Welcome to Live Chat Night with CW Gortner, author of The Queen's Vow!

Welcome one and all to the Live Chat Night with C.W. Gortner, author of THE QUEEN'S VOW: A NOVEL OF ISABELLA OF CASTILE!  We are so thrilled that you could join us!

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HOW CHAT NIGHT WORKS
 
The chat will take place in the comments section of THIS post. I will start off the Chat Night with a welcome message and a question or two to get the ball rolling and then the floor is open to whomever has a question for C.W.

If you have any questions during the chat you can email me at passagestothepast(at)gmail(dot)com.

GIVEAWAY INFO

One lucky chat night participant will win a copy of The Queen's Vow!  The winner will be announced tomorrow.
 
About The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

Publication Date:   June 12, 2012
Ballantine Books
400p

{SYNOPSIS}

No one believed I was destined for greatness.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.


About C.W. Gortner

C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret.  He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.


He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).


Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California. 

Thanks again for joining us, I hope you have a fabulous time! 

Let the fun begin!

105 comments:

  1. Welcome everyone to the live chat with CW Gortner! We are now open for business!

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  2. Hi all! So excited to be here :)

    Martina

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  3. Welcome, Christopher and Martina!

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  4. Hi Martina and Amy! So nice to be here.

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  5. It's a pleasure to have you here, Christopher. thanks so much for spending time with us. I absolutely loved The Queen's Vow and can't wait to see what questions your readers will have for you tonight!

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  6. I'm still reading the book (end of school time is sooo busy for me) and I'm loving every word!

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  7. Thanks, Amy. Always happy to visit Passages.

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  8. I am always interested in hearing whether authors traveled for researching their novels. Did you get a chance to do that for The Queen's Vow and if so, was there a location that really resonated with you?

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  9. Hello everyone!!!! Yay, I have been looking forward to this all day :)! I loved the book!

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  10. That's great to hear, Martina. It's inevitably nerve-wracking for an author when a new book comes out. You want to satisfy your readers but not repeat yourself; fortunately, I had a great subject.

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  11. Mr. Gortner, thank you for the hours of entertainment you have given us! I have been a fan of yours for years. I'm only about 50 pages into the Queens Vow but already I'm hooked!

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  12. Hi Colleen! Thank you so much, it's so nice to hear. Bloggers have been so incredibly supportive of my career.

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  13. Hey there, Colleen! Loved your review of The Queen's Vow!

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  14. I am extremely satisfied with the book, I can tell you that! Haha. It's nice to sit down at the end of the day and get transported :)

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  15. Thank you, Carolyn, it's my pleasure. The only thing better than writing the books is having readers who like them!

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  16. Hi everyone! Just got my copy in the mail today. Can't wait to start it. If it is as wonderful as your other books, it will be a great read.

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  17. I always travel for research, and yes, I went to Spain twice for this book. I fell in love with Seville; the palace there, where some of the scenes in QV are set, is truly beautiful. The city, too, is gorgeous.

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  18. Oh wow, I just googled Seville and it's gorgeous!! I can see why you loved it.

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  19. Just got my copy in the mail today. Can't wait to start it tonight.

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  20. Thank you Amy! It is always fun to write a review about a book that was so good! Sorry if I come in sporadically, I am simultaneously making goodie bags for my son's birthday party this weekend :).

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  21. To date you've written about three very intriguing women and are in the process of writing about a fourth, Lucrezia Borgia...are there any men in history that you feel compelled to write about?

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  22. Hope you enjoy it, Terry. Seville has these little orange trees all over the city; you can't eat the fruit, it's too bitter. But it can be used for jams, perfumes, and other things. At night, the trees release their fragrance and the entire city smells of orange. It's incredible. It can get hot as Hades in the summer there but the city is truly one of the most beautiful I've visited.

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  23. Yes, there are several kings I'd love to write about. The market is so tough right now, so narrow in its focus. Historical fiction especially; I had an editor tell me not long ago that she had "no interest in historicals with male leads."

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  24. Sounds heavenly, except for the heat :) Adding it to my travel bucket list!

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  25. Ohh, a book about Lucrezia will be wonderful! I'm really interested in the Borgias.

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  26. I love novels with male leads. I don't think there are enough of them out there.

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  27. Hmmm...that's really interesting. Lucky for us, you write women so well!

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  28. Oops, I was at the wrong post too! Hi everyone!

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  29. I am so very excited for the Lucrezia Borgia book, I just love reading about her and her brother, Cesare is one of my favorite historical bad boys!

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  30. Lucrezia is fun. Such a corrupt era, too; and she has a rather dark and handsome brother, too. I think we need more male leads, too, not just in novels geared for me, like the adventure genre that is so popular in the UK right now. We need personal stories about their lives, and loves, and intrigues.

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  31. Agree with you 100%, Christopher!

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  32. I'm also fascinated by the Borgias. I love the dark and the light in history. =O)

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  33. I meant, geared for "men." Publishers really define these subgenres within the historical category; it does tend to frustrate writers like me, who have a broader interest and scope.

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  34. Hi Christopher. I adore all your books. I've just downloaded QUEEN'S VOW from Audible.com and can't wait to listen. What would you say your biggest challenge was writing about Isabella?

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  35. The fun part for me about writing Lucrezia now is that she's so different from Isabella. I don't want to carbon-copy my ladies. Juana and Catherine, Isabella and now Lucrezia: they each have such different personalities to explore.

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  36. Was your first book, The Secret Lion published "on-demand?" The edition I have was printed by Two Bridges Press and I remember it took forever to arrive at my local bookstore.

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  37. How was it first writing about the daughter and now the mother? I loved Juana in The Last Queen.

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  38. Robin! Does everyone here know, Robin? She wrote some of my favorite historical novels, like "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn" and my all-time favorite of hers, "The Wild Irish." And in september, she has her new book coming out about the woman who loved Tarzan: JANE.

    In answer to the question, I think the most challenging aspect of writing Isabella was her duality. She's courageous and focused and yet she has this darker side to her, this unshakeable belief in her faith that drives her.

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  39. Oh, I can't wait to read the book about Lucrezia! I think the Borgias are just fascinating. I have been watching the show on Showtime and, while I am sure it is far from accurate as the Tudors was, it still has really made me want to read more about them. I have only read a few books so far.

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  40. Yes, Secret Lion (now re-issued by St Martin's Press as THE TUDOR SECRET) was self-published on demand. It actually caught the eye of my current agent, who ended up selling my first two novels to Random House.

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  41. Hi Robin! (Some of my favourite books are written by Robin) Looking forward to Jane.)

    Christopher, yes I'm finding Isabella very focused. So far, she's extremely proper and seems to want to do everything by the book.

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  42. It was great to go back and re-discover Juana as a child, to write the mother and daughter relationship from Isabella's POV. I was just telling Sarah Johnson in an interview she'll be posting with me on her blog Reading the Past that having written The Last Queen first helped me a lot, because I knew who Isabella was after her successes and by writing Queen's Vow, I got to connect the dots and discover HOW she became that queen.

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  43. May I ask one more question, please? When I read one of your books I'm transported to the world you are writing about. You write in such a way that there is no barrier between the setting in the story and my reading experience--you are a most gifted author! How much struggle goes into creating your settings and descriptions? Does it come naturally? Thank you for your time

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  44. Currently reading Isabella, and seeing that Isabella and Ferdinand was a love match. I sort of surprised because of how badly he treats his children later in life. You know, you love the mom you love your kids with her, right?
    So a book about Ferdinand would be an interesting idea, especially after you said you wanted to right about kings.
    Thoughts?

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  45. Yeah, I don't want to ask too many questions because I'm working on an interview for you myself. ;O) I'm reading Queen's Vow now and enjoying it!

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  46. Christopher, you said you were in Seville. I have always wanted to see Spain. Have you been to Santiago? We had family that made pilgrimages to St. James.
    I am loving The Queen's Vow.
    Evelyne

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  47. Off topic but, I read The Tudor Secret and freaking loved it! When is the second book coming out, since I read you're currently writing the third.
    You've made me enjoy the Tudor era again :)

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  48. Isabella isn't a drama queen. She has her moments, of course, as you'll see further on in the book, but she's cautious, tempered: life has taught her that being too impulsive can destroy. Plus, she has her mother's example before her, and a country she has vowed to defend. I liked Isabella so much as a writer because she really is grounded in her personality, for better and worse.

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  49. I can't wait to read The Queen's Vow. What is the one book that is your ultimate dream to write? Would it be about a person or pure fiction?
    Thank you for bringing these ladies to life!

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  50. Carolyn, a lot of my ability to bring to life the detail of settings comes from visiting the places. Though much has changed, visiting the palaces and castles where my characters lived inspires me. Also, I love landscape and fabric and furnishings of the era: I think they can become just as strong in character in the novel as the people.

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  51. That's my regret as a writer. I can't afford to visit the place(s) I'm writing about. Someday maybe...

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  52. Jenny, people change. Of all my characters, Fernando changes the most. I think he simmered with resentment deep within, a resentment that Isabella soothed and checked until her death. His treatment of Juana was appalling, but he had his reasons. That is what's most important when you write these people: as the writer, you must understand what drives them.

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  53. Same with me, Michelle. I'm certain I'd be a much better writer if I could travel - to France, perhaps. Haha :)

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  54. Thank you, Jenny! Actually, I just finished the second book in my Spymaster (Tudor) series and it'll bed published in spring of 2013. I'll write the third after Lucrezia.

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  55. I have been to Santiago, many years ago. I don't know the northern part of Spain as well as I do the central and the southern areas; I hope to remedy that soon.

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  56. Yaaaay! A new book next spring!

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  57. Phoenix, I'm writing my dream books now. Growing up, these women fascinated me. I sometimes have to pinch myself, I just can't believe I have the privilege to actually do this now for a living. Took long enough, LOL!

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  58. Last night I was watching "The History of the World in Two Hours" (LOL) on the History Channel, but the statement that struck me the hardest was that Christopher Columbus's voyage to the New World was not just the most important event in European history, but in the history of civilization. All I could think of was who made that event possible. You really do choose the most wonderfully outrageous and controversial women to write about. Please never stop!

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  59. I need to watch that, Robin. Time to check OnDemand.

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  60. Oh Phoenix, great question! I would love to know your ultimate person in history you would most like to write about, Christoper!

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  61. I think my post didn't go through but anyway I'm here!!!

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  62. Oh yea! I can't wait. I can see how Someone like Fernando can change over time, plus the way the Spanish court was set up had a lot to do with events.

    Looking forward to Lucrezia's story as well. I tried to read one book but had to put it down because it was too history oriented. Too much about the many many Italian families and alliances.

    What other historical figure is floating around in your mind for a possible book?

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  63. I unfortunately have not read the book yet but hope to soon. Looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions. Great review Colleen by the way.

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  64. Keep living the dream! It is fascinating looking into the lives of these women. So much better than a history book!
    Thank you for taking time to answer our questions!

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  65. Travel for me is vital. I know some writers who can do it without going; but I really have to see it with my own eyes. I was in Rome several years ago for 2 weeks and I inhaled the city. Writing Lucrezia now, it all comes back to me. I want to return, too, if I can.

    It's great to hear that you're enjoying Isabella. She is more of an internal character, as opposed to Juana or even Catherine de Medici: she's less in survival mode and more in a state of struggle to become the person she wants to be, the queen she think she needs to be. Her passions are more constrained and defined: but her life is anything but boring! She had such a tumultuous rise to the throne, such an endangered early reign; she was lucky to have found love with Fernando, despite his faults. I think he gave her a sense of belonging she had never felt before.

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  66. Thanks for chatting with us, Christopher. Be watching for my review on Friday. Thanks for hosting, Amy. Have to go feed these kids of mine. =O)

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  67. My Borgia book is proving challenging for a number of reasons (and I wouldn't have it any other way, without challenge it's no fun :) but the sheer number of families and city-states, the shifting web of alliances and betrayals - it's dizzying! I have to be really careful, because in the end readers can only take so many characters and subplots. You have to walk a fine line between simplification and not dumbing down the history; it's always tough to do. What to leave out, what to explain, what to dramatize: these are the hurdles we face as historical fiction writers.

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  68. How do you keep track of your storylines and characters? Do you put up a chart? Make a spreadsheet? Keep it all in your mind?

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  69. Thank you, Michelle!! Looking forward to your review. Thank you to everyone. Robin made a great point: Isabella's decisions changed the world, in many ways; she defined a new world. I don't think she realized in her lifetime how far reaching her influences were.

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  70. How long does it take to do the basic research for one of your books? Where do you start?

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  71. I chart some stuff but mostly it's in my head. I make a lot of notes, too. I have an almost superstitious aversion to over-plotting, so I try to keep myself fluid while writing.

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  72. Oh, Margaret, I missed seeing your post. So sorry! Hi and I hope you enjoy the book when you get to it!

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  73. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle! Have a great night!

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  74. I'm curious...with all of your traveling is there anywhere you haven't gone yet that you just have to go to? Is there any certain person in history drawing you to that place or just the place itself?

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  75. So, quick answer to Phoenix: I have a few other queens I'd like to write about in the future, but my agent has sworn me to secrecy. Sorry!

    As for research, I start sometimes years before - the first research for Queen's Vow was done while writing Last Queen, for example. I research enough to get going on my writing; research is too seductive, otherwise and you can end up doing that for years instead of writing the actual book. When I hit a block or a low point in the story, I turn back to my research for guidance / inspiration. All said, on average my research takes about 4 years per book, including the writing time.

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  76. Everyone is welcome to stay as long as they like! I'm still here :)

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  77. Colleen, I'd love to visit Russia. I'm drawn to Russian history, one era in particular. Maybe some day, I can do it.

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  78. Oh I love reading about Russia. I'm reading The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons right now - it's set in Russia during World War II and awesome far!

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  79. I can stay a while longer, too, if there's interest.

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  80. I think I read that you were born in Spain--did you live there for a long time?

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  81. Ohhh....maybe you could write a book about Catherine The Great....I read a nonfiction book about her last year and really enjoyed it. I think you would make her story so compelling!

    Okay, thank you Amy and Christopher for the chat! I am going off to keep my boys (my son, husband, and dog) from destroying the house :).

    Good night!

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  82. Me, too. I'm enthralled by Russia. The Paulina Simmons novels are actually on my TBR pile. I also really love the history of the Turks; there are some great stories there, but unfortunately very unfamiliar to most Western editors. I'd also really love to delve into the earlier medieval era of Spain, if I could.

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  83. Good night, Colleen! Thanks for coming by.

    Yes, Carolyn, my mom is from Spain. I was raised near Malaga, in fact, site of one of Isabella's more terrifying experiences; I lived there from the time I was six until I turned twelve.

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  84. I agree Catherine would be great for your next book.

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  85. Anyone else? If not, thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed this! Hope to visit again soon. A very warm thank you to Amy, who runs my tours and does these chats and is SO pregnant right now - she's a super lady and a terrific ally for authors. Adore her.

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  86. Thank you both for your time and a great chat! Mr. Gortner--PLEASE KEEP WRITING!

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  87. Just saw your comment, Margaret. I'd love to write Catherine the Great, yes; she has been done recently in The Winter Palace, however, and Eva has two more in her trilogy on Catherine. I'm loving her books, so maybe much later on. It's always tough to do the same character as your colleagues.

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  88. Thank you so much, Christopher! I really loved this chat and appreciate you spending time with us. Thanks to everyone who participated - there were some great questions!

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  89. Thank you, Carolyn. I'm plugging along. This chat was my social outing for the month! LOL.

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  90. I would also love a book on Catherine the Great!

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  91. This uber-pregnant lady is signing off :) Have a great night, everyone!

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  92. What you said about that fine line between getting all the correct families in but keeping things un-confusing is the same problem I had with THE WILD IRISH. There were so many clans, every clan chieftain had and Irish name (that consisted of many names) and an English title. And every English person had a name and a title. And sometimes a nickname! Even cutting them down by half still left readers a bit cross-eyed, I fear. It really is one of the hardest jobs we have writing historical fiction.

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  93. Bye to everyone! Good night and thank you for all your support. I honestly couldn't do this without readers.

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  94. Something I find interesting in historical fiction is the interpretation by the authors of certain events that we may have a some of facts about but certain details are almost literally impossible to be sure of. Did you come across anything like this when researching and writing this novel?

    (sorry if this question is confusing lol)

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  95. oops too late have a lovely evening!

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  96. Probably to late for the chat....

    I wondered how you found going back and writing about Isabella, the mother of Juana. Did you find it challenging to shake off Juana, and present Isabella as the focal character given their relationship?

    Amanda

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