Debra Brown & Castles, Customs, and Kings

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Author Interviews, Blog | 5 comments

CC&KToday we welcome Debra Brown, co-editor and contributor to the nonfiction anthology CASTLES, CUSTOMS, AND KINGS. Debra is the founder of the English Historical Fiction Authors, a site packed with articles from some of historical fiction’s most popular authors including Elizabeth Chadwick, Anne O’Brien, Nancy Bilyeau, and so many more.

So Debra, tell us…

About the Book

A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From Queen Boadicea’s revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.

How was the inspiration for CASTLES, CUSTOMS, & KINGS born?

I lost my job and small business due to the 2008 recession, so I set about writing a novel, The Companion of Lady Holmeshire. I had to learn how to market a book and found blogging to be a major part of that. I started my own historical blog, but I had to do so much research to keep publishing regular posts that I had no time for writing my second book. I admit it—I was not a historian. Not yet! The idea developed in my mind to put together a historical blog with a daily post written by multiple writers of novels set in Britain. How perfect, I thought, for lovers of British history, including myself! On September 23, 2011, we launched the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. One year later, after celebrating our first anniversary, Deborah Swift suggested we put together a book with posts from the first year. The book was conceived!


Can you talk a little about the process of putting together a nonfiction anthology?

We had a publisher in our midst, so I discussed with her the idea of her company handling the publishing aspect. Madison Street is very professional in their work. I then contacted the authors of many of the posts for permission to include them in the book. Everyone expressed enthusiasm about the project, and we moved ahead. I asked the authors for short biographies, titles, and links. Selecting accurately written articles, editing them, and organizing them into a pleasant flow of information was important. A book designer sent us examples of a cover and her book-interior ideas, and we made our selections. After proofreading, the publisher gave authors the opportunity to look their posts over to accept any changes. Then it was time to finalize and market the book.

What was your favorite part of working with several authors?

The authors I work with are such a delight! Everyone cooperates well; we really are a team. We’ve become friends through our social media groups, and we promote each other. The shared enthusiasm over Castles, Customs, and Kings has been another “tie that binds”. It has helped to drive the book into good ratings on Amazon!

Share a juicy tidbit or anecdote in the book.

One of the funniest parts I remember is an advertisement quoted in Lucinda Brant’s post, The Wig Business was a Big Business. Proclaiming the economic advantages of a wig made of curled iron strands, the manufacturer wrote that it could:

“…withstand rain, wind and hail, all without causing discomfort to the wearer.”

 I had to wonder about rust and whether the wearer’s wife was willing to be seen with the man! Lucinda wrote that wigs were also made of copper. Can you imagine the color of the fresh copper wig and then watching it over time develop its green patina? I hope nothing I wear today will ever be seen in such a laughable light.

Do the English Historical Fiction Authors have another project in mind as a follow up?

A second volume is certainly in mind. It remains to be seen whether the first volume will prove to have been worth the publisher’s time and output, but early indications are that Castles, Customs, and Kings is being well received by readers, so our hopes are high.

Speed Round:

Most Fascinating era—I am in awe of all of England’s history, but the class and etiquette rules of Victorian society amuse me. Until I can study more of the past, I am a bit stuck in Victorian snobbery.

Best Place on Earth—I love Hawaii dearly, but am hopeful that England will pay my way to test it out for a few years and compare. I have my doubts.

Favorite Biography—So much of my life was spent in other pursuits while English history nagged at the back of my mind. Once it became loud enough to get my attention, I have had to skim so many centuries and persons that I have yet to focus much on one individual. I plan to write a series of historical English author biographies on the EHFA blog, and I am currently fascinadebbieted with Geoffrey Chaucer. His life had much variety, and so it is quite a story.

About the Author

Debra is the founder of the popular blog English Historical Fiction Authors and the co-editor of the nonfiction anthology, CASTLES, CUSTOMS, AND KINGS. She is also the Amazon bestselling author of a Victorian era romance THE COMPANION OF LADY HOLMESHIRE. For more about Debra, visit her on Twitter (@kescah) or at her website.




Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. linda collison

    Thanks to Debra for everything she’s done to publish this anthology. And thanks to you, Heather, for interviewing this plucky, determined, inspired author.

  2. Deborah Swift

    Great interview Debra,though I can’t think why you deserve to be behind bars….(unless they are the alcoholic kind) and I’m looking forward to your book, Heather.

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