Today we are very excited to have Whitehall author Sarah Smith on the blog! Over a bowl of questions we learned a bit more about her and we invite you to pick the brain of this fascinating Agatha- and Massachusetts Book Award- winning novelist.
She who would be queen must win the love of a king—and a country.
Whitehall is set in the 17th century court of King Charles II and focuses on his queen, Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. Her journey to find her place as the foreign wife in a court riddled with political and religious intrigue – not to mention the many mistresses of Charles the “Merry Monarch” – is a tale of perseverance only a true queen could endure. Love mingles with betrayal before a sensual renaissance of art, culture, and sex in this lush historical serial.
Released in weekly episodes, Whitehall began on May 18th and is written collaboratively by Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Madeleine Robins, Sarah Smith, and Mary Robinette Kowal.
Read it or learn more at SerialBox.com!
What comes to mind when you hear, “Serial Box”?
A man in a fabulous Restoration-era embroidered waistcoat eats a cardboard box for breakfast, reading the box first. He will eat several boxes at one binge, not able to resist the story, and will need to restore himself intermittently with hippocras for the rest of the day.
Can you describe your most recent project in one sentence?
A multicultural Titanic.
Where are you a local?
Starbucks, 4 PM; small green tea latte, please.
If you could live in one fictional world, which would it be?
Hogwarts, so I could ride the moving stairs. Quidditch is cool, it’s good to cast spells, but I love those stairs. And going through the portrait. Whee.
Favorite quote or line?
“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.” I mutter this frequently while grinding my forehead against the wall.
Oh, let’s get serious for a moment. Mistress Masham’s Repose. I was 7 or 8 and we were visiting my aunt out in the country. I was the sort of pale, nocturnal child whose parents are always asking it hopelessly, “Why don’t you go out and play?” On my aunt’s shelf was a gray-bound hardbound book. I opened it. “Maria was ten years old.” And there was a map of where she lived, the Palace of Malplaquet, “about four times longer than Buckingham Palace, but was falling down, …and it was surrounded by Vistas, Obelisks, Pyramids, Columns, Temples, Rotundas, and Palladian Bridges…” I wouldn’t go home until my aunt gave me the book. I was hooked on that hinge between history and fantasy, and I’ve never looked back.
Here’s one of Fritz Eichenberg’s lovely illustrations. Years later I had the pleasure of meeting him and being a complete fangrrl.
You now have a time machine – to where and when do you go?
Such a cliché: First performance of Hamlet. We might have to go hunting for a bit to see when it actually happened. But then I need to see a dinosaur. And Jesus. Yes, in that order: Shakespeare…dinosaur…Jesus. And then Oscar Wilde. Actually, I’m never giving it back.
If you could have one magic spell up your sleeve, what would it be?
Where is your happy place?
Starbucks, 4 PM, small green tea latte, and a new scene to explore.
Last thing you read that made you think, “Well damn, that was cool…”
Augusten Burroughs’ Lust and Wonder. What a great love story.
If your soul was manifested outside of your body in the form of an animal (like in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series), what would it be?
A harpy eagle. They have excellent vision and hearing, are long-lived and intelligent, prefer a certain degree of solitude, and like to eat monkeys. Many of these are true of me.
Sarah Smith’s young adult ghost thriller, The Other Side of Dark, won both the Agatha (for best YA mystery of the year) and the Massachusetts Book Award for best YA book of the year. Her Chasing Shakespeares has been called “the best novel about the Bard since Nothing like the Sun” (Samuel R. Delany) and has been turned into a play. She has just finished a book about the Titanic, starring series characters Alexander von Reisden and Perdita Halley. The earlier books in the series have been published in 14 languages, have been named New York Times Notable Books twice, and are out in eBooks. The Vanished Child, the first book in the series, is being made into a musical in Canada. Sarah lives in Boston. SarahSmith.com. @SarahWriter.