Interview & Giveaway: The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Hello, dear readers! Happy Saturday! Today on the blog I have a fun interview with Nancy Bilyeau, author of the incredible novel, The Blue! I hope you enjoy it and don't forget to enter the giveaway for an eBook.

I absolutely loved The Blue and you can read my review here.

Hello Nancy and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Blue!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I am a Midwesterner who moved east to New York City to work as an editor and a writer in the magazine business, and now my passion is writing historical fiction, stories of suspense with strong female characters. I’m married to my wonderful Canadian husband and I have two children, one of them in college and the other in her senior year in high school. I can’t believe she is going to graduate this year.

What inspired you to write The Blue?

I was touring Hillwood Estate, the house of heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, with my sister, looking at the collection of French porcelain, when the tour guide said that in the 18th century, the competition to produce the best porcelain was the “space race of its time.” That made something in my brain go “Click!”

What research did you undertake when writing the book?

I read everything I could find about making 18th century porcelain and the history of the color blue, along with reading a lot of nonfiction about life in mid-18th century England and books written during that time, like “The Life of Samuel Johnson.” Because my main character, Genevieve, is a Huguenot living in London, and my own background on my father’s side is Huguenot, I did a lot of research into the experience of the French Protestant immigrants, and that was very rewarding on a personal as well as a professional level.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Blue?

I want them to be entertained as well as informed about something new—and most of all to be immersed in life in a different time and place.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I love to write the beginnings of my novels, and this one was no exception. I really enjoyed the first chapter, the Christmas party at the home of William Hogarth that Genevieve crashes.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

It was tricky to write the scene when Sir Gabriel Courtenay comes to Spitalfields and dines with Genevieve and her grandfather. I had to convey that this man, while charming and intelligent, with beautiful manners, has an agenda, and it’s not a pleasant one. Also this is the chapter when I start to tell the story of the blue, and its elusive and mystical nature. But I have to keep the plot moving too!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was eight years old. I’ve always loved to write.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Oh, I wish I had a routine!! I have a fulltime job at a college media center, plus I write freelance magazine stories. And my daughter is in high school. So I have to tuck my fiction into either early morning sessions, weekends, or vacations.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

It makes me smile a little sadly when I see that readers think novelists can publish whatever we want. We can write whatever we want, sure, but publishing it is another story. My biggest challenge is working in this industry. I was put under a lot of pressure to not write what I am most excited about or what I feel is the best way to tell the story in “The Blue” but to write commercially. I am a very business-minded person, and I want to succeed, but I feel that I know how to connect with my readers with my creativity. If I can’t follow my own ideas and instincts, then I’m not sure what the point of all this is! I was able to overcome this challenge by finding a new publisher, Endeavour Quill, that didn’t insist on a World War Two novel or a romance about a pirate or a domestic thriller copying “Gone Girl.”

What are your writing inspirations? 

Music, art, long walks, and reading literature that inspires and humbles me.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Wow, that’s a great question! I’m not sure, but I think it was Mary Stewart’s “The Crystal Cave”

What is the last historical novel you read?

Right now I’m reading an advance copy of Kris Waldherr’s “The Lost History of Dreams,” a deliciously written Gothic Victorian novel.

What are three things people may not know about you?

(1.) I loved rock & roll in high school with a passion, and when I got a job as an assistant editor at Rolling Stone, I felt as if I were in heaven.

(2.) I went through a horse stage as a teenager and I can still draw a horse with some skill

(3.) I’m fascinated by the mafia and I’ve seen all the mafia movies—I can quote “The Godfather” nearly line by line and I have a recipe for Clemenza’s tomato sauce for when the men have “to go to the mattresses.”


What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

There’s a magical thrill to plunging into a good historical novel that I just don’t get with any other genre.

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

It’s funny, but I am on a Victorian-era streak—a period that I don’t write in or anticipate writing in.

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

Hiking and cooking, though not at the same time. 😊

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Another historical novel, one that has something to do with art again. But apart from that, I must keep it a secret.

Oh, what a tease 😊 I am certainly looking forward to whatever you have coming up.

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
Endeavour Quill
Paperback & eBook; 430 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?

Available on Amazon and other retailers

Praise for The Blue

A Goodreads’ Recommended Choice for Historical Novel in December 2018 Newslette and a BookBub Editors' Choice/New Releases

"Nancy Bilyeau, whose wonderful Crown trilogy I hugely enjoyed, has just published a new novel, The Blue, which I highly recommend." – Alison Weir

"Historical fans will be well satisfied." - Publishers Weekly

"...transports the reader into the heart of the 18th century porcelain trade—where the price of beauty was death." - E.M. Powell, author of the Stanton & Barling medieval mystery series.

"Bilyeau is an impressive talent who brings to life a heart-stopping story of adventure, art and espionage during the Seven Years War." - Stephanie Dray, bestselling author of My Dear Hamilton

"With rich writing, surprising twists, and a riveting sense of 'you are there,' The Blue is spine-tingling entertainment." – Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins

About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thriller "The Blue" and the Tudor mystery series "The Crown," "The Chalice," and "The Tapestry," on sale in nine countries. She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In "The Blue," Nancy draws on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy's ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre's stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of "InStyle," "Good Housekeeping," and "Rolling Stone." She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to "Town & Country" and "The Vintage News."

Nancy's mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

Connect with Nancy Bilyeau
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, January 9
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, January 10
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 11
Review at Passages to the Past

Saturday, January 12
Interview at Passages to the Past

Sunday, January 13
Interview at V.S. Kemanis

Monday, January 14
Review at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, January 15
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, January 16
Excerpt at Umut Reviews

Thursday, January 17
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, January 18
Review at Tar Heel Reader


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook of The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Blue

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