Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview with Nancy Bilyeau

From the first line, I was completely taken by Nancy Bilyeau's intriguing Tudor novel, The Crown.  Following a noblewoman-turned-nun, this novel had everything I adore in a good book.  I'm excited to share my interview with Nancy Bilyeau, so read on to learn more about her writing, her book, and what she does when she's not reading.  Bonus: giveaway!

Photo of author Nancy Bilyeau
What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

I wrote stories in high school but I don't remember any of them now. Then there is a huge gap until I attempted fiction in the last seven years. My first novel is The Crown. But before that I wrote a short story in a Gotham Writer's Workshop class. The plot revolved around an American woman going to a cabin on a lake in Canada with her Canadian boyfriend to meet his family. Because it's me writing this, there are rivalries and drinking and illicit sexual encounters and finally a drug overdose. LOL.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

Not ritual exactly, but I like to wake up very early--before dawn-- and have a strong cup of Earl Gray tea and get to it.

You've written for magazines like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, and have also written a number of screen plays. Why the move to novels and was it a hard transition?

I love screenwriting but I was frustrated by constrictions of length and how much I could dive into character. So I decided to go back to my first love, of writing fiction. For me it was easy to make the transition and I used some of the techniques learned in screenwriting in my novel. On the other hand, I can write a screenplay in a few months. Novels take much much longer. As for why leave magazines, I wanted to tell stories and craft characters. And I wanted to create something of my own, rather than deliver work to various corporations. I mean, my books are published by big corporations but I am the person responsible for them, not one member of a huge team that works on something that churns out every month or week.

image of book cover for The Crown
Was The Crown the original title of your book?

No, my title was The Last Nun. The publisher changed it.

As you were writing The Crown, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

The character of Brother Edmund kept surprising me. He sort of took over and became his own person. Readers have had interesting responses to him, too. One woman I know wants to wear a "Team Edmund" T-shirt. Ha.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Go to the movies. Take long walks while listening to my music. Do things with my children. My son really loves Chinese food these days so our mother-son activity has been finding different restaurants for Sunday Chinese brunch. His quest is to find the perfect won-ton soup.

Read any good books recently?

Right now I'm about one-third of the way through Robert K. Massie's biography Catherine the Great. It's amazing! He makes everyone so incredibly interesting and I love his psychological insights.

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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Crown to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only. Ends 3/9.

See more reviews by checking out the other blogs on the tour. Learn more about Nancy Bilyeau at her website, and follow her on Twitter. Follow the tour on Twitter with the #TheCrownVirtualBookTour hashtag!


  1. O gosh, a Team Edmund t-shirt. Hilarious. Another great interview.

  2. I am reading this right now, and it was very interesting to get a peek into the author's mind. I have to say that I am loving the book, and that so far, it's been a real page turner. Great interview today!

    1. Heather, you always make my day with your compliments -- thank you! I am already super eager for the next novel of Bilyeau's!

  3. Thanks for this interview, Audra, and for the giveaway. This book is already on my TBR pile!

    1. I really thought I couldn't take another Tudor novel, and this one blew me away!

  4. Wonderful interview! I just read this and absolutely loved it. Definitely looking forward to seeing where Nancy takes us next.

    1. Thank you -- wasn't this such a good book?! Loved it so -- can't wait for the next one!