Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in the very far north of California—so I’m a native Californian, but have never experienced the white sandy beaches and Hollywood glamor so often associated with my home state. I started college as a theater major (acting and costume design) and finished in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications. I traveled for several years—circumnavigating the globe twice (which sounds pretentious, but I just love to use the word circumnavigating!) I lived five years in England, where I fell in love with castles, royalty and history.
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
Brazen is the story of Mary Howard who at the age of fourteen, married Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII. It’s a political marriage arranged by their parents, but Mary sets out to make the most of it. Because of their youth, they can’t live or even spend much time together, so Mary and Fitz provoke the wrath of the king by going against his wishes.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
The story of Brazen centers around Mary Howard and her husband Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. It also revolves around the literary “brat pack” of the Tudor court, including real historical characters such as Margaret Douglas, Madge Shelton, Henry Howard, Thomas Howard (the younger), Thomas Wyatt and even Anne Boleyn.
Margaret and Madge are Mary’s best friends (please blame history and their parents for giving them all M names!). They’re all searching for someone to love—and willing to break some rules to do so. And though I never play favorites (I used to be a preschool teacher!), Madge was certainly fun to write! She’s irreverent and spontaneous and loyal. And I just fell in love with Henry FitzRoy—I hope my readers do, too!
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
I write with a contemporary-sounding voice, so my novels have a modern feel to them despite being set in the 16th Century. And Brazen, specifically, is different from other Tudor novels because it focuses on the life of someone fairly obscure who could have front row seats to all the drama.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
With my first two books—Gilt and Tarnish—when I finished the first draft, I realized that the first fifty pages were extraneous and I had to cut them. The story started long after I had started writing. So with Brazen, I wanted to make sure I started in the right place. I began with Mary Howard’s wedding to Henry FitzRoy, wrote that first chapter, and got stuck. For weeks. The only thing that solved the problem was starting the novel five months earlier during Anne Boleyn’s coronation. After finishing the draft, I cut those first fifty pages, and the novel begins with the wedding. This seems to be one of the quirks of my process, and is something I’ve come to accept (though I wouldn’t recommend it!)
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I read a huge variety of genres, so my favorite authors include Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky), Talia Vance (Spies and Prejudice), and Donna Cooner (Skinny).
What are you reading now?
Throughout my twenties, I read literary novels almost exclusively. I love novels that make me stop and savor specific sentences. These days, I read primarily YA—still favoring the novels that have that gorgeous phrasing. But every once in a while, I go back to my roots. So right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt—gorgeous writing, a young protagonist (at least so far) and a compelling premise.
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
Write what you love. Writing a novel is long, hard work. You have to want to sit down with these characters and this story every day for months—even years. If you love them, there’s a good chance your readers will, too.
Brazen by Katherine LongshorePublished by Penguin on 2014-06-12
Genres: Historical, Royalty, Young Adult
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed...but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
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