A wonderful interview, and don't feel bad I too have yet to read Wuthering Heights, but have it on my to read list. I absolutely love anything Royal, I have a huge fondness for the Tudor/King Edward period, I also like reading about King James (Jamie) the Scottish king. I can't seem to get enough of it. Thank you for giving me a chance to win your new novel, it would be an honor to win/read/review it for you. Thank you again.

  11. I always thought the author had control over what happens in their books...

    tiredwkids at live dot com

  12. This book sounds amazing!

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  13. I have been interested in reading this book since I first saw it!! I think the title is perfect

    I am also interested in reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

    Tracie at

  14. Entry for Natalie: nataliej02099(at)yahoo(dot)ca via GoodReads.

  15. Thanks for another great giveaway! I'll have to admit I have not read either "Wuthering Heights" or "Jane Eyre" -- but it's not because I don't want to read them. But I do love the War of the Roses era so I will be adding both books to my TBR pile.


  16. The title is excellent, inspiring to wonder what happened to her Queenship. I love learning history this way. Please enter me into the drawing.

  17. I LOVE historical novels. I would really like to read this,

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  18. entry:

    I like historical novels with heft. Makes me feel like I am escaping into that era.


  19. Not only is the cover amazing the book sounds awesome too!