Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author of “Jefferson’s Sons”, “The Lacemaker and the Princess”, “The President’s Daughter”, and “For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy” answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.
1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
Mmm. I was going to say St. Catherine of Siena, my patron saint, who was greatly respected as a writer–but I just looked her up on Wikipedia and she also starved herself, which is completely not me, so she’s out. Anyone at all? How about St. Peter? He’d be pretty interesting, and I’d like to know what Jesus was like from his point of view.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
Right now it would be handy to live in 1940, during the Battle of Britain, since that’s part of a book I’m working on. I’d love to really be able to hear and smell and see the battles–without putting myself into danger, of course. I keep threatening to put my family on British war rations for a week, but they don’t think that’s a good idea.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Queen Elizabeth the First; Mary, Queen of Scots–just to see how those two got along, though we’d not dare seat them next to each other. Nelson Mandela and Gandhi–they could have some good conversations. Then how about Richard Feynman–what an interesting mind!
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
I think Windsor. Or Camelot.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Michelle Cooper–don’t know a thing about her except that I love her “Montmaray Chronicles”, the third of which is coming out next week (hooray!) And Joanna Bourne–her books show up in the romance sections with astonishingly lurid covers, but she writes with such wit and intelligence she leaves me gasping. I think she’d be hilarious to travel with. I love the works of the late Patrick O’Brian, but I think he’d be a cantankerous old coot.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
I’d go with Henry VIII, as long as it’s understood that I mean his Dashing King Hal days, when he was young and in love with Catherine of Aragon, and jousted and hunted every day. Before he became obsessed with succession.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne of Cleves. She was married to Henry by proxy, and when she came over to England from Germany, he didn’t like the look of her. He had their unconsummated marriage annulled. She didn’t protest (perhaps she didn’t like the look of him, either) and so he gave her a very generous settlement and Hever Castle to live in, where she stayed by all accounts very happily for the rest of her life. I like her story–she got to escape the arranged marriages that were most princesses’ fate in those days, and live on her own independently.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
Well, which era? I’m a fan of the current English monarch–she had me at, “Good afternoon, Mr. Bond.” The French had all that splendor–but they squandered it, and the French Revolution was such an awful mess. And with William the Conqueror they were one and the same. Over all, probably the English. I like the stiff upper lip bit.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
Anything except “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen, and I’ll count that as one. “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith–I don’t know why, it’s so sweetly captivating. “The Blue Sword” by Robin McKinley. I like her older books much better than her more recent ones.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s official website: