Q&A: Sandra Byrd
A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, the Ladies in Waiting series chronicles the glittering court lives of three Tudor Queens and the women chosen to be their closest friends and companions. The first in the series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, envelopes the reader in heartwarming and heartbreaking circumstances, as the heroine must decide who and what is worth risking all for.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE TO DIE FOR: A NOVEL OF ANNE BOLEYN?
I'm a lifelong lover of historical novels, especially all things English. On road trips, I was the nerdy girl in the backseat of the car reading Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy streetlight by streetlight well into the night. I even named my daughter, Elizabeth! Therefore, it is a dream come true to pen my own novels set in the Tudor court. Those reformation years were critical to refinement and revival in Christianity. Yet I found that while Anne's faith, and the faith of her friends, was well covered in nonfiction, fiction ignored her convictions altogether, often though not always portraying her as either vixen or victim. I wanted to add some new and legitimate shading and nuance to the genre and telling it from Meg Wyatt's point of view allowed me to do that. Plus, the setting is, well, to die for. Beautiful gowns, lots of jewels, feasts and entertainment, treachery, betrayal, loyalty and love. What's not to like?
I've already mention Holt (who is also Plaidy) and I enjoy anything that tangles history, emotion, and suspense. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder - still do. I went on a tour a few years back to visit her homes and the towns she'd lived in. I have discovered Liz Curtis Higgs' Scottish books and admire her ability to stay 100% true to time and place while crafting a compelling story. I devoured Sharon Kay Penman's medieval historical books and treat myself to a re-read every few years. Francine Rivers is the model for me as I seek to weave threads of faith in an organic manner into the novels I write.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
All of us are three dimensional beings, and spirituality is a vibrant part of that whether it's acknowledged or not. My Christian faith is core to my life - the decisions I face, the strength I have to call upon, the love I feel, the choices I make, the default I always return to. My desire is to write books that deal with all of the dimensions in which human beings, including my characters, live. That includes their faith, whatever it may be, or lack thereof.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Since I was six years old and learned to read the Bobbsey Twins books. Really! When I was a kid I wanted three careers: to be a hair stylist, to be a waitress, and to be an author. After I mohawked my Barbie I knew I wasn’t cut out for the hairstylist career. I actually was a waitress in a Jewish deli when I was a teenager, and I worked for a caterer. Writing, however, was the real passion. And it stuck.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
Enjoyment! Editor A. Victoria Mixton says, "Writing fiction isn't expressing yourself, it's creating an experience for your reader." That's my goal. I want to write books that whisk my readers away to another time and place where they can lose themselves, willingly, in the lives of characters they love. And then I hope that I've included enough ponderables that when they close the book after a delightful afternoon, an evening, a weekend, they have something to mull over for days and weeks to come in both their heads and their hearts.