Love of Art in Historical Fiction Series featuring Nancy Biyleau & The Tapestry

Tapestry coverThe Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau is the golden star of this Tudor mystery trilogy, featuring novice nun Joanna Stafford and her difficulties and adventures through the tumultuous reign of King Henry the VIII. This novel to the best of my knowledge explores for the first time ever the arts of Tudor England in historical fiction. I reveled in learning about “arras”, the formal term for Flemish tapestry work of the sixteenth century and the fact that England was in possession of one of the world’s greatest collections of them. Bilyeau takes us inside King Henry the VIII’s court and into his royal artist studio under the helm of German artist Hans Holbein the Younger who produced numerous paintings for the king like the little painting “The Dance of Death” featuring a floating skeleton visiting a ruler, for no one, not even a king escapes death’s clutches. Full of secret plots and twisted motives this mystery weaves a story that keeps you wondering until the end. You’ll be surprised, dismayed, and consumed by the tale that unfolds and enjoy learning about the art and artists of this time.

Sketch, paint, catalog…throw the loom shuttle and try to please the tastes and temper of King Henry the VIII or else…

Stephanie Renee dos Santos:  Artistically what sets the Tudor period apart from other eras as highlighted and celebrated in The Tapestry

Thomas Cromwell portrait

Thomas Cromwell portrait

Nancy Bilyeau:  The 16th century was a magical time in English history, full of beauty and poetry and song, of romance and danger—and yet, English painters were not part of this magic. People might not realize that there really wasn’t a school of English painters in the late medieval times and into the modern age, right up to the early 18th century when William Hogarth finally made an impact. There were important paintings and murals created by artists that were seen in the Tudor and Stuart courts, but the artists themselves were foreign born: Hans Holbein the Younger and Anthony van Dyck. In the case of Holbein, he was paid commissions by King Henry VIII and some of his ministers and chief nobles to paint portraits. Those portraits, such as the ones of Thomas Cromwell and Sir Thomas More that now hang in the Fricke Collection in New York City, are expressive and convey the spirit of their subjects very well. But back in the day, most Tudor homes did not have paintings on the walls.

What truly sets the reign of Henry VIII apart is a different kind of visual art that was celebrated at the highest level of society: tapestries. The king inherited a collection that was begun by the later Plantagenet rulers and he became a passionate, if not obsessed collector. He owned more than 2,000 at the time of his death, and many of them were incredibly expensive. Tapestries were woven with silk and wool, gold-edged threads in Brussels, within workshops ruled by exacting guild standards, and each one could take a team months to complete. They were stunning in their colors and quite complex, often showing a famous scene from the Old Testament, or from Classic Greek legends.

The story of Abraham tapestry

The story of Abraham tapestry

For instance, The Story of Abraham, commissioned by Henry VIII, is a set of ten panels, each depicting a different story, like the return of Sarah or the separation of Abraham and Lot. The series was valued at the sum of £8,260, much more than any other work (or collection of works) of art. Historians think that he paid more for The Story of Abraham than for two warships! It’s believed that the king commissioned this set after the birth of his son, Edward, when he felt he had a lot to celebrate. King Henry had the tapestries mounted at Hampton Court, and the kings and queens who came after him often displayed them too. About ten years ago, they were restored to some of their former glory—tapestries don’t age all that well.

SRDS:  What compelled you to include art and artist in your historical novel?

NB:  Art is extremely important to me on multiple levels. The first one is personal. My father, Wallace Bilyeau, was a watercolor landscape artist. He had a basement studio, and he’d come home from work as a commercial artist, first in Chicago and then Detroit, and after dinner head downstairs to paint. So I saw from childhood the importance of expressing yourself through art. I also feel that in fiction, the arts can provide another level to your narrative. What the characters see in art, their reactions, and how they share those responses, is important. And I think artists are fascinating characters! Hans Holbein the Younger has an important role to play in my third novel, The Tapestry.

SRDS:  What drew you to your specific visual art medium, artwork, and/or artist?

NB:  My novels are mysteries, and I thought of tapestry at first as a way to convey secrets, hidden within the stories displayed in the weave. That runs throughout The Crown. My main character, Joanna Stafford, is a Dominican novice, hoping to take vows as a full nun at a real-life priory in Dartford, Kent (I traveled to Dartford to research the book). She and her fellow sisters have a small loom at the priory to weave their own tapestries. In that I was being creative. There was an enormous amount of beautiful embroidery being created at the priories and the large manor houses and the palaces (several of Henry VIII’s six wives were talented embroiderers), but we don’t know of any looms used in England until the reign of Elizabeth I. Tapestries were imported. But I know that the nuns during this time did a lot of needlework, and so I expanded the scope of their output. In the second novel, when Henry VIII has destroyed the priory and Joanna is struggling to make a life for herself after being ejected with the others, she decides to make tapestries her vocation. She’s going to keep weaving them, and then try to sell them. Joanna is quite good at this, which has the unintended consequence of making Henry VIII aware of her tapestries, and in the third book she is pulled into this orbit, at great danger to herself.

SRDS:  What unique historical objects and/or documents inspired the story?

the crownNB:  I use a lot of historical objects in my novels, some of them real and some of them building on my imagination. The “crown” in my first novel, The Crown, is a mysterious and mystical object that Joanna Stafford tries desperately to find. It was once worn by the Saxon ruler, Athelstan, and it might—or might not—be an ancient relic as well. I uncovered a lot of fascinating research about Athelstan and holy relics. One of the descendants of Charlemagne may have given Athelstan some precious relics in his quest to marry the English king’s beautiful sister.

In my third novel, The Tapestry, a certain book becomes important to the characters. It’s a grimoire, actually, which is a book of spells, and the author may—or may not—be Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, a German scholar, astrologer and magician. In the early 1530s Agrippa published De Occulta Philosophia Libri Tres, which is “Three Books of Occult Philosophy.” Then there is this infamous “fourth book,” putting into practice the philosophies and ideas of the first three volumes with invocations of good and evil spirits. As you can imagine, publishing books of occult instruction was risky during this time, with the Inquisition in full force! Agrippa has inspired a lot of writers since his lifetime, including Mary Shelley in Frankenstein.

SRDS:  Is there an art history message you’ve tried to highlight within the novel?

NB:  In all of my novels, the weaving and the purchase of the tapestries have a great deal of narrative meaning. Joanna Stafford, in The Chalice, seeks out a drawing for her first privately woven tapestry of The Rise of the Phoenix. This is what she wants to weave. At certain critical times in the story, other characters wonder if Joanna, a member of a vanquished religious order, is trying to put across a subversive message through her choice of the phoenix, which rises from the ashes. I think art in history could be a way for people without power to try to express powerful ideas.
6. What do you think readers can gain by reading stories with art tie-ins?
These stories provide another rich level in the narrative. In novels, the art and the artists can be pretty to look at—and they can be profound. It depends on the writer!

SRDS:  What fascinating information did you uncover while researching but were unable to incorporate into the book, but can share here?

NB:  Well, I think last year I may even have shared with you on social media, Stephanie, that I was terribly excited about including a certain spectacular painting in my third novel: The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. In The Tapestry, Joanna Stafford travels to Brussels, and this painting was on view in that city in that year, 1540. What an opportunity! The Garden of Earthly Delights is gorgeous, it’s complicated and it’s a little mystical—in other words, it’s exactly what I love. But there was no reason I could come up with for Joanna to see it and be moved by it, to be sent in a certain direction needed for story momentum. It could only be a tangent. So I regretfully did not write a scene including it.

SRDS:  Any further thoughts on art in fiction you’d like to expand on?


Triumph of Hercules tapestry

NB:  Art can be used in many ways in a novel, some of them obviously important. In my books, certain characters are artists; the creation of art is a livelihood. But art can serve a more subtle purpose too. In my third novel, Henry VIII commissions a tapestry showing the feats of Hercules (this is taken from history, it actually happened). The feats are those of courage, of violence, of seduction. Hercules himself is muscular and skimpily dressed. When the finished tapestry arrived in England, Henry VIII was devastated by the collapse of his fifth marriage to a much younger woman. He was grossly obese and stricken with all sorts of illnesses that made it hard for him to even walk. The tapestry, when it arrived, was put in a prominent place. What was Henry VIII trying to say about himself, his own feats, and his feeling about his manhood, in selection of this subject? That is woven through one of my last chapters, but it’s subtext.

SRDS:  Does art play a part in your new novel?

NB:  It does indeed. And my next book is not set in the Tudor time period. But it’s too early to share. Check back with me, please!

Nancy Bilyeau (Photo credit-Joshua Kessler)About the author: Nancy Bilyeau is a magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Entertainment Weekly and Good Housekeeping. Her trilogy of historical novels set in the reign of Henry VIII and featuring the struggles of a Dominican novice, have won awards and been published in nine countries. A native of the Midwest, she lives in Forest Hills, New York, with her husband and two children.

For more about Nancy’s works:  


Facebook author page:


To buy The Tapestry:

Join us here July 25th for an interview with Andromeda Romano-Lax, author of The Detour!

Interview posting schedule: 

2014: August 30th Susan Vreeland, Lisette’s List (new release), September 27th Anne Girard, Madame Picasso (new release),October 25th Yves Fey, Floats the Dark Shadow, November 29th Mary F. Burns, The Spoils of Avalon (new release), December 27th Kelly Jones, The Woman Who Heard Color 

2015: January 31st Heather Webb, Rodin’s Lover (new release), February 28th Alyson Richman, The Mask Carver’s Son, March 28th Maureen Gibbon, Paris Red (new release), April 11th M.J Rose, The Witch of Painted Sorrows (new release), April 25th Lisa Brukitt, The Memory of Scent, May 30th Lisa Barr, Fugitive Colors, June 27th Nancy Bilyeau, The Tapestry (new release) July 25th Andromeda Romano-Lax, The Detour, August 29th Frederick Andresen,The Lady with an Ostrich Feather Fan, September 26 Laura Morelli, The Gondola Maker

Join Facebook group “Love of Arts in Fiction”!

Interview with author Nancy Bilyeau: Writing About Spirit & Workshopping Novels to Completion

nancyI’ve been awaiting this interview, and I am delighted to present author Nancy Bilyeau, writer of the historical thrillers: The Crown, The Chalice, along with a third novel in- the-works The Covenat.  The series follows the life of an aristocratic young Dominican nun, Joanna Stafford, and her quest to save a legendary crown and to survive the tumultuous Tudor times of King Henry VIII in England.  These are engaging and fast-paced reads.

And The Chalice is currently on e-book promotion for the month of June, don’t miss this amazing deal:  $2.99!

Q: Where did your inspiration for The Crown and The Chalice come from?

Crown cover

1st book in the series

My passion for Tudor history. I’ve been reading about the 16th century since I was 11 years old. When I decided to take the plunge and try to write a novel, I thought it made the most sense to set my story in the Tudor era. I love mysteries and thrillers, so I fused the two genres: historical fiction and thriller. It was important to me to write a female protagonist. Who would be at the center of my thriller? I didn’t want to write about a royal or lady of the court; I was eager to create my own fictional character and for her to be someone original to readers familiar with these types of books. So I came up with the idea of writing about the life of a Dominican novice at the point of dissolution of the Catholic Church. I thought it would yield intense drama, that she is coping with this cataclysmic change at the same time that she is thrust into .I thought it would yield intense drama, that she is coping with this cataclysmic change at the same time that she is thrust into a mystery with a dangerous mission.

Q: While writing The Crown and The Chalice do you feel like you gained any new spiritual insights from researching and creating these books, and if so, how? 

That’s an interesting question. I did not set out to write these books with a religious agenda. For one thing, I don’t have an agenda. I was brought up by agnostic parents and with little sense of a spiritual life. However, it’s more complicated than that. My mother’s family is Irish American; she attended Catholic schools but left the church in her twenties. However, my grandparents babysat me when we lived in Chicago, and when I was an infant, they had me secretly baptized. My grandmother told my mother about it when I was 19. My grandfather had just died, and she was ill—she wanted us to know. Ever since then, I’ve been intrigued by the Catholic Church. When I set out to write The Crown, I had never met a nun. I plunged into years of research, and the more I learned about the women who entered religious life in the Plantagenet and early Tudor era, the more they fascinated me. I met a modern-day Dominican sister; she read The Chalice in manuscript form and gave me some corrections. She’s a very nice, smart person—and funny—and knowing her is wonderful. I have a great deal of respect for nuns, past and present. And I feel protective of them.

Q: Could you tell us more about your protagonist nun Joanna’s Dominican Order during mid-16th century England and the mysticism of the seers you write about in your new novel The Chalice  — are there interesting tidbits you know now but couldn’t include in the novel? 

The Dominican priory in Dartford was a very interesting place. Edward III put time and thought and money into establishing it in the 14th century. I should back up and add that his father, Edward II, made the first initiatives to creating a convent for the women of the Dominican order. He set up endowments and obtained the papal license but was deposed before the sisters could travel from France to England. Perhaps Edward III–who in turn deposed his mother Queen Isabella and her lover and took power when he reached the age of 17 –felt some link to his father and that is what motivated him? I am speculating. Certainly there were other matters of importance in the kingdom, such as invading France and surviving the Bubonic Plague!

chalice PDF IW

2nd book of the series but can read as a stand alone novel too!

But the priory was established in the 1350s. Edward III had a goal of reaching a convent of 40 nuns, but it never quite reached that number. For the next 180 years it attracted women from the gentry and the aristocracy and even the royal family–the youngest child of Edward IV, Princess Bridget, took vows. Dartford earned a reputation for “strict discipline and plain living.” Much of a nun’s day and night was taken up by prayer and service to God. There was a small library there with beautiful illuminated manuscripts. In the larger community of Dartford, the priory played an important role: the sisters taught local girls to read, they gave alms to the poor, and they sponsored an almshouse for those who had no other place to live.

That all came to an end in 1538, when the priory was “surrendered” to Henry VIII and demolished. Everyone was ejected. It was a painful and confusing time. The following year, The Act of Six Articles became law, which forbade anyone who had ever taken a vow of chastity from marrying. Nuns could no longer carry out their vocations, but they couldn’t get married and start families either. There was no place for them in society.

Dominican mysticism was so interesting in this period. I wish I could have found a way to talk about Savonarola in my books. The Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola preached about his prophetic visions to growing crowds in late 15th century Florence—that the corruption of society would be wiped away by the coming of a scourge. When the French king invaded Italy, this was widely seen as fulfillment of Savonarola’s prophecy.

Q: What challenges, if any, did you encounter while writing these books with spiritual foundations? 

I was determined to create characters whose spiritual values were true to the 16th century. I did worry that readers would not be able to relate to Joanna Stafford, especially since I write the books in this series in the first person and you have no choice but to get into Joanna’s head. Not every author goes this route. I have read other novels set in medieval England and the 16th century with characters who are cynical about religion, even agnostic. That is common now, of course, but it really wasn’t a mindset that would have been possible then. Read the letters of the time, or books by the religious such as “The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.”

I am happy to say that no one has emailed or otherwise contacted me to say that the books are “too religious.” It’s the opposite, I think readers want to experience a different way of looking at life than we have now.

Q:  Author Stephanie Cowell recently wrote a blog post for English Historic Fiction Authors blog called “Nuns, monks, priests and believers: writing about spiritual matters in English historical fiction,” she wrote: “It is difficult to write about spiritual matters.  They are the most intimate of our feelings and more difficult to express in words than physics…”. What are your thoughts about writing about spiritual matters?

I try to weave it into my characters’ daily lives: going to Mass, making Confession, praying. It frames their worldview. I don’t stop the story for my protagonist to overtly discuss how she feels about God.

Q:  I recently read an interview with you where you mentioned that you wrote The Chalice “workshopping it.” Would you please share with us the process of writing a novel, “workshopping it” to completion.  I was very intrigued when I read this!

I share my work with small groups of other writers, either reading it out loud or sending chapters back and forth online. To me, this is essential. I sometimes feel as if something is coming across a certain way in my story and the reality is—not quite. I need that sounding board to know what is unclear or not paced right or lacking emotion. I revise a great deal, maybe that’s part of being a magazine writer or editor—I like feedback. I can’t imagine writing an entire book in a vacuum and sending it to my agent or book editor.

Q: Do you have any particular workshops you’d like to recommend to writers?

I’ve taken classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop, there were several great online fiction courses (an advanced one taught by novelist Russell Rowland) and a mystery-writing special class taught by Greg Fallis.

Q: Please tell us about the success process of the Amazon Daily $1.99 special, how did it all go down? Soaring THE CROWN to 1 # status in all literary categories!

That was exciting. In the United States my books are published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Amazon decided to make The Crown the Kindle Daily Deal for one day, which means not only that the e-book price is lowered to $1.99 but there is plenty of promotion. I will never forget the experience of watching the number go lower and lower and lower, until it reached No. 1 in America. Not all Kindle Daily Deals make it to No 1, so I am really honored and grateful. To be honest, it overwhelmed me, and the next day I had something of a headache and found it hard to get out of bed. My children were outraged.

The Chalice is part of a different promotion for the month of June: on Amazon in the United States, the e-book costs $2.99. I am happy to be able to deliver this savings. 

Thank you Nancy for this interview and looking forward to your next release of the series! 

 To Buy The Crown and The Chalice click below!

Interview with Historical Novel Society presenter and author Susan Higginbotham

susan_portraitIt is my pleasure to introduce historical novelist Susan Higginbotham, author of 5 novels set in medieval England or the Tudor era. At present she is completing a novel about historical figure Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, in addition to a non-fiction book about the Woodenville family.  She will be co-presenting at the Historical Novel Society Conference this June 21-13 in St. Petersburg, FL:  “The Feisty Heroine Sold into Marriage Who Hates Bear Baiting: Clichés in HF and How to Avoid Them”.


Clichés the bane of every novelist, sounds like a good session!

Q: How do you find the people and topics of your books?

Sometimes a person’s story will intrigue me, like that of Eleanor de Clare
in “The Traitor’s Wife,” my first novel. In other cases, I’ve been drawn
to people who have been misjudged or misrepresented, such as Margaret of
Anjou or Frances Grey. My last novel, “Her Highness, the Traitor,” was
originally supposed to have a single heroine, Frances Grey, but when I
began doing the research, I was so moved by some writings of Jane Dudley,
Duchess of Northumberland, that I ended up giving half of the novel to

Usually, when person’s story keeps nagging at me, I know it’s a sign that
he or she belongs in one of my novels.

Q: Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?


Susan’s latest release!

I do a lot of my basic research before starting my novel, but I never
really  stop researching as I’m writing. A question will arise, such as
where a person was staying at a particular time, that requires
investigation, or I’ll stumble across something that make me rethink an
aspect of my novel. In my last novel, I ended up having to adjust the
ending in order to accommodate a record I found about Frances Grey’s
marriage date.

In research, I use as many primary sources as possible, and I’ve learned
never to take what I read in a secondary source for granted! I also make
extensive use of articles in scholarly journals–I’ve found that they
often contain nuggets of information that can’t be found in books. They’re
also an excellent source for finding information about lesser known
historical characters.

Like many historical novelists, I enjoy research as much or more than
writing, so it’s sometimes a matter of telling myself that it’s time to
stop researching and get to writing!

Q: What book was the most fun for you to write?

Probably “The Stolen Crown,” where Richard III is a major character. The
Richard who appears in my novel isn’t Shakespeare’s villain, but he’s
definitely not the nice guy who’s fashionable in current historical
fiction, so he was a fun character to write.

Q: For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

While readers shouldn’t get their history solely from historical fiction,
the fact is that many of them do. With that in mind, I believe very
strongly in sticking to the facts as closely as possible, and in a
novelist informing the reader in an author’s note when known facts have
been altered. Because there’s so much we don’t know or have to guess
about, being faithful to history doesn’t cage an author’s imagination.

I also believe that authors should avoid tarnishing a historical figure’s
reputation without a sound factual basis for doing so. I’ve read several
novels where various male characters are portrayed as being rapists, for
instance, without any historical basis for such a depiction. It’s usually
a way of making a bad guy even more unsympathetic, and as such is a cheap
and lazy device. We can still have our heroes and villains, of course–but
I think we owe some respect and fidelity to historical figures who can no
longer defend themselves.

Thank you Susan for the interview and see you at the HNS Conference!



Interview with bestselling author Barbara Kyle & an Exclusive clip from Chapter One of her upcoming next novel!

Barbara_Kyle_Author_PhotoIt is my pleasure to introduce the skilled storyteller  Barbara Kyle, writer of  “The Thornleigh Saga” series, with whom I am honored to be co-leading the week-long 2014 Writing & Yoga Workshop in Brazil. One of the things I love about Barbara’s books is the quality of the writing: she has an extremely broad descriptive vocabulary, making her novels a sheer pleasure to read.  Her dialogue blows me away in its originality and cleverness, along with her ability to bring the Tudor time period into full life.

Barbara: Thanks for the invitation, Stephanie. It’s a pleasure to reach out to your readers.

 Q: How long have you been a novelist and how did you get started writing?

My first novel was published by Penguin in 1994 so it’s been twenty-one years. Since then I’ve had eight more books published, including three thrillers for Warner Books that I wrote under a male pseudonym (Stephen Kyle) and five historical novels, my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series, for Kensington.

I started the way most writers do, with short stories. They were pretty awful, full of high-flown language and no point! But I learn quickly, and after a year or so I wrote a short story that won a contest. It wasn’t a exalted contest, just one run by the library association in my county, but it meant the world to me, that affirmation that makes you feel, Yes, I’m a writer.

Barabra's latest release!

Barabra’s latest release!

Q: Would you please share with us information about your latest release: BLOOD BETWEEN QUEENS?

With pleasure. BLOOD BETWEEN QUEENS is my fifth “Thornleigh” novel,  a saga that follows the rise of a middle-class English family through three turbulent Tudor reigns.

The story begins when Mary Queen of Scots flees to England to escape her enemies and throws herself on the mercy of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth. Mary, however, has set her sights on the Elizabeth’s throne, and Elizabeth enlists her most trusted subjects to protect it. Justine Thornleigh is delighting in the thrill of Elizabeth’s visit to her family’s estate when the festivities are cut short by Mary’s arrival. To Justine’s surprise, the Thornleighs appoint her to serve as a spy in Mary’s court. But Justine comes to sympathize with Mary, and when Elizabeth holds Mary under house arrest and launches an inquiry into the accusations that she murdered her husband, the crisis splits the Thornleigh family apart.

Like many history lovers I’m fascinated by the deadly rivalry between the two cousin-queens. When Mary arrived in England she could never have suspected that Elizabeth would keep her under house arrest for the next nineteen years, and finally, after Mary’s incessant plotting for Elizabeth’s crown, execute her. For over four hundred years this story has enthralled the world. I have learned that Mary generates high emotions in people – they either love her or hate her. As for my own opinion, I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’ll just say that BLOOD BETWEEN QUEENS takes no prisoners!

Q: I recently read a blog interview with you where you talked about working with “Hinges in History” would you explain to us this working philosophy?

The “hinges of history” is a powerful image, isn’t it? A swinging door: an opening, a closing. What I mean by the phrase is the crucial turning points, the pivotal events in history. Often such events are driven by larger-than-life personalities like Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. Their actions had a tremendous impact on the people of England and the world. One example is Henry’s extraordinary creation of a national church just so he could divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boleyn. Another is Elizabeth’s decision to put her cousin Mary Queen of Scots under house arrest. I set my “Thornleigh” novels during these pivotal events to test my characters’ mettle as they’re forced to make hard choices about loyalty, duty, family, and love.

Q: Not only are you a successful novelist, you also lead “Masters Writing Workshops” will you share with us about why you choose to help others with the craft of writing?

I really enjoy helping emerging writers. It’s such a pleasure to see a writer have a “light bulb” moment at hearing the principles of writing that I teach. When I started writing years ago I learned a lot from mentors, and I’m happy now to pass along what I’ve learned to others. It’s part of the artistic tradition, whether in writing, painting, music or dance – we all learn from practitioners who’ve had success in their field.

Q: And will you tell us a bit about your workshops and the success of other writers that have taken them?

I give workshops for many writers groups and writers conferences, and I offer my own Master Class twice a year in my home city of Toronto. The Master Class is a full weekend workshop limited to ten people, and during it each writer brings the first thirty pages of their work-in-progress – whether a novel, memoir, or narrative non-fiction – and we critique it in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. By Kafka Comes to Americathe way, writers can also subscribe to my online series of video workshops “Writing Fiction That Sells” – your readers can watch an excerpt of it on my website Also, I’m looking forward to April 2014 when you and I, Stephanie, will run a week-long combination writing plus yoga workshop in Brazil. That’s going to be a treat!

As for the success of writers who’ve learned from me, many have gone on to have their books published. One that I’m very proud of is KAFKA COMES TO AMERICA, a memoir by Steven T. Wax, a U.S. federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon. It received a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

Q: Can you reveal a snippet of your next novel?

 I’d be glad to. I’ve just finished writing it and have sent the manuscript to my publisher. It’s Book #6 in my “Thornleigh” saga. (By the way, each book in the series stands alone; readers need not have read the previous ones to enjoy the story.) This book brings back a young Scottish woman, Fenella Doorn, who was a minor character in THE QUEEN’S GAMBLE. Her story in that novel was so intriguing I gave her the “starring” role in this new one, set ten years later, in 1572. Here’s how Chapter One starts:

Fenella Doorn watched the unfamiliar wreck of a ship ghosting into her bay. Crippled by cannon fire, she thought. What else could do such damage? The foremast was blown away, as well as half the mainmast where a jury rig clung to the jagged stump, and shot holes tattered the sails on the mizzen. And yet, to Fenella’s experienced eye the vessel had an air of defiance. Demi-cannons hulked in the shadowed gun ports. This ship was a fighter, battered but not beaten. With fight still in her, was she friend or foe?

Or faux friend. Fenella kept her anxious gaze fixed on the vessel as she started down the footpath from the cliff overlooking La Coupée Bay. Old Johan followed her, scuffling to keep up. The English Isle of Sark was the smallest of the four Channel Islands, just a mile long and scarcely a mile and a half wide, so from the cliff top Fenella could see much of the surrounding sea. The few hundred farmers and fishermen who called the island home were never far from the sound of waves smacking the forty miles of rocky coast. Fenella, born a Scot and bred from generations of fishermen, was as familiar with the pulse of the sea as with her own heartbeat.

Delicious! Thank you Barbara for the interview and sharing with us this clip, looking forward to the novel’s release!

 To Buy the Kindle Version of Barbara’s latest release:

Blood Between Queens!