Friday, November 9, 2012

On Inspiration: Interview with Christy English


My guest today is Christy English, author of The Queen's Pawn and To Be Queen. After years of acting in Shakespeare's plays, Christy is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England in her new novel How To Tame A Willful Wife which has just been released. When she isn't acting, roller skating, or chasing the Muse, Christy writes from her home in North Carolina. You can find out more about her books at her website and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter

What or who inspired you to first write?
My love of reading made me want to tell stories. My parents read to me as a child, and I remember drinking in the words as if they were a sort of magic elixir that could take me to another world. That hasn’t changed. Words still do that for me.

What is the inspiration for your current book?
I had a dream in 2007 that gave me the scenes of the first chapter of my current novel. I wrote the chapter the next week, after I ruminated over it for a bit. With editing, the chapter has changed, but the overall relationship between my characters, the true heart of the story, I’ve kept.

Is there a particular theme you wish to explore in this book?
When I was writing How To Tame A Willful Wife, I was trying to figure out if two strong-willed, stubborn people could learn to live together as equals. Hopefully, I managed to find out. 

What period of history particularly inspires or interests you? Why?
My particular obsession, beyond my love for Regency England, is Eleanor of Aquitaine, who lived during the high middle ages from 1122-1204. Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right at the age of fifteen, Queen of France and later Queen of England, this woman embodies all the self-control and power of any politician alive today. Actually, I think there have been few people in history, men or women, who could hold a candle to her. She is truly an amazing woman. So amazing that, though she has been dead for over 850 years, I still think of her in the present tense.

Is there a particular photo, piece of art, poetry or quote that strikes a chord with you? Why?
My favourite piece of art in the world is the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre. Every time I visit, I sit beside her just off the grand staircase where they keep her, and I drink her in. There is so much beauty in this piece, but also a true sense of limitlessness, of flying, of spreading wings in joy and motion. I want to feel this way when I work. She makes me think of my work as I want it to be.

What resources do you use to research your book/s?
I am old fashioned and prefer hard cover books that I can go back to and mark up and generally cling to as I work to create a new world. I do the occasional online search, especially to find images to help me understand something specific, like a Regency lady’s side saddle for example. But overall, books are where I do my research.

Which authors have influenced you?
My favourite author of all time is Mary Renault. The beauty of her prose, her ability to draw me into another world and make me live with her in it, made me want to be a writer.
I also adore anything by Lisa Kleypas and Nicola Cornick. Fabulous romance authors.

What do you do if stuck for a word or a phrase?
I move on. I ask the character what she thinks and if she doesn’t have an opinion, I leave a blank and come back to that word or sentence later. And often, as I move on with the scene, the right phrase or word comes to me. If not, I keep moving anyway. In a first draft especially, momentum is everything.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Never give up. Stay in the chair. Write for yourself, first, last and always. Listen to your characters and to your own heart. They mean more than anything else. No one else can write your story. It is yours alone.

Tell us about your next book.

My new novel, coming out November 6, is a Regency romance called How to Tame A Willful Wife. It is a take off on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and it tells the story of a very stubborn couple who learn to live together as equals. No easy task in any age, but one even more difficult in 1817. Here’s a description of the novel as it appears online:

How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don't get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers...

Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempted 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 of Plump Pockets 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...ridiculously handsome.
It's a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is...who's taming whom?
Thanks so much Christy. And my favourite author is Mary Renault, too! Good luck with your new novel - it must be an exciting time for you.

You can buy How To Tame A Willful Wife at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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