Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interview of HisFic Author Laura Purcell

1) What moved you to become an author?

In my opinion, very few writers get to make a choice; they’re just born that way and can’t be cured! I honestly don’t remember sitting down and thinking “Yes, I’m going to be an author.”

Looking back, my first serious spate of writing began one summer when I was around fifteen. During the school holidays, I read the complete works of Bronte and Austen. I loved those books so much, I felt empty when I’d finished. I started to plug the gap by making up stories of my own.
2) Tell us about your work in progress.

I’m working on a series of books about the Hanoverian monarchs – that’s George I through to William IV – and the amazing women in their lives. My aim when I set out was to become a Philippa Gregory for the Jane Austen era. That’s a pretty high goal!

I’m currently preparing the first of the novels, God Save the King, for publication in September 2012. The story charts the progress of George III’s famed madness, showing how it affected his family. My focus is on his wife, Queen Charlotte, who had to cope with an unstable husband and a large brood of children. She was an incredible person with so much strength.

I also follow Charlotte’s courageous daughters, who were practically entombed in Windsor Castle. All six try to escape, but I concentrate on Royal and Sophia. Royal was a gauche Princess who never quite fitted her role. The world saw Sophia as a reclusive invalid, but rebellion was brewing behind her sick room door…

3) What did you find most challenging about this book?

I had to work hard to represent each character fairly. I was painfully aware that I was writing about real people who had to be treated with respect. It was just as difficult to show the bad parts of the characters I loved as the good parts of those I detested!

Other than that, my main challenge was ruthless self-editing. I was fascinated by George III’s family and a bit in love with each of them. I wanted to include every detail, but I had to make sure I didn’t overburden the reader. I also had to simplify the family dynamics. Some of the Princesses’ many brothers had to be removed from the mix. When your heroine has fifteen children, life starts to get complicated…

5) How did you choose your publishing method?

I think there are pros and cons with both the traditional and self publishing route. I would eventually like to be traditionally published, but unfortunately Georgian history falls into a “niche” area of the market at the moment. There simply aren’t many publishers and agents willing to take books set in a period that hasn’t proved itself as a popular era for historical fiction, such as the Tudors. I have, however, received great help, praise and advice from a number of agents and am very grateful for their input.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?
As I’m sure you have guessed, I’m a bit of a history nut. I belong to a Medieval re-enactment group and Tudor dancing society, so you might see me around the country doing a pavane in full costume!

I live in Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town, with my husband and nine guinea pigs. Yes, nine. We’re big animal lovers.

I adore reading, obviously. The house is full of bookshelves with all genres stacked up. One day I’d like to have my very own library room. 

Oh, and I drink lots of coffee. I mean a lot.

7) What is your next work?

I’m researching and planning A Forbidden Crown, about George IV and his bigamous marriages to Queen Caroline and Maria Fitzherbert.  I can’t wait to start writing! They are all vivid characters who survived a turbulent period in English history.

George was the ultimate playboy, but he certainly met his match in his two wives. Maria was a confident, driven woman who knew her worth. She certainly wasn’t going to let George mess her around if she could help it. As for Caroline, she went on to become one of the most notorious – although forgotten – Queens in history. She was a free spirit, wild and mischievous.  No wonder George was afraid of her influence rubbing off on their young daughter, Charlotte.

Charlotte herself is one of my favourite historical figures of all time. I hope by the end of A Forbidden Crown, you’ll come to love her as much as I do!

8) Who do you read?

I try to read as many authors as possible, because I feel it helps my artistic development. I like to absorb many voices, finding out what works and what doesn’t. My favourites at the moment are Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Sarah Waters. I also like to read classics when I get the chance; anything from Shakespeare to Fitzgerald.

9) Where should we look for your work?

I will keep you regularly updated about the progress of God Save the King on my website, laurapurcell.com. You can also get a sneak peek at the opening of the book here. I hope to publish on 8 September 2012, which is George III and Queen Charlotte’s wedding anniversary.  The book will be available through Kindle on Amazon and other select distributors. Watch this space!