I’m really pleased to welcome Susan Higginbotham, author of Hugh and Bess to Peeking Between the Pages today. Susan became one of my favorite authors after I read The Traitor’s Wife so of course I was really excited to read Hugh and Bess. I sure wasn’t dissapointed and if you’re at all inclined you can read my review here. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Susan a few questions about Hugh and Bess and just about some other things in general so without further delay read on to see what she had to say…
1. What was your inspiration for Hugh and Bess?
I was very fond of the character of Hugh from The Traitor’s Wife, and I was curious to see how his marriage with Bess turned out.
2. The Traitor’s Wife was very successful and very good – did this influence your decision to continue to write about the Despenser family?
Thanks! To some degree, yes, but I was also suffering from second-novel syndrome–knowing that I needed to write something but really not sure what. I kept tossing around other ideas in my head and rejecting them, and finally I decided to continue Hugh’s story from The Traitor’s Wife. I liked the way he had come out as a character there, and as I had left him single and still on his path to social rehabilitation at the end of that novel, I felt that the rest of his story deserved to be told. I was glad to get to spend some more time with him and the Despenser family.
3. I love the cover of Hugh and Bess – did you have any input on the design?
I love it too! I was asked early on to vet some possible cover images for costume suitability–that is, eliminating those that were from the wrong era–but I otherwise didn’t have any input, except to be shown the cover when it was in its final stages. I think Sourcebooks has a great cover design staff.
4. What books or authors have influenced your life and writing the most?
Probably Charles Dickens and Anne Tyler–I love the way they create characters and how they blend comedy and tragedy. On a more practical level, I learned a great deal of how to write historical fiction from reading Sharon Penman’s novels–she’s wonderful at bringing historical figures to life, with all of their good points and flaws.
5. Of course we are always curious what our favorite authors are reading so what is on your nightstand right now Susan?
I’m reading Marc Morris’s biography of Edward I, entitled A Great and Terrible King. I also have Jude Morgan’s historical novel The Taste of Sorrow, about the Bronte sisters. For the gym (I need a paperback to read on the treadmill) I’m re-reading Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge for an article I’m working on.
6. And for all those curious about the writing process and getting published – do you have any advice for them?
Never give up, and don’t wait for that perfect moment to arrive to start writing–you’ll never get started if you do. Just write under the conditions facing you now, even if all you can manage for now is a paragraph between baby feedings or during your lunch hour. Sooner or later, it adds up.
7. To finish off our chat, can you tell us anything about your next novel and when it will be available?
It’s called The Stolen Crown, and should be available in the spring of 2010. It’s set during the Wars of the Roses and is narrated by Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville. Harry is best known for helping Richard III to power and then abruptly turning against him, and Katherine was the youngest sister of Elizabeth Woodville, queen to Edward IV. It’s a story of a marriage that began when the parties were children, and it’s also a story about the end of a dynasty and about the fate of the Princes in the Tower. Thanks so much!
Thank you for joining us today Susan! I wish you every success and I sure am looking forward to reading The Stolen Crown!
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