The Cross and the Crown, Book 4
The story of Catherine Havens, a former nun in Tudor England continues. It is now 1553, and Mary Tudor has just been crowned queen of England. Still a Roman Catholic, Mary seeks to return England to its former religion, and Catherine hopes that the country will be at peace under the daughter of Henry VIII. But rebellion is brewing around Thomas Wyatt, the son of a Tudor courtier, and when Catherine’s estranged son suddenly returns from Wittenberg amid circulating rumours about overthrowing the new monarch, Catherine finds herself having to choose between the queen she has always loved and the son who seems determined to join the Protestants who seek to usurp her throne.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I usually write in the early afternoons, after I’m finished teaching and have had a good lunch. I almost always work in my study, where I have a door to a pleasant deck and a view of my yard and garden (though this can sometimes be distracting, and I have to close the door!). I used to write with a pen and pad, but now I always work at my laptop, which makes revising much easier!
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
I need peace but not necessarily quiet. If something is worrying me, or if I have student papers waiting to be graded, it’s difficult for me to focus on my own writing. I am a terrible worrier, and I need to know that my house and my family are in good order before I can concentrate on my own words. I feel guilty if I don’t grade my students’ work right away. But I can work completely happily with music or the TV in the background. My husband often catches up on the news right at the time I’m writing, and I can completely tune that out. My dog gets rather jealous sometimes when I’m at the computer, too, and she will try to climb onto my lap for attention. She weighs about sixty-five pounds, so that can be a distraction! She’s usually happy to be let out into the yard, though, as long as she can come back in and keep an eye on me.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That’s an easy one: my husband! He is also a writer, and years ago we co-edited a collection of Virginia poets. It was a lot of work, but we generally work well together. We’ve never tried a creative collaboration, but maybe we should!
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
I would prefer to be the good one, but it would probably be more accurate and plausible for me to be the bad one, lol!
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I’ve never interviewed anyone formally, except for job searches at my university, but if I had the chance I would likely want to interview Hilary Mantel. I find her approach to historical fiction interesting, because she likes to do things like switch the verb tense or use multiple pronouns with characters’ names, and I would like to talk to her about these writerly details (not to mention, of course, that her trilogy is about Thomas Cromwell and I write about Tudor England!). I would also like to know what her process was when she shifted from novels to playwriting.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
I am almost always snuggled on the little couch in my study when I’m reading. It’s comfortable and the light is good. It’s long enough for my dog to curl up at my feet and have a good nap while I’m reading, and she likes to use my feet and legs as her pillow. We spend many a pleasant late afternoon there, and she always lets me know when it’s time to close the book and head out for a walk.
Where can I find you wen you are not writing/reading?
I spend a lot of time outdoors, which I love. If I’m not writing, reading, or teaching, I’m usually out walking in the woods with my dog or working in the garden or yard. I also like to cook, and I spend time every day in my kitchen, which I enjoy. Cooking and gardening both relax me and give me something to do with my hands while I think, and since I’m pretty fidgety, this is important. I also love to travel, but that’s not been possible for this last year. I’m hoping to be able to go again soon.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Oh, it’s a wonderful moment. I always experience a mix of joy and trepidation, joy at the actual book in my hands and trepidation about whether I’ve let errors slip in. I always take some time to admire and enjoy the cover before I have the courage to crack the pages. I also begin to worry almost immediately about whether readers I know and respect will like it, but then I am a natural worrier, so of course I have to find something to worry about!
How do you come up with a title for your book?
Titles can be difficult! A couple of times, once with a book of poetry and once with a novel, someone has suggested a title to me after reading the work, and it was perfect. One of my early books of poems, Flow Blue, had a terrible title (which I won’t reveal) until someone suggested the better title. I floundered around with the title of my first novel (the first in my Tudor England series), but a kind reader said, “What about The Altarpiece?” It was so obviously the right choice that I was shocked at myself for not thinking of it! My current novel is titled Queen of Blood and that one came pretty easily. It’s centered on Mary Tudor’s accession to the throne of England, and I wanted to allude to “Bloody Mary” without actually using that as a title. I just hope readers don’t think it’s a vampire novel.
I’m always very grateful to get title suggestions. It might be one of the reasons I shifted from writing poems to writing novels: fewer titles to think up!
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I’ve generally been blessed with good publishers who chose great covers for my books and who took suggestions from me very well. This hasn’t always been the case, and, when a cover is wrong, I will hear about it from my friends who know the period I’m working in! With my first few of books of poems, I had photographs that fit and that I wanted to use. My current publisher has a cover designer who is fantastic and I trust her judgment. I may offer an idea about the kind of cover I want, but the designer does the finished product, and I’m always happy with the covers of my Penmore Press novels.
Thank you, Sarah Kennedy and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Sarah Kennedy is the author of the Tudor historical series, The Cross and the Crown, including The Altarpiece, City of Ladies, The King’s Sisters, and Queen of Blood. She has also published a stand-alone contemporary novel, Self-Portrait, with Ghost, as well as seven books of poems. A professor of English at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia, Sarah Kennedy holds a PhD in Renaissance Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has received grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Kennedy/e/B0054NFF6W
Universal Link: mybook.to/QueenofBloodBookFour
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1950586758
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1950586758
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1950586758