Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed … at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she’s lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she’ll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.
If you’ve never read a Siri Mitchell novel, it’s time you did. Mick Silva first introduced me to Siri’s novel Kissing Adrien and I’ve been a fan ever since. Her book Chateau of Echoes is the kind of story I can read over and over. A Constant Heart is her first historical fiction novel and I’m so excited about it. Siri was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. See below!
BB: I’m familiar with Kissing Adrien, Chateau of Echoes and Moon over Tokyo–it seems like A Constant Heart is a new genre for you (historical fiction). Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
SM: A Constant Heart represents a new path in publishing for me. It’s my first historical and is set in Elizabethan England where beauty is a curse, friendship is bought and sold, and true love is the unpardonable sin. I knew I wanted to write a historical and I wanted to investigate what it would have been like to be a woman in a different era. I’ve always been interested in fashion, so that’s where I started my research. The more I read about the history of fashion, the more I realized I wanted to write about women in past eras and how (and why) they subjected themselves to dangerous beauty practices. The fashion element in this book was the use of lead-based cosmetics at the Elizabethan Court (and the resulting lead poisoning). The idea that a woman would destroy her body while trying to become beautiful was haunting. And I found the thought of love not being the answer (to any question at the Elizabethan Court) to be fascinating.
BB: Do you have a specific writing style? (Such as beginning with an outline, starting by writing the ending, just writing as it comes to you, etc.)
SM: In general, I’ve usually started with a character. After I have the character, a solid beginning, a possible ending, and several scenes in between, then I settle on a timeline. I usually block out the timeline in my draft, page-breaking between the time periods (months or years). After that, I’ll add everything that I think will need to happen in that time period (birthdays, holidays, seasonal chores, etc.) And then, I just start typing!
BB: Can you give me a glimpse into your publishing history? (Did you go through an agent? Start out at writers conferences? Suffer rejections before the blessed arrival of a contract? 🙂 )
SM: I began writing in 1994; 4 manuscripts, 10 years, and 153 rejections later, my first book went under contract in 2004. But it wasn’t actually my ‘first’ book that got contracted; it was a fifth book that I wrote just for the publisher. They had read my non-fiction manuscript (Christians Should be More Parisian) and a fiction manuscript (which would later be published as Chateau of Echoes) and they asked if I could turn the non-fiction manuscript into a novel. After having written for 10 years without any publisher or agent interest, it actually took me a month or two to decide whether I really wanted to write a fifth manuscript without a firm commitment to publish. Eventually, I decided that I would try and, after having read some sample chapters, Harvest House contracted Kissing Adrien as well as the second manuscript I had written, Something Beyond the Sky. Of course, when it rains it pours, and coincidental to the Harvest House contract, I contracted with my first agent, Chip MacGregor as well.
BB: What are you currently reading?
SM: I’m well into the research phase of my writing cycle, so I’m reading titles like “Mrs. Astor’s New York,” “In a Gilded Cage,” “Plot & Structure,” and “The Right Dog for You.” You’ll have to read my 2010 release to see how they all fit together!
BB: Favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
SM: Paris. But we lived there from 1996 – 2000. Does that still count?
BB: Of course!