Today I welcome Anne Easter Smith to my series of author interviews. Anne is the author of the highly acclaimed historical novels, A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, The King’s Grace, and Queen by Right. Her recently-released Royal Mistress is the story of Jane Shore, the final mistress of King Edward IV of England. Anne will be speaking on the To Trump or Trumpet: the History Police panel at the Historical Novels Society conference.
Q: What got you first interested in historical fiction?
A: A great teacher in boarding school hooked me on history, and so when I went home during the holidays I would go to the local library and read every historical novel I could get my hands on. I was not interested in any books that did not have women in long dresses. Even today, if a book cover, TV show or movie is period, I’m instantly interested.
Q: For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?
A: I’ll be talking about this on my panel at the conference. I fall into the “don’t mess with history” camp. To be honest, the people I have written about couldn’t have had more dramatic lives, even if I’d wanted to embellish them! I was mortified recently that a reader caught an egregious historical error that I cannot imagine not catching during the editing process. I feel a certain responsibility to my readers to not fudge the facts. After all, it was fact-fudging by Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More that got my favorite protagonist, Richard III, such a bad reputation.
Q: Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you’d like to share?
A: Imagine my surprise when, at a reading near Albany, New York, a woman turned up dragging an 11-year-old boy with her. When I went to greet her, talking over the boy’s head, and said how brave she was to come when her son was surely not there of his own volition, she said: “Oh, I’m not here to see you, Jason is. He’s your biggest fan and his room is covered in English royalty genealogy charts!” Jason and I have kept up a correspondence ever since.
Q: What book was the most fun for you to write?
A: Definitely A Rose for the Crown. It’s not that I haven’t adored all my other protagonists, but I wrote that in my own time without any intention of letting anyone but my family read it and believed it would be my only attempt at writing a book.
A: Royal Mistress is the fifth in my series about the York family during the Wars of the Roses. It tells the story of Jane Shore, King Edward IV’s final and favorite mistress. I love that she was born into the merchant class of London, which allowed me to do a lot of research on the medieval guilds, and as she was called his “merriest” mistress by Edward himself, I knew she must have been quite a character. She had a roller-coaster of a life before and after Edward, but while she was his mistress, Jane was said to have truly been loved by the king. All the York family come into this book, including my Richard (III), although his treatment of Jane was rather harsh and forced me to look at him in a less saintly light than my first book A Rose for the Crown.
Thank you, Anne.
You can learn more about Anne Easter Smith and her books at www.anneeastersmith.com