Interview with Author Sophie Perinot + Two Book Giveaway of THE SISTER QUEENS

Today, I am thrilled to bring you an interview with the fabulous Sophie Perinot in honor of the virtual book tour for her wonderful novel, THE SISTER QUEENS!  I also have two copies of THE SISTER QUEENS up for grabs, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

Sophie will be touring the blogosphere through April 4th and to check out the other blogs that will be hosting the virtual book tour, please see the tour schedule HERE.


And now, on to the interview with Sophie Perinot...


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

No.  I have always and forever been a storyteller, but I never thought about writing as a career.  When I was in elementary school I wanted to be the junior senator from the state of Ohio (not kidding) so I decided I needed a law degree.  By the time I was in college all thoughts of politics had faded (I am outgoing, but I am not Teflon) but the law dream remained.  I majored in history as an undergrad, then headed straight to law school where, in a scene directly out of a bad movie, my future husband handed me my orientation packet.

Being a lawyer for a number of years taught me something important – being good at something is not the same as enjoying it.  So I decided to reinvent myself.  Writing became part of that reinvention because of my sister.  She said to me “I know you are making up a story right now in your head, pick up your dictaphone and start saying it out loud.”  I did and the rest is history (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  I’ve blogged about this transformative sister-push if anyone is interested in reading more.  


Once I began writing, historical fiction was THE natural genre choice for me.  Besides studying history, I am from a family full of history nerds (my sister is a professor of history).  Also my personal reading tastes have always run to literary classics (which are, obviously, set in the past) and historical fiction.

Can you please tell us a bit about The Sister Queens and the inspiration behind writing it?


I’ll start with the moment of inspiration.  More than seven years ago, while researching a totally different project, I came upon a footnote in a history of Notre Dame de Paris—a footnote about Marguerite of Provence (whose kneeling image is carved over that great church’s Portal Rouge) and her sisters.  These remarkable 13th century women were the daughters of the Count of Provence and related, through their mother, to the house of Savoy.  The Savoyards were celebrities in the High Middle ages—a family of considerable political and marital power, whose members were renowned for their personal attractiveness.  People wanted to be like the Savoyards, and people (even kings and popes) wanted to be seen with them.  All four of these extraordinary sisters made politically significant marriages yet I had never heard of them.  I wondered how these women could have slipped through the fingers of history.  I started a file folder with their names on it and tucked it away, vowing to come back and tell their story.  The Sister Queens is the result of that vow.

My finished novel weaves together the stories of the two eldest sisters—Marguerite who became Queen of France, and Eleanor who became Queen of England.  I chose this pair not only because their marriages were more significant than those of their younger siblings, but because of their particularly close bond.  Like most sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor were rivals, but they were also life-long friends and their mutual devotion helped each to navigate the challenges posed by love, war, political intrigue and betrayal.  It’s that sisterly support that I wanted to celebrate in my book, both in honor of my own sister, who is and always has been my best friend, but also because I believe it will resonate with sisters everywhere.

If readers are interested in a description of the book, I urge them to check out its back-cover blurb because I really think my publisher did a brilliant job of summing up the novel.

What misconceptions might readers have about women in the 13th Century that you’d like to address?

People tend to assume that history—including women’s history—is linear.  That things always get better.  But in reality the progress of history is more akin to one step forward, two steps back.  So the common idea that women in the time of The Sister Queens had fewer rights than all the women who came after them is false.  If I were given my choice I would rather be a noblewoman in 13th century then in a number of later periods.  Here are just two facts about 13th century women that might fly in the face of modern readers’ assumptions.

Women had political power in the 13th Century.  It was not uncommon for 13th century noblewomen to hold and govern territory in their own right.  For example, Marguerite and Eleanor’s youngest sister, Beatrice, inherited the County of Provence when she was still in her teens.  Nor did marriage mean surrendering your territory to your husband.  Marguerite and Eleanor’s uncle, Thomas of Savoy, gained the title of Count of Flanders by marriage, but when his wife pre-deceased him he had to clear out to make way for that lady’s son—the next count.  There is a wonderful webpage, “Women in Power 1200-1250” if you really want to get an idea of just how many women there were in positions of political authority during that time period. 

In 13th century Occitania (a term for the Occitan speaking world of which Provence was a part) men were often absent for long periods of time, thanks to a nearly continuous string of crusades.  These absences provided additional women with the opportunity, at least temporarily, to administer family holdings and dispense justice.

Women in the High Middle Ages had sexual rights (albeit nothing like those women enjoy today).  In my novel I sometimes refer to “payment of the marriage debt,” and Marguerite feels wronged when her husband, Louis IX of France, spurns intercourse with her.  That is not a case of me, as a writer, imposing modern ideas on a 13th century woman.  As a matter of history, Marguerite was entitled to feel gypped because, under the doctrine of the medieval Church, a married man was obliged, under penalty of mortal sin, to give his wife sex as a preventative measure against temptation from the sin of adultery.

So readers, when you are enjoying a work of historical fiction and something that a female character thinks or does seems suspect or “modern,” do a little investigating.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

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


I have a favorite moment in the writing process—the moment when my characters come to life and begin to speak and act for themselves almost without my volition (and sometimes against my wishes).  After that “genesis moment” they can become disruptive—for example starting conversations when I am showering, or weaving scenes I am desperate not to miss when I am driving—but it is so much better than trying to coax them into action.

The most difficult part of the process for me is NOT comparing how I work to how any of my (very wonderful) writer friends work.  I happen to be a slow first drafter, and I tend to write scenes as they come to me rather than in chronological order.  I have friends who can turn out a draft in a month or two.  If I start thinking about that, the next thing I know I am curled in a fetal position under my desk with whatever chocolate was handy.  That’s no good.  I have to write my book my way or it won’t get written at all.  That means listening to my friends’ stories without obsessing over or internalizing their writing processes.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Everybody always says “never give up,” so I am going to go in a different direction. 

1) Master the art of patience.  When you think your manuscript (or the query letter you need to pitch it) is ready it’s probably not.  Don’t let your enthusiasm for your book and your excitement over actually finishing it drive the train – patience, self-control and discipline are your friends.  Let everything sit.  Get feedback.  Let that feedback percolate.

2) Writing may be an art, but you’d better learn the business.  While you are polishing your manuscript (or better yet back when you first start drafting it), take some time to learn about the business of publishing.  That way when the happy day arrives and you have an agent and a book contract, the facts of life (e.g. authors need to be involved in marketing and promotion) or simple definitions (do you know the difference between line and copy edits? Do you know what it means to “earn out”) won’t stop you in your tracks.  If you haven’t taken the time to learn about the business than you shouldn’t be looking for an agent or a publishing deal no matter how ready your manuscript is.

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on a novel driven by the mother-daughter relationship.  It is set in 16th century France and my main character is Marguerite de Valois, sister to three kings (Francis II, Charles IX and Henri III) and wife of a fourth (Henri IV).  Here is the tagline I am using to focus my writing:  “The mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril—particularly when your mother is Catherine de M├ędicis.”  Yes, Catherine.  I know she is a popular character in historical fiction but I don’t believe we’ve ever seen her through her daughter’s eyes :)

If you could read any book again for the first time, what would it be and why?

What a fascinating question.  There are a handful of books I’ve read multiple times and plan to keep on reading because each time I see something more or different (Anna Karenina is a perfect example).  But I’ve never imagined having the opportunity to come at a novel fresh for a second time.  Probably I’d pick a book that I “under appreciated” the first time because I was too young when I read it.  Maybe Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  It would be interesting to see if, as a mature woman with lots of life and love experience, that novel would strike me differently than it did in my teens.

What authors have inspired you?


Naming names would take more space than you’ve allotted to my interview and sound like an Academy Award acceptance speech (generally not a good thing).  There are dozens of writers who inspire my life and inform my work on various levels.  In many cases these writers tackle topics or write in genres far removed from my own.  Quite a number have “mad skills” I could never hope to equal.  Going back to the roots of historical fiction, I deeply admire the work of the genre’s two grandfathers—Alexandre Dumas and Sir Walter Scott.   Both clearly understood that story comes first in all fiction, including historical.  They also wrote adventure stories and I love an adventure.

About THE SISTER QUEENS

Publication Date:  March 6, 2012
NAL Trade
528P

SYNOPSIS

Like most sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor were rivals.  They were also queens.

Raised at the court of their father, Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence, Marguerite and Eleanor are separated by royal marriages--but never truly parted.

Patient, perfect, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?

Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?

The Sister Queens is historical fiction at its most compelling, and is an unforgettable first novel.

About Sophie Perinot

Sophie Perinot writes historical fiction. In Spring 2012 her debut novel, The Sister Queens, will be released by NAL. Set in 13th century France and England, The Sister Queens weaves the captivating story of medieval sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who both became queens – their lifelong friendship, their rivalry, and their reigns

Ms. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. She left the law to pursue artistic interests, including writing. An avid reader, especially of classic literature, and life-long student of history, it seemed only natural that Sophie should write historical fiction. As someone who studied French abroad and a devotee of Alexandre Dumas, French history was a logical starting point. An active member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences.

Active among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal (a moniker she also uses at Agent Query Connect www.agentqueryconnect.com), Sophie is a regular contributor to the group writers' blog "From the Write Angle" http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/. Find her on facebook at www.facebook.com/sophie.perinot.author.
 
For more information, please visit Sophie Perinot'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 to US and Canada ONLY.
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on March 9th.

Good luck to you all!


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44 comments:

  1. I am so excited to read this book, especially after this interview. It sounds excellent!

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    Email: amandatheaker@gmail.com

    I am a follower.
    I have joined the Facebook page
    I follow you on twitter.
    Tweeted and blog about the contest:
    http://bookaddictdiary.blogspot.com/2012/02/passages-to-past-interview-with-author.html
    https://twitter.com/#!/bookaddictdiary

    Thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the giveaway! That was such a cute story about how your future husband handed you your orientation packet!! Funny how things happen like that!

    sidhekist at gmail dot com

    +5
    +3

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the giveaway! I enjoyed the interview. I did not know men were required to "pay the marriage debt" too. :)

    bookofsecrets(at)yahoo(dot)com

    +5 GFC Follower
    +3 Follow you on Twitter
    +1 Share:
    http://www.facebook.com/bookofsecrets/posts/252089938209374
    +1 Share:
    https://twitter.com/#!/bookofsecrets/status/174483373136429056
    +1 Share:
    https://plus.google.com/114454240471955451389/posts/LHu2vqrXPEV?hl=en

    ReplyDelete
  4. Book sound exciting ! I would love to win a copy ; )

    Lynda716@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looking forward to reading "The Sister Queens," and learning more about Eleanor and Marguerite.

    deniseincoralsprings@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the interview. Marguerite and Eleanor do sound fascinating but I was not previously aware of them either.
    My email is: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
    I am a GFC follower: Carl Scott
    I have joined the Facebook page: Carl Scott
    I am following on Twitter: @carlrscott
    and I Tweeted about the giveaway: https://twitter.com/#!/carlrscott/status/174499016313286656
    That should be a total of 13 entries, lucky me!
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like having Catherine de Medici for a mother. Both of your projects sound wonderful!!
    I'd love to win a copy. I follow and I posted the giveaway on my sidebar.
    Thanks!
    Allisonmharper@Hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the giveaway! Please enter me,
    brandon_savannah@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for an exciting giveaway and interesting interview--I can't wait to read this one!
    Carolyn rexmoy at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a follower- thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachelhwallen@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am your 1000th FOLLOWER ON GFC!!!! CONGRATS!! :))))

    balintnati at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'd love to read this so please enter me.

    +5, I'm a GFC follower (Terri)
    +3, I already 'like' you on Facebook
    +3 I already follow on Twitter

    Thanks!
    niteofblu at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  13. This book looks so good!

    +5 I am a GFC follower
    +3 I like you on Facebook
    +3 I follow you on twitter

    somanybooks.solittletimeblog@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love hearing what inpires writers to write their stories. What a fascinating interview. I definitely want to read this one.

    I am a GFC follower and I follow you on facebook.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. The interview was definitely inspiring, especially the part about being good a something doesn't mean you enjoy it.
    Though I also wonder if you can enjoy something you are horrible at...

    I would love to be entered!

    +5 I am a GFC follower (Lilian Cheng)
    +3 I joined on Facebook (Lilian Cheng)
    +3 I follow you on twitter (@circustoybox)
    +1 tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/circustoybox/status/174550655745273856

    lilianxchengATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good advice, to do a little research before assuming that something in an historical novel is an anachronism - thank you!
    I'd love to read this -

    teabird17 atyahoo dot come

    Follower

    ReplyDelete
  17. This books sounds SO Good! I have been waiting for this book to come out for a while! Thanks for the giveaway!
    +5. GFC follower (Colleen Turner).
    +4. Facebook member (Colleen Turner).
    +1. Shared on Facebook.
    +1. Shared on Google+.

    Thanks Amy!
    candc320@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I do think there needs to be a knowledge of the publishing business. Writing a story is wonderful but it needs to reach its audience and marketing and publishers will help this. Thank you for a great post.

    + 5 I subscribe to your posts using RSS

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I enjoyed this interview. The book sounds so interesting; I feel like I know a bit about HenryIII's queen, but would love to read about her sisters. Thanks for the giveaway.

    +5 - Google follower

    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is the one I've been wanting! I'm glad that more medieval fiction is coming out, especially about these two queens of which I haven't found much about in fiction. I also think Henry and Eleanor's love story will be nice to read about. I'm also excited about Ms. Perinot's WIP as well, and plan to read it too as soon as it is released.
    kimberlyhathorn@bellsouth.net
    (I'm a follower of the blog and Facebook page also)

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a great giveaway! Please enter me!
    +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past.
    +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page
    +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter

    bethsbookreviewblog2 AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds like a great book! I have been anxiously waiting for it to come out. I also really enjoyed your interview - great job!
    kibbs14@gmail.com
    (Follower)

    ReplyDelete
  23. This sounds like an excellent book! Very excited to read it!

    I follow on Google Reader.

    5678dancer(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can't wait to read this one, and I'm a follower.

    shoshanahinla(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  25. YYYYeeesssss! I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one! Thanks so much for the interview with Sophie! She is definitely on the "new favorites" list!

    +5 Blog follower
    +3 FB follower

    Thanks so much!
    Amy
    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  26. looks great!
    I follow you via Google Reader and on Twitter. Thanks - Beth
    Beth Nolan Conners
    drbethnolan@hotmail.com
    www.drbethnolan.wordpress.com
    Beth's Book-Nook Blog

    ReplyDelete
  27. This book sounds very interesting. I've been looking forward to it.

    mchapman (at) windstream (dot)

    I am a follower
    I have joined the facebook page.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm a big fan of LitGal, but this gives me even more reason to read her upcoming novel. This sounds fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'd love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is a new book to me but I'm already in love with it!! It looks SO good! I really enjoyed the interview and getting to know Sophie a little bit better, too:) Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway!

    +5 GFC: Julie Witt
    +3 joined FB page: Julie Witt
    +3 Twitter follower: @jwitt33
    +1 tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/jwitt33/status/174919635932684290

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  31. I loved the interview and I'm looking forward to reading this book. Thanks!

    +5 gfc - mamabunny13
    +3 fb-mamabunny shelor
    +3 twitter @mamabunny13
    +1 tweet https://twitter.com/#!/mamabunny13/status/174949738184056832

    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'd love to read this book. Thank you for review.

    +5 I follow Passages to the Past via email.

    +3 i follow Passages to the Past FB Page.

    clenna at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  33. I would love to win a copy of The Sister Queens. It sounds wonderful.
    Please add my name to the draw.
    ecol904046@aol.com
    I am a web and facebook follower.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks for the giveaway. I am a follower and email subscriber. I would love to read this book. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I definitely want to read this one! Thanks!

    +5 follower
    +3 follower of fb page
    +3 follow on twitter
    +1 shared on google+

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  36. another book to add to my WishList!!! thank you for the giveaway!!!!!

    - +5 = follower of Passages to the Past as Cyn209
    - +3 'liked' the Passages to the Past FB Page.
    - +1 additional entry each via posting this giveaway on Facebook

    cyn209 at juno dot com

    ReplyDelete
  37. This book sounds so very interesting.
    I am a follower via Google Reader & GFC
    I like you on FB
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam
    pk4290 at comcast dot net

    ReplyDelete
  38. Very much looking forward to reading this book. Best wishes for its success!

    Please enter me into the give-away! Email address is cowgirlsue at aol dot com. Have requested FB group membership and email notification of posts at same address.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I want to read this book sooo bad!

    LindseyAylward@yahoo.com

    I follow via gfc/rss as mamamunky +1

    ReplyDelete
  40. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds very interesting.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wonderful giveaway. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  42. Rena,
    The interview was fascinating. It's great when you have a chance to read about people you don't know much about but get an opportunity to read a book like this one that makes these characters come to life.

    5 pts. long time follower of this blog

    3 follow FB page

    3 follow on twitter

    1 shared about this giveaway on my FB page

    rena.mcgrath@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. Always enjoy a good historical novel and this sounds like a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Can't wait to read this book! I just started reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine.
    I would love to win a copy.
    katellez76@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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