Monday, October 7, 2013

A Conversation with Debra Brown, Author and Editor.


    "Dearest David, we cannot simply continue to exist on a diet of Arms, and Armour."-A reader sent me this note about a month ago.

     Which has prompted me to change or rather expand the horizons of my blog. I decided right then and there to search out interesting  persons and or personalities to profile on my blog. One of the first persons I met is a lady named Debbie Brown. She is an American author, and like me she has a blog. But unlike me it is not just a single person's view point but an entire community of historical fiction writers and historians!

     Last week I had an opportunity to interview Debbie Brown, and we spoke at some length about her writing and her latest literary efforts. I hope you will enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Thank you very much Debbie for your time. As we both know time is truly the one commodity once given away never returns.-DS Baker.

Q: What started your love of things historical?

A: When I was a child, I had the My Bookhouse Books. They were an amazing 7 volume set of books that a woman put together. The stories were written by famous authors and poets like Shakespeare, Chaucer, Keats, etc. not to mention Hans Christian Andersen. Later editions went up to 12 volumes, the last being a collection of biographies of all the writers.
I loved those books and read them endlessly. They had fabulous art, too, and all of it put together taught me about old England and other places which I came to love.
I became acquainted with older fashion, customs, etc., but didn't really have time to pursue knowledge of history till I was much older.

Q: So where did those books lead you in your love of history as an adult?

A: When I worked on jewelry for some years, I would watch period movies and series. I learned more about past customs from that, and would look things up on the internet if I was confused. Most of my history education is very informal. However, it is a driving force for me as it is for many. I also get library books now that I am not making jewelry. There is plenty to learn.

Q: How long ago did you start actually writing your first story, that you felt like was good enough for someone else to read?

A: Three years ago. It was published a year after I started. That was "The Companion of Lady Holmeshire."

Q: How many times did you edit it, and how many times did your support group of friends or family comb through it?

A: I went over it a dozen times before I sent it to the publisher. Each time, I thought it was the last, but then I would want to give it a last read-through ... repeatedly. Then my family and another author read it and I had more corrections to make. I did not realize that was the normal process at the time - it was done as a hobby.
A year after it was published, I revised it again, having learned more about writing.

Q: Where did the publication of your story take you after that? What sort of connections did you find all of a sudden blossoming in your writing life?

A: I began to blog, as they say one must have a web presence, and an author helped me to learn much about promotion. I also read in online writer's guidance publications, and applied some of what I learned. As time went on, I decided to team up with a group of authors that formed a blog which posted Daily British history, as I thought many people would be like me-hungry for that information. It became a popular blog, English Historical Fiction Authors. We also have a Facebook group by that name.

I also started a Goodreads group named Historical Info for Historical Fiction Readers to provide back up information to the stories we all read. Not being a historian myself, I invited authors to write about the eras their stories are set in. I met many new reader and author friends there.

Q: It sounds like you enrolled yourself into a steep gradient of learning not only how to write, but to edit as well. So tell us about the Anthology that came about as a direct result of your friends and associates

A: After we celebrated the first anniversary of our blog, one of the authors suggested we put selected posts together into a book. It was a wonderful idea, and I jumped right into it. One in our group has a very professional publishing business, and she agreed to publish the book. It was a year's work to get it ready for our second anniversary, and it was released on that day, Sept. 23, 2013.
The title is Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors. It is a big, wonderful, and beautiful book.

Q: How does it feel to be the Editor of an Anthology, and more importantly did you think it was going to be as much work as it has turned out to be?

A: It was a surprise to become the editor of an anthology. I am thrilled with the results, though it meant putting the brakes on my own writing project. I am creative at heart, but to see this book in print and to celebrate with the fifty-five contributors has made it well worth while.

Q: What sort of true-tales might we find within its pages?

A: Castles, Customs, and Kings is set out in chronological order for the most part, starting with the Roman occupation. I know your readers are interested in medieval history, and probably some of the Tudor era. These sections take up a good part of the book. Topics that are covered include interesting bits like Harold Godwinson, William Before He was the Conqueror, the Knights Templar, Simon de Montfort, The Religious Hysteria Caused by the Black Death, the "Notorious" Alice Perrers, early Theater, medieval bestiaries, the Tudor Court of Wards, the last Nun, the death of Henry VIII, and many more.The book continues and covers up through World War II.

Q: How have your marketed the book and how has the reception been?

A: I created a blog tour, and my co-editor and I are writing posts for various blogs. We started with a post on our own blog, which included a giveaway and the first spot on a blog hop which included twenty-three blogs. Now we are visiting the various blogs on the tour. Twitter is also a major means of informing the reading public about the book. Because of sales on my first book, Amazon is helping out by notifying my earlier readers. I can't complain about that! Also in the first week we were #4 in the section History > European > England for some days, and #1 in Historical Essays for some. That was exciting!

Thank you Debbie Brown for this interview and more importantly for helping to keep history alive and vibrant! I have included below the various American and UK Amazon Links to Debbie Brown and M.M. Bennetts anthology
US Amazon Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0983671966/|
UK Amazon Link:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0983671966/
Also on Kobo:
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/castles-customs-and-kings/8Z74tNQVG0ubh-TttCWW0g

-DS Baker