Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome Sandra Byrd, author of To Die For

So thrilled to host author Sandra Byrd on my blog talking about her latest novel, To Die For.

Sandra, why did you write To Die For?

I am a lifelong Tudorphile, so writing books set in that era was a dream for me. I've always loved Anne Boleyn. From a faith point of view, those reformation years were critical to refinement and revival in Christianity. Yet I found that while Anne's faith, and the faith of her friends, was well covered in nonfiction, fiction often ignored or downplayed her convictions altogether, often though not always portraying her as either vixen or victim. I wanted to add some shading and nuance to the genre and telling it from Meg Wyatt's point of view allowed me to do that. The fact is, the Boleyns in general and Anne in particular were instrumental in the English Reformation. The Wyatt family, too, produced more than Thomas the poet, as much as I like him. Meg, and John Rogers, played what I think were much more significant roles.

Tell us a little bit about the book?

Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend ever since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five-year-old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.

Life in the court of Henry VIII is first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.

But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well.

A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, To Die For chronicles the glittering court life, the sweeping romance, and the heartbreaking fall from grace of a forsaken queen and Meg, her closest companion, who was forgotten by the ages but who is destined to live on in our hearts forever.

What do you find most challenging about writing, Sandra?

Two things. Practically speaking, time. It takes much more time than ever before to author books. Time to research, to write, to edit, to connect with readers via the internet, to meet with people on social media and face to face. I love it all - just need four hands and two brains and forty hours in a day!

Secondly, writing books is a much more public profession than it used to be. People review your books and post their thoughts all over the web. It's so nice that people are reading, but it can be hard to wonder, every day, what people might be saying about you and your work.

How do you work through this challenge?

I'm trying to keep firm boundaries on my writing schedule, so that I am not online more than I need to be, and that I don't take on more projects than I can handle well. As for the reviews, I remind myself that I do my best to write good books and once I put the baby in the basket, as it were, it's out there to be discovered and commented upon by anyone. And that's okay.

Where can my readers find you on the web?

Please visit me online at my website You can also link to me on Facebook and Twitter from there. I hope your readers will also sign up for my e-postcards (where I am also giving away two Kindles) so I can keep in touch! If you’d like to visit some of the castles and palaces “virtually,” please visit the "Castles and Palaces" page on my website where there are lots of wonderful photos.

Thank you, Sandra, for joining us this week on "The Write Stuff." Much success with your novel, To Die For!

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