Thursday, 23 August 2012

Author Interview and UK Giveaway ...

I am delighted to introduce to you Gillian Bagwell

Gillian Bagwell
Photo with Kind permission of the author

The King’s Mistress
Published by Avon 19 July 2012
A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Author of The King's Mistress

As a nobleman's daughter, Jane Lane longs for a life outside the privileged walls of her family home. Her quiet world is shattered when Royalists arrive one night pleading for help.
They have been hiding the King, but Cromwell's forces are close behind them, baying for Charles II's blood -and anyone who helps him.
Putting herself in mortal danger, Jane must help the King escape by disguising him as her manservant. With the shadow of the gallows following their every step, Jane finds herself falling for the gallant young Charles, But will she surrender to the passion that could change her life- and the course of history?

Gillian has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for jaffareadstoo.

Welcome Gillian,

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in California from the age of nine (other places in the U.S. before that), and didn’t actually get to England until I was in my early twenties, but I’ve always been and Anglophile and very interested in English history. A big reason for this is probably because my mother read a lot of books to my sisters and me when we were little, including many books set in England such as the Winnie-the-Pooh books, Mary Poppins, The Wouldbegoods, The Wind in the Willows, etc. 

Then there were some wonderful Masterpiece Theatre productions that enthralled me – Upstairs,  Downstairs; Elizabeth R, etc. Another major contributing factor to my interest in British history is my early exposure to and love of Shakespeare.

What makes you want to write Historical Fiction?

I love reading historical fiction—getting lost in an exciting story that transports me to another time and place, so I guess it’s natural to want to write something that I would enjoy as a reader. But my foray into writing novels came relatively late, after many years in theatre. When I was first pursuing an acting career, a friend of mine was getting a lot of attention for a one-man show he was performing. I thought that was a good idea. Someone suggested Nell Gwynn as a subject, and the more I read about her the more I loved her. I did some work on the script but never finished it to my satisfaction—it just wasn’t possible to do her life justice in such a short format.
Many years later, when I was living in London and caring for my terminally ill mother, I decided to write Nell’s story as a novel, and began working on what was published as The Darling Strumpet. When my agent sold that, she also made the deal for my second book—as yet unwritten!—and so I wrote The King’s Mistress.  (It was released in the U.S. last year under the title The September Queen.)

What fascinates you most about Charles II?

There is a lot to be fascinated about. He was a very complex person. People tend to think about the years of his reign as “the Merry Monarch” and his many mistresses, but he was only twelve when the English Civil Wars began and his family scattered, never to be reunited. He spent much of his formative years trying to do the job of a man, nominally being in charge of troops.  When the war was slipping away from the Royalists, he was evacuated from England, and spent years abroad. He was only eighteen when his father was executed and only twenty-one when he made last desperate push to defeat Cromwell and regain his throne at the Battle of Worcester. When he was defeated, he had to run for his life and spent another nine years in impoverished exile. I don’t think any other British monarch has had such an experience of deprivation and difficulty, and it certainly shaped him.
He did a lot of good for England when he was restored to the throne in 1660, opening the playhouses that had been closed under Cromwell, and ushering in a very vibrant period in science as well as art and culture. He was the patron of the Royal Society, built the Greenwich Observatory, and was keenly interested in all kinds of scientific matters.

Why did you choose to write about Jane Lane?

I first read about Jane Lane in the course of researching The Darling Strumpet, and remembered her when my agent wanted to know what I wanted to write next. I was amazed and pleased to find that no one had written a novel about her and her perilous and romantic odyssey traveling with Charles. Georgette Heyer wrote a book called Royal Escape in the 1930s, but it told Charles’s story, and so didn’t follow Jane’s story when she wasn’t with him.
There’s something wonderful about being able to tell a story that many people don’t know about, especially when it involves such an interesting person and compelling adventure.  Lots more exciting for me than the prospect of trying to write about someone whose story is already well-known.

How much research do you do when writing a novel?

I do lots and lots of research! For this book, I read pretty much everything that was available about “The Royal Miracle,” as Charles’s escape after the Battle of Worcester came to be called, and of course much else about the Civil War and the efforts to restore Charles to the throne before it actually happened. After Jane helped Charles escape, she eventually ended up in Paris and then at The Hague in the court of Charles’s sister Mary, the widow of William of Orange. I knew very little about the people and places she would have known—the other members of the royal family; Charles’s supporters in exile; Charles’s first love Lucy Walter, who was the mother of his first child—and some said his wife; Anne Hyde, who later became the Duchess of York and the mother of Queen Anne and Queen Mary—so that was another big area of research.
With a friend, I did a little road trip following the route that Jane Lane took in her travels with Charles and where he traveled before he met up with her. There’s nothing quite like being able to be in the actual places where my characters lived their adventures—getting to see the room in Trent Manor where they stayed, the priest holes where Charles hid at Moseley Old Hall and Boscobel, and so on.

What can you tell us about any future writing projects?

I’m just finishing my third novel, Venus in Winter, based on the first forty years of the life of Bess of Hardwick. She’s a fascinating character. She began life in a poor family of minor gentry and was married and widowed four times, becoming more wealthy and powerful with each husband. She built Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall, knew all the monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth, and is the ancestor of many noble families in England, including the present royal family. 

Gillian- thank you so much for spending time with us - Jaffa and I have loved reading about your inspiration for The King's Mistress and wish you continued success with your writing career.

I am delighted to announce that the publishers of The King's Mistress have kindly offered a paperback copy of the King's Mistress to one lucky winner of this UK only giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I absolutely love historical fiction and have previously enjoyed Gillian Bagwell's version of Nell Gwynn. I'm looking forward to The King's Mistress too - it sounds another delight. The beauty of historical fiction for me is the way facts are taken and coloured in as it were to make it alive and real. If only all history could be such a pleasure.

    1. Hi Alison - Thanks for commenting and Good Luck :)

  2. What an interesting interview - I'd not heard of this book before but do love historical fiction so it's high up on my list to read now!

    1. Hi Jane - Thanks for your lovely comments on this interview with Gillian - Good Luck :)

  3. Great interview Josie. I've not read anything by Gillian Bagwell but I'm keen to give this one a go. Thanks for the give away x

    1. Hi Anne - thanks for reading my interview with Gillian, and good Luck in the giveaway :)


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.