I'm so thrilled to welcome Vivienne Brereton as my interview guest today. But before I do, I want to thank Michelle Gill for the PHENOMENAL job she did on my new website! I'm so proud of it and her willingness to make changes and suggest insightful ideas. Please feel welcome to browse through my updated pages and enjoy!
And now, here's Vivienne--all the way from southern France! Hi, Viv!
Vivienne: Thank you so much, Brook, for inviting me onto your Blog. I’m looking forward to answering your questions!
Having read your first book, I'm acquainted with your in-depth research. What is it about the Tudor period that captures the minds of readers?
Vivienne: For me, the Tudors have an enduring appeal because they were such a dysfunctional family like so many powerful dynasties throughout history. It’s easy to see them as brilliant but flawed human beings. They had it all: the modern celebrity WOW factor; the looks, the money, the ability to spend money as if it was going out of fashion, the billionaire lifestyle. What’s not to like? And the fact you don’t particularly envy them is all for the good. Who would envy a woman whose husband might order a swordsman (aka hitman) from Calais if she ceased to please him? Or a gifted politician like Thomas Cromwell who might be marched to the Tower of London for selecting the wrong bride for his master. The reason the TV show ‘The Tudors’ was so popular was because it captured the essence of the family: its glamour, its ambition and thirst for power. And a great need to be liked and admired in spite of its faults and underhand dealings. Accuracy didn’t matter a jot. The Tudors were the ultimate ‘re-write history’ merchants themselves.
We’re both authors, Vivienne. What is the most challenging part of your writing process?
Vivienne: As far as I’m concerned, the most challenging part of the writing process probably comes afterwards when the need for marketing kicks in. Up until then, it’s just you in a mostly warm and fuzzy bubble, a computer screen, a mind hopefully buzzing with ideas bouncing around like jack-in-the boxes, and a shelf of well-thumbed books behind you. Marketing is a big reality check for all writers, traditional and independent. Unless you’re a really big name, traditional publishers expect you to do most of your own marketing.
Second books can be tough—you certainly want to lure in previous readers from your first book. Did you experience any “second-book syndrome” and if so, how did you deal with it?
Vivienne: Yes, I totally agree about a second book being tough. Writing a sequel is a daunting prospect. There is a lot riding on your ability to continue writing to your satisfaction (and that of your readers) and not to disappoint. The other side of the Roman or Tudor coin depending on whether it’s you or me, Brook, is that a sequel is like coming home to old friends. I can well imagine how pleased you were to meet up again with Marc Antony & Co. In many ways, it makes a second book much easier to write rather than starting from scratch. So for that reason, no, I don’t think I experienced “second-book syndrome”, thank goodness.
Then you were indeed lucky! I had "second-book syndrome" to the max! So what character returns to this second book and thrills you?
Vivienne: That’s an excellent question. In fact, it’s Thomas Wolsey. I hadn’t intended to give him his own little platform amongst the points of view already in existence but his voice in my ear was just too strong to resist. Henry VIII made it abundantly clear in Book One that he was to have his very own chapters, all to himself. Wolsey featured but only in the capacity of being Henry’s right-hand man, and a thorn in the side of the central character, Thomas Howard. Henry’s personality was already well-defined but suddenly along came Wolsey with a completely different point of view. And I decided it would be fresh and interesting to see Henry from afar, not just in his own head. Which is just a teeny tad boastful and self-absorbed. But vulnerable nonetheless. And I wanted to delve deeper into the relationship between the two Thomases: Howard and Wolsey.
Now tell us what’s next for Vivienne Brereton? More Tudor? And if so or not, what period speaks to you and holds promise for a story?
Vivienne: It’s going to be more Tudor until ‘The House of the Red Duke’ series is finished. And then I’m not sure. More Tudor or perhaps Regency. I love the humour to be found in all the Jane Austen novels. And the light touch in so many others I’ve read. Humour is very important when I write; making a sly dig here or there, either the characters to each other, or me to Henry if he’s getting a little bit too big for his Tudor boots.
Thank you, Brook. I really enjoyed this. Your questions were insightful and interesting, exactly what I’d expect from the author of the Antonius Trilogy. Good luck with your next venture too.
Blurb for Beward the Lizard Lurking
Welcome to the candlelit courts of Europe!
Uninvited guests at a secret wedding.
A frozen River Thames.
May Day celebrations to remember.
The young Henry VIII, with the aid of his chief advisor, Thomas Wolsey, and against the counsel of Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey, is hellbent on a so-called holy war with France. This puts him at odds with his Scottish brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, and his older sister, Margaret.
Both Tristan and Nicolas know that time is running out for them before they have to…enter the Church - and into an arranged marriage, respectively. In the meantime, they remain at loggerheads over pretty Ysabeau de Sapincourt, the spoilt young wife of the hapless Robert.
At La Colombe, near Ardres, in Picardy, spirited little Valentine is still making mischief as she sees fit.
Across the Narrow Sea, Cecily is perfectly content in her beloved Zennor Castle, in Cornwall.
None of them know what Dame Fortune has in store for them. Will she allow them to follow their own paths…or has she got other ideas?
Vivienne Brereton, Author of The House of the Red Duke series.
Born between historic Winchester and Southampton in the UK, Vivienne has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in Medieval History at university, and the growing desire to write a novel.
However, life took over somewhat and only after stays, short and long, in six countries she called home did she finally settle down to finish her novel.
Words have always played an important part in her life, whether it's been writing, editing, teaching English, or just picking up a good book.
Having three sons came in very handy when she had to write about squabbles between the male characters in her novel. Not so handy when she took her boys to Hampton Court and one of them got lost in the maze!
Seeing A Phoenix Rising, the first book in the series The House of the Red Duke in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her. She very much hopes that anyone reading Beware the Lizard Lurking, the second book in the series, will enjoy the end result as much as she enjoyed writing it.
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