Interview & Giveaway: The Steel Beneath the Silk by Patricia Bracewell

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to my interview with Author Patricia Bracewell! Patricia is currently touring the blogosphere for the release of The Steel Beneath the Silk, the last book in her Emma of Normandy series, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us! Please enjoy the interview and be sure to enter the giveaway!

Hello Patricia and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Steel Beneath the Silk!

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

I have always been an avid reader, and although I have always lived in California, at a very early age I fell in love with novels set in Britain—I think The Secret Garden started it all. It wasn’t until many years after I’d I earned a Master’s Degree in English Lit, while my husband and I were raising our two sons, that I started taking writing workshops, trying to convince myself that I could be a writer. The novel was always what I leaned toward, but it seemed like an impossible dream. I finally realized that the only way to fail was to not make the attempt, and I wrote two unpublished novels—I think of them as practice novels—before I decided to try historical fiction.

The Steel Beneath the Silk is the 3rd book in your Emma of Normandy series, what inspired you to write a series about her?

Once I stumbled upon Emma of Normandy and realized how significant she was and that no one yet had written about her I was hooked. I felt that it would take more than one novel to really explore Emma’s 11th century world and the history of a period that few people really knew about, so I decided on a trilogy. And even from the start, I knew that I would not be covering all of Emma’s long and very influential life. There is even more to tell!

What research did you undertake when writing the series? Did you find anything about Emma that surprised you?

A lot of my research was done in the stacks at U.C.Berkeley, but I also took a summer course titled Kings, Queens and Vikings at Downing College, Cambridge that was all about this period in English history. I also traveled to Normandy, to Denmark, and numerous times to England to conduct ‘boots on the ground’ research for the settings of my novels. I think the biggest surprise about Emma was something I discovered very early on: that sometime late in her life she commissioned the writing of a book about events she had witnessed or had taken part in. It was a sort of defense for her actions as a queen. It was written in Latin, and presumably, she could understand, if not read, Latin. Mind you, this is the 11th century. It implies a great deal about her education and about her political savvy. But the most fascinating thing about it is that it begins with her second marriage. Her first marriage, to the widowed king who had been on the English throne for two decades was not mentioned at all. What was that about? THAT, I decided, was the story I wanted to tell.

What would you like readers to know most about Emma of Normandy?

Even today there are scholars who paint Emma as an ambitious woman and a cold mother who sacrificed her children’s inheritance for her own gain. I honestly believe that, when one looks closely at the difficulties she faced during a time of war and foreign conquest, she did everything that she could to keep her children alive—to give them a future. That is the Emma that I write about.

What was your favorite scene to write?

In this book, it was a scene set in an abbey between the king’s son, Edmund, and the imprisoned widow of a man who had recently been murdered on the orders of the king. It was based on this sentence from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the historical record of events of the time: “After a little interval, Edmund ætheling went (to the abbey) and seized her, against the king’s will, and had her to wife.” I enjoyed imagining the scene that took place between Edmund and the widow.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

It’s a scene between Emma and Cnut, in Emma’s point of view. It was difficult because although it takes place on a single evening, Emma is reflecting back on numerous, similar evenings, and in a matter of just a handful of paragraphs I tried to show the growing understanding between the queen and this viking conqueror of England who she initially hated. I had to revise it numerous times until I felt I’d gotten it right. The Historical Novel Review called it “a perfectly choreographed dance.” I hope readers agree!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

At about the age of 10.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I hesitate to call it a routine. I can only tell you that if there is writing to be done, I know I have to tackle it first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh, and that by 3pm my brain shuts down. I think that’s a leftover from my days as a high school teacher.

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

I have never been able to just throw down a rough draft and get an entire manuscript finished before going back to edit. I edit constantly and often will write as many as 30 drafts of a chapter before I move on to the next one. I’ve never been able to overcome it.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Bernard Cornwell. Diana Gabaldon. Tolkien. Louisa May Alcott (I wanted to be Jo March.)

What was the first historical novel you read?

I can’t swear that it was the first, but Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff had a big impact on me. I actually designed an independent study course for myself at university about the Arthurian legend, and Sutcliff’s book was part of it. I read a lot of Jean Plaidy, too, when I was in high school.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Susan Meissner’s new one, set in 1906 San Francisco: The Nature of Fragile Things.

What are three things people may not know about you?

When I was in college I sang in a bar. Also in college, I played Lucy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. (Some say I was typecast.) I play the guitar.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Writing it: the research. Reading it: stepping into another time and place where I’ve never been before.

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

Looking at my bookshelves, I’d have to say Medieval even though it’s not popular with publishers just now.

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

Travel, when there isn’t a pandemic keeping everyone at home; gardening, which mostly involves pulling weeds; reading; playing tennis; going for walks with my husband.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m weighing several ideas, but I’m not ready to throw myself into anything yet. I wish that I was like so many authors I know whose minds are full of ideas, who finish one book and immediately start another. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and I’ve been focused on Emma for about 15 years. It’s hard to break free. Just now, the future is a mystery.

The Steel Beneath the Silk by Patricia Bracewell

Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Bellastoria Press

Series: The Emma of Normandy Series, Book 3
Genre: Medieval/Historical Fiction

A breathtaking conclusion to Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy Trilogy, brimming with treachery, heartache, tenderness and passion as the English queen confronts ambitious and traitorous councilors, invading armies and the Danish king’s power-hungry concubine.

In the year 1012 England’s Norman-born Queen Emma has been ten years wed to an aging, ruthless, haunted King Æthelred. The marriage is a bitterly unhappy one, between a queen who seeks to create her own sphere of influence within the court and a suspicious king who eyes her efforts with hostility and resentment. But royal discord shifts to grudging alliance when Cnut of Denmark, with the secret collusion of his English concubine Elgiva, invades England at the head of a massive viking army. Amid the chaos of war, Emma must outwit a fierce enemy whose goal is conquest and outmaneuver the cunning Elgiva, who threatens all those whom Emma loves.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 About the Author

Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. Her first novel, Shadow on the Crown, about the 11th-century queen of England, Emma of Normandy, was published in 2013. Its sequel, The Price of Blood, appeared in 2015. The final book of her Emma of Normandy Trilogy, The Steel Beneath the Silk will be published March 2, 2021.

Patricia lives with her husband in Oakland, California.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, March 1
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Monday, March 2
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, March 3
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Wednesday, March 4
Review at Into the Hall of Books

Friday, March 6
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, March 9
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 10
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, March 11
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Friday, March 13
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Sunday, March 15
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Monday, March 16
Review at Madwoman in the Attic

Wednesday, March 18
Feature at The Whispering Bookworm

Thursday, March 19
Review at Rajiv's Reviews

Sunday, March 22
Review at Novels Alive

Monday, March 23
Interview at Books & Benches

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, March 26
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, March 30
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of The Steel Beneath the Silk!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Steel Beneath the Silk


  1. I loved the first two books in Pat Bracewell's Emma of Normandy series, and can't wait to read The Steel Beneath the Silk! Also, I agree with her comment that publishers are just not interested in the medieval period right now. Stories set during WWII seem to be prevalent, personally I prefer medieval. Especially novels about strong women during that era, like Emma, of whom not much has been written.

  2. Great interview! I bought a copy and can't wait to start reading it. The Medieval period is one of my favorites to read about. Will definitely look forward to Patricia's next book whatever subject she chooses.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique