Join me this morning in getting to know author and blogger Debra Brown. She is the founder of English Historical Fiction Authors blog and one of the masterminds behind Castles, Customs and Kings, an anthology of history posts for the blog which I am pleased to be included in.
What got you started on the path to this project? Is there evidence left for use as bribes and blackmail material?
I’m afraid it’s been posted all over the internet by busybodies and malingerers. As for bribes, how about sending you my son? I know you cook for some already–what’s one more? He’s quite the artist and could do pictures for you–hmmm, seems you have quit trying to blackmail me.
I wrote a book one day… one year… and began blogging to help publicize it. I thought it would be great to have a multi-author blog so I didn’t have to do all the work, ahem, and so I started the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. With a British history post daily, we were able to attract Anglophiles and history lovers from everywhere. After the first year, an author suggested we make a book from the first year’s work, and that has been a fabulous, exciting project as we continue our blogging.
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes?
There was the start, where I ran out of period movies to watch and decided I needed to write a story of my own. Another was when I revised the amateur version of the book and came up with a good one. 😉 But I suppose the best part has been meeting and working with all these authors. Kind of happily ever after, I think.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
There are too many to list them all, but Wanda Luce soars over huge obstacles to write great, popular blog posts. Our Tudor writers (Sandra Byrd, Nancy Bilyeau, Judith Arnopp, and Barbara Kyle) zero in on reader’s weak spots, and Mike Rendell is a time-traveler. The truth is, though, shhh, his super powers are faked. His 4x-great-grandfather left him an attic full of diaries, papers, and shopping lists that clue him in on daily events of a few centuries ago.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
Ah! I have a secret writing room which is distinctively British. I have a large portrait of an unknown woman, a bust, a coat-of-arms (not my family’s, I’m afraid), a Victorian parasol, and pictures of Blue Boy and Pinky, among other things.
What are the biggest challenges faced in this project?
The biggest challenge is marketing. I think most of today’s authors would agree with me that it is very time-consuming and not what we bargained for as we are creative and not left-brained people. However, the good side of that is having made many friends in the same line of work and among our readers, and the fact that authors are not vicious competitors, but we help each other along. How many careers have that going for them?
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
I have had a lot to learn, being new in the field. My first year I learned much about writing and marketing books. Since then I have been learning to organize my time to do all I must do, but if there is too much in the closet you can’t make it neat and useful. You have to throw some out. I am still sorting what to throw out!
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
I must admit to being bowled over when each of my books hit Number One spots on Amazon pages! It was really a thrill.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
That is hard to say. When my first book came out it was not really up to my current standards, but if I had not gone ahead with it at that time, who knows if I’d have had this opportunity. My publisher was looking for what I had at that moment–I got in under the wire. I regret that people have the original copies and wish I could replace them all with the revised book, but I can’t. Therefore, I suppose I would not change anything.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten in your ‘superhero’ career.
Teresa Thomas Bohannon gave me a start in learning to market books. I am everlastingly grateful to have met her at the outset of that aspect of my career.
Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors is an anthology of blog posts from the blog by that name. It is a shining star in that field with something for everyone–at least for everyone who enjoys reading “stranger than fiction” history in bite-sized pieces. You can jump around in the book reading whatever suits your fancy at the time and have a complete, satisfying read even during a short coffee break. This makes the book perfect for reading on public transportation, for waiting rooms, and for break rooms. If you have family and friends who love Britain or history, this is a perfect gift. One reviewer called it a great coffee table book–and it really is pretty enough.
What’s in store for the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
We are waiting to see if we should do a second volume of Castles, Customs, and Kings; we certainly have enough interesting blog posts from which to choose. My personal work-in-progress is For the Skylark, an early Victorian novel which I intended to be based on a recluse like Miss Havisham, but her adult twins took over the book. I am trying to keep them reined in and can’t imagine what they are up to while I am preoccupied with everything else.
Thanks so much for this visit to you blog, Maria!
Debra Brown can be found at: