Sunday, June 2, 2013

Historical Novel Society 2013 Conference Panelist: Meet Mary Hart Perry

Just twenty-one days until the Historical Novel Society Conference in St. St. Petersburg! I can't wait!

I'm excited to share another Q&A with one of the presenters at the conference. Mary Hart Perry is the psuedonym for Kathryn Johnson and she's the author of The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughters and Seducing the Princess. (Both on my TBR!) Please read on to learn about her and her books and her thoughts on writing historical fiction.

Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?

The idea for The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (written as Kathryn Johnson) came to me while I was honeymooning in Bermuda. My husband and I were married on the cruise ship, in New York harbor, before we sailed for Bermuda. In a romantic mood, as you can imagine, I was thinking about love stories and adventures that might be set on the island. When I learned of the legend that Shakespeare was inspired to write "The Tempest" after reading an account in 1609 of a ship wreck off the coast of Bermuda, I had the beginning germ of a novel.

Can you tell us about your latest publication?

My latest novel, writing as Mary Hart Perry, is Seducing the Princess. It's pure fantasy--a romantic Victorian thriller--but inspired by the life of Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. This is the second novel in a series that I've been working on for the past three years. The first is The Wild Princess, based on events in the life of Princess Louise, one of the queen's middle children. (She had nine kids!) The third book is a work-in-progress, and each book stands alone so that they can be read in any order.

How do you find the people and topics of your books?

I look to people in history that I find most exciting personally to me. People I would have liked to meet and talk with, if I'd been alive when they were.

Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

I always research and plot and outline at the beginning of the process. But I force myself to stop the research when I have just enough to start the writing process. Later, I'll go back and do more fact checking and reading, as I need it for the book. But it's too easy to get lost in the research if you wait too long to begin the writing. I could easily spend years buried in facts, if I let myself linger there too long.

For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

I'm dead center when it comes to the balance of fact and fiction. I want to include some facts for a realistic base on which to build the story. But it's the fantasy of my imaginary tale that has to come through, because that makes the story unique and surprising for the reader, and for me. I'm not writing a biography of my central character, after all. I leave that to the very talented non-fiction writers we have today.

Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?

Currently, I'm all about the Victorian era. And so far, the stories have been centered in England. But I'm always on the verge of breaking out and trying new things. I love the variety of settings--places and times--that fiction allows. Very exciting!

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You can learn more about Mary Hart Perry at her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You can check out her speaker bio here (scroll down).

1 comment :

  1. Audra, thanks so much for letting me visit with you today! Love your site. Books, books...books--heavenly! Mary Hart Perry (aka Kathryn Johnson)