Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing on Wednesday - Guest Author Christy English on Historical Fiction & a Little Shakespearean Romance

I'm delighted to interview author (and my good friend) Christy English today. Christy writes historical fiction and, more recently, romance. She's a brilliant writer, and has a wicked sense of humor to boot. (Tiny aside -- I named a Golden Retriever in Drop Dead on Recall after Christy's favorite queen, Eleanor of Aquitane.)  Welcome, Christy!  ~ Sheila

1)      How did you move from writing about Eleanor of Aquitaine (THE QUEEN’S PAWN, 2010 and TO BE QUEEN, 2011) to Regency romances and Shakespeare?

Eleanor has been my obsession for years, but a writer can’t live on one woman alone. There were times between drafts when I needed to take a break from Eleanor and her historical politics. During those times, I found myself without a project. And a writer between projects is basically a madwoman. 

So, for fun, I started a romance novel. I dreamed the first two chapters, and that same morning, I brought my new idea to my writers’ group in Manhattan. We would gather with bagels or scones every Sunday morning and work on our pieces together, like toddlers enjoying parallel play. In this nurturing place, I began my re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I figured, Shakespeare stole most of his plots, so what was good enough for the Bard was definitely good enough for me. 

2)      Which do you prefer, straight historical fiction or historical romance? 

I love them both. There is so much to be discovered in all forms of fiction. I learned a lot as I explored Eleanor of Aquitaine’s political genius in my first two novels. But there is something to be said for relaxing into a safer world, embracing the softness of life of the privileged in Regency England. In HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE, I got to explore what it was like for a strong woman to live in a world that worked to limit her strength without actually threatening her, as Eleanor of Aquitaine was threatened throughout her life. 

3)      One theme that seems to run throughout all of your novels is the strength of women in a man’s world. What made you want to explore this? 

Strong women are the bread and butter of my imagination. Even as a child, I was drawn to the dramas of Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman. (I’m dating myself here, clearly. Yes, indeed, I was a child of the ‘70s.) I suppose that I have always celebrated my own strength and the strength of the human soul by delving into the courage of the people in my novels, historical figures and fictional characters both. 

4)      Describe HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE for us. 

Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.

Promised to the Earl by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and...gorgeous.

It's a duel of wit and wills in this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is...who's taming whom?

5)      What’s next for you?

I‘ve started a second romance novel set in Regency England, a re-telling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, Raymond Olivier, a minor character in HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE, finds himself alone with the woman he loved and lost ten years before. As he flees London with her to escape a marauding duke, will these two find a way to love each other again, and to let the past go? Tune in and find out…J

Thank you for hosting me, Sheila. I had a fabulous time talking about Eleanor, Shakespeare, and unruly women…


After years of acting in Shakespeare's plays, Christy English is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England. When she isn't acting, roller skating, or chasing the Muse, Christy writes historical novels (The Queen's Pawn and To Be Queen) from her home in North Carolina. Please visit her on her blog or on Facebook at Shakespeare in Love.


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