After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd persevered and has now published more than three dozen books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was widely acclaimed, and was followed by two more books in the series. Her most recent 4-book young adult fiction series is London Confidential. Publishing her Tudor Series, beginning with Book 1, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, is a lifelong dream come true.
A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications and periodicals. Sandra is also passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.
Sandra resides in Washington State with her husband Michael, a chaplain, their two children, and a circus dog named Brie.
Welcome Sandra! I appreciate you taking the time while on your book tour to visit P.S. I Love Books. Can you tell us a little bit about To Die For?
To Die For is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.
Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
What was one of your favorite and least favorite things about writing it?
I mentioned in the Author's Note how hard it is for me when people view Anne as a harlot, a vixen, a man eater. There is real hate in some corners for her. She was certainly a smart, ambitious, and witty woman. But she was also a loyal daughter, a true friend, and I believe she loved Henry. She was a positive power in the English reformation. I do think she was somewhat deceived, and to some extent, allowed herself to be. But perhaps that could be said of anyone at some point in life.
Which of the characters did you enjoy working with the most?
Oh, Meg, for sure. Because she's the point of view character, I got to "be" her, and so I grew closest to her. Also, because less is known of her life I got to spin her story a bit more - though I definitely tried to keep it all true to the time. So of course, then, I adored working, too, with Will, her love.
If you had the chance to do it all over again would you change anything in To Die For?
No, I don't think so. I got to write the story I really wanted to write. I might smooth out a few things in the language, because this was my first historical novel, and I was learning. But it pretty much ended up just how I wanted it to.
What do you think of the cover?
I adore it. I think the designer/art director is a genius!
If To Die For were made into a movie who would be your ideal cast for the main characters?
Oh, so many to choose from. If I had to pick, today, I'd probably choose Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy, because she stoked my love of all things historical. Plus, she pretty much knows everything about everyone in the periods I most enjoy so my facts would likely be right on.
If you didn’t have a passion for writing books what do you think you’d be doing as a career?
I'd love to own a French tea house. I miss seeing people every day, face-to-face, and I love to bake!
I’m always looking for books to add to my ginormous TBR (to be read) pile. What books are you currently reading or have read recently? Any good recommendations?
I'm just starting a season of reading Japanese historical books, many of which were recommended to me by members of Passages to the Past Historical Fiction group on Facebook. For a look at the current Japanese royal family, you might read The Commoner: A Novel. It's not a happy read, but really insightful, and I believe, close to the truth. First up, though, is Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham. I've been looking forward to reading that for some time. Then, Cutting for Stone by Verghese.
What are some of your favorite things to do when given a break from the writing life and other work-related things?
I love to bake and cook, listen to music, hang out with my friends and family (and dog!), and especially, travel. I live in a really scenic area, too, so I enjoy walking the trails.
Are you currently working on any projects that we may see from you in the future?
Yes! There will be two more books in the Ladies in Waiting series. The second book, The Secret Keeper, takes place during the queenship of Kateryn Parr. She was a strong woman, given to the reformation, and a best-selling author. But she had a soft spot for a bad boy and it led her, and those under her care, into trouble and distress. I hope readers will find a deep, witty, and nuanced Parr in this book with perhaps a surprise ending.
The third book in the series will take place in the court of Elizabeth, and will also be told from the point of view of one of her ladies. We often hear about Gloriana, her power and amazing intellect, but not as often about Elizabeth's softer side as it intersected with her friends and her loves. Elizabeth was loyal but could also be a tempestuous friend, which made being her lady in waiting a bit of a balance walk and dangerous in its own right.
Thank you so much for stopping by Sandra! Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Please visit me online at my website; you can also link to me on Facebook and Twitter from there. I hope your readers will also sign up for my e-postcards (where I am also giving away two Kindles) so I can keep in touch! If you’d like to visit some of the castles and palaces “virtually,” please visit the "Castles and Palaces" page on my website where there are lots of wonderful photos.
Click here for a chance to win a copy of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
(Thanks to Amy from Historical Fiction Book Tours and the publisher)
Giveaway ends September 12th
Open to US, CAN, UK, AUS & NZ entrants
Be sure to check back soon for my review of To Die For
Click here to see Sandra Byrd's book tour schedule!