Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Royal Likeness: an interview with Christine Trent *giveaway*

Today we have the pleasure to welcome Christine Trent to our blog. She is the author of The Queen’s Dollmaker and her second novel, A Royal Likeness was released December 28. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview and also for your patience, Christine!

Historical Tapestry: Both your published novels are set during the 18th and 19th century in France and the United Kingdom. What draws you to this specific time period and places?

Christine Trent: Interesting that you observed that, Alex. My next novel is also early 19th century England, and oh, wait until you see what happens to mid-19th century England in my fourth book. I think the century covering roughly 1765—1865 was one of great social and political upheaval, what with the French Revolution, Napoleon stampeding across Europe, and the industrial coming-of-age that would create so much chaos in England. There’s just so much rich material to draw from that you hardly have to make anything up!


HT: Madame Tussaud is a character larger than life. She owns every scene she is in and you can't help but to immediately bond with this practical and inspiring woman. Until reading your book, I knew little about Madame Tussaud and her wax figures. What compelled you to write about her?

CT: As you know, Madame Tussaud was an important secondary character in my debut novel, THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER. I placed her in that book after visiting Madame Tussauds in London and learning that she knew the royal family as art tutor to Louis XVI’s sister. A quick search revealed that there was one obscure European novel written about Tussaud, and no other fiction. Here, I thought, was a fascinating woman the world knows little about.

When my editor asked me to write a sequel to THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, I knew immediately that Marguerite’s story needed to be told, and that the indomitable Madame Tussaud required another appearance. She was a remarkable woman living in chaotic times, and managed to make herself one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 19th century.


HT: After unveiling the secrets of dollmaking in your first book, your second novel opens the door to a quite mysterious world: wax figures. How did you conduct your research? Is there a favourite book about the subject that you would recommend us?

CT: I am fortunate in that I’ve seen Madame Tussaud’s work up close. However, the challenge in writing about her work is that you can find a plethora of information about how wax figures are created with today’s modern technology, but little about how it was done in her time. I used several biographies (some are out of print now, but you can find them on addall.com or Ebay):

  • Chapman, Pauline: MADAME TUSSAUD IN ENGLAND, MADAME TUSSAUD, WAXWORKER EXTRAORDINARY, and THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AS SEEN BY MADAME TUSSAUD, and MADAME TUSSAUD’S CHAMBER OF HORRORS. Ms. Chapman was an archivist and researcher at Madame Tussauds for many years.
  • Berridge, Kate: MADAME TUSSAUD, A LIFE IN WAX
  • Pilbeam, Pamela: MADAME TUSSAUD AND THE HISTORY OF WAXWORKS
  • Ranson, Teresa: MADAME TUSSAUD, A LIFE AND A TIME
This should keep anyone interested in Madame Tussaud busy for weeks!

HT: First a dollmaker, then a wax artist and in your upcoming book, The Prince's Pavilion, the heroine will work as a draper. What makes you choose these unusual professions for your heroines? How do you choose them? Or do they choose you?

CT: I’ve always loved historical fiction. It’s fun to both learn something and be entertained at the same time. The more that I’ve read both historical fiction and history books themselves, the more I’ve realized that women have not, contrary to conventional wisdom, always been prevented from being independent or making their own livings. That was a curse generally reserved for the upper classes. There were plenty of working women out there. They frequently worked side-by-side with their husbands, and even took over after their husbands’ deaths. Knowing this, I wanted to explore some more unusual or generally unknown occupations a woman might have. How do I choose them? Well, I’m a doll collector myself, so the dollmaker one was easy. Madame Tussaud tumbled out right behind her. As for the draper, well, there is a secondary profession in that novel, cabinetmaking, that I wrote has an homage to my husband, a brilliant woodworker (if I do say so myself). Having a heroine who is a draper nicely complemented the cabinetmaker. And I’m not revealing anything about my next heroine, who will make the dollmaker, waxworker, and draper quite boring by comparison.

HT: After reaching the last page of A Royal Likeness, I was already impatient to discover The Prince's Pavilion (released scheduled for 2012). Would you like to let us know a little more about it?

CT: THE PRINCE’S PAVILION, about a cloth merchant named Annabelle Stirling, should be released in early 2012. Thanks to her patron, the great architect John Nash, Belle Stirling is a rising star in the homes of London’s fashionable elites. Even the Prince Regent wants her elegant, high quality fabrics used in the decoration of his new palace, The Royal Pavilion. But when those closest to her conspire against Parliament, she risks losing her reputation, her business…and even her life. To read the prologue, visit here: http://www.christinetrent.com/theprincespavilion.html#excerpt

As always, I plan to bring in historical events both great and small, including the Luddite riots, the Cato Street Conspiracy, the rebuilding of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, and other events of Regency England. I hope readers will be as fascinated as I was by details of early 19th century cloth manufacture.
My fourth novel will encompass my most unusual profession yet, this time a dark and mysterious one set in Victorian England. And that’s all I’m saying for now!

HT: A last question and a special one because I couldn't stop thinking about your answer. When I read the first scenes with Officer Hastings, he made me think about another character of a very famous classic book, Pride and Prejudice. For me he has something of Mr. Darcy going on that immediately won me over, despite his initial arrogance and rudeness. Is this just some wishful thinking or did you channel some Darcy attitude into that handsome man?

CT: Guilty as charged. And not just any Mr. Darcy: Colin Firth.
 
_________________________________________
 
Christine Trent was our guest blogger last year and she shared with us a captivating Why I Love writing about unusual historical professions. You can learn more about her and her novels at her website: http://www.christinetrent.com/

THE GIVEAWAY:

Thanks to the generosity of Christine we have a copy of A Royal Likeness to give away to one of our readers.


- to participate you just need to leave a comment and your email address
- open worldwide
- one entry per household
- ends January 18 at midnight GMT

Good luck to everyone !

38 comments:

  1. This sounds fantastic! Definitely been added to my 'to read' list!
    tahodgso@gmail.com

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  2. I would LOVE to be able to read and review this fascinating book!
    zquilts@centurytel.net

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  3. I've been waiting for this to come out! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachelhwallen@gmail.com

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  4. Ooohhh yes! Please enter me in this awesome giveaway! Thanks!

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

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  5. Thank you for including me in the giveaway! I need to catch up and read The Queen's Dollmaker too. =)

    tiredwkids at live dot com

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  6. These books are the best type of historicals as far as I am concerned.

    When an author really does their research and can bring the feeling of the times to a book, that is always a winner.

    Thanks for giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

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  7. Oh me me me! Please enter me in the giveaway, I so want to read this! :-)

    ana(dot)irhso(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. I've been interested in this novel since reading the first review of it a few weeks ago. The comment re. Colin Firth as a 'model' clinches the deal. I'd love to win this novel. Thanks for the giveaway.
    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. I'm way excited about this book! I'd love to win :)

    mmwessell(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. Thanks for the great interview. I don't know much about this time period and would love to read this one!

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

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  11. This book looks so good! Unfortunately for me, the one and only time I got the opportunity to be in England, I missed out on the wax museum :(

    (The lineup for the Eye was just too bloody long)

    Ihave been to the one in Niagara ... but that just isn't the same, I think.

    aNYWAYS, please enter me in the contest!
    apereiraorama @ gmail.com

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  12. Would love an opportunity to win!
    Thank you!

    joannemccabe9@cox.net

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  13. Really getting into 18th-19th century European historical fiction. Very excited to add this book to my must read list!

    namomma@hotmail.com

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  14. I loved Ms. Trent's first book and would love to win this one.
    Thank you for the very interesting interview and for the giveaway.
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

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  15. This sounds interesting! Please enter me :)

    crimson_haze(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  16. I'd love to read this book. It sounds like my kind of historical book :)

    Samanthakathy@gmail.com

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  17. I really want to read this one. I've always been very interested in Madame Tussaud. Thanks for the chance!

    truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. This book sounds really interesting! Would love the chance to read it. I love historical fiction!

    leighacs2ATaolDOTcom

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  20. I'd love to read this! Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

    auntieweaze(AT)gmail(Dot)com

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  21. No need to enter me - I loved this book! Thanks for the amazing questions and answers. I am dying to know more about book 4!

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  22. I enjoyed reading your interview and am thoroughly intrigued by the book. I would love to win it!

    jtwebster.books@gmail.com

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  23. I would really love to read this book, that time period, the events and where where it all took place are so facinating. This book is now on my "must read " list (highlighted in yellow!) Please, please enter me in this contest for a wonderful book.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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  24. This book sounds fantastic! I loved the interview and am going to pick up her first book. I'll also keep an eye out for the forthcoming books. Thanks for introducing me to this very special author!

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  25. Please consider me for this book. I sounds very interesting.

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  26. This looks like a fantastic book. Added to my to-read list.

    minishs@csp.edu

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  27. Oooh I'm so excited to one day read these books! :)
    organica_11 @ hotmail . com

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  28. "And not just any Mr. Darcy: Colin Firth."

    What can I say. This book is must read. I love Colin Firth. Or is it Mr. Darcy?LOL

    Thanks for a chance to read your book.

    darlyn225 at gmail dot com

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  29. http:/www.facebook.com/home.phpJanuary 13, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Rena,

    This book sounds fantastic and I would love a chance to win. The story is so fascinating and it seems that all through the centuries we have had a need to remember the way famous and historical figures looked in real life. Please enter me in the contest.

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  30. rena.mcgrath@yahoo.comJanuary 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Rena I forget to give you my email rena.mcgrath@yahoo.com

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  31. This sounds awesome!!

    vampireprincess2468@yahoo.com

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  32. I would love to win a copy of this book!

    nellista at yahoo dot com dot au

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  33. This certainly sounds like a "must read"! Please enter me in this fabulous giveaway.
    Kimberly
    sugar_creek_cottage@yahoo.com

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  34. This book looks great, please enter me for the book giveaway.

    lisa.shaw@barbersport.ca

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  35. Great interview! I'm going to try and find a copy of the first book, but in the meantime please enter me in the giveaway for a chance to win this new one. Sounds great!
    Thanks

    asilverthistle(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  36. Please enter me for the giveaway, sounds good! dani.223@live.com

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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