Mar 312014

My good friend and “goddess of historical fiction” Kate Quinn tagged me in this cyclical blog tour (make sure you pop over to Kate’s blog and see her answers then follow the chain back for insight into the minds and work habits of other historical fiction luminaries like Christy English and Stephanie Dray).  Four questions designed to reveal how we do what we do—write books that is.  Answering is harder than you think (as is writing books) because most of us write as we breath—because we are compelled to.  And, unless called to account by questions such as these, we don’t think a lot about it.

1) What am I working on?

I am putting the finishing touches on “Daughter of de Médicis: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois” before handing it over to my agent for his input.  I consider the book a true bildungsroman, focusing on the psychological and moral growth of the enigmatic Marguerite de Valois from the point at which she comes to live with her brother Charles IX’s royal court as a young girl to the moment when she is transformed by a tremendous historical event (the Saint Barthlomew’s Day massacre in Paris) into an independent adult.  I’ve always been fascinated by Marguerite—daughter of a King, sister of three and wife of Henri IV.  Had she lived in England Marguerite would have ruled in her turn, but Salic law in France relegated her to the sidelines.  Her relationship with her powerful mother, Catherine de Medicis, is an important aspect of the novel.  Let’s face it, the mother-daughter relationship is always fraught with peril during the teen years, but imagine if your mother was Catherine de Medicis!

If you are interested in learning more about “Daughter of de Medicis” (including more cool sneak-peek quotes like the one below), it has its own Facebook page.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Every author’s voice is different.  I have mine.  You either like it or, perhaps, you do not.  But it is different from anyone else’s.  Beyond that I cannot opine because I make a conscious effort NOT to compare my work to the work of other historical novelists.  In writing as in life I find such behavior is not particularly productive.  More than that, it can lead to some pretty negative stuff/feelings.  I write for the joy of it.  I don’t view it as a competitive sport and I fear indulging in comparisons can too often lead to that.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write historical fiction because I love to read it.  Also because I am a bona fide history geek (have my BA in history) from a family of history geeks (my only sister is actually a Professor of History). When I was a child, I visited historical sites while other kids were at amusement parks.  I also grew up watching all those Masterpiece Theater costume dramas of classic literature, and ninety-nine percent of my favorite books were (are) set in the past.  So, historical fiction was a natural niche for me.  Since I studied French abroad, and I am a devotee of Alexandre Dumas, peré, both my first novel (“The Sister Queens”) and “Daughter of de Medicis” have French history at their centers.

4) How does your writing process work?

“School is my friend.”  I bet every parent out there who works at home can identify with that.  When my writing is going well, the hours between dropping off and picking up my son from school are devoted 100% to writing.  This can have some unfortunate side-effects—usually in the form of the plaintive cries of family members claiming they are, in fact, wearing their last pair of clean underwear.  To balance my various roles and not feel like a hamster on a wheel, I try to be fully present and in each given moment.  I try not to think “oh my god, you should be writing” when I am not.  That kind of thinking tends to just create a guilt-induced writer’s block when I finally sit down at the keyboard.  Oh and I don’t compare my daily word count to others—ever.  I am a “slow first draft” writer, but the first drafts I eventually produce tend to be close to ready to handover to my critique partners, agent or editor.  Finally my process involves weekly summits with a pair of fellow novelist whose work I adore and opinions I respect.  We work through problems and set goals—basically we keep each other on-track and honest in a profession that can, by virtue of its solitude, allow for a good deal of procrastination.

Well that’s all she wrote—or rather how she writes (with the “she” being “me).  My friend Nancy Bilyeau is up next.  On Monday, April 7th she will offer insight into her own creative process, a process that’s led to her gripping Sister Joanna Stafford series (“The Crown” and “The Chalice” with a third installment on the way).  Check back here next Monday March 31st, and I’ll link to her site so you can see what her answers are.

But not forever!  For a short time the Kindle version of The Sister Queens is bargain priced at $3.99. Now is the time to add the novel to your e-book library or recommend it to an e-book loving friend.

March 6th is a good day for debuts.  One hundred and sixty years ago today (March 6, 1853)   La Traviata premiered at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.  One year ago today (March 6, 2012) my debut novel, The Sister Queens, hit shelves.  Auspicious.  And while I never expect to be as popular as Verdi, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generous responses of critics and the kind and often moving responses of readers.  Thanks all! 

Readers—Visit my Sister Queens Facebook page for instructions on how to get one of twenty signed bookplates (there are still a few left) for your copy of The Sister Queens.

Writer friends — The day after its premiere Giuseppe Verdi worried that La Traviata was a failure so EVERYBODY has artistic angst.  Have faith in your work and its ability to find an audience.

Finally, for those who haven’t tried The Sister Queens yet — I believe that Amazon still has the book on sale for $6 a copy (limit 2).  Wouldn’t now be an excellent time to add it to your TBR pile?

I  might rather be Eleanor with her faithful Henry, but when it comes to the sort of on-fire, head-over-heels love usually associated with Valentines Day, Marguerite and Jean carry the day.

 

While I was baking up a storm and wrapping gifts for friends and family I received a couple of very special year-end presents.  The Sister Queens made several  “best of” lists” (in addition to the list at Let Them Read Books  mentioned in a previous post).

I am exceedingly flattered that The True Book Addict, has my debut keeping company with books by the likes of C.W. Gortner, Hilary Mantel and my good friend Nancy Bilyeau. Holly’s list at Bippity Boppity Book lets me rub elbows with Ken Follett and Diana Gabaldon (wow).  Book Drunkard’s “Top 12”  and Tanzinite’s Castle Full of Books  both also have me in very august company.   I am  thrilled that Kate Quinn, author of a brilliant trilogy set in ancient Rome that I personally devoured, also picked The Sister Queens as one of her 2012 favorites and Space Station Mir named me as one of her “Top Ten New-To-Me Authors for 2012.”  Finally, I feel very privileged that The Sister Queens made two of the “personal favorites” 2012 lists at Romantic Historical Lovers—Meagan’s and Jenny’s. 

Not so sound like The Count from Sesame Street, but by my reckoning that makes nine favorites lists  I am gobsmacked and grateful. Thank you to the book bloggers who did me such honor and thank you to all the readers who embraced my first novel so warmly!

Nine days until Christmas, have you finished shopping?  Well, never mind that. Have you entered all these SUPER holiday book giveaways?  There is no time to waste, many of these giveaways are ending shortly.

1) The Historical Holiday Blog Hop at Passages to the Past – This is the jackpot!  FOUR fantastic prize packages each an overstuffed holiday stocking of super historical fiction titles (and I mean win a prize and take home more than a dozen historical novels).  Check it out!  The Sister Queens is part of oh-so-impressive “Prize Package #4.”

2) Over at Let Them Read Books you could win ANY historical title of your choice (valued $15 or less) shipped to you wherever you live (yes, this one is international folks).  Jenny has some recommendations based on her favorite reads of the year if you are looking for suggestions. 

3) At Tanzinites Castle Full of Books three lucky winners will chose two, gently-read titles each in another historical fiction giveaway.

4) Giveaway number four, at Peeking Between the Pages,  has four fantastic historical titles on offer including books by Michelle Moran and yours truly.

5) And finally, if you are looking to step outside of the historical fiction box I have a pair of giveaways for you.

First, the authors of Book Pregnant are celebrating the “book baby” births of 2012 by hosting a giveaway of 2012 debuts.  There are fourteen titles to choose from including literary fiction, women’s fiction, YA, historical fiction and more.  At the moment there are more books on offer than entries—you have to like those odds.

Second, there is a very nice Books for Christmas giveaway at the blog of author  Genevieve Graham featuring ten titles (including mine) across various genres and each with it’s own rafflecopter entry form. When you click the link you will be at the top of a string of posts, make sure to scroll down to see and enter all the contests.

I’ve just given you six excellent reasons to take a break from your baking and wrapping.  GET TO IT!

As I mentioned in my last post, the marvelous Genevieve Graham is running a “Books for Christmas” promotion all month to introduce you to ten author’s whose books would make brilliant holiday gifts.  She’s even offering you a chance to win their books to slip into the stockings of someone you love (or to install on your own bedside table as the case may be).

Today it’s my turn.  Since you’re here at my blog I presume you’ve already met me (*waves cheerfully*).  But if you haven’t read The Sister Queens yet here is your chance to have a sneak peek inside the book and meet Marguerite of Provence, Queen of France, on her WEDDING NIGHT!  In addition, there is a chance for you to win the entire book for yourself or—if you’ve already read it (bless you)—to give as a holiday gift to a historical fiction lover on your list.  When you arrive at Genevieve’s promotion page if I am not at the top of the post just scroll down — I am the December 7th feature.

Books are what I AM dreaming of for Christmas! Shown here from left to right: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau on Kindle, Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn, Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, and The Sister Queens by yours truly.

Today I am finishing up my very enjoyable “Lucky-7” anniversary blog tour with an interview at Enchanted by Josephine where I answer questions about my writing process and what I am working on now. There is a giveaway in conjunction with my chat, so if you have friend who’d like to read The Sister Queens please point her in the right direction. Oh, and Enchanted reviewed The Sister Queens yesterday, saying:

Elegantly written with strong prose and meticulous research, The Sister Queens is a great debut for author Sophie Perinot!”

Talk about ending on a high note!

As my anniversary blog-tour continues I’ve dropped in at A Chick Who Reads to talk about a scratchy but fascinating subject—the hair-shirt and its place in medieval regimes of self-mortification. But even if you are neither a devotee of hair-shirts as Louis IX of France was nor intrigued by them as I have been since childhood there’s good reason to check out my post. Chick is hosting a giveaway, one of THREE currently on-going. 

Yep at the present moment there are THREE copies of The Sister Queens up for grabs in the blog-o-sphere. Besides Chick’s giveaway (which ends on October 19th), In the Hammock Blog is running a giveaway ending October 21st and Teddy Rose at So Many Precious Books So Little Time is hosting one that ends on October 25th. So spread the word to friends who’ve been waiting to read The Sister Queens until the time is right. That moment is now and with three chances to win their copy may be free. No hair-shirt necessary to win.