Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of “The Painted Girls” (available January 10, 2013) and “The Day the Falls Stood Still” answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.
1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
Marie Curie, the Polish physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. She was the first woman to win the prize and remains the only person to have won in multiple sciences. She appears to have had a mostly happy home life, collaborating with her husband and mothering two daughters.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
As a commoner and a woman, I’d choose the present. The romance and excess of bygone eras was enjoyed by a select few, and even highborn women were seldom more than playthings to the ruling class of men.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
The first three guests are characters in “The Painted Girls”. I’d like to see how my fictional creations compare to the real people. Boudicca is a secondary character in the novel I am working on now. I’d love to grill her about the Celtic way of life as so much of what we think we know about the period is based on conjecture. Today we would call my last guest, Mary Ward, a feminist, and I wonder if someday I might write her story.
- Edgar Degas – impressionist painter and sculpture
- Marie van Goethem – the model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
- Marie Taglioni – the greatest ballerina of Romantic Era
- Boudicca – female leader of the pagan Celts rebellion against the Romans in 60 AD
- Mary Ward – the sister who founded the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1609 and who believed that women were equal to men in intellect and that sisters should not be cloistered but working in their communities.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Château de la Napoule. Why? Northern castles are too cold and damp for me. This one’s on the French Riviera with lovely gardens and a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
A tour of the Mexico City of Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo led by Barbara Kingsolver would be nice. And I certainly wouldn’t turn down a tour of Johannes Vermeer’s Delft led by Tracey Chevalier.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Hands down, King Louis XIV. He loved ballet and his devotion to it did much to elevate the art in France.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne Boleyn. Imagine possessing the seductive power to cause the King of England to forsake the Roman Catholic Church so that he might marry you.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
French. Always, the French have had more joie de vivre.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
“Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier, “Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, and “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Tea. Black and strong in the morning. Green in the afternoon.
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