Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Interview with Sandra Byrd

Yesterday I went into swoons over Sandra Byrd's Roses Have Thorns, her novel of Elizabeth I's court. While not a Tudor addict, she hooked me from the start and I'm delighted to share my interview with Sandra Byrd about her book and her writing.  Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end!

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

It was a doomed love story between a hero from the North Pole and a heroine from the South Pole who desperately wanted to be together but were magnetically driven apart for all eternity. You can see why that wasn't published, right? I think I was about 14 when I wrote it. It was great fun, which is why we all start writing, anyway.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I listen to sound track or instrumental music appropriate to the era when I'm writing a rough draft, and then I edit in dead silence. When I'm anxious about the book's progress I eat Lemonheads, which is getting to be a little hard on the crowns.

Was Roses Have Thorns the original title of your book?

No, I originally wanted something in the title using the word serpent, because Walsingham referred to Mary, Queen of Scots as Elizabeth's "bosom serpent." Elin had a bosom serpent, too, and it seemed to fit, especially when tied in with the Aesop's fable. But, it was decided that those words didn't make for a fetching title, and so we came up with Roses Have Thorns. I like it, too, because it reflects back to Shakespeare, and theater plays a role in the book. (Pun intended!)

As you were writing Roses Have Thorns, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

I was surprised that I sympathized in part with Eleanor Brydges, mainly because she seemed to be completely overshadowed by her mother and sister, and the one way she had to make a name for herself, the one man who seemed to love her, became her downfall and death.

I was surprised that Elin gave Sofia a maid. So often we think we have to either be weak and accommodating or completely hardcore. Elin showed me that you can be both strong and defend yourself while still handling things with grace, even in a situation where you've clearly been wronged.

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

I love to bake. If I weren't a writer I'd love to own a French tea shop. Debbie Macomber lives just up the way from me a little bit and she owns a tea shop. Maybe it's set a precedent that I could do both - if only I had her royalties to fund the thing! I'm an Anglophile when it comes to history, literature, landscape, and culture but a Francophile when it comes to food, wine, and style. I'd love to take the weekend cooking classes at the Culinary Academy.

Read any good books recently?

Mostly what I'm reading right now are nonfiction books that add to my research for my work in progress. When I'm writing a novel I can't read fiction because my imagination can't be two places at once. Also, I try to avoid reading in the genre I'm currently writing in so as not to inadvertently influence my take on things.

When I'm done with this draft, I'm going to finally read Gone Girl, and I haven't read anything by Sarah Jio next but she is also a Washingtonian, I think, and I've heard her books are excellent so I'm looking forward to digging in.

And if I may borrow a question from your arsenal: Coke or Pepsi? (Mead or Wine? Ale or Port?)

Coke, for sure, in glass, bottled in Mexico (where they use cane sugar and not corn syrup). Red wine, maybe a Rioja or a slightly chilled table Bordeaux. I don't like ale or port, but I do like cider, especially pulled at a pub. More than you wanted to know, eh?

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog!

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My thanks to Ms. Byrd for her time and answers. You can find out more about her and her books at her webpage as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Roses Have Thorns and a handmade Elizabeth I pendant to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 5/3.


  1. Great interview! How interesting that she would be a baker! This explains why I see her posting things she has baked on FB! Can't wait to read the book!

  2. I loved that she wrote about two lovers at different ends of the earth. It seems so wonderful to have had that much imagination and talent at the age of 14! I also love that she wants to own a French cafe. I started having that same dream when I read a book about a woman who opens one last year. This was a rather interesting interview to read, and I am glad that you hosted Sandra here. Her book is at the top of my buying list, and the shopping begins soon! Great post today, Audra!!

  3. Thank you, Laura, and Zibilee! Zibilee - let me know if you open the cafe. It's fun to dream!

  4. Great interview, a really good read and funny too. I loved reading about the music choices, there are lists of pop music for books, but using music of the era must really help the mood and thus the descriptions.

  5. I can't wait to add this book to my collection. Thank you for the chance to win it.