Author Interview with Jeane Westin & GIVEAWAY of His Last Letter

Please help me welcome author Jeane Westin to Passages to the Past!!!  Jeane has been making the blogging rounds this week in honor of the release of her newest novel, His Last Letter which was released yesterday, and she graciously agreed over to my place and answer a few questions! 

I also have a copy of His Last Letter up for grabs to one lucky winner!!

I had the privilege of receiving His Last Letter for review and really, really enjoyed it!  You know I'm a sucker for anything Elizabeth I and she did not disappoint! 

Without further ado, I bring you the interview with Jeane Westin.  Giveaway information will be at the end of this post.

What do you most admire about Elizabeth I? What do you least admire?

Remembering that it is difficult to judge a character 400 years in the past when customs and behavior were totally different:

I most admire Elizabeth's courage. It is remarkable that she lived through so many changes of government, so many schemes to place her on the throne to gain a Protestant queen and so many powerful men trying to control her for their own benefit. Surviving the Tower alone was something of a feat. Few got out with their heads on their shoulders.

I least admire that she gave in to the suppression and torture of her Catholic subjects after the pope excommunicated her, making her assassination no sin. From her viewpoint and from the punishments of the time for treason, she believed she was protecting her throne. It's still difficult for a 21st Century mind to wrap around death by drawing and quartering. The heads on London Bridge and the quartered bodies on the gates of London must have been an horrific sight to our Elizabethan forebears...or worse, they got used to it.

Can you give us a sneak peak into your next project? Will you be staying in the court of Elizabeth I or venturing out?

I won't be able to get away from Elizabeth just yet, although I probably will after this next book tentatively titled The Queen's Lady Spy, the thrilling story of Lady Frances Sidney, the ignored wife of England's favorite love poet and the daughter of Queen Elizabeth's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. She becomes a secret intelligencer, helping to foil the deadly Babington plot seeking the queen's assassination in order to put Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. I'm particularly interested in doing this story since Frances could be a distant ancestress of mine, according to family legend.

Did you travel while conducting the research for The Virgin's Daughters and His Last Letter and if so, where and were you moved by a certain location?

Unfortunately, due to family illness I have not been able to travel to England for either of these books, but I have traveled there many times in past years. The only part of England I have not visited is the Lake Country. It's on my list for next time.

One year I hiked through James Herriot country, climbing over fences and stiles, walking down a hill to see a palace connected to Richard III rise out of the morning unforgettable sight. I saw wild ponies on the moors of southeast England and had tea in a rural teahouse where ponies would stick their heads through the windows for a treat. I've watched falconry and archery exhibitions and shivered through dungeons. I love London and as I walk the Strand, I try to imagine it as it was in Elizabethan times, thankfully without the running sewers.

I can't wait to go again, to drive in summer toward Bath and Bristol with the windows down and the scent of ripening strawberry fields everywhere.

You briefly touched on the death/suspected murder of Amy Rosbart, Robert's wife in His Last Letter, something which as always fascinated me. What is your stance on controversy?

This is a mystery that can probably never be solved to everyone's satisfaction. Two juries investigated at the time and came to the conclusion of "death by misadventure," in other words an accident. Amy probably had advanced breast cancer and was in great pain: I think suicide is a real possibility and I don't doubt that Robert Dudley thought so, too. He protected her from that verdict because suicides, at that time, were not given a Christian burial. Medicine knows today that advanced breast cancer can cause brittle bones, which break easily. Even a fall down a few stairs could have been enough to break her neck. Poor Amy, unloved by her husband took the only way out that she had.

I do not think Dudley or Elizabeth had Amy killed. That would have been stupid and neither of them were stupid.

But we'll never know the truth of it.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading mostly for research now, which is ongoing. I have bios of Sir Francis Walsingham and Dr. John Dee, two books on Elizabethan ciphers and codes (they are different), a book on Elizabethan gardens and Besant's History of London, The Tudors for the second time. I've also got a reprint of an original version of Sir Philip Sidney's prose and poetry including all his sonnets that I pick up at least once a day..

For pleasure, I'm reading The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis, Heresy by S.J. Parris and for laughs, Susan Isaacs' As Husbands Go.

I see from the biography page on your website that you have an interesting ancestry. Have you ever pondered writing a book based on one of your relatives?

Some time ago, I did write a non-fiction book, Finding Your Roots, on family genealogy that recounted some of my family stories as the pleasant results of genealogical research. However, I soon discovered that looking up your family tree can be all-consuming and since that was not what I wanted to do forever, I turned the boxes of letters, birth certificates and photos over to my daughter. Fiction takes up all my time today.

Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring historical fiction writers?

Read, read and read some more. Find an historical character that you want to know more about then imagine what that could be.

Thank you Jeane for stopping by, what great answers!  I think that last piece of advice is espcially good!

For more information on the author, please visit Jeane Westin's WEBSITE.


Passages to the Past has 1 copy to giveaway.  US entries ONLY.

To enter, please complete form embeded below.  Giveaway ends on August 19th.

For +1 additional entry please help spread the word:  blog, sidebar, tweet or facebook about this giveaway!




  1. The book cover is so beautiful! Thanks.

  2. I'm also an Elizabeth Tudor hardcore fan. Even if I don't win this here, I will get to it and I'm sure I will enjoy it as much as you did, Amy. I most admire the courage that Elizabeth always showed as a person in her most difficult moments of survival and how she inspired her country with the same courage when they most needed it.

  3. Just a quick question Amy regarding these forms and the "comment" section inside these comments get added into your blog roll counts? Or do the entire entries get added to your blog roll counts? Just curious as to how it works and if you'd like us to leave personal comments here on the blog posts or on the forms? Thanks, Roberta

  4. Excellent interview. What a charming and interesting lady. I am looking forward to reading HIS LAST LETTER and looking forward to your next book THE QUEEN'S LADY SPY. Spies and intrigues are a favorite topic. Even better, when it is based on real people and events.

  5. After working on my genealogy I have found I am a direct descendant not of the Tudor line, but the Plantagenet line; but, I still love reading about the Tudors!

  6. Great interview! The reasons that Jeane mentioned as what she most/least admired about Elizabeth I are pretty much the same for me. I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Oops...forgot to mention that I appreciated her advice for aspiring historical writers. As an aspiring author myself, this is inspiring advice!


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