Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Author Marilyn Clay: Writing and Reading Historical Fiction

Welcome to author Marilyn Clay, here being interviewed by Five Star editor/author Libby Sternberg.

In Marilyn's August historical, Deceptions, Catherine Parke escapes to the New World to avoid an arranged wedding. In the new colonial outpost of Jamestown, however, she discovers heartache as well as romance--not the long-lost love she'd hoped to find there, but love all the same.

Booklist has said of Deceptions: "A surfeit of fascinating historical details and a refreshingly different setting give Deceptions its unique flavor, making Clay's novel perfect for readers who miss the romance-tinged historical novels of Rosalind Laker."

Comment on this post and your name will be placed in a lottery to win a free ARC of Deceptions! Include your email address in your comment, please, if you want a chance at winning!

LS: Why did you decide to write about colonial America?

Marilyn: Both times that I visited Colonial Williamsburg I felt such a strong pull to the area that I knew one day I would write a story, or stories, set in that time period. Plus growing up in Oklahoma, I have always been fascinated by our Native American culture. I remember as a child watching the Indians in their feather headdresses and tribal clothing stamping their feet to the drums at the huge pow-wow held in Anadarko each summer.

LS: Your attention to historical detail is awe-inspiring. Do you have any tips for aspiring historical fiction writers?

Marilyn: Thank you! As for tips for writers, do not assume that things we take for granted today have always been around. In my first draft of Deceptions, I had Catherine reading The London Times. It wasn’t until I was doing further research into the early 1600s in England that I discovered The London Times did not exist in 1617! By then, my book was in the copyeditor’s hands. I made a quick phone call to correct that glaring error!

LS: Who's your favorite historical fiction writer at the moment?

Marilyn: Anne Easter Smith, A Rose for the Crown.

LS: What pulls you out of a historical novel when you're reading one, or what irritates you -- or pleases you?

Marilyn: I am jerked out of a story when the author has not stayed true to the time period … be it clothing, dialogue, travel, furniture, whatever. It’s like watching a Hollywood movie set in Biblical times and noticing that one of the followers is wearing Nikes. It pleases me when an author truly draws me into the time period, allowing me to experience the story along with the characters.

LS: Why should readers be interested in Deceptions?

Marilyn: Because many of us are descended from early American colonists, I wanted to show what life was truly like in the 1600s, without glamorizing it. Since writing Deceptions, I often remind myself now how easy and convenient life is for us today. I find I am more tolerant of life’s little irritations now.

About Marilyn Clay: After graduating from college with degrees in Art and English, Marilyn Clay illustrated children's textbooks, owned a graphics design studio in Dallas, became a fashion illustrator, a Creative Director for a fashion magazine, and served as University Editor for The University of Texas at Dallas. For sixteen years, she published The Regency Plume, an international newsletter focused on the English Regency. She has had six Regency romance novels published, three translated to foreign languages, and designed Romance Writers of America's RITA award statuette. Deceptions is Marilyn J. Clay's first novel set in Colonial America. She now stays busy writing novels, reading voraciously, and painting pictures. For information about Marilyn's novels and artwork visit:


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Libby and Marilyn,

What an interesting interview! Marilyn, we have a great deal in common. I will also have an historical romance published by Five Star in August, TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, which is a paranormal historical romance set in the Regency era. I do not call it a "Regency" because it is a sensual novel. I believe strict Regency novels have no sex scenes. Am I correct?

Unknown said...

Hi Jacqueline,

That's a great question about Regency novels, and I don't have the answer for you at my fingertips. Marilyn is not online a lot, so I'm pinch-hitting for her today. Good luck with your paranormal. Great title!

Anonymous said...

I love historical fiction, and a book set in Colonial times is unusual. I can't imagine doing the research! Thanks for a great interview.

Anonymous said...

Libby and Marilyn, what an interesting interview! I'm looking forward to the read (yes, my summer list is growing). My grandfather grew up on an indian reservation in Oklahoma, Marilyn. I still have family there - so perhaps we'll run into each other one day.

Unknown said...

The description of the book here--brief so as not to take up too much space--doesn't begin to capture the depth and breadth of Marilyn's historical grounding of the tale. After I read it, I felt as if I'd lived in Jamestown at that time.

Kara Lynn Russell said...

Marilyn, you must have excellent organizational skills to be able to accumulate that amount of research and still be able to find what you need. I could never do it. Best wishes for the success of Deceptions.

pennyt said...

I'm also a fan of historical novels, and I agree that early american history is an unusual setting. Your book sounds like it will be fascinating. Thanks for the great interview.

Lynn Cahoon said...

I love the cover art!

I went to colonial Williamsburg a little over twenty years ago and I still remember the visit. Especially the kitchens. And this really cute guy in a white shirt cleaning a musket.

I'd love to win!

I'd love

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