Tuesday, December 28, 2010

YA Historical Fiction Month: Carolyn Meyer Guest Post and Giveaway!

“How much is true?”

That’s question I’m often asked about my historical novels.

The short answer: “All of it.”

But the real answer is more complicated. I don’t change facts. But sometimes there aren’t many facts to go on, or they aren’t at all clear, or historians don’t agree. So I often do a complicated dance, choosing among the possibilities to find those that make a good story that is also “true.”

My most recent book, THE BAD QUEEN: RULES AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR MARIE-ANTOINETTE, illustrates the challenge. A lot is known about the life of Marie-Antoinette, but she is also surrounded by myths. Her supposedly hard-hearted dismissal of the French peasants unable to find enough bread to keep them alive, “Then let them eat cake!”, has been thoroughly discredited. There is no record of her saying it. Another hotly debated issue is whether or not she had an actual affair with the Swedish count. (Read the book and decide for yourself!)

My inspiration for writing the story of the famous (or infamous) French queen was the 2006 film, “Marie Antoinette”--gorgeous to look at, but I didn’t think it explored the subject in depth. Movie-makers are not concerned with factual accuracy. Their goal is to create a vivid impression in a very short time; no one cares if dates are altered or events rearranged. My goal was different: I used my research as a basis for imagining what Marie-Antoinette might have been thinking and feeling, to weave scenes and create dialog in order to make the story vivid and engrossing and to create a dynamic, wholly rounded—and believable--character.

I was fortunate with Marie-Antoinette; plenty of books have been written about her and about the French Revolution. But sometimes there simply aren’t many facts to rely on. I recently finished work on CLEOPATRA CONFESSES, a historical novel to be published in June 2011. What a challenge that was! Cleopatra’s birth date is approximate. No one knows who her mother was. There are no contemporary writings about her, none of her own words have been preserved, and there are no pictures of her to tell us what she really looked like.

But is it true? As true as I can imagine it to be.


Thanks so much Carolyn for participating!

I love Carolyn's books and reviewed her newest book earlier today.



I have a shiny, finished copy of The Bad Queen to giveaway to one lucky winner!


US Only

Ends January 4

Fill out THIS FORM to enter!


  1. I kept thinking about the movie when reading about this book. I'm glad to hear it was an inspiration, but I'm also happy to hear the author will be delving into the facts more than the movie did. The movie was beautiful, but sparse.

    It must be very difficult to try to write an accurate historical fiction book with so few (and conflicting) accounts of what really happened.

  2. The movie was beautiful to watch, but I knew that historical accuracy wasn't the focus of the film.

    I'm definitely looking forward to the book about Cleopatra!

  3. oooh, your next book is about cleopatra!?? i can't wait!!

  4. I am really looking forward to the Cleopatra book as well as reading past works especially about Marie Antoinette. I agree about the movie too. I feel the movie was based around a soundtrack and what fashion they wanted to frame rather than history.

  5. This looks fantastic. I absolutely love the premise of this one. Sounds great!

  6. Marie Antoinette has always fascinated me - I love that this book is an imaginative take of what she was thinking and feeling
    june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

  7. Great guest post! I always love historical fiction because it allows you to see the life of someone of the past and come to your own conclusions about them.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing!!! I LOVE hearing "behind-the-scenes" info like this!!!! The book looks amazing!!!! I can't wait to read it!!!!

  9. I like it when authors try to make their stories as true as possible. This sounds really good! Thank you for the give away!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com


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