Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blog Tour, Author Interview: C.W. Gortner (and Giveaway, too!) - GIVEAWAY CLOSED

I am pleased to welcome C.W. Gortner, who wrote The Queen's Vow to Always With a Book.  You can read my review of her book here and be sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of The Queen's Vow along with a painted Spanish fan - see below for details!

About the author:  C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret.  He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.
Fore more information about C.W. Gornter, please visit his website at:
He can also be found on Facebook at:
Also, be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtag:  #QueensVowVirtualTour). 

What inspired you to write this book?
I first became interested in Isabella while growing up in Spain. Later, when I was writing my first novel, The Last Queen, about her daughter, Juana, I re-discovered my fascination with her. In that book, Isabella is the triumphant, middle-aged queen of legend, who has just conquered Granada and set the stage for Spain’s emergence as a modern Renaissance state. My focus was more on the woman she became after she’d won the crusade against the Moors. Nevertheless I got so many e-mails from readers telling me they thought I should write more about Isabella that I decided to write THE QUEEN’S VOW and explore how Isabella became queen. She had a humble beginning as the ignored daughter of an exiled royal widow; no one expected her to become queen. Her love affair with Fernando of Aragón is a rarity in history, as well, because she chose her husband in an era when princesses rarely did and her decision to marry him started a civil war. As I researched her, I realized that, as with most legends, there’s far more to Isabella’s story than we’ve been told. She is, in essence, a perfect choice for me as writer.

What gets you started on a new book?
The first thing must be curiosity. I must want to know more about the subject or era that I’m thinking of writing about; I have to feel that special spark which sends me on a research spree. It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, I start to research an idea only to discover that I’m not actually going to bring anything new or exciting to the table and so I back off. But other times, I realize: Yes, this is a place where I want to be. I want to live here for the time it takes to tell this particular story. Writing a historical novel is a long and often challenging process; after the research, it can take up to 18 months of my life to complete the actual work. I have to have that special ‘mojo’ for it.

As a child, did you ever dream that you would be a published author? As a child did you like to read and write and if so, what were your favorite books?
As a child, I always wrote. My mom recalls that I’d write down stories in spiral-bound notebooks and illustrate the covers. I was always imaginative and I loved books, but I never thought while growing up that being a writer was a career choice I could make. Writing was just something I felt compelled to do. I went to college and got a marketing degree; it was many years before I actually began to consider publishing my work. My favorite authors when I was growing up included Enid Blyton, Richard Adams, Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, as well as L. Frank Baum. Later on, I developed an insatiable appetite for Daphne Du Maurier, Jean Plaidy, Alexander Dumas, and anything historical.  

What's your writing routine? Do you write every day or just when the mood strikes?
I write every day but Sunday, for at least four hours, sometimes more. Often, the work is rough, but my philosophy is even the worst draft can be improved. My goal is to get those initial words out and shape the story; for me, the fun part is in the re-writing. That first draft is always a monster, but writing is like any craft: the more you do it, the better you can get. I’m also a little superstitious about not writing. I have this weird fear that if I go too long without doing it, I’ll somehow lose my affinity for it. So, from around 10:30 am to 3:00 pm or so, I shut off my internet connection (essential for focus) and face the blank page.

What are you reading right now?
Lots of non-fiction about Renaissance Italy.

Are you currently working on another book?
Yes. I’m currently writing the story of Lucrezia Borgia, from her indulged youth as the illegitimate child of an ambitious Spanish churchman to her thrust into notoriety as the pope’s daughter and dangerous struggle to define herself as a woman as she battles the lethal ambitions of her family. Once again, I’ve found myself drawn into the life of a woman who’s been vilified by history. The book will be published by Ballantine.

I’m also preparing the outline for the third book in my Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles; the second book (after The Tudor Secret) is titled The Tudor Conspiracy and is scheduled for publication by St Martin’s Press in the US and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, in 2013.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Learn as much as you can about our craft and the business of writing. These are two very distinct things and the former can be as intoxicating as the latter is daunting. But in order to reach that stage where one’s work is ready to be read, we have to master the actual art of sentence structure, point of view, description, narrative, dialogue, setting the scene, etc. There are no fast-tracks or ways to cut corners: becoming a published writer requires practice, discipline, perseverance, and willingness to learn. We all start with that urge to put our story on paper; but in order for others to enjoy our words and experience the story as we do in our heads we need to know how to tell it. As for the business end, there are so many options open to us nowadays; it’s a rapidly evolving world and writers can publish in a variety of ways. Having choices is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean our work can go straight from our fingertips into book form. There’s a reason we have editors and agents; there is an entire professional side to being an ‘author’ that can be very rewarding but also requires patience, diligence, and willingness to learn. What’s good for one writer may not be right for another. Precisely because of the choices we face, it’s more important than ever to consider how you want your work to be perceived and what you hope to achieve from it.

Thank you so much for having me. I sincerely hope your readers enjoy THE QUEEN’S VOW. I’m always available to chat with book groups via Skype or speaker phone; to learn more about me and my work, please visit me at:

Thank you to C.W. for taking the time to answer these questions and thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for coordinating this.

Giveaway Information (CLOSED):

Thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours I have one copy of The Queen's Vow  and a painted Spanish fan (see above) to give away to my readers.  Giveaway is open to US/CANADA only.

To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway). 
- +1 additional entry - Who is your favorite historical figure - let me know who it is and why in your comment.

- +3 additional entries become a follower of Always With a Book. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries (just leave the name you follow under). 

- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook. 
All entries can be in one comment but the comment MUST include your email address or it will not be included in the giveaway.

Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!




  1. I've wanted to read this book from the earliest reviews and am REALLY excited at the prospect of a Lucrezia Borgia novel.

    One of my favorite historical figures is Tolstoy. His insight into the human condition was incredible, though my fascination was somewhat cooled after trudging through a not-so flattering 700+ page biography. One of yesteryear's versions of a mad genius.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. My favorite historical figure is Winston Churchill. Even though he was a member of the conservative party the British conservatives of yesteryear were a far cry from today's conservatives. I admire him for overcoming an abusive and neglected childhood and becoming a great leader.

    Please enter me in the giveaway. Thank you.


  3. I follow through GFC under the name Lara Frame (Queen of the Knots).

    Please enter me in the giveaway

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

    One of my favorite historical figures is Charlotte Bronte (actually all three Bronte sisters). I appreciate their ingenuity in publishing under pseudonyms and consider them some of the first feminists.

  4. Nice interview, thanks for that and the giveaway too.

    I'm a big fan of guys like Sir Francis Drake and
    Sir Walter Raleigh who ventured out on the high seas back in the old days. Very brave and hardy fellows in my opinion.

    +3 I am a long-time follower of Always With a Book by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    +1 I tweeted a link to this blog post:

    My email is included above. Thanks.

  5. The cover is stunning. I like your writing philosophy and I agree that a rough draft can be improved. There's always room for improvement in life :)

    Anne Frank is one of my favorite historical figure.

    +3 GFC: Na

  6. I ouwl love to read this1 I love discovering anything to do with historicl Spain.

    1+ Cleopatra

    3+ I'm a follower


  7. I love historical fiction and this sounds right up my alley
    +1 Anne Boleyn
    +3 GFC-Lisa Richards
    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  8. Thank you for the chance to win. One of my favorite historical figures is Anne Boleyn. I just like how strong a person she was.

    +1 favorite historical figure
    +3 follower - griperang
    +1 put on facebook -!/angela.holland.359/posts/503201356363800

    griperang at embarqmail dot com


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love interacting with other book lovers and appreciate any thoughts or feedback! If you read a book after seeing my review, please let me know. Come back and leave me a link to your review so I can read it. Thank you!!!

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