Hi, Barbara and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer a few questions!
Thanks so much for inviting me, Amy. I'm a long-time fan of "Passages to the Past."
To begin, can you please tell us about yourself and the Thornleigh saga?
Happy to. I'm Canadian, a full-time writer, married to a filmmaker environmentalist, and we live in the lovely university town of Guelph, Ontario. My Thornleigh Saga is a series of historical novels that follow a middle class English family’s rise through three tumultuous Tudor reigns during which they make hard choices about loyalty, duty, family and love. The Queen's Exiles, just released, is the sixth book in the series.
What has been your greatest pleasure with writing the series?
Hearing from readers. I cherish every email that readers send. It means a lot to me when people take the time to let me know how much they've enjoyed the books and how the Thornleigh family's trials and tribulations have moved them.
Do you have a favorite book in the Thornleigh series, or is that like asking you to pick your favorite child?
Oh dear, that is a tricky one. I love the first book, The Queen's Lady, because of its indomitable heroine, Honor Larke, and her tempestuous relationship with Richard Thornleigh that launched the saga. And I love the most recent book, The Queen's Exiles, because it was a joy creating its entrepreneur heroine, Fenella Doorn. And I also have a soft spot in my heart for all four books in between!
THE QUEEN'S EXILES is the latest Thornleigh book, can you tell us what readers can expect in this novel?
Adventure. Love and heartbreak, risk and valor, and loyalties challenged in treacherous Tudor times. My favorite line from a recent review sums it up: "An epic tale of patriotism and treason, political upheaval and oppression, familial love and the ties that bind."
What was the hardest scene to write?
A horrific scene of two children being killed by order of the brutal Duke of Alba. It was heart-wrenching. In writing it, I wept.
What was your favorite scene to write?
The book's opening. It introduces Fenella Doorn running her successful ship-refitting business on the island of Sark when Baron Adam Thornleigh sails into her bay in a shot-up ship and changes her life. The surprising and dangerous action that Fenella takes in this opening scene forces her to flee Sark, and she joins Thornleigh in his search for his stolen children.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I won a short story contest. That lit up my world. The win came later in life - at the time, I was enjoying a successful career as an actor - so it was a challenge to put that career on hold and focus on writing instead. (The first novel took me three years.) But the change of direction paid off when that novel attracted a top agent, Al Zuckerman of Writers House in New York. He sold it within a month and I've been with Al ever since.
Who are your writing inspirations?
I've been inspired all my life by big sagas. Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Herman Wouk's The Winds of War. Leon Uris's Trinity. Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. James Clavell's Shogun. I admire the way these works combine adventure, game-changer moments in history, and personal crises of conscience.
What genres do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
These days I'm reading a lot of narrative non-fiction. I love the works of great non-fiction authors like John McPhee and Simon Winchester and Adam Hochschild. Although, right now I'm in the middle of a novel, The Goldfinch, the Pulitzer prize-winner by Donna Tartt, and I'm finding it simply magnificent.
What was the first historical novel you read?
Something I read when I was about twelve, about Eleanor of Aquitaine. I'm ashamed to say I forget both its title and author.
What is the last historical novel you read?
An Officer and a Spy, the stunning new novel by Robert Harris. It's gripping, deeply moving, and brilliant.
What are three things people may not know about you?
1. I'm a sailor. My husband and I sail our Cal-46 ketch on beautiful Georgian Bay, Lake Huron.
2. I'm a vegetarian.
3. My daughter Sara is a registered holistic nutritionist with a terrific blog called "If Your Body Could Talk." Check out her great recipes! http://www.ifyourbodycouldtalkblog.com/
What are you working on next?
Finishing my new novel, The Traitor's Daughter, which will be released in June 2015. It's set in the dangerous spy world of Elizabeth I. The adventures of the Thornleigh family continue!
Pub Date: May 27, 2014 | Kensington Publishing | eBook, Paperback
Europe is in turmoil. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. And in the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise. Scottish-born Fenella Doorn salvages crippled vessels. It is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him. But Adam and Fenella will put their lives in peril as they attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the Crown, and restore a peace that few can remember. With eloquent and enthralling finesse, Barbara Kyle illuminates one of history's grimmest chapters. The Queen's Exiles breathes new life into an extraordinary age when love and freedom could only be won with unmitigated courage.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER.
“Riveting Tudor drama in the bestselling vein of Philippa Gregory” – USA Today
Praise for The Queen's Exiles
“A bold and original take on the Tudors that dares to be different. Enjoy the adventure!” – Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author
“This moving adventure pulses with Shakespearean passions: love and heartbreak, risk and valour, and loyalties challenged in a savage time. Fenella Doorn, savvy and brave, is an unforgettable heroine.” – Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival
“Brilliant. A page-turner of love and loyalty in treacherous Tudor times. A truly unforgettable adventure.” – Deborah Swift, author of A Divided Inheritance
“A vivid and compelling novel by an author at the very top of her craft.” – Diane Haeger, author of I, Jane
Praise for Barbara Kyle's Books“Kyle knows what historical fiction readers crave.” – RT Book Reviews on Blood Between Queens
“A complex and fast-paced plot mixing history with vibrant characters” – Publishers Weekly on The King’s Daughter
“An all-action thriller, bringing to life the passion and perils of the Tudor period.” – Lancashire Evening Post on The King’s Daughter
“Riveting…adventurous…superb!” – The Historical Novels Review on The Queen’s Gamble
“An exciting tale of the intrigue and political manoeuvring in the Tudor court.” – Booklist on The Queen’s Captive
“Boldly strides into Philippa Gregory territory…sweeping, gritty and realistic.” – The Historical Novels Review on The Queen’s Lady
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About the AuthorBarbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed, internationally-published Thornleigh Saga novels which follow a middle-class English family's rise through three tumultuous Tudor reigns:
The Queen's Exiles
Blood Between Queens
The Queen’s Gamble
The Queen’s Captive
The King’s Daughter
The Queen’s Lady
The Queen's Exiles
The Traitor's Daughter (June 2015)
Barbara was a speaker in 2013 at the world-renowned Stratford Festival with her talk Elizabeth and Mary, Rival Queens and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers' organizations and conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.
For more information visit www.barbarakyle.com. You can also connect with Barbara at Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.