Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful Blog, Grace. A big motivation was seeing Georgette Heyer acknowledged as a writer of great ability. Although she's always been well-reviewed and she's loved by readers around the world I really felt she deserved much greater recognition for her achievements. I wanted a better understanding of the woman behind the books and to know how she wrote them. She's been a bestseller for nearly a century and I figured that was worth investigating!
I think many readers would be surprised to find just how much Georgette Heyer wrote herself into her novels. In some of the detective stories there are times when I'm sure she is letting herself speak through her characters. The tone of voice, the way she writes, sometimes it's just like her letters and, according to her son, she wrote those exactly as she spoke. I also loved finding her early short stories because some of them gave me quite a different view of her as a young woman. She was definitely romantic but she also had an ability to understand relationships that seemed pretty unusual in a twenty-something of her class and upbringing.
This is the most difficult question to answer because I have about a dozen favourites and it's almost impossible to pick just one. I recently re-read A Civil Contract which is a quiet, thoughtful novel about class and relationships and the sacrifices people make for love. I always find it a deeply intelligent book which never fails to move me. But for absolute comfort reading you can't go past Cotillion (or Frederica or Venetia or Sylvester… oops, sorry!)
If you could write a biography of another author/historical figure, who would it be and why?
I'd love to write a biography of Stephen Fry because he's another talented, complex person who has given millions of people tremendous pleasure through his words. He's had a bunch of personal problems in his life and yet he gives of himself all the time. He's a brilliant comedian and a genuine raconteur. A couple of years ago I saw him hold an audience of 2,500 people in complete thrall for over two hours and he was just standing on stage telling us stories about his life. He was wise and witty and self-deprecating and insightful and I think everyone went away feeling totally inspired and uplifted. He's also a huge Georgette Heyer fan (which shows his good taste). I'd love to interview him about his life and works.
Favorite Book: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (funny and evocative and such superb writing)
Author who inspires me the most: going by the number of books on my shelves it would have to be Georgette Heyer.
Favorite TV Show: Modern Family
Word I wish would disappear from the English language: gay or girl when used as an insult.
Favorite Word: cardigan
Favorite Movie: Random Harvest Beautifully written and acted and a great story
Place I would most like to visit: Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia where I could swim with the whale sharks.
If I was granted three wishes, I would wish for: A better world for women everywhere (which would mean a better world for people everywhere).
That every parent read aloud to their children from birth.
To be a guest at a country house weekend along with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Stephen Fry, Robert de Niro, Bette Midler and David Tennant. I'd be happy just to sit and listen to the conversation!