Hi everyone! Today I am part of a tour that has been going on all month... the Authors are Rockstars tour! My rockstar author is debut historical fiction author, Katherine Longshore! I absolutely loved her book Gilt and am so thrilled to be hosting her on the blog today! Katherine is kind of a role model to me, because the way that she has lead her life is so inspirational. (Yes, I absolutely stalked her blog/website...) I think the fact that she has traveled all over the world, hoping to find inspiration, and then finding it in history is just so fantastic. I've never really thought about writing historical fiction, but after reading Gilt, I would love to dabble a bit in it and see if I could do it! Katherine creates these characters that have obviously lived in the past, but makes it feel like they're living now. Her characters all had such depth and emotion, which makes it easier to remember that they were alive once, too. But enough of my rambling! You can see my 5 star review on the book here.
Visit Katherine on her website and scroll down to enter for the chance to win a signed copy of Gilt! And yes, this is an international giveaway!
1. What do you think is the most difficult part in writing historical fiction?
The stories I tell and the people I tell them about are very familiar to many modern readers. Henry VIII is part of our consciousness. Even if we know nothing about him, we know something – if you know what I mean. It’s very difficult to take a story that’s been retold a hundred times and find something new and fresh about it that will convince people to hear it one more time. Because of these retold stories, people have
preconceived notions about a lot of my characters, so it’s tough to write them. To make them believable, relatable, real. Not just history, but people who had thoughts and feelings and reasons. Fortunately, that’s also what I love about writing historical fiction. To look at the facts, and make characters fit into them. We don’t know what Catherine Howard was like. All we know is what she did. The two biggest weapons in my arsenal are the questions Why? And What if? The fun part of fiction is finding the answers.
2. Would you say the Tudors era is (one of) your favorite periods in history?
Definitely. In part because of the richness and change – the Renaissance, the
Reformation, the discovery of the New World. In part because of the romantic allure of it
all – the costumes and the jewels and the palaces. But mostly because of the characters.
Henry, his wives, his sisters. Their children, who ruled a country rife with drama and
political intrigue. They changed the world. Imagine that. They changed the world.
3. Is there another time in history that you'd like to study and write a book that is set in
I’m fascinated by Henry V and Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War. All of the
English sovereign queens – Mary I, Elizabeth I, Anne, Mary II, Victoria – inspire me.
And the queens who aren’t really considered queens – Boudicea, Matilda, Jane Grey. The
chaos of the French Revolution intrigues me greatly, but also intimidates me because I
know nothing about it. I love the clothes and the rapid evolution of women’s lives during
the Edwardian Era, just before and during World War I. Honestly, I could go on studying
and writing forever – the material is endless.
4. Is there anything that you can suggest to someone who's hoping to become a historical
Know your material. Love your material. You’re going to be living in this timewarp for
a very long time, so make sure you’ll want to stick around. That knowledge and that love
of the subject will shine through every word you write.
Read, write, revise. Rinse and repeat. Nothing is wasted in this business – not a single
fact or written sentence. It may not all end up in your book, but it’s all worthwhile.
5. Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
Most of them. Too often, I let people get away with things and take advantage of me –
much like Kitty. But like her, I love and protect my friends with unquestioning ferocity.
I want my own way and have to stop myself from being manipulative like Cat, but I also
want to share my success with those around me as she does. I want a quiet life out in the
country with the person I love, just like William. I ferret away information and objects
and secrets like Alice and blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time in the goofiest
ways like Joan. Parts of Culpepper come from my darkest experiences. Edmund reminds
me of a time I was easily led and hurt people because of it. But this doesn’t mean they
are all me, that this is some psychotically messed-up autobiography. After all, don’t we
all recognize ourselves in others? Fictional or otherwise?
6. What was the most rewarding thing about writing this book?
Getting to know the characters. Throughout my teens and part of my twenties, I wanted
to be an actress. I loved the process of becoming someone else and discovering the
parts of me I could use or discard. Delving deep into my own emotional well to draw up
equivalent feelings onstage. I do the same thing in my writing, only much more deeply
because now I not only put emotions in their actions, but thoughts in their heads and
words in their mouths. It’s a huge responsibility, and one that I don’t take lightly.
7. What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
As a child I loved The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and From the Mixed-up Files
of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with equal measure. As a teen, my favorite books were
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and A Room With a View by E.M. Forster.
Looking at this list now, I see they are all stories of travel and discovery…
8. If you hadn't traveled so much in the past, do you think this book would still be a
reality? Or would it perhaps be a different genre?
I can trace a direct line from my traveling days to this book, so it’s hard to imagine
it happening without them. I went to England for two weeks before venturing on to
six months in Africa. And I did not find England inspiring. England in February is
wet, lackluster and depressing. But while traveling through Africa, I met a charming
Englishman. If I hadn’t married him, I may never have returned to England, may never
have fallen in love with English history. If I had never traveled, I would probably have
written a contemporary novel about a theater geek who works at an espresso bar and
dreams of exotic adventures…
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Katherine!
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Good luck everyone!