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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interview with Anne Easter Smith, author of Queen By Right

Hello Everyone!  Please give a warm welcome to Anne Easter Smith, author of Queen By Right, as well as A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and The King's Grace.
So without further ado:

Welcome Anne and thanks so much for your time. I am loving your latest book, Queen by Right, and trying not to finish it, because I don’t want it to end.

So let’s get to some questions. Hope these are not too odd or boring for that matter.

1.) You have brought Cecily Neville to life so well, with her personality and actions that I wish I could travel back in time and meet with her as well. What is it about Cecily that makes her so lovable and inspiring? Is it possible there may be a bit of your personality in Cecily as she is portrayed in the book?

First of all, thanks for having me on your blog today, Jenny! I was inspired to write about Cecily while writing “Daughter of York.” She didn’t appear in “A Rose for the Crown” but loomed large over her sons Edward and Richard’s minds and actions. She was always spoken of with such reverence that I think I was just as intimidated by her as they seemed to be! But her character started to intrigue me and came clear in “Daughter of York.” As for being like me, I don’t think I’m nearly as strong a personality as she was, but I was a tomboy in my youth -- always hanging upside down from trees or swimming like a fish in the Red Sea near Suez, where I spent some of my childhood. I was also a military wife in my first marriage and have moved 23 times in my life. I think Cecily is more liked my older sister, to whom I dedicated “Queen By Right.” I’m more like Cecily’s daughter, Margaret.

2.) The Author’s Notes explain that Cecily was at Rouen roughly the same time as Joan of Arc. Therefore, you create a powerful scene between these two women that affects Cecily throughout the remainder of her life. I liked that, but felt that at times, Cecily fixated on Joan and her manner of death too much. Is there a particular reason why you did this? Does it go with how people thought during this time, especially with regards to religion being so important? (I just thought this fixation on Joan didn’t mesh with Cecily’s strong personality. Please pardon me if this is wacky question.)

Ah, but maybe you did not grow up in the medieval way of thinking, Jenny! Much of their daily life revolved around their strong belief in religion. The church bells were always ringing to call the faithful to church; people knew exactly which saint took care of what particular problem in their lives; and they were taught to look for heavenly portents or miracles and many thought they got messages from God. Joan’s story must have captivated especially young girls in the day -- and don’t forget Cecily was only 15 when she watched Joan die -- and just like teens today have their idols who they wish they could be, I think Cecily would have loved to have been Joan as she donned men’s armor and rode into battle. Granted, I used dramatic license for the scene between Cecily and Joan, but I don’t think it goes against Cecily’s personality at all to call upon the strength Joan must have had to face her inquisitor day after day for three months and then bravely endure death at the stake. I think it made Cecily all the stronger from that day forth.

3.) Between Henry’s illness and the Lords of the kingdom bickering, do you think if women had some say things would have been different?

Of course! What has changed over the centuries, Jenny? I still think we’d have far fewer conflicts today if women were in charge.

4.) As I read your book and remember who was who, and what they did as adults, it makes me shake my head in amazement. When you research these characters, do you find yourself doing the same thing? Does history continually amaze you?

Yes, history does continue to amaze me and that’s why I find the research so fun and compelling. Writing about real people has made me firmly believe in the saying: Fact is stranger than fiction. What could be a stranger or more mysterious story than Perkin Warbeck’s (see “The King’s Grace”)?

5.) You are also a member of the Richard III Society. I have always been curious about this society. Can you explain what this Society is about or it’s purpose? (Again my apologies if this question is a bit wacky.)

Not at all! The Society has been in existence in one form or another since the 1920s and was formed to try and right the bad reputation Richard III was given by those writing for the Tudors in the Tudor times, like Shakespeare. The parent branch is in the UK but there is an active branch here in the US as well is in Australia and Canada. I am guessing there are close to 2,000 members worldwide trying to help re-write the language surrounding Richard’s kingship in encyclopedias and reference books.

6.) I understand the Medieval Period is your favorite, but what would be your number two favorite?

I grew up reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances and fell in love with the Regency period -- and Jane Austen is also a favorite author, who wrote in that period and brought that era to life for me.

7.) What can we see from you in the future? Could Margaret of Anjou ever have her story told? She was quite the character!

Margaret has just been “done” by Susan Higginbotham, Jenny. May I just say that I wouldn’t be able to write a book about someone I don’t like one bit! As for my next book, it is about Jane Shore, Edward IV’s favorite and last mistress.

Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.


Please stop by on June 13, for my review of Queen By Right.

In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, Anne has found her most engrossing character yet. Cecily earned two monikers from her contemporaries: Rose of Raby for her fair-haired beauty and Proud Cis for her fierce loyalty and courage in the face of the many history-making events she experienced in her eighty years. This was a woman who could have been queen had her husband lived to win the day over Henry VI and his queen, Margaret of Anjou, in the winter of 1461.

History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of Ludlow Castle, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, Duke of York who she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match, and together they face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue.

All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her own hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and the kingdom. As civil war escalates between the cousins of Lancaster and York, Cecily will lose her love, her favorite brother and her dearest child. But in the end, she will watch proudly as her oldest son takes his father’s place at the head of a victorious army and is crowned at Westminster Abbey as King Edward IV.