Q&A with Iris Anthony + Giveaway of The Miracle Thief

Today I have the honor of hosting an interview with author Iris Anthony! Her novel The Miracle Thief hits stores today, so let's all wish her a Happy Release Day! And thanks to the generous people at Sourcebooks I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader!

Thank you to Iris for answering a few questions, I hope you all enjoy the interview...

Hi Iris, thank you so much for spending some time with us here at Passages to the Past! Congratulations on the upcoming release of THE MIRACLE THIEF, I am thrilled to be hosting you today.

Thank you so much. I’m delighted to be here!

First, can you please tell us a little about yourself?

I began writing my first novel in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2004 (four manuscripts and 153 rejections later) that my writing was picked up by a publisher. Since then, I’ve released 2 general market historicals under my pseudonym, Iris Anthony, and 12 novels in the inspirational market under my own name, Siri Mitchell. Currently, I’m editing number 15 and preparing to write number 16. I’ve written many historicals based in different periods of history, but this is the first time I’ve ventured into the Dark Ages. And I might just have to return!

The Miracle Thief will be released on April 1st, how do you plan on celebrating?

If this is the time for true confessions, I have to say I actually celebrate when I send a manuscript off to my publisher for the first time. That point marks the culmination of the hard work of creating and honing the story. There’s still editing to do, of course, but it’s not nearly as intensive as the writing is. By April 1st, The Miracle Thief should already have hit stores. I’ll already have received my author copies and reviews will have started being posted on internet sites, so the actual release day is a bit anti-climactic. Celebration for me is crawling out of my writing cave long enough to get my hair cut, go for a nice long walk, and catch up on some fiction titles in my TBR pile. Then it’s back to editing or writing. For the past several years, I’ve had both a Siri release and an Iris release in the same year, so the work is never done!

What was the inspiration for writing The Miracle Thief?

I was researching a different novel when I ran across a mention of a book called Furta Sacra by Patrick J. Geary. The synopsis had a line about armies of monks setting out to steal relics from each other. The juxtaposition of the word ‘monk’ and the idea of stealing was just too good to pass up. I read further and found out exactly how those thefts were justified. If you were able to steal a relic, then clearly the saint wanted to go with you to the new location. If, for whatever reason, you were unsuccessful in your theft, then the saint preferred to remain exactly where he/she was. I wanted to know what it would be like to live in a world like that.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

You do have worth. You are of value. I also wanted to investigate the idea of grace being a gift that can’t be bought or earned.

Did you come across anything in your research that surprised you or caused you to re-write a particular scene?

I came across many surprising facts as I researched the Dark Ages. Most surprising to me was that it didn’t really much look or feel like the Middle Ages would. Knights didn’t wear shining armor. They weren’t even very chivalrous. Castles were mostly made of wood, not stone. The most difficult thing to keep in mind for me was that fires were still kindled in the middle of a room. There weren’t fireplaces or chimneys. There were several times I had to re-orient and re-write a scene because I had imagined the room with a fireplace against a wall.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The miracle scene. Because what does a miracle really look like? And what does it feel like? I believe miracles happen, but I know not everyone does. So how do I write a scene that will seem plausible to skeptics? I didn’t want angel choirs singing and heavenly lights shining forth, but it did need to feel right. I talked to people who had experienced miraculous healing and went from there.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I had a lot of fun with Princess Gisele and her young admirer, Hugh. He was a character who just kind of showed up while I was writing and hung out until I worked him into the story. I had no idea of his real-life later connections to Gisele’s family until I did some research after the fact. I like to think that the way I portrayed him makes sense of his later actions, but with so much of that era lost to the historical record, I don’t think there’s any way we’ll ever know.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Not until after I graduated from college with a degree in business. After writing those four early manuscripts and accumulating all those rejections but still coming up with more stories to write, I realized there was nothing else I really wanted to do or be. My paternal great-grandparents both emigrated to the United States from Finland, so I have to think that my persistence in getting published had something to do with sisu.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

If there’s a Cold War thriller or a WWII spy novel available, I’ll read it!

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Read. I’ve always loved to read! But I know I shouldn’t spend all my time sitting around, so when the weather’s nice (but not too hot) I like to golf.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Rosamunde Pilcher has always inspired me. In a time where over-the-top novels and laugh-out-loud chick-lit were bestsellers, she was successful with her gentle, quiet stories. It’s hard sometimes not to despise your writing voice when it’s not the style or the genre everyone seems to want to read. Rosamunde Pilcher is a great reminder that the only kind of writer I have to be is myself.

What was the first historical novel you read?

The first one I remember is Constance by Patricia Clapp in the form of a journal written by a Pilgrim girl. Or maybe, I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino about Spanish painter Diego Velazquez’s slave. They are both written in first-person POV, so maybe I have them to thank for my own first-person tendencies.

What is the last historical novel you read?

William Dietrich’s The Rosetta Key. I picked up his Napoleon’s Pyramids as a free e-book and I had to find out what happened to his protagonist, Ethan Gage. I guess sometimes that free sample strategy works!

If there was a soundtrack for your novel, what songs would we find on it?

What a great question! I actually tried to figure out how to do that for this book. It would be a mix of Sting’s Fields of Gold (the ending of Gisele’s story was the first scene that came to me, along with this song); Gregorian chants; Brandon Heath’s I’m Not Who I Was; Peter Cetera’s Solitude/Solitaire; Toto’s I’ll Be Over You; Taylor Swift’s Treacherous; Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair; and Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons; along with Small Pack of Wolves from the Game of Thrones soundtrack; and Vikings Attack and Ragnar Challenges the Earl from the Vikings soundtrack. Probably ending with The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), and the Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart/Sting collaboration All For Love. How’s that for eclectic? 

About The Miracle Thief

Pub Date: April 1, 2014| Sourcebooks Landmark | Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Do you believe in miracles?

Sister Juliana does. She’s seen miracles happen as she tends Saint Catherine’s altar and guards her relic. Yet she doesn’t quite dare to believe that even Saint Catherine could help her atone for her wicked past.

Anna does. And she so desperately needs one. In a time when a deformity is interpreted as evidence of a grievous sin, in a place where community is vital to existence, Anna has no family, no home, and no master.

Princess Gisele wants to. A miracle is the only thing that can save her from being given to a brutal, pagan chieftain in marriage.

For those who come in faith, saints offer the answer to almost any prayer. But other forces are plotting to steal Saint Catherine’s relic, to bend the saint’s power to their own use. Penitent, pilgrim, princess — all will be drawn into an epic struggle where only faith can survive. But in a quest for divine blessing, only the most ruthless of souls may win the prize.

Praise for The Miracle Thief

Three women seek answers to their prayers at Rochemont Abbey, in this pleasing novel set in the Dark Ages. In a well-paced and interwoven story...Anthony creates a narrative that subtly educates, poses stimulating questions, and entertains. Readers who enjoy historical fiction and romance will find this a worthwhile journey. -Kirkus Reviews

Purchase The Miracle Thief

Barnes & Noble 
Indie Bound
Indigo Books

About the Author

Iris Anthony is a pseudonym, but the writer behind the name is an award-winning author of eleven novels, including The Ruins of Lace. She lives in the Washington, DC metro area. Learn more about Iris at www.irisanthony.com.


Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark I have one copy of The Miracle Thief up for grabs. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents and ends on April 11th. To enter, please complete form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This historical sounds intriguing and unique. What an informative and interesting interview. Many thanks for this giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. a definite 'add' to my Wish List!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

  3. I love these types of historical mysteries. There is something wrong with the twitter portion of this giveaway. When you click on it for The Miracle Thief, you get a Twitter message for Fagin's Boy.

  4. Princesses, relics and saints! Sounds great!

  5. I've been hearing terrific things about this novel and look forward to reading it. I'm familiar with the author and have read other books by her. Thanks for the great giveaway.

    Connie Fischer

    1. Crossing my fingers for you, too, Connie! ;)

  6. Trying this comment again. This novel sounds wonderful. I like books with multiple main characters; I want to know more about these three women. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. It sounds amazing. I love the history and the miracles. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  8. This sounds awesome and I love the cover!

  9. I love a novel with multiple main characters, too. Can't wait to read this one, thanks.

  10. Thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed learning about the inspiration for the story, the thieving monks and the way they justified their actions. I'm looking forward to the book.

    1. That was what really fascinated me: their justification.

  11. Good luck on "The Miracle Thief". My daughter collects all the Siri Mitchell novels and she LOVES them!

  12. This sounds really good! I'd love to read it! Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. This sounds like a lovely read, and I'm in love with the cover.

  14. I love the cover, too! Your interview was terrific. The monk's stealing the relic's really got to me. I look forward to reading this book. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  15. Congrats on the release of THE MIRACLE THIEF! Thank you for persevering through the many rejections in order to bring your stories to the reading public. I'm most intrigued by the theft of relics by armies of monks. Your sharing this inspiration is much appreciated! I look forward to reading your work (which will be new for me).

  16. I am currently reading The Ruins of Lace and loving it.


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