Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog Tour: Esther Friesner Interview

1. How do you decide what time periods to write about?

I pick a time period (and place) that interests me. This is not as simple as it sounds because there are so many fascinating ones from which to choose. Sometimes it’s the setting that first attracts my attention. If I take a trip somewhere interesting, I will then begin to read about the history of the place, and that draws me farther in.

2. Which of your characters do you relate to the most?

I relate to any character who has to stand up and declare her independence from the expectations of others. It’s one of the hardest things to do and we all have to do it at one time or another. I’ve never been very docile when someone tells me “You can’t do that” when what they’re actually saying is “I don’t want you to do that because it will inconvenience me.”

I had the good fortune to have parents—and later on, a husband and kids--who encouraged my independence, but out in the wide world I’ve encountered more than enough other people who were less supportive. I’ve always gotten a kick out of telling such No-you-can’t-sayers that I can, I will, and if you don’t believe that, just sit back and watch me!

I love a challenge and I relate best to characters who find unexpected strength from within to meet their own challenges.

3. If you could travel back to any time period where would you go?

Are we talking about real time travel or the kind where I get to visit just the pretty parts of the past? I’d love to experience the royal court of Elizabethan England, but I’d probably have a really hard time dealing with the sanitation, the smell, the vermin, the enthusiasm for cruel sports like bear-baiting, and the public display of criminals’ rotting severed heads and other body parts.

Closer to our own time, I’d also love to tour the 1920’s, experiencing the Jazz Age in both New York City and Hollywood. (Yes, F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors. Why do you ask?)

4. Raisa is a beautiful, and unique, name. Did you go through other name possibilities first or was she always Raisa?

To choose a name for the heroine of Threads and Flames, I went to the internet and looked up Yiddish names for girls and their meanings. In the course of my research into the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy, I came across one eyewitness account that described the girls who leaped to their deaths as “burning roses.”

Imagine how I felt when I found out that the name Raisa means rose! How could I possibly name her anything else?

5. What was your reaction to seeing your covers for the first time? (Nobody’s Princess, Threads and Flames, etc)

I have been very lucky as far as book covers go. I’ve always been really happy with them.

Book covers are one of the key factors in attracting readers, especially readers who might not be familiar with a particular author. They’re meant to catch the eye of casual shoppers. (Haven’t we all said, “This books looks interesting” even before we’ve taken it off the shelf and glanced inside?) In each publishing house, it’s the Art Department’s job to work with artists and come up with a cover that is not only appropriate but also attractive and an effective factor for selling the book.

This doesn’t always work. I’ve heard some horror stories from fellow-writers about being assigned covers that have absolutely nothing to do with the book. For example, in the case of fantasy novels, you could get a dragon on the cover of a book that is 100% dragon-free, simply because someone got the idea that dragons sell books. Not a good rule to apply at random, if you ask me. Readers aren’t stupid and they don’t like being deceived.

Fortunately, my experiences with YA book covers have been excellent. I’ve even been consulted about potential designs and asked for my input on the historical accuracy of the model’s appearance, garb, ornaments, and so on. It’s a wonderful collaborative effort and I’m so pleased!


Thanks so much, Esther!

For more info on Esther and her newest release, Threads and Flames, visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour here and read my review here.


  1. I like your interview questions. I especially like the one about traveling back in time.

  2. Great interview!

    I love the book cover. It kind of looks like a rose (but I think it's supposed to be burned paper?).


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