The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien / #Interview #BlogTour @maryanneyarde @anne_obrien



England, 1459.

One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.

But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.




When and where do you prefer to write?

I have an office where I do all my serious writing. It contains my PC, my laptop and, with a large walk-in cupboard, my ever-expanding library of books. Also notebooks and pens – essential because I am a list writer. I am a morning writer too – starting early and writing through to lunch unless real life interrupts. Even so, ideas crop up at any point throughout the day.

Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?

Yes I do. Depending on whether I am writing a first draft or editing, I can enjoy music in the background, but no chatter! Everyone is banned from my office.

If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?

I really could not do this. I am not a team player. I am a solitary writer. No one reads my book, or any part of it, not even my husband, until it is complete and goes off to my agent, and then on to my editor. I think that I would be a nightmare to work with. I admit to talking to my husband about what I am writing, but I do not always take his advice. He is not allowed to read it until it is book form.

Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?

I think that I would quite like to be the villain. Nothing like a ‘bad’ character to bring a novel alive. I think that we often remember the villains that we enjoyed more than the gilded hero or heroine. Imagine being Warwick in The Queen’s Rival. I hope that he is memorable.

Who would you like/have liked to interview?

I would have loved to talk with the late Dorothy Dunnett who wrote the Lymond Chronicles and the House of Niccolo novels. I admire her ability to weave together the major characters of history with the personal stories of her main protagonists. She gives a master-class at setting a scene and at drawing characters so that we can almost see them. Sadly I must simply make do with her novels – which I have re-read during lockdown.

Where can I find you when you are reading?

All over the house, wherever there is a comfortable chair! I am not picky. I read in the kitchen when I get up and am drinking that first cup of tea when all is quiet around me. Kitchen again when I am drinking coffee mid morning. I sometimes read in my office when I should be writing. When the weather is good I read in the conservatory or garden. I have a small snug where I read in an evening. And of course I read in bed. If I don’t read during a day I get withdrawal symptoms.

Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?

Probably in the garden where I spend a few hours most afternoons. It is quite large and time consuming but so valuable to be outside, growing flowers to enjoy or vegetables and fruit to

eat. A healing experience particularly in lockdown. When we are free to travel again, then I enjoy dropping into anywhere with historical vibes – churches, historic houses, battlefields. They all add to the sense of time and place which are essential when sitting down to write.

I enjoy yoga and tai chi for relaxation but lockdown had put a crimp in the classes that I usually join. It is not the same when I am on my own!

What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?

Astonishment, that I have actually produced something that looks and feels so good. It never goes away, even now that I have been writing for some years, to unwrap the book and feel its weight after all those months of hard work. It is an intense pleasure. It is not the same with an ebook, although I make use of them. The feel and smell of paper is a true delight.

How do you come up with a title for your book?

I have a working title when I am writing, but ultimately the title of the book is chosen by my publishers. Often it is nothing like the one I have worked with but their agenda is what will catch the eye on the shelves. I am always asked if I like it, of course.

How do you pick a cover for your book?

As with the title, the cover is chose by my publishers. It must sit well on a shelf and draw the attention of the browser who might buy it. Again I am always asked if I like it, or if I would like a tweak here and there of anything historical in it, but the final choice is theirs.

Thank you, Anne O’Brien and The Coffee Pot Book Club


About the Author 

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.

Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.


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