Today we have the lovely Elizabeth Bailey, author of The Gilded Shroud, on the blog.
(see my review here)
About the Author
Elizabeth Bailey feels lucky to have found several paths that have given her immense satisfaction – acting, directing, teaching and, by no means least, writing. Through the years, each path has crossed the other, honing and deepening her abilities in each sphere.
She has been privileged to work with some wonderful artistic people, and been fortunate enough to find publishers who believed in her and set her on the road.
To invent a world and persuade others to believe in it, live in it for a while, is the sole aim of the novelist.
Elizabeth’s own love of reading has never abated, and if she can give a tithe of the pleasure to others as she has received herself, it’s worth all the effort.
Thank you so much for joining me today Elizabeth!
First of all, can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a writer?
I think I was 12 or 13 when I wrote my first fairytale, followed a year or so later by an epic poem about the murder of a mermaid, so the seeds of both romance and mystery were there all the time.
I dabbled in writing for a long time, starting unfinished projects while I trod the boards in English theatre. The trigger to write seriously came in my thirties when my sister began a writers’ co-operative, which bit the dust. But I got the bug and abandoned acting in pursuit of the new dream.
Theatre training proved an excellent training ground for writing fiction because I automatically think in scenes, motivations, sub-text, speech rhythms and dramatic arcs.
I had to learn structure though and my apprenticeship took 8 years and 8 books before publication as a historical romance novelist.
By the time I turned to crime (not literally, I hasten to add), the basics were in and I had only the challenge of the expectations in the new genre.
(What a fascinating journey to becoming an author! I am definitely noticing a theme when seeing just how many books most people write before they are able to get published!)
The Gilded Shroud is set around the time of the French Revolution – what drew you to this time period?
It was a natural choice because my historical romances are mostly set in the late 18th century and I knew the period well. I also love Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel and I find the turmoil and upheaval of that time particularly intense and fascinating.
I’ve introduced French emigres into several stories and have acquired a reasonable working knowledge of the social implications. And, to be frank, I felt it was a good point to begin Ottilia’s journey as it would leave me a good number of years to work in for sequels!
(I LOVE this period in history and my initial interest was probably sparked by a love of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I love both of the books that Elizabeth has mentioned! If you have any other recommendations for books set during The French Revolution, please let me know!)
What kind of research do you do to ensure historical accuracy?
I hold a massive amount of basic material in my head after years of writing in the period, but I consult both my own extensive library and online sources for specifics. I have a number of books for writers about murder investigation, cause of death and so on, but as I am writing in a historical context, I have to supplement this with what was known at the time.
I have found some excellent contemporary books digitised on Google, written by contemporaries. For example, an amazingly detailed treatise on poisons which I needed for a later book, from which I chose the poison that would work for my story and was able to include how and why a doctor or apothecary could find out what had happened.
It’s one of the joys of writing, discovering little odd bits of historical detail that spring ideas for the plot.
(I do often wonder if authors ever look particularly suspicious when online or in a library/bookshop because of the disparate things they are researching for their books – particularly poisons, murder, etc!)
Ottilia is a great character. What kind of things did you consider when creating her as a character?
Oh, I didn’t. I had a completely different idea of the character. She was originally supposed to be a retiring, rather shy spinster in a big historical series I had planned. I didn’t write it, but the idea gelled into the starter for the Lady Fan series. Ottilia walked onto the page and simply took over. The only characteristic left from my original idea was that clear gaze.
It’s actually true that characters dictate to authors! Or, on a less ethereal plane, that the inner writer always knows best. In Ottilia’s case, it took a great deal of trust just to write what was coming out and cross my fingers.
The Gilded Shroud is the first in a series. What’s next for Ottilia and all of the other characters we have grown to love in the first book?
In the second book, Ottilia and Francis are off on an adventure of their own. But by the third, we are back with the Polbrooks and the dowager – another of these bossy characters! – seems to be worming her way into every subsequent story. I won’t pre-empt the second book for you, except to say our couple land in a village to discover a bunch of eccentric characters and a hint of witchery.
(The dowager is one of my favourite characters so I am glad that she is going to be making some reappearances. I will be looking out for other books in this series!)
Food: Cheese on toast
Book: The Harry Potter series
Film: While you were Sleeping
(I would have to second all of these choices!)
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for inviting me to share my writing life. I absolutely love spending time with Lady Fan stories and I hope you will find them as enjoyable to read as I do to write them. And just like Ottilia, I’m afraid I am irrevocably in love with Lord Francis Fanshawe!
Once again, thank you so much Elizabeth!
Also, a big thank you to Caoimhe at Sapere Books for setting up the interview.
Don’t miss the other stops on this blog tour: