Interview + Giveaway with Michelle Diener

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

My guest today is Michelle Diener, debut author of the historical fiction IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, published by Simon & Schuster and released earlier this month.

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
** International shipping **

Welcome, Michelle!  I've been seeing this gorgeous book everywhere!  Tell us about it.
My debut book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was released just over two weeks ago. It's a historical novel set in the court of Henry VIII (before Anne Boleyn) and features the real historical figures of Flemish artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbow.

The quick blurb:
An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . .

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . .

Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That both my main characters, Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, were real people.

What sparked the idea for this novel?
I stumbled across a reference to Susanna Horenbout and just loved the idea of a woman artist, so good she gathered praise from many master painters across Europe at a time when women were not easily acknowledged in her field, who was sent to Henry's court. That's how my series was born.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Initially Susanna knows something which Parker wants her to tell him, but she's given her word not to talk and won't. But after that is resolved the main conflict between them is that Parker needs the King's permission to marry and Susanna has always thought her work as an artist makes her a very poor catch as a wife. That doesn't stop them finding happiness with each other while they can, though.
Even more beautiful in person!
Click to see larger image.
Why did you put these two together?
Well, aside from the fact that they really did get together? :) Obviously, I had to make up their characters, even though they were real people, and their past and their jobs made them natural outsiders. They are attracted to that in each other -- they recognize it.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I only create villains who have really solid motivations for what they do. In Henry VIII's court, it was all too easy to find a number of people who would have enough motivation to try and undermine his reign.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
The fine balancing act of keeping the complex court politics in the story, while still making the story easy to follow and keep the pace fast, even for people not familiar with this historical period.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the single most important element is author invisibility. The story should shine, and the reader shouldn't be aware of the author at all.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I read, walk, spend time with my family and friends and I bake. I love to bake :) .

What are your current projects?

I'm about to dive into the copy edits of KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, the second book in the Susanna and Parker series.

Where can we find you online?

My website , blogging at Magical Musings, or socializing on Twitter and Facebook.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?

Definitely half full. I'm by nature optimistic and happy. Not very writerly, lol, no doom and gloom for me. :)

Leave a comment or ask Michelle a question to win:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks
** International shipping **

Born in London and brought up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, reading and writing have always been my passions. I write historical fiction and my debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is set to release August 2nd, 2011 with Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

The second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, is scheduled for a February 2012 release.

I currently live on the west coast of Australia with my husband and two children.


Sheree 9:51 PM  

I don't have question but I do want to let you know that I saw this book in Costco today! How awesome! Congrats!

ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

Raonaid Luckwell 9:59 PM  

That must have been hard, using "real" people from history to use as your hero and heroine. What was the hardest part about using real people from history in a story?

Michelle Diener 10:28 PM  

Sheree, thank you for letting me know that! It is always a thrill to hear where my book can be found. :)

Michelle Diener 10:32 PM  

Raonaid, it would probably have been harder if they were more well-known and there was more information on them, but as they are pretty unknown, I had an easier task of things. Although, that said, Susanna's great grandson x 10 has been in touch with me. It was a scary / cool moment of realizing how real she was when one of her descendants gets in touch! :) He sent me the nicest email saying how much he enjoyed reading about his great grandmother x 10 in IN A TREACHEROUS COURT :).

Joan Swan 3:09 AM  

Okay, may I just say...COSTCO? Your DEBUT is at COSTCO?? I aspire, Michelle. Congrats!!!!!!

Kate 4:08 AM  

Have had this book on my WANT list for ages!

Connie 5:38 AM  

I love the time of the Tudors. The intrigue, thirst for power, major changes in religion and land possession make it, in my opinion, the most fascinating time in history. Choosing an artist as the main character of this novel is quite different and I certainly look forward to reading about Susanna.

I would like to ask Michelle if she watched the TV series, "The Tudors" and if so, how did she like it and how close does she feel they stayed to historical fact?

Thanks for the interview. It's nice to get to more about Michelle Diener.

Connie Fischer

Michelle Diener 5:55 AM  

Thanks, Joan! I'm really lucky. Target also picked IN A TREACHEROUS COURT for their Emerging Author Program, so this book is getting some great support. And I am REALLY grateful for all of it.

Michelle Diener 5:56 AM  

Kate, what a compliment to hear that, thank you. Whenever you get your hands on a copy, I hope you enjoy!

Michelle Diener 5:59 AM  

Connie, I didn't watch it. It wasn't on where I lived in South Africa when it first came out, and by the time I did have access to it in Australia, I was already deep into research and writing IN A TREACHEROUS COURT and I avoided it on purpose, just to keep my own story straight in my head.

Daphne 8:17 AM  

I'm looking forward to reading this and I love the bookmarks!!

Vicki Batman 8:53 AM  

I love the whole setting, everything about your book. And congratulations on the Costco placement. Many, many sales your way.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) 4:18 PM  

Wow, I hadn't really looked into IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, but the premise sounds amazing. I love historical fiction based off real-life figures, especially little known ones (enjoyable AND educational), and I definitely agree with Michelle on the author invisibility. Though it's the first time I've heard the actual term "author invisibility" being used. :)

Thanks for the giveaway, and if I don't win, I'll have to keep my eyes open next time at Costco...

Anonymous,  4:37 PM  

This book sounds so intriguing - and the cover is gorgeous! My TBR pile is so huge that I haven't even wanted to tempt myself with it, but I've now realized I'm going to have to get it LOL My grandmother, who was absolutely one of the coolest people ever, shared with me her love of reading and history - esp this particular time period. When I went to London, an author friend recommended I read Katherine by Anya Seton before I left - I did, and I was so glad, the whole city just came alive for me! Historical fiction can be SO powerful.
My question is this: did you always know you wanted to write historical fiction, or is it a fairly recent passion?

Anonymous,  4:46 PM  

I love this time period and I really like the fact that you use real people but add your own spin to it. I am definitely interested in reading Susanna and John's story. Thanks for the giveaway.


Edie Ramer 6:18 PM  

Michelle, how fun that your book is in Costco! Wonderful interview for a wonderful book.

Obviously I have the book--and love it! But I don't have the bookmarks. They look wonderful! I hope my name is picked.

Krystal Larson,  6:19 PM  

I love that your book is at Costco too-a great place O.O :) I would love to read your book, thank you very much for the chance! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

Michelle Diener 6:28 PM  

Daphne, thank you so much!

Michelle Diener 6:29 PM  

Thank you, Vicki, I can't tell you how happy it makes an author to hear someone loves everything about their book! :)

Michelle Diener 6:34 PM  

Thank you, Jenn. Maybe I'm the first to come up with 'author invisibility'? Cool, if so, but I think something along those lines is in Elmore Leonard's 'rules' of writing, if not exactly in my wording, and I couldn't agree more.

Michelle Diener 6:41 PM  

Karin's Assistant, thank you. (And give your boss a kiss and hug hello from me, if you see her :)) I loved KATHERINE, myself. And yes, I've always written either historicals or historical fantasy. My recent short story, which is a contemporary paranormal for the charity anthology ENTANGLED (all proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation), notwithstanding.

And you are so right. Historical fiction is SO powerful. I have read so much historical fiction, and whenever I am in London I get a thrill every time I recognise a landmark or the name of a street from a book I've read. That's why I take my historical accuracy so seriously.

Michelle Diener 6:43 PM  

Thank you, Tina!

Michelle Diener 6:44 PM  

Thanks, Edie. I was excited to see that, too!

Michelle Diener 6:46 PM  

Krystal, thank you. I don't live in the USA, so I love hearing where people stumbled across my book. My one CP sent me a great picture of herself holding a copy up at Barnes & Noble. Loved it.

Sheree 7:56 PM  

Too bad I can't put a photo in this comment because i did take a photo of your book in Costco, right next to some Jennifer Crusies.

Michelle Diener 8:11 PM  

Wow, thanks for the thought, Sheree. I appreciate it!

Sheree 8:49 PM  

Okay, I have put the pic on Twitter!

Michelle Diener 9:33 PM  

Sheree, thank you! I've put that pic up on my site :) .

Barbara Kyle 5:46 AM  

A terrific debut, Michelle. Congrats, and all the best with it!

Michelle Diener 5:47 AM  

Thank you, Barbara!

Karyn Good 8:41 AM  

Very intrigued by the characters and the fact that they were real people! And I love the setting and the era. I can't wait to read this book!

Kerensa Huffman 1:32 PM  

I am actually really excited to read this. I just saw it at Target here in Maryland yesterday. Your attention to the details of the time period are incredible.

Was it hard for you to weave your villain into the lives of your protagonists? Being as they were real people, I was just curious.

majoy 7:36 PM  

Hi Michelle just 1 question :)

"When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?"

Wish to read your book soon :) :)

Michelle Diener 10:19 PM  

Karyn, thank you!

Michelle Diener 10:22 PM  

Kerensa, thank you for letting me know you saw it in Target. Someone else let me know they saw it in Target in Florida yesterday, and it was already sold out, and they had more on order. Great news for an author! :)

Because the villain is real too, and they would have met him and had to deal with him in their roles at court, what I had to make sure of was that the motivations were believable, and possible.

Michelle Diener 10:24 PM  

Hi Majoy, I know this is often a standard answer - but it's true - I always wanted to be a writer. Since I first started to read and could hold a pencil, I wrote.

Linda 11:50 PM  

I like it when either the hero or heroine have a talent. Probably cos it's wishful thinking on my part; that it's what I would wish for.

Yvonne 4:06 AM  

I'm holding off reading IN A TREACHEROUS COURT until just before the release of KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS so I can read them consecutively. They are both on my Goodreads TBR shelf. I would love to win the book and bookmark - looove bookmarks!

Joan Swan 10:27 AM  



Karin’s assistant

majoy 5:00 PM  

Awww!!! I won :)

Thank you for the answering my question Ms. Joan Swan. Much appreciated :)
Thank you so much!! this is my first time to win.

Already sent my add. let me know if its not valid cause I'm living here in the Philippines :)

Best Regards,

Sheree 6:22 PM  

Congrats to all the winners! Enjoy the awesome bookmarks!

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