Welcome to my stop on Vivienne Brereton’s A Phoenix Rising blog tour, with Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Vivienne Brereton…..
Thank you, Kerry, for inviting me onto your Blog today and taking the time to ask me some questions about my writer’s journey and my book. ‘The House of the Red Duke’. Book One. ‘A Phoenix Rising.’
I have always loved the Tudors, even when I was a small child. My parents even gave me the nickname ‘the little Tudor madam’ because I wouldn’t stop talking about them. I followed up this childhood and teenage passion with a degree in Medieval History. As an adult I’ve travelled widely with my husband and three sons (always working with words in some form) and have (for better or sometimes worse) lived in six countries in my life. It wasn’t always easy living in ‘challenging countries’ but I could always escape to the sixteenth century if the going got tough! Perhaps that’s why I wrote a novel based in four countries: England, France, Scotland and the Burgundian Netherlands because it reflected my own experience. Happily, my husband and I now live in a small French village which was built at the time of the French King in my novel.
1) Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The idea for my novel was a natural follow-on from my interest in the Tudors. The central character in my novel is the incomparable Thomas Howard, a grand old man of nearly eighty in the first part. He is the ‘Phoenix Rising’ because his life was full of trials and tribulations which he did his best to overcome. Two of his granddaughters, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were not so fortunate. He is the focal point of the novel but the story is told through the eyes of several others. I tried to produce a large tapestry with Thomas in the centre, joined to all the others by brightly coloured threads. I have read very widely; visited historical sites; museums; listened to medieval music; watched TV and movies; even cooked like a Tudor! All of this is to get a true flavour of the period. For my readers, I’ve even included a few original recipes, tried and tested by me.
2) Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
That’s a very interesting question, Kerry. I once read somewhere that the author is every character in the novel, or at least a facet of each one. I can see that but I was surprised that no, I didn’t base my characters on anyone at all. However, I can see a little of myself in Cecily, the young Cornish noblewoman who is about to discover she is to be the bride in an arranged marriage she knows nothing about.
3) How do you pick the names of your characters?
Another great question. As it’s a Tudor novel, the names have to be of their time but as there weren’t as many names back then, it could be tricky. I’ve just written an article about Tudor names and will be putting it on my website soon. I also had to choose names from the other three countries in which the novel is based, and again had to trawl through lists of sixteenth century names to ensure they were accurate.
4) Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m not a massive planner but have a very clear idea where the book is going. I love that feeling when you sit down in front of your computer, place your fingers on the keyboard and wonder where you’re going to be taken that day. Time passes very quickly.
5) Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Mm. I hope it’s okay if I keep it to historical as that’s always been my favourite genre. I can flit from serious to light depending on my mood. I love immersing myself in beautifully written prose as well as speed reading a great historical romp. My top five ever historical authors would have to be:
1 Anya Seton for her incredible ‘Green Darkness.’ It was written back in 1972 and was her last novel and most popular. It is a novel about reincarnation, switching between Tudor times and modern day.
2 Daphne du Maurier for ‘The House on the Strand’ 1972 A time slip novel set in one of my favourite places in the world: Cornwall.
3 Barbara Erskine for ‘The Lady of Hay’ 1986, another time slip novel. I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
4 Diana Gabaldon for ‘Outlander’ 1991. One of the best-selling book series of all time.
5 Elizabeth Chadwick for ‘The Wild Hunt’ 1990 For me, this is a timeless romance, still as fresh today after all those years.
6) If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Anya Seton. I’d love to ask her how she managed to produce such amazing novels able to transport the reader back in time. The detail is quite extraordinary, and all this way before the internet was invented.
7)Were you a big reader as a child?
Absolutely. Again, historical novels were a staple. ‘The ship that flew’ by Hilda Lewis and ‘The Wool-Pack’ by Cynthia Harnett. And of course anything by Enid Blyton etc; Followed by Jean Plaidy.
8) When did you start to write?
In my early twenties. I think I’ve still got the old notebooks somewhere with stories planned and begun…but not finished.
9) If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
‘Gone with the wind’. I’d give it a happy ending.
10) Is there a book you wish you’d written?
11) If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘Home is where the heart is’.
12) If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Rhett Butler. And I definitely wouldn’t invite him round for coffee!
13) What are you working on right now?
The second book in the series: ‘The Lizard lurking in the Grass.’ What Thomas and all my characters do next.
14) Do you have a new release date due?
Sometime in 2020.
15) What did you do to celebrate on publication day?
I drank champagne with my family and friends at the book launch in my local bookshop.
16) How can readers keep in touch with you?
On Twitter @VivienneBreret1 or via my website http://www.viviennebrereton.com
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Vivienne 🙂
Thank you so much, Kerry. I’ve really enjoyed answering your brilliant questions.
“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.” Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII. Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler – a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy. The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them. “Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….” Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”
happy reading 🙂