Interview & Giveaway: The Earl in Black Armor by Nancy Blanton

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am super excited to be hosting author Nancy Blanton who is currently on Blog Tour for The Earl in Black Armor. Nancy was gracious enough to answer some questions for me and we also have a chance for you to win a copy of the book!

I absolutely loved this book and you can check out my review here.

Hello Nancy and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Earl in Black Armor!

Thank you! It is truly my pleasure.

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

As a former journalist, I like to learn the history behind things. I’ve always loved reading historical fiction, so I suppose it is only natural that I’d be drawn to write it. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but didn’t have the confidence to try fiction until much later in life. My father was a huge influence on me. He was half Irish he took great pride in it, so I and my sisters sang the songs and acquired the same love for all things Irish. When I was 19 my father sent me on a summer study of Irish history in Dublin, and I think my fate was cemented.

What inspired you to write The Earl in Black Armor?

My first book, Sharavogue, began at the end of Cromwell’s march through Ireland in 1649. I followed that with a prequel about her father starting in 1634, but that left a gap of time between them that my sister insisted I must fill. I imagined that book would be a novella, but when I researched the period and discovered the story of Thomas Wentworth, the first Earl of Strafford, I realized it would be the most complex and exciting story I had yet written.

What research did you undertake when writing The Earl in Black Armor?

Well, the journalist likes to have three sources, right? I read and compared three biographies of Thomas Wentworth, plus a few nonfiction books about the time period, including military history and Wentworth’s financial assets. I also studied Lucy Hay, the Countess of Carlisle who was at one time Wentworth’s paramour, and did the same for some other characters such as John Pym and Lord Baltimore. This built on years of study I had also done on the 17th century in general. It is the magic of fiction when these strings of research come together to form a cohesive story.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Earl in Black Armor?

There are so many potential takeaways. One, for me, is a then-and-now political parallel of the way a steadfast administrator and supporter can be used and then sacrificed when the balance of power shifts. Another is the idea of honor, something we may struggle to define, and may always strive for but perhaps fall short of, being the imperfect humans that we are.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Again, there are many, but two come to mind because the description was so delightful to me. In chapters 16 and 17 we visit Hampton Court where King Charles’s court has removed to escape the plague going on in London. My two conspirators working for Wentworth get to see the grandeur of the king’s audience chambers and the king himself for the first time. The second is in chapter 28, when Wentworth visits the beautiful and lush lands of Wicklow—a place the Irish had called Cosha—and a hunting lodge along the River Derry.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

That would be the scene of separation in chapter 64. It would be spoiler for me to describe it, but in historical fiction you know what is coming, it isn’t good, and there is a sense of dread. The writing is filled with both passion and sorrow, and it can be a struggle, but if I can express those feelings fully it is the power of the story and the relief to the author—though I still feel the heaviness when I look at it.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was about ten years old. My mother was an avid reader, and she took my sisters and me to the library frequently to pick out whatever we wanted. I read all sorts of things and started writing little stories about squirrels and such that my poor mother had to listen to. She liked historical romance and later would pass those books on to me. I liked epic books like Gone with the Wind, that really taught me something about a time in history.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I do best in quiet solitude, so I get up at 5 am and write for about two hours before my husband gets up. Later in the day there are many duties and distractions, but I weave in my research throughout the day as time permits, often tucking it away or making notes for what I will need and when. Like most writers, I know I have to do it every day, and especially for a complex story like The Earl, because it is too easy to get distracted and off track, and then I would have to refresh my memory on the research, and start again. One of the best bits of advice I received from another writer is, when you stop working on a manuscript, make a note to yourself about what you are thinking and what comes next so you can dive right in the next morning.

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

Confidence, confidence, confidence. Some are born with it, and God bless them. Many of us are self-doubting introverts, and in my experience there is no easy path out of it except to recognize it for what it is and keep going anyway. I attended writers workshops to learn everything I could, studied the techniques of authors I admired, and wrote every day. I was willing and open to editing and constructive criticism. It’s like body building; it makes you sore but firms you up. And there are a lot of books to help authors, like The Inner Critic Advantage, that bring a little humor into dealing with your negative inner voice so that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Most of the time, it is discovery of something fascinating that I never knew. For example, I found a book about a man in the 17th century who abducted an heiress in Ireland as a way to elevate his station in life. There was no law against it at the time, and once the heiress had been held overnight she was considered “damaged,” so the families would negotiate for the best financial settlement and the couple would be married. This story inspired my second novel, The Prince of Glencurragh, and turned into quite an adventure.

What was the first historical novel you read?

It was a Victorian romance called “The Wishing Star,” though I can’t remember the author’s name and have not been able to find it again. Oddly enough, it was about a beautiful, confident woman who gives a young girl a “magic” gem—the wishing star that she can wish on to become everything she dreams of being.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Pulitzer Prize winner, The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I love to go trout fishing with my husband.

When I’m stuck, I find ripping weeds out of the flower beds great therapy.

I take a piece of Cadbury Royal Dark chocolate with my vitamins in the morning.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love historical fiction because it allows me to learn about history in a way that is engaging and alive. Non-fiction history books are better than ever—I’m a huge fan of some of them—and I think if I had it to do over again I would be a historian, but I would still write historical fiction.

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

I’m all about the 17th century, a time of great, sweeping change. I used to read a lot about the Tudor period, but grew tired of the same stories retold.

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

I walk on the beach, relax with my husband and our Labrador retriever, watch documentaries and comedies, and do volunteer work for the Amelia Island Book Festival.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

It’s a secret, but it has a very strong female protagonist and takes place in Ireland during the Interregnum.

Ooohhhh...I'm intrigued and can't wait to hear more! I will definitely be reading that!

The Earl in Black Armor by Nancy Blanton

Publication Date: March 17, 2019
Ellys-Daughtrey Books
eBook, Paperback, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Ireland, 1635.

When the clan leader sends Faolán Burke to Dublin to spy on Thomas Wentworth, the ruthless Lord Deputy of Ireland, the future of his centuries-old clan rests upon his shoulders. Wentworth is plotting to acquire clan lands of Connacht for an English Protestant plantation. To stop him, Faolán must discover misdeeds that could force King Charles to recall Wentworth to England.

Leaving his young daughter Elvy in the care of his best friend Aengus, Faolán works as a porter in Dublin Castle, and aligns with the alluring Denisa, Wentworth’s personal assistant. She, too, spies on Wentworth, but for very personal reasons.

While Faolán knows he should hate Wentworth, he admires his prosecution of pirates and corrupt nobles who prey on Irish merchants. Supremely arrogant and cruel to his enemies, Wentworth shows loyalty, warmth and compassion for family, friends and a few select others.

A common mission takes Faolán and Denisa from Dublin to London and Hampton Court; to York and Scotland; and to the highest levels of court intrigue and power. But secrets, fears, war and betrayal threaten their love—and even their lives. And as Wentworth’s power grows, so grow the deadly plans of his most treacherous and driven enemies.

"If you are looking for an adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then look no further! Get ready for court intrigue, roguish behavior, and of course, that little bit of romance... Well, then you have a book that is hard to put down." -- Rebecca Hill, Net Galley Reviewer

About the Author

Nancy Blanton writes award-winning novels based in 17th century Irish history. Her latest, The Earl in Black Armor, tells a relentless story of loyalty, honor and betrayal in the Stuart era prior to the great Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Prince of Glencurragh, her second novel, occurs in 1634 during the English Plantation of Ireland. Her first novel, Sharavogue, is set in Ireland and the West Indies during the time of Oliver Cromwell. In non-fiction, Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps is also a medalist, providing a valuable personal branding guide for authors, artists, and business consultants. Her blog, My Lady’s Closet, focuses on writing, books, historical fiction, research and travel. Ms. Blanton is a member of the Historical Novel Society and is proud to be an occasional guest author on the award-winning UK blog, Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots. She has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, corporate communications leader and brand manager. Her books celebrate her love of history and her Irish and English heritage. She lives in Florida.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 1
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Tuesday, July 2
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, July 5
Review at Jathan & Heather

Saturday, July 6
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 8
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, July 9
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Wednesday, July 10
Review at The Writing Desk

Thursday, July 11
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Friday, July 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 16
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, July 17
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, July 19
Interview at Jathan & Heather


During the Blog Tour, one winner will receive a signed hardcover copy of The Earl in Black Armor! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US & UK only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Earl in Black Armor

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic interview! I'd enter the giveaway but... I don't live in the US or the UK - boo!


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