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Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Interviews : Susan Coventry Edition

*Today we have with us Susan Coventry the author of the newly released Queen's Daughter! Expect my review of The Queen's Daughter to be up tomorrow.

As the daughter of the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine I have never heard much about Joan, what made you interested in her story?

I'd always been fascinated by Eleanor, but never really gave her daughters much thought. Eleanor and her sons are such larger-than-life figures, they hog all the attention! But then I came across a reference to Joan in a context that had nothing to do with her mother. I was reading about the crusade against the Cathars and Count Raymond of Toulouse when I discovered Raymond was married to Joan. That intrigued me. I wanted to find out how the marriage came about, so I began looking into Joan's story. I became increasingly amazed by all she experienced in her own right. It began to seem unfair that despite her adventurous life she's so little known to us today. Why should such an interesting woman be so invisible? It started me imagining what it would have been like to be a girl in that family--what it would have been like to be Eleanor of Aquitaine's daughter. I thought it was time for Joan to step out of her mother's shadow and star in her own story.

How long did it take you to write The Queen's Daughter?

A long time! That's a tough question because I didn't sit down and write it start to finish. I spent a couple years researching it, writing a few scenes. Then I got serious and wrote a draft. That took about two years, but I kept stopping to do more research when I got stuck. Then I let it sit for at least a year. I finally decided to pull it back out, rewrote it, and set about finding an agent. So, the original idea was born seven or eight years ago, but it hasn't been eight solid years of writing.

Do you have any perfect writing conditions?

Ideally I like to have a solid block of a few uninterrupted hours with my computer and my research notes. I wrote a lot of Queen's Daughter in a coffee shop on my afternoons off from work.

If you could have anybody over for dinner dead or alive who
would it be?

This question is surprisingly easy--my dad. He died rather suddenly several years ago, a couple years before my daughter was born. I'd love for my children and their grandfather to have the chance to spend time together.

What are your favorite books?

I'm sure I'll remember important ones later and kick myself for not including them, but what comes to mind are: Gone With the Wind, Great Maria, The Long Winter from the Little House series, Watership Down, and Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.

Favorite movies?

Casablanca, Charade, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Broadcast News

If you could live in any time period which would it be?

I love the middle ages, but I doubt I'd thrive in those conditions. I think we live in a uniquely challenging time right now. I choose the present so I can see how we navigate our way into the future.

Did you write any books before The Queen's Daughter?

Nothing publishable! I've written other stories in the process of learning how to write. The Queen's Daughter is my first book.

What is your favorite moment in the writing process?

The best moment is starting chapter four. Beginning a new book with a new idea is a lot of fun and I enjoy researching new ideas. But I don't like writing that opening chapter. I can agonize a long time over chapter one before pushing on to chapter two. Then I debate whether chapter two would make a better chapter one. Chapter three is where I'm deciding if the story is doable or not. If I'm starting chapter four, it means I'm on a roll. I've connected with my protagonist and see where the story is going. I will have to go back and fix those first three chapters, but that doesn't matter--I'm on chapter four.

(^This is now one of my favorite pieces of writing advice - just get to chapter four.)

Can we expect another book from you in the future?

I certainly hope so! My next book is a love story set in Toulouse during the crusade against the Cathars. Historically it begins where The Queen's Daughter ends, but rather than focusing on Raymond and Joan, the protagonists are a young knight who fights to defend Toulouse and the girl he loves but must leave behind.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

For news and updates you can follow my Facebook page: The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry or contact me through my website:

*Thank you Susan for the awesome answers and expect to see my review up tomorrow!


Rebecca Herman said...

Great interview! I loved the Queen's Daughter and I hope to get a chance to read the next book as well, it sounds great. I love Medieval romances!

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