1. When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
It was always a desire from being a small child. I used to feel as if I was collecting information and experiences which I could later write about.
2. Which writer, if any, would you compare yourself to?
Comparing myself to other writers has the effect of destroying my self-confidence, so I try not to do it. Perhaps born of when I ran a bookshop and I was overwhelmed by the talent on the shelves all around me.
3. If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’d love to be an actress. That would be fun too, acting out all those different characters.
4. What’s your all time favourite book and why?
My all time favourite book has to be Wuthering Heights, for its passion and power, and its strong sense of place.
5. Do you have any advice for budding young writers?
Write the story that is eating away at you, and don’t feel inhibited about putting emotion on the page.
6. What inspired you to write The Queen and the Courtesan?
The Queen and the Courtesan is the last in the Marguerite de Valois trilogy. Her husband, King Henry IV of France had countless mistresses. I chose Henriette d’Entragues because she was such a fascinating character. An ambitious, manipulative little madam, deeply enmeshed in intrigue, with her heart set on a crown at any price. Her hold over Henry was clearly physical, but could I make her appeal to modern readers? The challenge was irresistible.
7. What’s your favourite film adaption of a book?
Oh, it has to be the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, the one where Colin Firth emerges from the Lake with the wet shirt look. The film was excellently crafted, and he looked delicious.
8. Which character from a book, if any, would you most like to trade lives with?
Not Catherine Earnshaw, that’s for sure. What a difficult life she led. Nor any of the main characters in Hostage Queen, Reluctant Queen or The Queen and the Courtesan. Historical characters seemed to have a particularly hard time of it. But then most fictional characters are expected to suffer extreme turmoil and often danger, so I’ll pass on that one.
9. What are you working on next?
I’ve just finished working on a book about Dorothy Jordan, (known as Dora) who was a famous eighteen century comedic actress. A celebrity in her day, she became mistress to the Duke of Clarence who later became William IV. She was a very modern, independent woman in many ways, and continued with her career on stage while living with him for almost twenty years and giving him ten children. Not without difficulties, of course.
10. And lastly, if you could live in any other era, which would you choose?
I think it would be Georgian England as that is a fascinating era, and seems to represent the start of the modern world. But could I be rich please, as it wasn’t a place to be if you were poor or sick. I’d like to meet Dora Jordan and see her perform on the stage at Drury Lane.
——————————————————————————————————————–The Queen and the Courtesan was published on 29 June. Find out more on her website.
Short Author Biography:
Born in Lancashire, Freda has been a teacher, bookseller and, in a mad moment, a smallholder on the freezing fells of the English Lake District where she attempted to live the ‘good life’. She has now given up her thermals to live in an olive grove in Spain, where she produces her own olive oil and sits in the sun. She began her writing career by publishing over 50 short stories and articles, and has published 39 novels including many bestselling family sagas and historical novels.
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