Sunday, November 3, 2013

Herding Historical Author Cats: An Interview with the Founder of the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog Debra Brown

1) Please tell us a bit what the English Historical Fictions Authors blog is all about. What sort of content is present on the blog?

The blog has a daily British history post written by one of many historical fiction authors. The eras and topics range widely from Roman Britain to World War II, and from warfare and weapons to tea, food, and dance.

2) What sort of other web presence does the group have other than the blog?
As a group we have a public Facebook page, English Historical Fiction Authors, where we chat on history and historical fiction with other authors, reviewers, and readers. Each member has their own web presence as well, book sites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. We interact frequently everywhere.

3) What motivated you to start the blog?

I was making an effort to market my first book and felt fairly alone in the jungle. I wanted to blog about England, but had very little background in history and had to do an overwhelming amount of research. I felt that there must be other people like myself who wanted to learn more about British history in small bites, and that we could have a steady stream of information if we had enough people to produce one daily post, so I invited people who had obviously done their homework to share what they had learned.

4) What's your goal with this group?

I hope we will continue as we have been for over two years now with a daily post and friendly conversations on Facebook. I believe it has been informative, fun, and helpful to us all.

5) What originally made you interested in English history?

As a child, I had a seven volume set of books called My Book House. They were captivating, with bits from great writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Keats. They also had detailed drawings and paintings that introduced me to castles, cliffs, land divided by hedgerows, fashions from past eras, and many things that I hardly understood from old English culture. I loved it, and over the decades to come I picked up information and began to better understand what I had seen.

6) A recent collection of essays from the blog came out, Castles, Customs, and Kings came out. Please tell us about that.

After we celebrated the first anniversary of the blog, one of our authors, Deborah Swift, suggested we put together a book from some of the first year's posts. After a year of sorting, editing, and proofreading, we have, with the help of Madison Street Publishing, released Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors—a large, thick book of topics just a few pages long. The subjects are organized chronologically so the book flows nicely over the passing of centuries. A person can pick it up and start at any point, however, and have a satisfying read during a coffee break. It would be a good waiting room book or a nice gift for someone who loves Britain or history. We also kept the price below $20 USD, so hopefully everyone who wanted a copy in print could have it.

7) Please tell us a bit about your work.

My first novel is The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, the early Victorian story of a former servant girl who receives a rude reception in polite society. It is an Austen type of story with surprising twists and turns. I have also started a Victorian novel I call For the Skylark, the story of adult twins who were raised isolated on an estate by their wealthy, reclusive mother. Evangeline cannot cope when she “loses” Dante, her brother and only friend, to love.

8) There is a lot of content on the blog. Please tell us about a few of your favorite entries.

I especially enjoy Richard Denning's post, Old English—The Language of the Anglo Saxons, in which he has a YouTube video of the Lord's Prayer read in the old tongue to eerie music. Though there are countless other fascinating topics, there have been a few by different authors on the Bayeaux Tapestry that stand out in my mind. It is a story of the Norman conquest of England told in complex, coded needlework on a long stretch of linen that has lasted for nearly a thousand years. The age of it alone is awe-inspiring, but I love the explanations given for the symbols sewn in above and below the actual stitched story itself.


Thanks, Debra.

The books mentioned are available at the following links:

Castles, Customs, and Kings:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble