Monday, August 15, 2011
Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Sandra Byrd
I'm so glad you joined me today for another Southern-Style Meet & Greet! These posts just get "funner" every week (I'm Southern...it's okay if my grammar isn't a hundred percent *all* the time)! :o)
We've got another great interview in store this week, but let me first extend another heartfelt thank you to last week's author, Tamara Leigh. What a sweet, sweet person she is, and I was so honored that she was a guest here. (Come back anytime, Tamara!) And before we go any further, let's find out who won Tamara's book giveaway last week for a copy of her new book, Restless in Carolina. A big congratulations to......
Cheryl, I'll be in touch with you soon to get your mailing address. Hope you'll enjoy your new book! :o)
And now, it's time for this week's featured author! It's no secret that Sandra Byrd is one of my all-time favorite authors, and her books just keep getting better and better and better. She visited with me here back almost 2 years ago, and I was just as giddy then as I am now that she agreed to do an interview (I was a newbie to author interviews back then)! Anyway, she's got a brand new book out right now that is INCREDIBLE, and quite possibly, the best book I have read or will read in all of 2011. So, our Meet & Greet is going to be a little different this week. We'll still have our Southernisms, so no worries, but we're mostly going to talk a lot about her newest book. :o)
Welcome back, Sandra!
I have loved writing everything I've written - from YA to Paris and back - it's been a privilege. But when I choose to read a book for pleasure, it's almost always historical, so I suspect that I will remain writing historical novels for as long as I can. I guess the readers will be the ones to decide if I've found my niche or not ... and I'll be listening!
I think you've found it, without a doubt! Although, a new chick-lit book once in awhile wouldn't disappoint me. :o)
For those who may not know that you’ve just released a new book, can you share a little bit about it, please?
This series, Ladies in Waiting, is a series of three books in Tudor England, each story being told from the point of view of one of the Queen's closest friends. From a young age, we women are wired for friendship. Little girls link arms in exclusivity with one another on the playground. The most devastating betrayals during our middle and high school years often come not from boys but from the friends we thought loved us and in whom we'd trusted. I have several friends with whom I've been close for more than twenty years and I know they have my back, and I, theirs, no matter what. So when I began to write novels set in the Tudor period I wondered, who were these Queens' real friends, those who would remain true in a treacherous court? Ovid wrote, "While you are fortunate you will number many friends, when the skies grow dark you will be alone."
I began with Anne Boleyn and her best friend, Meg Wyatt.
To Die For is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.
Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.
To set the stage as it were, your readers might like to visit my blog to find some delicious Renaissance recipes or learn more about knights and ladies. Or take a walk through the Castles and Palaces page on my site, or visit the Tudor Hall.
I know you must have done a boatload of research for To Die For. In addition to pouring over books and historical data, did you take a trip to England to visit some of the places that were mentioned in your book?
I have been reading Tudor era fiction and nonfiction for most of my life, so I started with a fair amount of background into the stories. I avoided reading fiction set in the time period while I was developing and writing the books so I wouldn’t commingle my thoughts and story lines with anyone else’s, but I did read a large amount of nonfiction. Books, articles, websites, perhaps several dozen of each! I would outline and highlight each source, and then place them on a timeline so that when I was writing I could keep my facts straight. The research was an engaging labor of love though. For some reason, each book in the series has required more research than the one that came behind it. Maybe it’s a case of the more you know the more you realize what you don’t know!
While I was in England I visited many of the castles and palaces where scenes in the book are set. Hampton Court Palace, The Tower of London, and Hever Castle were among the many enchanting places I got to visit. It’s nearly like a pilgrimage for me to have trod on the ground many of the people I have long admired and read about once walked and rode. If you’d like to visit some of them “virtually,” please visit the "Castles and Palaces" page on my website where there are lots of wonderful photos.
England is on my bucket list of places to go at least once in my lifetime. And I bet those castles and palaces would be amazing to see in person. *sigh*
Anne Boleyn has gotten a bad rap over the years. What prompted you to share more of her story through the eyes of her close friend, Meg Wyatt?
Those reformation years were critical to refinement and revival in Christianity. Yet I found that while Anne's faith, and the faith of her friends, was well covered in nonfiction, fiction often ignored or downplayed her convictions altogether, often though not always portraying her as either vixen or victim. I wanted to add some shading and nuance to the genre and telling it from Meg Wyatt's point of view allowed me to do that. The fact is, the Boleyns in general and Anne in particular were instrumental in the English Reformation. The Wyatt family, too, produced more than Thomas the poet, as much as I like him. Meg, and John Rogers, played what I think were much more significant roles.
Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?
The second book, The Secret Keeper, takes place during the queenship of Katheryn Parr. She, too, was a strong reformer, and a best-selling Christian author. But she had a soft spot for a bad boy and it led her, and those under her care, into trouble and distress. One of her ladies in waiting had the gift of prophecy, and Parr and her women also secretly supported Anne Askew, who was martyred for her faith.
The third book in the series will take place in the court of Elizabeth, and will be told from the point of view of one of her closest ladies. We often hear about Gloriana, her power and amazing intellect, but not as often about Elizabeth's softer side as it intersected with her friends and her loves. Elizabeth was loyal but could also be a tempestuous friend, which made being her lady in waiting a bit of a balance walk and dangerous in its own right.
Ahem...it goes without saying that I'll be first in line for both of those books. :o)
What was the last Christian fiction book you read that you couldn’t put down?
I recently devoured Liz Curtis Higgs' book, Here Burns My Candle and am eager to dive into Mine is the Night!
Where can readers find you on the web?
Please visit me online at my website; you can also link to me on Facebook and Twitter from there. I hope your readers will also sign up for my e-postcards (where I am also giving away two Kindles) so I can keep in touch!
If you could visit anywhere down South, where would it be and why?
I'd visit Alabama because my husband went to school at Marion Military Institute. And then I'd go to Disney World again, because I love it.
Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?
Unsweet, but only because I need to lose a few pounds!
BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef?
Pork for sure!
You'd fit in perfectly in my area! Beef is, um...not allowed to be barbecued around here. (Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit there.)
Elvis Presley or Dolly Parton?
Dolly. I admire her honesty.
Summer or Winter? (There are only two seasons down here…really.)
Summer since mine (in Seattle) is so hot. You can keep the humidity, though.
Oh, but I'd love to share the humidity! Share it to all the ladies in the world who'd love to have frizzy hair! Come on...don't you want some?! :o)
Country gal or city gal?
Seashore gal. But city if I had to pick one.
You, you all, or y’all?
I'm so afraid to use y'all lest I be seen as a poser. But I love the phrase and the gentle inclusiveness just the tone and style reflects. Maybe y'all will let me use it for today?
We sure will, won't we, y'all? :o)
Ahhh....did y'all have as great of a time today as I did?! These Meet & Greets get more fun every single week! (Didn't I say that already? Oh, dear...) I hope y'all look forward to them as much as I enjoy bringing them to you. :o)
And guess what? (Well, you probably already did.) Sandra has been so gracious to offer a brand new copy of her new book, To Die For!! How great is that!?! If you do not have this book yet, it is an absolute *must-get* if you are a fan of historical fiction.
1. Leave a comment with your email address disguised like "yourname at yourdomain dot com" or something similar. No email address, no entry...sorry.
2. All entry comments must be left by Sunday, August 21st
3. Contest is open to residents of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia or NZ.
And for the first time on Southern-Style Meet & Greet...
4. Become a follower for an additional entry, and let me know in your comment if you're a new one or an existing one. (No need to create a separate comment for this. Combining everything into one comment is sufficient.) And the upside? You'll know what's happening here with future Meet & Greets...a win-win, for sure. :o)