Friday, March 1, 2013

Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau's new novel is The Chalice.

From her Q & A with Mathew Lyons:

Mathew: What do you think are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the fictional and non-fictional approaches to the same historical material?

Nancy: I love research. For me, during the writing of The Chalice, when I would take a “research day”, that was giving myself a reward. I don’t know if other historical novelists feel that way. If performing the research were nothing but a necessary evil, then I am not sure I would want to write a book set in a long-ago time. Frankly, this is a lot of work. But it’s magical to lose myself in the 16th century. Sometimes I wish that I wrote non-fiction books and could analyze sources and dig for new facts, make my observations, and not have to labor so much on creating the characters and the plot lines. But for the most part I enjoy the fictional approach. I like to come up with my own twists and turns!

What I tried to do in The Crown and The Chalice was to take a time in history – the dissolution of the monasteries – and create a young woman going through it. We don’t know much about the monastics beyond some of the most well known ones: Sister Elizabeth Barton, who prophesied against the marriage to Anne Boleyn (and lost her life as a result); the Observant Friars who stood up to Henry VIII, facing exile or imprisonment or death; the Carthusian monks, who also suffered a ghastly fate for refusing to acknowledge the king as the head of their church.

At the same time, there were many prioresses and priors who literally surrendered, who went along with the dissolution, no matter how they felt about it, and had to make new lives after being expelled. Or not. In some cases,...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Nancy Bilyeau's website and blog.

Writers Read: Nancy Bilyeau (February 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue