Interview with Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN + Giveaway

HF Virtual Book Tours has another exciting virtual tour for you!  Author Nancy Bilyeau will be touring the blogosphere for the release of her novel, THE CROWN, from January 5th through March 19th and to start the festivities Passages to the Past is happy to bring you an interview with the lovely Nancy Bilyeau and a giveaway of THE CROWN!

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THE CROWN will be released on January 10th from Touchstone Publishing.

To follow THE CROWN Virtual Book Tour, please check out the tour schedule HERE.  There are some fabulous blogs on the tour, you won't want to miss the fun!

And now, I bring you an interview with Nancy Bilyeau...

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?  And did you always want to write historical fiction?

A: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. My third grade teacher liked a report I did after a field trip and wrote a little sign saying, “Have you heard of Nancy Bilyeau, the World Famous Writer?” and hung it on the wall. Teachers make such a huge difference.

I always liked reading historical fiction, and when I decided to try to write a novel I thought I would attempt a book that was part historical fiction and part mystery/thriller.

Q: Can you please tell us a bit about The Crown and the inspiration behind writing it?

A: I wanted to tell an exciting story revolving around a female main character of that time but I didn’t want to write about a royal or a lady-in-waiting. I’ve always been intrigued by nuns. I thought of telling the story of a novice in a priory just when the monasteries were being toppled as Henry VIII tore the country away from Rome.

Q: What type of research did you undertake for the writing of The Crown?

 
A: I’d been reading nonfiction about the 16th century my whole life so I had a foundation to build on. I read a great many books about the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries and religious life—my bibliography has more than forty books. I contacted experts to help me, such as the curators of the Dartford Borough Museum, experts on the Tower of London and Malmesbury Abbey. I’ve been to Dartford and seen the remains of the stone wall of the priory, which was of course demolished during the Dissolution. It wasn’t easy to “create” the priory—to decide where the various buildings and gardens would be. I worked hard on that, and ended up with a rough model on my kitchen table, moving the characters around!

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?  What do you find the most difficult?

A: I love it when the momentum is strong and I’m at my computer, the words flying from my fingers. At those moments, the characters are telling ME what they will do and say. Of course it’s not always like that—in fact, it’s often not like that. Writing is most difficult when you are sitting there knowing what you want a chapter to do but every sentence comes hard. I’ve learned at those times not to be too hard on myself but to get a first pass down and know that I can revise.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

A: Workshop your writing, take classes. Listen to other people; you don’t have to change things but do listen. Show, don’t tell. Be sure the story contains surprises. And work hard on your query letter to agents.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I just finished the sequel to “The Crown.” It’s called “The Chalice,” and it follows Joanna and most of the primary characters from the first book but I add a LOT of new ones. Joanna “encounters” Thomas Cromwell in “The Chalice.” She has a new quest, one more dangerous than that of the first book.

Q: If you could read any book again for the first time, what would it be and why?
A: Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” I just think it’s a masterpiece of psychological suspense. The twist near the end—why Rebecca sought death—is in a class all by itself. And every time I read it, I am more impressed by du Maurier’s use of first person perspective.

Q: What authors have inspired you?

A: Besides Daphne de Maurier, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, A.S. Byatt, Edith Wharton, Henry James, Norah Lofts, P.D. James, Mary Renault, Kate Mosse, Katherine Neville, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson, and George RR Martin.

About The Crown...

SYNOPSIS

An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror.  The year is 1537... 

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London. 

The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain. 

But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands. 

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past. 

About Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Most recently, she served as deputy editor at InStyle magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay "Loving Marys" reached the finalist stage with Page International Screenwriting Awards and Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. The Crown is her first novel.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy's ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough's founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. 

For more information, please visit Nancy Bilyeau's WEBSITE.

Giveaway Information

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open to US ONLY.
- For +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- For +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on January 15th.

Good luck to you all and enjoy the tour!

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51 comments:

  1. Please enter me! I've been ogling this book for a long time--even the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

    I've been a follower of Passages to the Past for some time now.

    thorntonstephanie at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for a great interview and exciting giveaway!
    Carolyn

    rexmoy at gmail dot com.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I salute the author's decision to write about someone other than a royal personage or courtier. I'd love to read about a nun, and am glad she's planning a series.

    Google follower - extra entries.

    Thanks lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am a follower and email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really want to read this book. It sounds very good. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another adventuress!!! And the cover...to die for. Congratulations, Nancy!
    donna @ donnarussomorin.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great interview and wonderful offer. Thank you.

    Already a follower.

    valleau@suddenlink.net

    ReplyDelete
  8. This sounds like a good read!


    jenisareader@gmail.com

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so excited about the release of this book! Great interview!

    Thanks for the entry!

    wendysfictionaddiction(at)gmail(dot)com

    +5 Follower via GFC
    +3 FB page member
    +1 Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/FctionAddiction/status/154969194075660288

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a follower already. Thanks for the giveaway and the reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Already a followr. Thanks for the giveaway and the reviews

    ReplyDelete
  12. Follower here and on FB - what a fascinating subject! Please enter me.

    teabird17 atyahoodotcom

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. another historical novel I will not be able to resist! Thanks for the giveaway. I follow you here and on FB, and I just twittered this post.
    Emma @ Words And Peace

    ReplyDelete
  14. oops I forgot my email address but you have it already:
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com
    this is Emma @ Words And peace

    ReplyDelete
  15. great interview &giveaway.lomazowr@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I, too, LOVE the cover!! I really want to read the book knowing that you've been reading about the time period all your life - I'll bet the details are amazing! Thanks for the great interview and giveaway:)

    +5 and +3: Julie Witt
    +1: http://twitter.com/#!/jwitt33/status/154999495552274432

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Superb interview and truly fascinating book, which I would love to start reading right now.... !
    Appreciate if I could be included in the give away opportunity.
    Thanks!!!

    Marianne

    mariannegrem@yahoo.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  18. This looks like a good read. The premise is interesting.
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  19. GFC follower
    #1
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  20. GFC follower
    #2
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  21. GFC follower
    #3
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. GFC follower
    #4
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  23. GFC follower
    #5
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I joined the Passages to the Past FB Page (Cheryl EntryAccount)
    #1
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I joined the Passages to the Past FB Page (Cheryl EntryAccount)
    #2
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. I joined the Passages to the Past FB Page (Cheryl EntryAccount)
    #3
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Shared this giveaway on Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=275295702524453&id=100003246849252
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a beautiful cover! Thanks for the great giveaway!

    +5 for being a follower

    dsmom2001@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you so much for your interest and kind comments. I am so excited! And I owe a great deal to the wonderful Amy Bruno.
    I am on twitter as tudorscribe and every day I tweet about a different real person who appears in the pages of The Crown. My main character is fictional but I could not resist bringing in the fascinating people of the 16th century. Today I tweeted about the career and marriages of Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk. Tomorrow: the last five years in the life of Catherine of Aragon

    ReplyDelete
  30. How did I miss hearing about this one? I think this would be a very exciting book to read and I could learn a lot too. All I remember is from my high school history books so I would love to learn about this period.

    +5 Follower via GFC

    +3 FB fan

    +1 Tweeted:

    http://t.co/CH0ppjLI

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please enter me in your contest. Thank you.

    +5 for being a follower
    +3 for following on facebook
    +1 posting contest on my blog
    +1 twittering about contest
    +1 facebooking about contest.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

    http://griperangsbookmarks.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I keep hearing things about this one and I can't wait to read it. I'm a follower and at shoshanahinla@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. The story for this story sounds a bit more interesting than some of the historical fiction about this time period. I would like to be included.
    seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  34. I follow with GFC.
    seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you for hosting this giveaway, just the kind of book my daughter would love.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  36. This sounds really good!

    5678dancer(at)gmail(dot)com

    I follow on Google Reader

    ReplyDelete
  37. What an intriguing concept! I cannot wait to read this book and winning it would be a plus. Thank you for sponsoring this giveaway.

    +5 - GFC follower/Email subscriber
    +3 - Facebook fan

    ReplyDelete
  38. What an fascinating interview with Nancy. It sounds as though her intense love and background research of this period has truly made her an expert and I am so looking forward to reading "The Crown." I must add that her third grade teacher was so smart not only to recognize her talent at an early age, but also to promote it. The 16th century was such a tumultuous time in history and I cannot get enough of reading about it. Thanks for sharing this terrific interview.

    ReplyDelete
  39. What an intriguing novel. Thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  40. A captivating interview and interesting book. Thanks for this post. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Please enter me in The Crown drawing, and thanks for a fine interview with Nancy!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I love historical fiction/quest/mystery novels. There are not enough of them out there and I was so happy to read this was part of a series.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    I am a GFC follower.

    ashley.l.mikowski@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh thats sounds like a awesome book,,,please enter me into the drawing,,I am already a follower and I have requested your fb page,,and I will be posting this on my blog,,thanks for having this,,
    Devon
    hanna_563@msn.com
    www.devonstitching.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm thrilled to have found your blog. I love historical fiction. I am a new follower on your blog, Facebook & I have a link to your blog, on my blog site. Please enter me in The Crown drawing.Thank you. Great interview with Nancy.
    cmbbaer49@gmail.com
    Thanks,
    Colleen
    Thank you to Devon for her link to your site.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Excellent interview. Sounds like the novel very well researched which is great. Unfortunately, historical fantasy isn't my cup of tea but I bet a lot of people will really enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  46. thank you for the heads-up on The Crown!!!!

    +5 - already follower of blog
    +3 - already liked FB page
    +1 - shared on my FB wall: www.facebook.com/cyn209

    thank you for the giveaway!!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Good afternoon,
    First visit to your blog. Very nice indeed. Awesome interview with the author. Please enter me into the drawing for The Crown.
    Thank you,
    Dorothy

    dmorton001@indy.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. I would love to be entered for the book giveaway. The book synopsis sounds incredible!

    ReplyDelete
  49. The Crown has been on my TBR list for a while. I'm a follower and thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachelhwallen@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. GREAT interview -- I love Bilyeau's comments on writing and her interest in doing something different in hist fic (for which I'm deeply grateful!). I'm so looking forward to reading this -- and giddy to see a sequel is coming!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I have a sample on my kindle, and it is on my wish list at Amazon and, and...I would love to read this book!

    ReplyDelete

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