Tuesday, May 30, 2006

BEA wrap-up

Here I am, the avid book hunter proudly displaying her "kill" from BEA last week. The photo's the best we could do with this decrepit digital camera (at least, I'm hoping it's the camera and not the subject). Anyway, most of the galleys in the photo are fall's upcoming historical novels, plus some others from spring/summer, so feel free to take a gander at them. The photo enlarges if you click on it.

Some final thoughts on the show.

At the "Beyond the Da Vinci Code" panel, which was fascinating, Steve Berry's explanation was the most concise and funniest definition of "high concept" fiction that I've heard so far. It's a simple equation: "ooooh" + "so what?" = "high concept." In other words, you take a subject so intrinsically interesting that people go "ooooh"when they hear it, add a catchy hook to the storyline that answers the "so what?" question, and there you have it, a high concept novel. Berry's examples: Knights Templar (ooooh). The Romanovs (ooooh). These subjects automatically capture many readers' attention. Add an interesting twist to the usual storyline - a Knight Templar tries to keep a secret that could change history (Robyn Young's The Brethren); Rasputin's daughter Maria narrates the story of her father's life and death (Robert Alexander's Rasputin's Daughter). The examples of book titles are mine, not Berry's, but I think they illustrate his point. This discussion calls to mind Irene Goodman's article on Anne Boleyn, which was discussed on Carla's blog a couple months ago. Berry doesn't write historical fiction, but he writes fact-based fiction about the past, and the panel encouraged me to pick up his novels. Besides, he said he likes detailed authors' notes, and he especially liked those that Sharon Kay Penman uses in her novels. He has good taste.

Never again will I trust the "honor system" in the BEA mailroom. I left a box partway full of books in the mailroom overnight, like everyone does (not full enough to mail, too heavy to carry back), but when Mark and I returned Saturday morning with more books, the box top was unfolded and empty, aside from one catalog. I don't think much was taken, aside from a few last-minute additions from Friday, but I was not happy about this.

A special thanks to David Payne and his publicist at William Morrow for noticing my librarian nametag and volunteering to sign another hardcover of Back to Wando Passo, besides the one he signed for me, to my library - because, as they said, supporting libraries is important.

Thanks also to John from Yale, who reads this blog, for mentioning The Meaning of Night, Thirteenth Tale, and The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters in previous comments. I got copies of all three, and may not have if I hadn't heard about them earlier. Thirteenth Tale has a great cover (who can resist a novel about books?) but despite reading the back cover copy and glancing through the pages, I'm still having a hard time getting a handle on what it's about. I can't even tell if it's historical, though it looks it. Guess I should shut up and read it. There's a website for Glass Books with a contest to win an ARC, so why not fill it out? I've heard it described as a Victorian thriller on acid... make of that what you will.

A nice surprise, since I don't get the Warner catalogs - Lalita Tademy has a sequel to Cane River appearing this fall. I loved her first novel and can't wait to read Red River.

I'm presently reading Kathleen McGowan's The Expected One, a previously self-published novel that was picked up by Simon & Schuster (quite the deal here) for publication in July. In the photo, it has a plain red cover. It's a modern/historical thriller about one woman's journey to find out more about her ancestor, Mary Magdalene, and her relationship with Jesus. The note at the end indicates it's partly autobiographical. Whether you believe the storyline or not (and it was written long before Dan Brown's book), overall, it's a real page-turner. More on her backstory at Galleycat.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun at the show, meeting lots of authors and publicists I've corresponded with over email. Plus, historical fiction - as you can see - was a hot topic this year. I'm not the only one who thought so, either.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The headless woman always wins

As some of you may remember, back in March, Sarah C mentioned Jane Harris's The Observations on her blog, and we briefly discussed the UK vs. US cover art in the comments. At the time, the US edition - which I got in galley form - boasted a gothic-style image of a woman walking in the Scottish countryside, with the ruins of a castle lurking in the background.

When I returned from BEA, a hardcover copy was waiting for me at home, courtesy of Viking Penguin and UPS. To my great surprise, it boasted the same headless woman from the British cover, meaning - I can only assume - that the gothic countryside look is no more. I do like the cover on the left, but am still a tad disappointed, as the original was so evocative and colorful.

Occasionally covers do change between the galley and the final version, but it's not terribly common, either. One can't escape the obvious conclusion: headless women covers sell books!

I've been back in Charleston for just over 24 hours now, still trying to unpack and clean stuff, and most of my mail hasn't even arrived yet. I hope to post something more substantial tomorrow.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In which this blog goes on hiatus for a week

I'd meant to post some final thoughts on BEA before now, but after having dinner out in DC with some old college friends last night, and spending all of today in a car traveling to Connecticut, I haven't had the chance. For now, I'll be enjoying the next week in cold but hopefully sunny New England - going shopping, visiting local bookstores, and doing some planning for next year's Historical Novel Society conference. There'll be more from me after Mark and I get back to Illinois next Sunday. (He's driving, so he has the tougher job.) But in short, I had a great time at BEA - talked to a lot of people, got copies of many upcoming novels. Based on what I've seen and heard, this fall season will be one of the best yet for historical fiction.

Over and out.

Friday, May 19, 2006

BEA Travel Diary, Day 2

This'll be short because I find laptop keyboards hard to type on. All in all, a pretty successful day. We filled two boxes with galleys, books, and other goodies and mailed them off to EIU, where they will probably sit for a week until I get back to work. Lots of historical fiction on offer at the show. The big books this season, at least historical-wise, seem to be Karleen Koen's Dark Angels (signing tomorrow afternoon), Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder (many, many galleys at the booth - several hundred if not more), Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night, Lee Smith's On Agate Hill... among others, but these are the ones I'm remembering. I got copies of everything on my list for Friday, so it was a worthwhile trip in that respect. I ended up with two of some things, one to send for review and one to keep. Plus, of course, some finished copies of various popular fiction for the library collection.

After around 2:30pm, both of us were beat, but the shuttles weren't running until 3:30, so we decided to sit in on a session about reinventing one's literary career. It seemed on paper to be geared only towards those authors whose careers needed reworking, but it turned out to be very interesting. The five panelists - one publicist, one marketing director, one agent, one publisher, and one author - all discussed specific examples of authors who were able to reinvent themselves or their careers after their first (or second) novels failed to earn enough sales. The agent of the group, Marly Rusoff, gave Robert Alexander as an example of someone who managed to segue well into another genre (she called him a "historical suspense" writer; he's written two novels about the Romanovs for Viking, and has a third in progress). As Ms. Rusoff told it, as R.D. Zimmerman he had sold a small but respectable number of mysteries - in the thousands of copies - but as Alexander, the sales figures reached for The Kitchen Boy reached over 100,000 copies. Has anyone read his R.D. Zimmerman novels? I may check them out when I get home.

After a delicious dinner at a local Ethiopian place, we were exhausted and decided to turn in. Another long day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

BEA Travel Diary, Day 1

All we've done so far today BEA-wise is walk to the convention center from the hotel (about five blocks east) and pick up our badges, so not terribly much to report today. We're staying at the Holiday Inn Central on Rhode Island Ave in the downtown area - the designated "librarians' hotel," in the hopes that stereotypes will hold true and the hotel will be quiet. Alas, the hotel put us in a room right across the hall from the elevator, so this may or may not work out.

It took us about 6 hours to get to Washington, DC, from Columbus, Ohio (where we spent last night), and then another hour to get to the hotel from the outskirts of the city. The streets downtown are a total nightmare. Lots of roundabouts, lots of one-way streets, and lots of cars that like to sit still at green lights. It's fortunate that the convention center's so close, because the shuttle bus ride back here this afternoon took twice as long as our walk over. I think we may end up walking tomorrow morning, too.

We did, however, manage to scope out the exhibit halls while we were there, at least from the balcony floor above - the place is going to be a zoo tomorrow, so now we at least have a plan for which booths we want to visit first. They're on two different levels, which is going to mean a lot of escalator-riding tomorrow and Saturday. The big-name trade publishers are on the bottom floor, while attendee shipping and the autographing booths are two long flights up, on the same level with the specialty publishers (religious, children's, foreign language, etc). I've also heard that Charles Frazier will be at the show Sunday morning signing galleys of Thirteen Moons, so we'll probably try to get to that before heading up to New England later this weekend.

After a so-so dinner at a restaurant in Chinatown (reminder to self: remember that dishes with brown sauce are usually pretty bland) we headed back to the hotel for resting up. Tomorrow's going to be a long day. Each of us has a couple tote bags for carting stuff around, and I've got my comfortable shoes laid out for tomorrow, so I think we're as set as we're going to be.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Historical fiction course at Manchester University

I found this course description while surfing around today:

EN 3131: The Historical Novel

It's an undergraduate course in the English Department at Manchester University. Looks like a great selection of reading material, from Philippa Gregory to Bernard Cornwell to Umberto Eco. No American authors or settings in the bunch as far as I can tell, unless you count Janice Radway (an American academic who wrote a critical study of the romance field). My book's on their recommended reading list, which I was surprised and pleased to see.

It's nice to see historical fiction getting some attention in academic circles. Why couldn't they have taught such a course when I was in school?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Books I've read recently

I feel very guilty for not spending more time with my mammoth review book, but given that I'm not taking any other reading material on vacation with me, the book and I will be spending some quality time together very soon. So that's my excuse for blogging instead of reading.

Here are shorter reviews of some other novels I've read recently.

Iris Gower, Destiny's Child. London and NY: Severn House, 1999. 218pp.

This is a re-release of the author's 1974 Robert Hale novel Bride of the Thirteenth Summer, written under the name Iris Davies. Margaret Beaufort, descendant of John of Gaunt and mother of Henry VII, is the protagonist. There's no question in my mind why it was retitled, even though she did in fact marry Edmund Tudor (and give birth to his posthumous son) in her thirteenth year. It's a fast and, from what I can tell, fairly accurate read, at least in terms of major people, places, and dates. However, one part that didn't ring true was the portrayal of Margaret's relationship with the much older Edmund Tudor as a love match; the novel doesn't delve into Margaret's religious piety, either, but then many novels of the period don't. I enjoyed Gower's Welsh sagas considerably more than I did this one, but it wasn't bad.

Helle Stangerup, In the Courts of Power. Trans. Anne Born. London: Macmillan, 1987. 378pp.

Stangerup is a well-known Danish author, according to the jacket, though this appears to be the only novel of hers translated into English. It's a shame, because In the Courts of Power is an excellent historical novel. Christina of Denmark, the heroine, may be best known to English-speaking audiences for her snarky reply to Henry VIII's marriage proposal: that is, that she would gladly become his fourth wife if she had an extra head to spare. Interestingly, Christina was the great-niece of Henry VIII's first wife, Katharine of Aragon. Those of you who don't have the Hapsburg family tree memorized can conveniently find Christina's genealogy on the novel's endpapers.

However, as Stangerup wisely shows us, Christina's role in European politics wasn't limited to her witty repartee. She came from a long line of female regents of various European lands, and she was destined to become one herself. Christina, her brother Hans, and her sister Dorothea are raised by a succession of aunts after their father, Christian II of Denmark, is deposed by his uncle and imprisoned. Married off at a young age to the elderly Duke of Milan, she returns home to the Hapsburg court when he dies. There, she falls in love with Rene of Orange, but, forbidden to marry him, finds peace and unexpected happiness in her marriage to Franz of Lorraine. However, their wedded bliss is all too brief. She spends the rest of her life dealing with political matters, such as Lorraine's continuing troubles with France; she also schemes to help her branch of the family regain Denmark's throne. Her story plays out over a wide canvas that encompasses nearly all of western Europe during the Renaissance. Stangerup occasionally lets us see the action from the viewpoint of commoners living outside of royal circles, which helps provide a comprehensive picture of the times.

Despite the large cast of characters, and my general unfamiliarity with the subject (aside from the basic genealogical relationships), I didn't find the novel hard to follow at all. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about 16th century Europe's political scene, and one particular woman's role in it. Even better, the novel can be purchased fairly cheaply off ABE.

Margaret Ball, Duchess of Aquitaine. NY: St. Martin's Press, 2006. 384pp.

This is one of the better novels about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, and one of the few that delves into her younger years. I reviewed this for Booklist, so instead of repeating myself, I'll link to the review on Amazon. On this page you'll also find the gorgeous cover art, which was painted by noted fantasy artist Kinuko Craft. The original can be found at the Duirwaigh Gallery.

I do read other historical novels besides those on royal women, but I seem to have been on this kick recently. Thanks for putting up with it for the time being.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yet more bits and pieces

I've been busy with library book ordering and BEA preparations, not to mention cleaning the house/doing laundry before we head out east for 10 days. I've also got a 700-page review book to read with a two-week turnaround, so things may be quiet on the blog for a little while. (Fortunately, it looks pretty good.) So, just some little things of note for now.

A short and rather sarcastic review of Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor, from the Sydney Morning Herald. I admit it, I bought my copy from a British bookseller.

A review of Caroline Preston's Gatsby's Girl from a local Charlottesville, Virginia, newspaper.

And another review, this time of Jane Harris's The Observations, from the Telegraph (UK).

Divine Inspiration: an article on the popularity of biblical historical novels, from the San Jose Mercury News, syndicated from the LA Times. Mary Roarke, the article's author, recently wrote a biblical novel of her own, Two Women of Galilee, which coincidentally is the book I'm reading now.

More on Erica Jong, mostly biographical. I didn't realize, and should have, that her third husband was the son of historical novelist Howard Fast.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"She was a voracious reader of historical novels...

... particularly those about the glories and trials of Ireland." If that's not enough to make you read Dorothy Gibson Cully's obituary (she died, age 86, on June 3, 2005), perhaps you might read it for her family's dark and twisted sense of humor.

After that, read the Chicago Tribune article about it. Courtesy of Sarah Weinman's blog.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Historical novels in search of an author

On the off-chance that any historical novelist reading this needs a subject for a new writing project (um, right), may I humbly suggest one of the following medieval women. Royal women and royal mistresses are in vogue, so the timing would certainly favor such topics. (Nest of Deheubarth is another good example, but you've read plenty about her lately, and who would buy a novel about an obscure Welsh noblewoman these days? Besides me, that is. Sigh)

(1) Sybilla Corbet. Mistress of Henry I (one of the many), mother of his illegitimate children (again, one of the many). She married Herbert Fitz Herbert, whose father was Henry I's chamberlain, and apparently bore children to both her husband and King Henry over a period of thirty years. She must have had considerable influence with the king, since her eldest daughter, Sybilla, became queen consort to Alexander I of Scotland.

(2) Alice Perrers, mistress of Edward III, who supposedly stole rings from Edward's body while he lay on his deathbed. (Though this is likely a false rumor.) Fortunately, I just read that Candace Robb is at work on a novel about her. According to her online newsletter, A Gift of Scarlet will be published in the UK in April 2009. That's three long years away. I will be patient.

(3) Isabelle of Angoulême, queen consort to King John. Jean Plaidy has written a novel about Isabelle's rivalry with the French queen at the time, Blanche of Castile (The Battle of the Queens), but surely Isabelle deserves her own novel... one that covers her marriage to the son of her former fiancé, Hugh of Lusignan. Besides, in every novel I've read about her, she's portrayed as a heartless bitch.

(4) Joan of Navarre, queen consort of Henry IV, widow of the Duke of Brittany, who was falsely accused of witchcraft after Henry's death. What more potential for drama could any writer need? Witch Queen by Maureen Peters is a novel about her life, though it's short and rather superficial.

(5) Mary, the daughter of King Stephen who became Abbess of Romsey. Abducted against her will by Matthew, Count of Flanders and Boulogne, Mary was forced into marriage with him. They had two daughters before she returned to her much calmer life at Romsey. Her story certainly offers plenty of drama, though the romantic aspect might be lacking. But if you can't wait for a more in-depth novel about her, why not read Princess, Nun, and Wife by Judy Walker, which Romsey Abbey sells in their gift shop for £6.99.

Who else would you like to add to the list, royal or not, medieval or not?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Nest of Deheubarth speaks

Isabella of France has tagged me for the "me, too" meme, and Nest of Deheubarth is more than happy to respond.

I am: Nest of Deheubarth, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, estranged wife of Gerald de Windsor, the so-called Helen of Wales.
I want: to live happily ever after with the man I love... but if he dies or puts me aside, I'm sure I can find someone else.
I wish: people would stop hating me because I'm beautiful.
I hate: the Powys clan for killing so many loyal Deheubarthians on their murderous rampages through the Welsh countryside. It's not Owain's fault he's related to those evil bastards.
I miss: my children, but not enough to give up my darling Owain.
I hear: that my husband Gerald is pretty upset with me.
I wonder: why Prince Henry didn't marry me and make me queen of England instead of that holier-than-thou Matilda. Rumor has it she'd rather be a nun, for God's sake! A lusty fellow like him deserves better.
I regret: absolutely nothing, even though it means hiding out in Welsh caves with Owain instead of living the royal lifestyle I'm accustomed to.
I am not: going back to my boring life with Gerald if I have anything to say about it.
I dance: best when I'm in the bedchamber.
I sing: mournful songs about my brilliant father, Rhys ap Tewdwr, to remind everyone of my royal blood. After all, his descendants are going to rule England one day.
I cry: for the lost glory of Deheubarth, but maybe my sullen brother Gruffydd will manage to win it back.
I am not always: to blame for the trouble I cause. After all, Helen wasn't the real cause of the Trojan War, either.
I made: every man that saw me fall in love with me. If they didn't, they obviously had other leanings.
I write: plaintive letters to my favorite daughter Angharad, since Owain wouldn't let me keep her with me.
I confuse: the men who were my children's fathers - I just can't keep straight which child belongs to whom. After all, there were five of them... or was that six? See what I mean?
I need: a strong handsome man in my life, even if he's not the guy I'm married to.
I should: stop wondering what that hunky constable of Cardigan Castle is up to, but I like to have a backup plan in case anything terrible happens to Owain.
I start: minor civil wars whenever I sleep with someone new.
I finish: with one man before hooking up with someone else. Well, except for that dullard Gerald, but you really didn't expect me to stay with him forever, did you?
I tag: Lady Tess, once she's more settled in her new locale, and Sarah C. Perhaps Boudica or some nice Roman chap would like to chime in?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Reviews of Obscure Books:
Anne Bell, Daughter of the Dragon

Bell, Anne. Daughter of the Dragon. London: Robert Hale, 1978. 176pp, hardbound. 1-7091-6679-6.

This older novel about Nest of Deheubarth, called "the Helen of Wales" for her beauty and her amorous exploits, is fortunately easier to find than Eve Trevaskis's Lord of Misrule, reviewed previously. Although no date is given, the novel begins in the late 11th century, with Nest as a young girl, and concludes in her middle age, as she watches proudly over her numerous children. In between, Bell takes us through Nest's tumultuous life. Born the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of Deheubarth, young Nest makes an immediate impression on Prince Henry of England during his family's royal visit to her father's court. After Rhys is killed in an attack led by his cousin (which occurred in AD 1093), Nest is brought to England, where she becomes Henry's mistress. Refreshingly, Bell depicts Nest's relationship with Henry as one based on gratitude rather than love or infatuation. While Nest is certainly willing, she accedes to Henry's request because she feels she can do no better. After the birth of Nest's two sons, Henry marries her off to Gerald of Windsor, one of his strongest supporters. She grows to love Gerald and bears him five children. But after years of seeming stability in her life, Nest feels restless; when she makes the impulsive decision to abandon her family by absconding with Owain ap Cadwgan, Prince of Powys (and brother to her late father's enemies), she is following her heart for the first time in her life. Bell portrays Nest's midnight abduction from Pembroke Castle by Owain as a grand romantic escapade, one that ends only with Owain's death. When Nest makes contact again with her grown children many years later, they are surprisingly understanding - one aspect of the novel that didn't ring true. However, Gerald is less forgiving, and refuses ever to see her again. But a happy ending for Nest still awaits in the arms of widowed Stephen Cedricson, the handsome Norman who had brought her to England many years before.

I enjoyed this smoothly written novel, and despite its brevity, I felt that Bell managed to create a realistic personality for Nest. Despite her notoriety, she's no ultra-feminist. All the same, while she pays the price for her impulsive actions, she doesn't ever regret them. Bell has a gift for describing scenery; the Welsh hills in particular come alive. Although Welsh politics of the time remain mostly in the background, they are explained well. For the most part, Nest's story as depicted here is true. She did have many lovers (including King Henry, though their affair may have continued during her marriage) and bore children to each of them, including her husband, and she continues to be known as Helen of Wales because her abduction by Owain led to a minor civil war. Nest also left quite a legacy. Her grandson (by daughter Angharad) was Gerald of Wales, aka Welsh chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis, and her later descendants by Gerald were known as the FitzGeralds, or Geraldines, rulers of southern Ireland through Tudor times. For more information, see Nest: The Helen of Wales.

Daughter of the Dragon includes some interesting historical conjecture. Gwenn Meredith (see note below) states that Nest likely went to England in 1081 as a political hostage, while Rhys died in 1093; therefore, she wouldn't have been in Wales at the time of her father's death. Bell indicates that Robert of Gloucester, Empress Matilda's loyal half-brother, was Nest's son, and there's a scene where he brings his wife Mabel Fitzhamon home to visit her. I was suspicious about this initially, but since then, I've been doing background reading, and opinion on whether Nest was Robert's mother seems to be mixed. There are some historians that don't dismiss it outright, in any case. After Owain's death, Bell comments that things may have been different if Owain's child by Nest had survived. However, it appears that they did have two children, Llywellyn and Einion, and at least the latter survived to have descendants. The novel concludes with Nest's marriage to Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle (though the jury's still out on whether they ever officially wed). My favorite novel about Nest remains Eleanor Fairburn's The Golden Hive, which is considerably longer (and more romanticized, I'll admit), but this is a nicely told version of her life as well.

In sum: A brief but very readable novel about a famous Welsh princess, a retelling possibly more accurate than I originally thought.

For further reading: Gwenn Meredith, "Henry I's Concubines," Essays in Medieval Studies 19 (2002): 14-28. If your library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read the article here. I'm no expert, so if anyone reading this knows more about the historical background, please comment.

Friday, May 05, 2006

More bits and pieces

I'm hoping to write a longer post later, but I've been overwhelmed with various HNS- and work-related things.

The nice folks in marketing at Henry Holt & Co have sent me the jacket art for Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder, to satisfy the curiosity of those people who have been looking for it online. You can find a plot description at the Holtzbrinck site.

In other news...

I'm not familiar with the novels mentioned (anyone?) but this article implies that some of the novels on the shortlist of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize (South Africa) are historical fiction:

"Two of the short-listed fiction titles — 'Garden of the Plagues' by Russel Brownlee and 'The Good Cemetery Guide' by Consuelo Roland — are debut novels, while advocate Andrew Brown's 'Coldsleep Lullaby' is his second, pointing to the emergence of a new set of eloquent voices.

Significant too, is the renewed interest with which many of these writers are turning to South African history, to deliver new tales and give substance to the rise of a historical fiction genre in local English writing."

Bookslut has a new piece on the Cadfael medieval mystery series by Ellis Peters. It is a nice article that will undoubtedly garner Cadfael some new fans - always a good thing - but I'm confused by the comment that Cadfael is "a sleuth who has captured the British imagination for the last few decades while evading the American audience." I may not be typical of the American audience, but aren't historical mystery fans generally familiar with this series? The books are benchmarks in the genre, as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, an interview with Brenda Rickman Vantrease, who wrote the excellent medieval novel The Illuminator, from Nashville Scene. It's an enjoyable profile, but please, enough with the librarian stereotypes. It is much more typical for school librarians to be friendly, approachable, and to have a sense of humor than the opposite.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Today's historical mystery special

A few bits and pieces on historical mysteries today...

Steve Lewis, aka my dad, has taken over Ed Gorman's series of ProFile interviews with contemporary mystery writers. The first entry includes a profile of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, the husband-and-wife team who coauthor the John the Eunuch series (6th century Byzantium) for Poisoned Pen Press. Later interviews will appear in Mystery*File as well.

The Crime column from Toronto's Globe and Mail (15 April) has a very nice review of Margaret Doody's Mysteries of Eleusis, 5th in her Aristotle series (which Americans may have to purchase through Canada and the UK). This article will probably stop being free in a couple weeks, so if you're interested, check it out now.

And from Publishers Marketplace:

Lisa McDonald's MURDER ON THE CLIFFS, a historical mystery series featuring Daphne du Maurier as the amateur sleuth, to Hope Dellon at St. Martin's, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds.

According to her agent's website, Lisa McDonald, an Australian author, also writes historical gothic romances as Joanna Challis.

Monday, May 01, 2006

HNS Editors' Choice books announced

In case you haven't seen this on the main HNS list, the editors' choice novels for May were posted this morning. My personal pick was Sally Gunning's The Widow's War, which I've already recommended to a bunch of people, but there are some other great-sounding novels here too. While surfing around this morning, I found a blog written by John Barlow, whose novel Intoxicated was another EC pick. He has a timely post up at Slate about his experiences working with 17th Street Productions, the book packager who owns part of the copyright to that plagiarized book everyone's talking about.

Anyway, there's always such variety in the Editors' Choice lists. As usual, the novels reflect a wide range of locales, subgenres, and time periods. I know that some historical periods and settings are consistently more popular than others, both with reviewers and the reading public, but the EC novels never emphasize one setting over another. Somehow, it really pleases me to see this.

And on the lighter side for today...

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

While I have no desire to be called the "Flanders mare," and don't think I own any ugly shoes (well, except those old sneakers...), the idea of being the only one of Henry VIII's wives to outlive him for long does have a certain appeal.