Author Interview with Giveaway: Christy English, author of The Queen's Pawn

Author Christy English is a fresh, new voice in historical fiction and I am pleased to have her here at Passages to the Past! 

Her first novel, The Queen's Pawn will be released this Tuesday and I have your chance to win a copy! See the end of the post for giveaway rules.

And now, I bring you an...


What was the inspiration behind writing a novel on Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alais of France?

I had just moved to New York in 2006, and I was wondering what on earth I was going to write next. I was walking to the subway to meet my agent for dinner when Alais asked me if I would like to hear her story. I had seen THE LION IN WINTER years before, and when the character of Princess Alais showed up in my mind, she asked if I would like to hear her version of the story. Of course, I said yes.

Eleanor joined the novel as a protagonist at the end of 2008…we had been showing the original manuscript around town for a few months and we were not finding any buyers. Then we began a dialogue with Claire Zion at NAL, and on the same day, she and I came up with the idea to give Eleanor a voice in the novel. I think Eleanor wanted to be heard.

What would you like your readers to come away with after reading The Queen's Pawn?

I hope the readers get a small sense of how amazing Princess Alais and Eleanor of Aquitaine were. I hope they are transported by my version of how these women lived, my version of who they might have been. I hope the readers fall in love with Alais and Eleanor, as I have.

Have you always been interested in the historical fiction genre? Why is it about the genre that appeals to you?

I have loved historical fiction ever since my mom handed me my first Sharon Kay Penman novel, THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOR and Margaret George’s THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII. There is something magical about delving into the past, about asking the dead: Who were you? Will you tell us your story?

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine have a very unique relationship, quite different than any other royal couple that I've read. It's strange to me that they still seem to love each other despite Eleanor working behind her husband's back to help her sons revolt and Henry keeping her locked away. What are your thoughts?

Eleanor and Henry do have a very interesting relationship. I am still learning about it, in spite of all the reading I’ve done, and all the writing I have done about these two people. I get the sense that I could write about these two for the rest of my life, and never truly know them. They are amazing people, both politicians, both geniuses who take no prisoners. Two people who love each other, but ultimately get in each other’s way when it comes to seeking power. As Henry is fond of saying, “There can be only one king.” But they love each other, just the same.

Given that The Queen's Pawn is your first novel, do you have any advice for us aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Find your voice. No matter what anyone tells you, good or bad, don’t listen. There is a time to find an editor, to shape your novel into something readers can buy and bring home. But more importantly, there is the time before that, when you seek your own vision and your own voice. No one else has your voice. And no one else ever will. As a writer, you owe it to yourself and to your future readers to find that voice, and to polish it until it shines, until you can lead us into the world you have created. No one else can write what you can. No one else will ever tell your story. And we all want and need to hear it. So, ultimately, keep writing, no matter what.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am re-reading for about the 100th time Mary Renault’s novel, THE MASK OF APOLLO. Her work showed me what is possible in this genre. I have not yet reached my goal of writing as well as she did, but I hope to, someday.

Your next novel, To Be Queen, is a sort of prequel as you are taking us back to Eleanor's life with her first husband, King Louis VII of France. What can we look forward to in this novel?

TO BE QUEEN is about Eleanor of Aquitaine’s rise to power, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s discovery of herself. Her father raised her to be a woman of power in a world of men, and once he dies, she has to walk on alone, protecting her duchy while working to rule the kingdom of France through her husband, King Louis VII. In TO BE QUEEN, Eleanor becomes Queen of France, goes on Crusade, and eventually sees that her freedom is worth more than her position as queen. She works as hard to annul her marriage to Louis of France as she and her father did to secure the marriage in the first place. And in the last chapters of the novel, Eleanor meets Henry of Normandy and Anjou, who in two years’ time will be king of England. Henry becomes her second husband, and the story of their meeting is a story worth hearing.

Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about Eleanor and Alais, and THE QUEEN’S PAWN. I hope all your readers come to love them half as much as I do.


To enter, just leave a comment with your email address.  US entries only.  Only one entry per person.  Giveaway ends on April 19th.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL!  Thanks to Christy English for stopping by!




  1. Sounds like a great first novel. I am looking forward to reading it and reading To Be Queen.

  2. Please enter me-I just read Notorious Royal Marriages which includes Eleanor and Henry but also mentions Alais and I'd like to know more about her.

    stephaniefleischer889 AT gmail DOT com

  3. This sounds like a really great book and an original one as well as far as who the main chracters are. I really enjoyed the interview. :D Please enter me.


  4. I'd love to read this. Eleanor of Aquitaine is an interesting woman.


  5. Very inspiring interview and the author's advise to "listen to your own voice" when writing...much for all avenues in life. Sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks Amy :D

  6. I have been interested in Eleanor ever since I read Amy Kelly's biography years ago. I look forward to reading your novel.

  7. Interesting interview. Eleanor is a favorite historical character, and I've been curious to know more about Alais since Lion in Winter several years ago. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Amy, thank you so much for posting this Q&A...and thank you all for tuning in. I love Eleanor and Alais and I hope you all enjoy my take on them.

  9. I'd love to read this! I have not gone as far back in history as Eleanor, so I am excited to be introduced to her and Alais through this novel! Thanks!

  10. As usual you offer fabulous giveaways. Please count me in and thank you for hosting.

  11. This sounds great! Please enter me...


  12. Great interview! She certainly has great taste in books! I would love the chance to win this book, so please do enter me in your giveaway!


  13. This looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. No need to enter me. I can't wait to get to read this book. I have only read a couple books that involved Eleanor to some degree - but never a book basically about her. I hope to get to this one real soon.

  15. I have been looking forward with much anticipation to this novel, Christy! I'm ready to fall in love with your Eleanor and Alais, and specially looking forward to read of Alais of whom I know very little.

    Please count me in for the giveaway, thanks!

    nunezbella at hotmail dotcom

  16. This sounds like a great read. Please enter me for it.

    I follow

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  17. THE QUEEN'S PAWN sounds like a most interesting book. TO BE QUEEN sounds like it will be an excellent "prequel". Christy English sounds like an author to keep our eye on in the historical fiction genre. I look forward to reading THE QUEEN'S PAWN soon.

    Good luck with your books, Christy.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  18. Please enter me. Thank you. =)

  19. Please enter me to win this book.

    MyHandbagHabit at aol dot com

  20. I would love to read this.

  21. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  22. Hello, I would like to be entered, thank you!

  23. Please enter me.


  24. Please enter me,
    thank you
    this book looks to be a good read
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  25. I've loved Eleanor since I read Plaidy's Courts of Love. I would love to win this one!

  26. This looks great! Please enter me!

    BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

  27. Thanks so much for another great giveaway.


  28. thanks for the opportunity to read this wonderful book :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  29. Can't wait to read this wonderful book! easkala at gmail dot com

  30. Eleanor was such a fascinatng woman.

    Please enter me.
    Cheli's Shelves

  31. I'd love to read this! Please enter me! Thank you!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  32. Sounds like a great book! Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  33. Sounds great. I haven't read any historical fiction about Eleanor & would love to start.


  34. Please enter me!

  35. Sounds like a good read. Please count me in!

    Thanks ~ megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  36. I've been fascinated by Eleanor since seeing The Lion in Winter years ago. She was an amazing woman!

    Thanks for the chance!


  37. please include me :)

    rubs.escalona [at]

  38. I can't wait to read this book!


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