Last weekend while out running errands I stopped by one of my favorite local bookstores, Bay Books. When I went in I wasn't looking for a book like I normally am, I was actually trying to find a birthday card. Along with a wonderful selection of books, they carry great original cards, so it's often my "go to" spot to find cards.
Bay Books has long been a supporter of local writers and they carry lots of books about our area along with many books penned by local authors, so I was both surprised and delighted to find that they were having a book signing by local author Christine Trent the day I was there!
The store was buzzing with excitement about her debut book entitled The Queen's Dollmaker and people were lined up eagerly anticipating buying their very own copy. A table was set up in the middle of the store and stacked with copies of her first historical fiction novel and topped with a large cardboard poster of the book's beautifully designed cover. Christine was happily greeting people and signing copies for those who had come to purchase her book.
So when I saw all of this going on, the "blogger" in me took over and I approached Christine, during a brief lull in the action, to ask if she would mind me taking her photo and then contacting her later to ask a bit more about her work. She couldn't have been more gracious and even posed for several photos before heading back to the matters at hand.
Not only did Christine allow me to photograph her while she was busy signing copies of her book, but she also generously agreed to offer me a personalized signed copy to give away to one of my lucky readers! (see details of the Giveaway below)
Now anyone who knows me, knows that I'm more of a flip through and look at the pictures magazine reading kind of gal, but this book has peaked my interest. Maybe it's the beautifully period clad woman on the cover, or the fact that it was written by a home grown author. But I think it is more likely the storyline about a woman's triumphs and tribulations historically intertwined with the much maligned female figure, Marie Antoinette. It also doesn't hurt that it's set in two of my favorite European countries, England and France. So I look forward to reading this book and being transported to a different time and place.
I also had the opportunity to interview Christine and ask her a few questions. Her answers are below:
What was your inspiration for the novel The Queen's Dollmaker?
Well, I have a fairly large doll collection, more than 300 pieces. The collection ranges from Barbie to porcelain collectibles to handmade dolls from Africa. So, combined with my love of European history, particularly that of France and England.....voila, a novel was born.
What motivated you to change careers and become a novelist?
I’ve always collected books (and dolls, and cats...). And historical fiction has always been my favorite genre. Writing a book really just started as a hobby back in 2003. It was only once I got past the halfway point and realized I might finish it that I actually got serious about finishing it, if that makes sense. And once I wrote “The End,” I figured it was time to get serious about trying to sell it.
How would you describe a typical day for you as a writer.
A “typical” day? I’m not sure there is one! Since I’ve been promoting THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, I’ve done almost no other writing. Instead, I’m visiting nice bloggers like you, attending book signings, mailing out promotional materials, etc.
But when I’m buried far deep in another century, I’ll write seven days a week. And when I am actively writing, I do so to the accompaniment of a spreadsheet that I use to track how many words each day I’m writing as I go along. It helps me to figure out what my best writing days are, and how long it takes me to write each book. My other writer friends tease me mercilessly about my spreadsheet.
Then there are the times when I’m going through copyedits, or final proofs, or other activities for my publisher. And when my publisher needs something, everything else goes on hold.
What has been the most fun or rewarding part of having your first novel
The opportunity to meet other readers has to be the most fun I’ve had yet. Next to that, though, has been the unexpected support and encouragement I’ve experienced from my friends and family. They’ve been overwhelmingly excited on my behalf, which is deeply humbling.
When will your next book be released and can you give me a brief
description of it?
My next book is a sequel to THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER. It follows the adventures of Marguerite du Georges, the heiress to the doll shop, who goes on to become an apprentice to the great waxworker, Madame Tussaud. Marguerite joins Tussaud’s traveling wax exhibition in Great Britain, putting her dollmaking skills to use in creating realistic wax figures of the famous and infamous. But her new career nearly melts down when she assists the English crown in a scheme to create wax effigies of important political figures to fool Napoleon into thinking that England is negotiating treaties and alliances with other countries, when in fact something else entirely is happening. A French spy catches on to Marguerite's game and Napoleon's long grasp puts her in mortal danger.
It’s scheduled to be released next year. I don’t have an exact date yet.
What is the hardest part about being a novelist? (ie. character
development, research, getting started?)
For me, the most difficult part is definitely the research. Historical fiction readers tend to be very detail-oriented and they really know the time periods they read. They can be very unforgiving about sloppy details, so I try very, very hard to be painstakingly accurate. For THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, I literally drew out a timeline of Marie Antoinette’s life that was nearly a day-to-day accounting of her life near the end, just so I could ensure I got everything right as I mixed fictional characters in with the queen’s well-documented life.
What are "you" reading right now?
Actually, I’m in the middle of judging a writing contest, so I’ll be reading several historical romances over the next few weeks. After that, I’ll return to my To-Be-Read pile, which contains NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES by Leslie Carroll, AGINCOURT by Bernard Cornwell, SIGNORA DA VINCI by Robin Maxwell, and WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel. But truth be told, I’ve actually got lots of books on my shelves I need to dig out and read for the first time! Not that it ever stops me from buying more. :)
Is any part of yourself reflected in the characters you write about?
Well, naturally I like to think that I’m a combination of Claudette’s self-reliance, Marguerite’s sassiness, and Madame Tussaud’s innate business sense, LOL. But, um, my husband says that I’m more like Marie Antoinette, and may have lost my head to say such a thing. :)
Click HERE to visit her website where you can learn more about Christine Trent herself and her novel The Queen's Dollmaker. At her website you can read excerpts from the book, find a more in depth interview with Christine, and you'll also find links to various book sellers both in North America and the United Kingdom.
***Christine Trent will be having another book signing at Fenwick Street Books in Leonardtown, Maryland this Friday, February 5th from 5:00 - 7:00 pm. Stop by to get your own personalized copy and tell Christine I sent you! ***
Now for the Giveaway Details!
One lucky winner will receive a personalized signed copy of The Queen's Dollmaker by Author Christine Trent!
The Giveaway will be open until midnight PST, Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
For up to 3 chances to win do one or all of the following. Please be sure to post a separate comment for each. If you're already a follower you'll be automatically entered to win. If you're not, become a follower for an extra chance at winning.
1. Post a comment
2. Become a follower and post a comment letting me know.
3. Post a link to this Giveaway on your own blog for a 3rd chance at winning.
*** (Don't forget to leave another comment letting me know that you have done this please.)***
If you don't have a blog, please make sure that I have a valid email address to contact you should you be the winner of the drawing.