Interview with Laura Brennan, author of Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen
Initially I wanted to be a news Journalist and report on wars and big historic world events, however after 2 years at University I discovered that maybe I was not the right fit and changed to a history course and the rest is well history! My grades improved and I spent 3 very happy years studying the past.
I am currently residing in Berkshire very close to Windsor Castle however I am in the process of hopefully relocating soon with my small white cat Ophelia and far too many pairs of shoes.
My passion lies with travel (primarily within Europe particularly France and Italy) Shakespeare and renaissances art.
What got you into writing?
English and History were my favourite subjects at high school and although I loved history I did initially I wanted to be a journalist working for a broadsheet paper and radio however the university the course I enrolled on focused on tabloid journalism and TV and it really was not a fit with who I am and my principles. I changed direction, course and university and undertook a BA Hons in history and discovered I enjoyed retelling and explaining history in an approachable manner. I played with the idea of teaching after graduation and worked as a Teaching Assistant for a year but again decided that was not the right fit. It was while I was working an admin job, I undertook a part time MA in history and started writing on various subjects privately as an outlet of frustration. I wrote a now extinct blog for several years and it was through that typo plagued blog that I was found and asked on twitter, if I had any book ideas and indeed I did!
How did you choose the subject of Elizabeth I?
When I was doing my BA the subject of my dissertation looked at the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I so I had a good knowledge of the subject, Mary is rather over romanticized but I always felt that Elizabeth got a raw deal. Halfway through writing my first book I pitched the idea of Elizabeth I: The making of a Queen to my publisher and they agreed.
What are the main things you love and hate about writing?
I think you need to be a bit of a sadist to be an author for there is a lot of pain involved! As a nonfiction writer I love the research and the hours in the archives and libraries. I love the thought process and when the words and what you want to say follows and you get several thousand words down in a sitting. However, when the writer’s block hits when you can’t get a paragraph to flow when you can not find the reference for the perfect quote to back up your point these are hard and often more frequent that the pleasures. But it is worth the effort when you finally hold the book in your hand. Then you swear you will never do that again and a few weeks or Months later you are sat at the laptop starting a new project with hope and excitement.
Who is the worse villain you have ever written about?
On the whole I agree with Alan Rickman’s view on Villains –“I don’t play Villains. I play interesting people.” The same can be said for may of history’s bad guys, they are just overly complicated characters with human faults – However in my first book on the Duke of Monmouth, the character of Titus Oates was truly an unsavoury character and he genuinely makes my skin crawl. He fabricated lies against Catholics to seek revenge after being caught doing unsavoury things as a teacher within a catholic school. The consequences of his lies ended in a 45 innocent Catholics losing their lives.
In this book, the more I read on Henry VIII the more I despised him, I had previously thought he was not exactly husband material but he was troubled, by the end of writing the first part of the book, I decided he was one of the worst characters of English history and needs to be remembered for his cruelty far more than his serial womanizing.
Are you an avid reader?
Yes, I am, but I am not the fastest reader. For pleasure love to read historical fiction. I do love the Dr Matthew Bartholomew series as well as the Thomas Chaloner novels by Susanna Gregory, I also enjoyed the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters. I am currently reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and during lockdown I have been reading it aloud to the cat. I also enjoy crime fiction and really enjoy Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries and the adventures and stories of Donna Leon’s Inspector Guido Brunetti novels.
Is history your favorite genre?
To write, nonfiction history is where I am most comfortable – I am in owe of anyone who can write good fiction, especially historical fiction.
To read as you saw above, I prefer to escape into historical fiction, with good characters and evidence of research and I prefer my protagonists to be fictional and the supporting characters to be historical fiction. Of course, all rules are made to be broken and I am greatly enjoying The mirror and the light, but Mantel’s attention to detail and excellent characterization means that those rules need not apply to this book. Also, as you can see, I also have a weakness for moral Italian police inspectors as well.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Depends on what part of the process I am at, how well the written session is going and how much caffeine I have consumed. Early in the optimistic stages of a project I like to have a little music on, I like to have the French radio station Chante France on in the background or film scores made up of instrumental/classical compositions can be lovely as I write. If I am having a bad writing day I need to work in quiet, but white notice like a washing machine, fan or tumble dryer in the background is fine but music especially music with vocals is a big no no.
What would Elizabeth say about you?
I would like to think that she approved of this independent fiery, well educated red head who has chosen to explain why she was a great queen. She would however probably say that my cleavage was inappropriate and that I should dance more often.
What advice do you have for beginner authors?
The hardest part is starting. Write too much the book is properly formed in the editing stages. Don’t give up–we all have our doubts!
Follow the author here:
Purchase the book here: