Book Drunkard

“I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” L.M. Montgomery

Sandra Byrd Q&A and book giveaway!


First off, I’d would just like to say a HUGE thank you to Sandra for taking the time to answer my questions today.  Details on the giveaway will be at the end of the Q&A.

What can you tell us about TO DIE FOR and the upcoming books in the Ladies in Waiting Series?

 From a young age, we women are wired for friendship. Little girls link arms in exclusivity with one another on the playground.  The most devastating betrayals during our middle and high school years often come not from boys but from the friends we thought loved us and in whom we’d trusted.  So when I began to write novels set in the Tudor period I wondered, who were these Queens’ real friends, those who would remain true in a treacherous court?  Ovid wrote, “While you are fortunate you will number many friends, when the skies grow dark you will be alone.”

I wanted to tell their stories not from a first person point of view, or that of a servant, (a lady in waiting is certainly not a servant) or an outsider, or a rival, but from that of a close friend because the dynamic is so different. I began with Anne Boleyn.

While reading the book, I got the feeling that you really cared about Anne Boleyn. When did your relationship with her begin? And how?

I have been drawn to Anne since I was a girl, curled up in a beanbag chair, dog-earring books about her as I read and re-read them.   Like so many others, the Tudors have always fascinated me because it was a dangerous, and thrilling, time in which to have lived.  I’d always felt Anne has gotten a bum rap.  I was drawn to the mix of her – she was witty and strong and ambitious but also loving and loyal.  Complicated people are the most interesting, I think.

What do you think it is about Anne that makes people either love her or hate her?

You know that old saying, well behaved women rarely make history? Anne was bold and a risk taker and some really liked that, and what she stood for, and some did not.  People are sometimes offended that Anne can seem to be a home wrecker, although I don’t think that was the case.  I also think it matters who tells the history.  Anne’s memory and actions were mostly placed in the hands of those who still served Henry.  All evidence that she’d ever been alive, but for one HA emblem on the Hampton Court Palace ceiling, was scrubbed away. Her own daughter did not dare mention her name in public.  So I feel that history was skewed against her.

I think, too, that there’s a feeling that to like or recognize the good in one queen is to dislike another.  I don’t think that way.  I greatly admire Katherine of Aragon.

 I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Meg Wyatt was a real person and not made up. When and where did you first encounter her?

(Picture of Meg Wyatt’s family home, Allington Castle,  from the inside.  Courtesy of Lionel Bird)

 It began, as all treasure hunts do, with one solitary clue, an offhand comment in a link that said that Anne Wyatt attended Anne Boleyn till her death, and that, at the end, Anne Boleyn had given her friend her prayer book, a very personal gift indeed, and just before her execution whispered something in her friend’s ear.  {I will quickly note that in my book I have switched the names of the Wyatt daughters so that the eldest is named Anne/Alice and the younger Margaret/Meg so that the story could be told without two “Annes” to confuse the reader.}

I like peopling the books with as many “real” names as possible.  My point of view character for Book 2, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr is fictional, but in Book 3, in Elizabeth’s court, I revert back to a real person.

Can you tell us about the research you did for this book and series?

I’ve been a lifelong reader of historical fiction and nonfiction, Tudor books in particular.  When I started thinking about this series, though, I stopped reading Tudor era fiction so I wouldn’t subconsciously commingle my ideas with anyone else’s.  I’ll happily return to reading them when I’m done writing the series!

I visited England and many of the places where the books are set.  I have read dozens of nonfiction books and articles and documents for each book that I’ve written, checking and rechecking them against one another.  I engaged a woman who is pursuing an advanced degree in Tudor history, Lauren Mackay, to vet the finished work for historical errors and to be a sounding board for me along the way, as far as historical accuracy.

I, and any historical author, could keep reading sources endlessly and find new or conflicting facts. But at some point, you have to put the research aside and write the story.  Will there be any errors in a 90,000 word book set 500 years ago? Likely, and if not errors, then things one person posits as likely where another posits as unlikely.

What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?

(Picture of Hever Castle, Anne’s childhood home, courtesy of Sarah Dawson)

I love disappearing into the story world, I love getting to know, and befriend, the people I write about.  I love research.  I love working collaboratively with other writers, editors, and readers to shape the book into its best form.  I love going back to live in the past for a while.

What I love most is offering something to readers. I write because I love to read.  I hope to provide, in some small measure, the pleasure that other authors have provided to me, to readers.

What I like least is mean spirited reviewers.  Yes, your opinion may differ from mine. I may have found a source that you haven’t, so don’t say it’s all wrong. Or you may have one that I have not uncovered, but there are thousands of sources, so I’ve done my best.  My view of Anne may not be your view, and that’s okay.  But I will definitely be willing to enjoy your take and concerns, and hope you’ll respect my point of view, too.

I am not against reviews that are not all glowing, there’s a lot to learn along the way.  I just wish that more civility would return to our world somehow.

Do you have a favourite place to write? And do you use pen and ink, computer, typewriter….?

I use computer, mainly, and laptop and phone.  I don’t have the patience for pen and ink, although I admire those who do.

If you weren’t an author, what other job would you want?

I’d like to own a French tea salon.  I also love mentoring/being mentored, so I think I’d enjoy being a life coach.

 When not writing your own books, what are you reading?

 I read voraciously, maybe compulsively.  My husband was feeling neglected once and joked that he should have himself tattooed with newsprint!

For fiction, I prefer to read historical books in all genres.  I love European history best, but I also like Japanese history and some American history, if it’s different. I’m not much of a bonnet reader. I like fiction that has a somewhat dark edge to it.  Perhaps that’s why Tudor is such a good fit.

I love nonfiction and I’ll bet most historical fiction fans do, too.  I enjoy self help books, cook books, biographies, histories, devotionals, and ethnographies. I just downloaded the autobiography of Madame Guyon and I’m looking forward to reading that soon. I love magazines, I love newspapers. I just love to read.

If you could lunch with two authors, one living, one passed, who would they be and why?


I hope I could lunch with them on different days because I’d have so much to ask and to learn.  For the author who passed away, I’d pick Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt.  She was the first author to hook me on British historicals.  She’s my gateway drug! I’ve read much more widely now, of course, but I still love her works. How did she write so fast? Who whetted her appetite for historicals?

For the author still living, I’d pick my friend Jane Kirkpatrick.  Her historical books are always about strong women who are doing something different than other women of the time.  They stand out, they take chances, they risk, and yet they still maintain what we’d think of as typical feminine concerns: love, children, family, friends. She finds the extraordinary in the ordinary, and that’s a gift.

Thank you, Sandra!  And now for those interested in the giveaway, here are the details:

– One copy of TO DIE FOR for a lucky reader of my blog and ends on October 31

– Open worldwide!

– Must comment on this post with your email address to enter

– Receive an extra entry by reading and commenting on my review of TO DIE FOR


14 thoughts on “Sandra Byrd Q&A and book giveaway!

  1. Thank you for hosting the giveaway.


  2. I would love this book. Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. I read the review and posted on it. I would love to read this.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to win this book!
    journeythroughwords at yahoo dot com.

  5. Thank you for the chance to win this book.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  6. Thank you for hosting the giveaway and making it international!


  7. Wonderful interview, I love Sandra’s comment about how she like’s “peopling” the books with as many real names as possible. I would love to win this book, Anne Boyeln and anything to do with the Tudor’s I am in love with. I can’t wait to read it, I have added it to my TBR list right at the top.
    Thanks for this awesome giveaway.

  8. I love to read about the Tudors and Anne Boleyn is a favorite, even though my feelings about her change. It’s so hard to understand what women went through centuries ago.
    Thank you for the giveaway!
    rlawrence110 at yahoo dot com

  9. I keep reading good reviews. =) Would love to try this book.
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  10. thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel 🙂

  11. Been wanting this one! Thanks for the chance!

    I read and commented on your review.


  12. YAY!! I would love to win this book! Please count me in!
    I commented on your review! Crossing fingers! D:

  13. Thank u So Much for this Awesome Giveaway! 😉
    I love the Tudor history!!!

    lines2005 at hotmail dot com

  14. Gisele Alv is the winner! I’ve sent you an email 🙂

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