Author Interview: Cathie Dunn / The Shadows of Versailles
JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Cathie. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?
CD- Hello Jeanie. Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m delighted to be here.
I’m fortunate to live in an amazing place, a town of Carcassonne in the south of France. It boasts of a large citadel that was rebuilt not that long ago. I love living in towns with a castle on a hill.
One fun thing we do is go up to ‘la Cité’, as it’s called here, and visit one of the many bars and restaurants. Over a drink or two, we watch people from all over the world go by. It’s so interesting! I’m a big people-watcher. I also love to read, and to watch historical series on TV.
My perfect day would start with a lie-in, as I’m not a morning person, then a coffee out in the garden in the warm sunshine, then later visiting one of the many medieval castle ruins of the Cathars that aren’t too far from us. A lovely meal with hubby in the evening would be the perfect end to the day.
JMR- Okay, I'm officially jealous. You live in one of the most beautiful places in France! It's on my bucket list to visit.
JMR-You are a self-described history nut. What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?
CD- Oh, that’s a tricky one. I have to go for The Anarchy, the English civil war that tore the country apart in the mid-1130s to the mid-1150s. It’s such a fascinating time during which the Empress Matilda fought for her right to the English throne. But I’m also interested in other time periods, such as the Wars of the Roses, the Scottish Wars of Independence, and France under Louis XIV. So many intrigues! Love it.
JMR-Who is your favorite female historical figure? Why? If you could ask her one question, what would it be?
CD- It has to be Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a woman well ahead of her time. A woman with a certain degree of power in a man’s world. My question to her would be: ‘If you could undo one event in your life, which would it be?’
JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?
CD- I’ve always loved reading historical fiction and romance, ever since I first discovered those novels in my early teens. Daphne du Maurier, Barbara Erskine, Victoria Holt, MM Kaye, and many others. I love the combination of a historical setting with suspense, a touch of romance, and the addition of a dark plotline. It has stayed with me all my life.
JMR-Writers of historical romance walk a tight line between history and the love story, straying too far either side can upset the reader. How do you balance the two elements to keep everyone satisfied or is it even possible?
CD- That’s a tricky point because characters have a mind of their own. They tell you where they want to go, and how far! I’ve always tried to include a good portion of the historical setting in my novels, to give readers a glimpse of life in the past as I think it’s important to show how my characters lived. Often, a love story has a happy ending, but not necessarily in my novels, as they are all set in difficult times, with wars, rebellions, and other intrigues surrounding them. My regular readers know that, but it can be a surprise – or a shock – to new readers, I admit.
JMR- Readers love a feisty female lead. How to you achieve a believable main character while keeping her within the constraints; familial, religious and societal that keep women in their place?
CD- We often consider history from our 21st century mindset, but we should really forget all about it when we delve into the past. As you say, women’s roles were clearly defined, and although there were exceptions to the norm, even those had to adhere to the rules. A believable character is one who is a product of her times, with all the limitations and insecurities that brings, but she can also show courage in adversity, and cunning! Women had to find their own ways of influencing men, and a character has several ways to choose from.
My female characters are quite different from each other. Those in my early romance novels were less independent, more reliant on men. In my dual-timeline novel, Love Lost in Time, Nanthild – one of my favourite fictional characters – is a brave soul in a time of much upheaval. I loved writing about her.
JMR-Cathie tell us about you latest book, The Shadows of Versailles, Book One in the Affair of the Poisons series.
CD- My new novel, The Shadows of Versailles, is set in Paris, Franc, and the new palace of Versailles in the reign of Louis XIV. For years, I’ve been fascinated by the so-called Affair of the Poisons, an event that saw over 400 people – midwives, alchemists, and priests – suspected and questioned. It transpired that there was a thriving trade in love potions, poisons, and clandestine activity of black masses involving child sacrifices. The poisonous trail eventually led to the door of the king’s favourite long-term mistress, Madame de Montespan. The Shadows of Versailles is the first in a series of loosely-interlinked novels. It tells the tale of Fleur, a young, naïve woman seduced at Versailles. When her newborn son is taken away from her, it triggers a series of events that see her looking for revenge.
JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?
CD- I’m currently writing the second in the Affair of the Poisons series. The Alchemist’s Daughter will be released in 2021. A long-expected sequel to Dark Deceit is also still in the pipeline, and then there will be a third novel in the Highland Chronicles series of Scottish romance novels.
JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.
CD-I spend too much time on Twitter, but I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.
JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?
CD- Ha! If that isn’t a trick question! If at all, perhaps about who my favourite fictional character is.
Thank you so much for hosting me today. I enjoyed all your questions, and I hope your followers enjoy my answers too.
JMR- Thank you Cathie for stopping by today, we've enjoyed chatting with you and wish you success with your writing and your new book! Readers, I know you'll be interested in checking out Cathie's books, so I've included a link below. (Click on the banner or Amazon button)
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