Thursday, November 5, 2009

Author Interview: Diane Haeger & Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed a very entertaining historical fiction book about Catherine Howard called THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE: IN THE COURT OF HENRY VIII. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Catherine and all of her escapades! I am so glad that the author of THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE Diane Haeger is visiting Booking Mama today and has taken time from her busy writing schedule to answer a few of my questions.

Booking Mama: I read that you were working on your doctorate in Clinical Psychology when you decided to write a book. It seems like quite a jump from psychology student to historical fiction writer. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that happened?

Diane Haeger: Ah, certainly fate there! As a young girl and later as a college student, I wrote all the time as a hobby, never once considering that it was something I might make a living at. But while on my honeymoon in Paris, I discovered the story of Diane de Poitiers and Henri II. In France, we were drawn to the palaces in which they had lived, we saw what they had worn, we viewed his battle armor, his furniture, paintings--- all of it branded with the emblem he had designed to celebrate their legendary love, and I quickly became obsessed with telling their long and epic love story since it really had not been done for an American market. Unfortunately it was difficult to pursue two such huge goals at once, the doctorate and the writing of a first historical novel, so I took a year off from my studies to pursue what became Courtesan, and I never looked back. I do however like to think that my work in the field of psychology hopefully helps me to understand and more fully draw my characters for readers, so it certainly was not wasted eduction.

Booking Mama: I haven't seen many books out there about King Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard? What inspired you to write a book about her?

Diane Haeger: I am actually drawn the most to difficult stories with unpredictable characters, complicated emotions, and unexpected endings, as in my novels The Secret Wife of King George IV and My Dearest Cecelia, for example. In this instance, I liked the challenge of trying to make Catherine more of a multi-dimensional woman than merely draw her again as the clichéd, empty-headed girl she is most often portrayed as in fiction and popular history. That, and I just have an enormous creative passion for the Renaissance, starting way back with Courtesan. Those are the two biggest things that drew me to this project.

Booking Mama: It's apparent to me that you did a huge amount of research to write THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE. How long did it take for you to research and write this novel?

Diane Haeger: With my first novel all of those years ago, I took four leisurely but intense years to spend time in France, to research every aspect of the story, and then write and re-write it. But that was before the advent of the internet--- which certainly makes many aspects of the research process much faster nowadays for me. And I also wrote that book entirely long hand and transferred it myself with a typewriter onto hard copy, not via a computer so that definitely slowed me down. These days, I have a little less than a year contractually now in which to travel, research and write a book. While I still hand- write the entire thing first, then transfer it to my computer, I do have an assistant to help me with that. It is still a much more disciplined schedule that I adhere to in almost every way, but as this was my eleventh novel, I feel that I now have a certain system going in terms of meeting the goals and deadlines that are expected of me by my publisher without sacrificing the creative elements of the story I am committed to tell.

Booking Mama: What are some of the interesting or unique things you learned while researching this book?

Diane Haeger: I would have to say the most interesting thing was learning about the complex woman Catherine Howard actually was. While she certainly made mistakes, some of them obviously fatal, she developed near the end of her life, a certain depth and even a nobility, that I think is missing in most representations of her. I certainly hope that comes across in The Queen’s Mistake.

Booking Mama: What is your writing routine? Do you write at a set time every day or when the mood hits?

Diane Haeger: Ah, for the days when I could wait for the writing mood to strike me! No, I have two active teenagers, so my routine is very strict and regimented. I write every single morning once they are off to school. That way, I work with complete focus until my daughter, who is a high school senior, returns. Then I take off my writer’s hat and don my mom cap once again. I usually do some of the editing work late at night then once they are taken up with homework or have gone to bed. It is most definitely a juggling act but one I began before my daughter was born, so I am fairly accustomed now to that, and also to sleep deprivation!

Booking Mama: What is your favorite time period in history? Who are some of your favorite characters?

Diane Haeger: The Renaissance, certainly. And I do have a special fondness for the French Renaissance, since that was where this writing journey of mine began with my first novel, Courtesan. Therefore, Diane de Poitiers will always be my hands-down favorite character. But I love Catherine Howard and Mary Tudor, Henry’s sister, as well, who I wrote about in my last book, The Secret Bride. Mary was the one woman to go full force up against Henry VIII and keep her head, and that seems pretty noteworthy to me. That being said, all of my characters become very special to me after I have spent a non-stop year with each of them, delving into their lives, their loves, their heartbreaks and their losses. I also have a special fondness for Maria Fitzherbert, who truly was the secret wife of England’s king, George IV which is pretty amazing, and Nell Gwynne was certainly the most daringly fun to write in The Perfect Royal Mistress.

Booking Mama: What can we expect to see next from you? Are there any other projects/ideas in the works?

Diane Haeger: Yes, I am nearly finished with my next novel, which is the story of Bess Blount, the first real mistress of a younger, more appealing Henry VIII, and mother of his only acknowledged son, Henry Fitzroy who he showered with titles, money and land. Bess is a fascinating character, and it is proving incredibly fun learning the details of the life she led, both with Henry VIII and in her own right, especially since there has been so little written about her here in the U.S.

Booking Mama: I always ask this question of anyone I "meet." Who are your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books? What are you reading now?

Diane Haeger: Favorite authors are a mixed bag. I love the classic authors naturally, since my bachelor’s degree is in English Literature but I am a huge fan of Karleen Koen, who wrote the epic novel Through A Glass Darkly. I also enjoy Allison Weir, Rosamunde Pilcher, and of course, Philippa Gregory. Right now, in addition to a stack of historical research books, for fun I am reading Virgin, a novel of Elizabeth I by Robin Maxwell.

This has been a pleasure. Thanks very much!

The folks at NAL are offering two copies of THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE to two lucky readers! To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with a valid e-mail address. To double or even triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this giveaway with a link back to this post. This giveaway will be open until Friday, November 20th at 11:59 p.m. ET; and I will notify the winners the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. mailing addresses only. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

This sounds terrific. Please include me in the giveaway. Many thanks.


Karlie said...

Sounds like a great book! Please enter me.

bermudaonion said...

Now I know why I'm not an author - we didn't go anywhere exciting on our honeymoon! No need to enter me.

Irene said...

A very interesting author, and an impressive interview. Another TBR book. Please enter my name. Thank you.

Wendy said...

I'm excited to hear her next book will focus on Bess Blount!

Fabulous interview! Would love to read this book!

Thanks for the entry!


Wendy said...


Linda said...

I'm one of those whose picture of Catherine is one of a "cliched, empty-headed girl" -- looks like I need to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

Carol W. said...

This is a period in history which fascinates me. Please enter me in the giveaway.


Carol W. said...

This is a period in history which fascinates me. Please enter me in the giveaway.


ABCD Diaries said...

This sounds like a great read:) Thanks for the chance!

Julie G said...

Sounds great! cla37619 at gmail dot com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Ooh, please enter me for this one!

I tweeted:I included your name in the tweet (I'm @bookmonstrosity).

I blogged:


Melanie said...

I really enjoyed your review and the author interview. Thanks for sharing them with us. I'll be adding this book to my TBR pile.

Hot Off the Shelves said...

The Queen's Mistake sounds fabulous. Please enter me.

Here's a link to my blog post for you:


Heather said...

I just came back from a trip to England and visited Hampton Court Palace. They talked about Catherine Howard and supposedly her ghost roams the halls! :)

Please enter me in your giveaway. Thanks.

heatherstubbs (at) mac (dot) com.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, doll. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

BookHounds said...

Please enter me since I just love Diane Haeger's writing. Thanks so much!

Chèli said...

Sounds like a good book.
Please enter me.

Cheli's Shelves

Laura's Reviews said...

This sounds like a fantastic book - I would love to be entered in the giveaway. My email address is laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com.


Sue said...

Looks good! I'd love a chance. Thanks for sharing.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Please include me in this wonderful giveaway...thanks.

karen k

holdenj said...

The Queen's Mistake looks great and I'm glad to read she has another, similar historical novel in the works.
Thanks for the chance to win.

pippirose said...

It's a fascinating era in History.
Would love to read it.
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

Allison T said...

This sounds awesome
Please enter me

lag123 said...

Please count me in!

wmmahaney said...

Sound like a wonderful book.

ossmcalc said...

This book sounds fascinating and is about a period of time that I love reading about. Please enter me into the drawing for one of these two books to be given away.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I tweeted about this giveaway

Thank you,


Martha Lawson said...

This one sounds great. Please throw my name in the hat.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Lizzie said...

Very good interview questions. I did not know she was a psychology major in college before witting.

Add me too please, I also have a link in my sidebar.

thank you!

Carol M said...

I would love to win this book! It sounds really good!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Henry & his wives are definitely
fascinating. So glad someone is
writing about Katherine Howard. I
would love to also read a book you
would write about his last wife.
She's such a sad character & such an example of the lack of women's
rights at that time.


The Brunette Librarian said...

Diane, I can completely understand your fascination with Catherine Howard. Henry the 8th is such an interesting figure in history and his wives are fascinating.

I would love to read your story!!!

rachie2004 @ yahoo (d0t) com

Lyoness2009 said...

I love to read stories about this period in history and ecspecially about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Looking forward to reading your new story!

lyoness2009 AT hot mail **dot** com

Mozi Esme said...

Would love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Sarah E said...

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Sarah E said...

I tweeted:

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Jaime said...

great review, please enter me
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

It both amazes me and makes me jealous that doctoral candidates can take time to write books! WOW! Great era to delve into though.
Excellent interview too.

steele85 at gmail dot com

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I enjoyed the inteview and your review.. I would love to read it.

emmalee44 at hotmail dot com

Marie said...

I would love to read this, it's one of my favorite historical periods.

Tam @ Bailey's and Books said...

I have been reading so much about this book, and definitely want to read it, so please enter me.
baileysandbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks for this interview!

kristinemarie7 said...

I also added a link on my blog.
kristinemarie7 at

Daphne said...

I would love to read this - please enter me in your contest!


Anonymous said...

Great interview Booking Mama! I would love to read her book, please enter me.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Sounds fantastic! A wonderful interview!

journey through books @ gmail dot com

Anita Yancey said...

The book sounds very interesting. I really enjoy historical fiction. Please enter me. Thanks!


SusanB said...

I have recently gotten into historical fiction and love it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Future Libraian said...

I would love to read this book. Thanks for finding such great titles for all of us to enjoy!

Future Libraian said...

I blogged it:

And I tweeted it:

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

budletsmom said...

I would love to win this book.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

Katy said...

I love author interviews! :) This one was great!

srfbluemama at gmail dot com

Aimee said...

Sounds wonderful. Please count me in. Thanks!


Annmarie Weeks said...

This book looks so interesting!

Annmarie Weeks said...

I tweeted!

enyl said...

Much to my delight, my student's have responded positively to the historical novels that I have introduced in the classroom (Cleopatra's Daughter and The Heretic); I would love to add this to the classroom library.