Sophie Perinot‘s debut novel, The Sister Queens, released in March 2012. A life-long history geek, Sophie has a BA in History, as well as a law degree. She is a founding member of two blogs—From the Write Angle and Book Pregnant—geared to supporting debut and developing writers. When she is not poking around in corners of the 13th to 16th century, Sophie lives in Great Falls Virginia with her three children, three cats and one husband.
The Sister Queens weaves the tale of two 13th Century sisters from Provence, separated by royal marriages—but never truly parted. The eldest, Marguerite, becomes Queen of France, marrying the greatest monarch of the age, Louis IX, and soon finds he is a better monarch than husband. Her marriage will take her on a crusading adventure, but will it bring her happiness?
The second, Eleanor, becomes Queen of England with a marriage to Henry III, and quickly discovers he is a very good man but a very bad king. She will have love but, competitive as she is, can she settle for that?
Tres magnifique! Welcome, Sophie, and thank you for taking our Deb Interview!
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
I am cheating a bit here. Rather than a favorite character I am going to reveal a favorite type—the man of duty. I don’t know when being dutiful went out of fashion but, in my opinion, NOTHING is more appealing. Give me Mr. Knightly from Emma (“There is one thing . . . which a man can always do, if he chooses, and that is, his duty; not by maneuvering and finessing, but by vigor and resolution.”), Horatio Hornblower, or, for that matter, my own excellent husband. *Swoon*
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
The nice long holiday break with everyone home together. My youngest is at an age (10) when holiday decorating, cookie-baking etc. takes on a ritualistic quality and his holiday excitement radiates, enlivening the rest of the family. My oldest arrives home from college TODAY and I look forward a full month with her at home before she flies off for a semester abroad. My middle child is a high school senior so this is her last high school winter break. There is something bittersweet about that. Next year we may have to do certain holiday preparations, like cutting the Christmas tree, without her. Being another “man down” makes it unlikely we will be able to have one of the 12-footers I favor, but I will worry about that when the time comes. This year I am going to live in the moment and wallow in happiness. I predict lots of Christmas movie watching (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” anyone), lots of good smells from the kitchen, lots of cozy evenings by the fire, and lots of heated games of “Cards Against Humanity.” I am beaming just thinking about this.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
Marguerite of France refused to testify at her husband Louis’s canonization proceedings. Yep, Louis became a Saint without the support of his wife.
Louis IX of France is still considered one of his country’s greatest monarchs. After his death the French royal family waged a successful campaign to have him made a Saint. During that process only one person close to Louis declined to testify before the committee of prelates gathered at St. Denis – his queen, Marguerite of Provence. Striking, but, in my opinion, understandable. Louis may have reformed French government and behaved with compassion and justice to his people, but he was a poor husband to Marguerite and an uninvolved father to their children.
The person charged with reading my work first has changed over time. When I started writing my family (mother, sister, husband) got tapped to read my initial completed drafts. I suspect that’s the case for most people. But pretty quickly we all learn there is a difference between a beta reader (especially one who loves you) and an iron-fisted, red-pen-wielding critique partner. The latter is what every writer needs. I am extremely fortunate to have the talented historical romance writer, Miranda Neville, as my “go to” critique partner. I think the fact that we both writer stories set in the past – and have a passion for good research – is a real plus and so is, and perhaps this will surprise some readers, the fact that we don’t write the same genre. I believe the latter is important because when Miranda looks at my work or I look at hers we don’t come to it with a “but I would do it this way” chip on our shoulders—we have a little distance.
What’s your next big thing?
I am currently at work on a historical novel set in 16th Century Valois France. It’s a coming-of-age novel about the beautiful and oft maligned Marguerite de Valois and there is considerable focus on her relationship with her powerful mother, Catherine de Medici.
Both Marguerite and Catherine are the stuff of legend—and legend hasn’t been very kind to either woman. I believe that this is largely the result of the political and dynastic struggles which consumed France during the Wars of Religion, generating slanderous publications about the Valois—including the notorious Divorce Satryique that painted Marguerite as a corrupt wanton and which eventually came to be accepted as historical truth—and assuring that they had many enemies. When the Valois dynasty ended (with Marguerite’s brothers/Catherine’s sons), there was no one to protect their legacy as history was being written. I am interested in giving readers a more accurate view of Marguerite who was, in fact, not only one of the most beautiful women of the French Court but also one of the most intelligent. Readers can look forward to an inspiring story of a girl transforming into a strong, independent moral actor and, of course, plenty of adventure.
Sounds terrific, Sophie! Thanks for joining us.
If you’d like to learn more about Sophie Perinot, visit her website or blog, or find her on facebook and twitter. The Sister Queens is on sale now from your favorite indie bookseller and all the usual suspects.