Patricia Bracewell, author of “Shadow on the Crown” (available February 2013) answers 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?
Much as I admire my heroine, Emma of Normandy, her life was not an easy one. Plus, she was married to King Aethelred, a historical figure I would not care to spend any time with. So I would choose Elizabeth I. She had it all, didn’t she? Intellect, education, power, and wealth. She was long-lived in a difficult but brilliant age when the arts flourished.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
The years we have ingrained in our minds are all the cataclysmic ones, when world-changing events were taking place. That doesn’t make for a peaceful existence. So I would choose a year like A.D. 1003, before England was brought to its knees by Danish raiders. Spending a year there would make for harsh living, but it would also make writing about it a great deal easier, assuming I survived.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Emma of Normandy and Cnut the Great as dinner partners; William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda; my dinner partner would be Charlemagne, who would no doubt keep the rest of them in line.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Hever Castle in Kent, especially after American millionaire William Astor’s early 20th century renovations. The gardens he planted are fabulous. It was the Boleyn family home until Henry VIII gave it to Anne of Cleves.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Diana Gabaldon and Sarah Dunant because besides being brilliant, each one has a marvelous sense of humor – so important in traveling companions.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
I confess that I know very little about Louis, the Sun King, so I have to vote for the young Henry as more dashing. As for interesting, wouldn’t we all love to fathom the mental processes of Henry VIII?
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne of Cleves, the last one standing. She outlived Henry and all his other wives; she attained wealth and property (Hever Castle); and she didn’t have to share Henry’s bed. Clever girl!
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, because I never tire of Elizabeth Bennet.
“Stone’s Fall”, because Iain Pears manipulates viewpoint, time, setting and plot with such skill.
“Lord of the Rings”, which is a trilogy so I’m cheating, but I can’t help it. Tolkien’s fantasy world, especially Rohan, is so reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon England.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Tea. I’m a 3-pot-a-day girl.
Patricia Bracewell’s official website: