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  • agarcia 4:00 pm on 2020/03/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , hilary mantel, the b&n podcast, the mirror & the light,   

    The B&N Podcast: Hilary Mantel on The Mirror & The Light 

    Our guest today is Hilary Mantel, the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize.

    Hilary joins us to talk about her latest novel, The Mirror & The Light, a triumphant close to the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

    The post The B&N Podcast: Hilary Mantel on <i>The Mirror & The Light</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 7:00 pm on 2018/01/24 Permalink
    Tags: a royal invitation, abundance, , allison pataki, , anne boleyn: a king's obsession, be my prince, brenda joyce, carolyn meyer, crimson bound, , dark breaks the dawn, devil's bride, , emma campion, , empress of the night, erin summerill, eva stachniak, ever the hunted, everless, , , , girl on the golden coin, graceling, , helen of troy, hilary mantel, , in the prince's bed, intisar, , , john burnham schwartz, , , julianne maclean, , Karen Hawkins, , khanani, , kirstin cashore, kristin cashore, , long may she reign, lynn cullen, , make way!, marci jefferson, , , medici's daughter, , , , rae carson, red queen, reign of madness, renee adieh, rhiannon thomas, , rosamund hodge, , , sally christie, sara b. larson, sarah holland, , sena jeter naslund, , sisi, sophie page, sophie perinot, splendor, , the commoner, the cruel prince, , the heir and the spare, the king's mistress, the perils of pursuing a prince, the prince who loved me, , , , , , the sisters of versailles, the switch, the trouble with princes, the virgin's lover, the wild queen, the wrath and the dawn, thorn, , to marry a prince, tracy anne warren, victoria, ,   

    Prepare For The Royal Wedding With 50 Royal Reads 

    If you’re anything like me, the new royal wedding is pretty much the only news you care about these days. But we have until May 2018 to wait until Prince Harry and Princess Meghan (sorry, I don’t care what the official rules say, she’s a princess!) tie the knot…so here are fifty royal reads to tide you over until happily ever after.

    The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
    The story couldn’t be better than a fairytale: a regular girl falls in love with a prince. Bex always thought something like that could happen to her sister, Lacey, the romantic one…but instead she’s the one who winds up falling in love with Nick, who just so happens to be the next in line for the throne of England.

    Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
    Witness the rise and fall of the Queens of England from the perspective of an influential man on the sidelines, as he experiences his own rise to becoming the man who pulls the strings behind the curtain. Who was Thomas Cromwell, and how did he become Henry VIII’s right hand man?

    The Virgin’s Lover, by Philippa Gregory
    The master of historical fiction weaves a captivating tale of royalty and romance—as Elizabeth I becomes Queen, Amy Dudley knows this means her husband will once again find himself in her thrall. Elizabeth knows she must marry to ensure her country’s political safety, but the only man she wants is the one she can’t have.

    The King’s Mistress, by Emma Campion
    King Edward III had a mistress—but who was Alice Perrers? Was she a manipulative, ambitious woman who sought a station higher than she should have, or was she a prisoner of her own circumstances?

    The Sisters of Versailles, by Sally Christie
    One of the greatest court scandals never before written about in English is the focus of this scandalous, steamy novel. Four sisters are thrust into the orbit of King Louis XV, each of them occupying a place in the King’s bed for enough time to change history.

    Girl on the Golden Coin, by Marci Jefferson
    A girl goes from poor exile to the center of the English and French courts, relying on her connection to royal Stuart blood to advance her station. But she makes a terrible mistake: refusing to become the mistress of the French King, and in exchange is burdened with the task of seducing the English one as punishment. But she cannot, under any circumstances, fall in love with him.

    Sisi, by Allison Pataki
    Married to the Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Hungary is beloved by her people—but despite the gilded lifestyle she leads, Sisi is tempted by another life all together. She loves another man, Count Andrassy, and is willing to risk her marriage, her children, and her country itself to keep him. But turmoil follows Sisi wherever she goes, and as the First World War gathers steam, she must decide where her loyalties lie.

    Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, by Alison Weir
    One of history’s most fascinating Queens, Anne Boleyn’s rise to power is explored in this fast-paced and romantic novel in which a teenage girl from a scheming family finds herself growing closer and closer to the King, heedless of whichever women she must cast aside—including the current Queen, and even her own sister—to get there.

    Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin
    Inspired by the diaries of this long-reigning Queen, this novel follows another teenage Queen as she navigates the traditions and unspoken rituals of the monarchy…and in many cases, defies them, in order to forge an empire of her own.

    Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
    If you’re in the mood for some YA royalty, check out this series about a society where red-blooded people are controlled by those with magical, silver blood. That is, until Mare is revealed as a red-blooded girl with Silver powers. As she grows closer to the crown—and the brothers surrounding it—Mare realizes it may not be her destiny to become Queen of the Silver world, but the leader of the rebellion to destroy it.

    Dark Breaks the Dawn, by Sara B. Larson
    A reimagining of Swan Lake, this fantasy features a princess of the Light Kingdom on the cusp of coming into her full magical ability. But when she is thrust into a war with the Dark Kingdom—and realizes the King has corrupt plans to usurp her mother and control both thrones—she realizes that the cost of not controlling her magic could be the loss of her kingdom.

    Abundance, by Sena Jeter Naslund
    Marie Antoinette’s legacy is an infamous one, but thisliteary novel explores who she was before she met the guillotine. A child-bride forced to unite two countries; a beloved Queen who thrives on the love from her people; and an outsider unwilling to concede to elements stronger than herself.

    Helen of Troy, by Margaret George
    One of the first wars caused by a woman of royal importance, The Trojan War has inspired songs and stories for centuries. But who was Helen, the woman who abandoned her marriage in favor of an enemy prince?

    The Wild Queen, by Carolyn Meyer
    A Queen forced to relinquish her title and all she holds dear finds the courage to take control of her future—by returning to the place of her birth, Scotland, and securing another marriage in the hopes of taking back her throne. The one snag? The person she needs to dethrone is her cousin, Elizabeth I.

    The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Adieh
    Khalid is the Caliph of Khorasan, the ruler who marries a new girl each night—and orders her execution every time the sun rises. But for some reason, Shahrzad, a beautiful girl who volunteers to marry him—with plans to seek revenge for the murder of her best friend—is not killed on the first sunrise of her marriage.

    The Selection, by Kiera Cass
    The Bachelor meets Fantasy in this series about thirty-five girls competing for the hand of the Prince…and the throne that comes with it. What girl wouldn’t want that? Meet America singer, who is forced to leave behind the boy she loves to fight for a prince she is convinced she could never love.

    To Marry a Prince, by Sophie Page
    Bella doesn’t believe in fairytales, or true love. But then she is saved by a handsome strange—Richard, who just so happens to be the heir to the throne. But Bella’s fairytale romance soon hits a snag, when she butts heads with the royal family, feels like public property instead of a princess, and wonders whether an ordinary girl has any place loving a prince.

    The Commoner, by John Burnham Schwartz
    Haruk is the first Japanese woman not in the aristocracy to become a central figure in the monarchy. By marrying the Crown Prince, Haruko is derided by royal society and suffers because of it. But thirty years after the marriage, she is the Empress, and tasked with trapping yet another young woman in a marriage…this time, to her son, to secure his place on the throne.

    Royally Screwed, by Emma Chase
    Nicholas is used to getting everything he wants. And as a prince, he has everything anyone could ever want…except true love, which he finds when a beautiful girl defies him instead of bowing down. Olivia Hammond is exactly what he needs in his life…now he just has to convince the entire monarchy that she deserves him.

    Ever the Hunted, by Erin Summerill
    Britta Flannery tracks criminals with her bounty-hunter father…until he is murdered by her best friend, Cohen, the boy she thought she loved. To bring him to justice, she must venture to the far reaches of her kingdom, armed only with a magic she cannot control, and the bravery to face the truth about her father’s death.

    Long May She Reign, by Rhiannon Thomas
    She was twenty-third in line for the throne, but in this brutal and beautiful novel, Freya becomes Queen when the entire court is poisoned. But is she safe upon a throne she was never supposed to possess? And who can she trust, when she is surrounded by even more power-hungry people than before?

    The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory
    The White Queen’s enemy has her story told in this Philippa Gregory novel; Margaret Beaufort has given her life to ensuring that her son, Henry Tudor, will sit on the English throne.

    Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
    Three Queens, each born with a power that could spell their ascension to the throne…and each charged with the terrible task of killing her sisters in order to take it. Game of Thrones fans who love dark magic and badass female characters will devour this sordid, sexy YA.

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
    Alina is a refugee with incredible power—and when she uses it to save her best friend’s life during a war caused by dark magic, she is thrust into the royal world of the Grisha. These magical warriors are ruled by The Darkling, and while Alina knows she must keep her wits about her and her power under control in order to save her kingdom, she is tempted by the promise of power and passion.

    The Perils of Pursuing a Prince, by Julia London
    Lady Greer wants to avoid marriage at all costs, including if that means going off alone to find an inheritance controlled by the Earl of Radnor…also known as the Prince of Powys. But Rhodrick is notorious and possibly even villainous. Greer cannot fall in love with him before securing the way out of an unhappy marriage…but her dark prince has other plans.

    Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
    Katsa’s Grace—the special power that sets her apart from society—is killing people. She uses this power in her position close to the King, but in this classic and fast-paced fantasy full of conspiracy, court intrigue, and romance, Katsa wishes she were free to choose her own destiny.

    Everless, by Sarah Holland
    In Sempera, time is blood—and both are owned by the Gerlings, who extract it from the poor and vulnerable in exchange for adding time to their own lifespans. When Jules finds herself working at the Gerling estate—and closer to the past she thought she’d escaped long ago—the secrets she finds in the blood are more than she bargained for.

    The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
    When Jude was a child, her parents were murdered and she was sent away to live with the Faeries at their mysterious High Court. Now, she wants to become one of them, despite the derision with which Prince Cardan views humans.

    Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, by Sarah Maclean
    Lady Calpurnia has no interest in being a typical ‘lady’, even if it means she remainds unmarried. But being unmarried doesn’t mean going unsatisfied, and so she decides to find a partner willing to break the rules with her, like Gabriel St. John, whose reputation for being wicked is exactly what she’s looking for.

    Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge
    Rachelle is a servant to the realm, one of a select few capable of fighting dangerous creatures and protecting the prince. But she hates Armand, the man whose life she is supposed to put before her own. Court conspiracies, dark magic, and forbidden love run amok in this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

    Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
    Elisa is the younger princess, married to a King in secret…and despite thinking she’s not special, she is the one destined to save her kingdom.

    The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn
    Simon Basset and Daphne Bridgerton are about to become engaged…but it’s really all a ruse to keep Simon out of the clutches of society’s rules, and Daphne hopes to find a suitor of her own since she has the stamp of approval from a Duke. But despite their courtship of convenience, they find themselves falling for one another.

    The Secret, by Julie Garwood
    Judith has traveled from her English home to the Highlands in order to help an old friend through childbirth…but the truth is she comes from Highland royalty, as the daughter of Laird Maclean. She only intended to learn about her father, but instead falls for another Laird, Ian, who confuses and excites her and draws her closer to a place she never thought she could call home.

    Sins of a Wicked Duke, by Sophie Jordan
    Fallon is working class, never meant to fall in love with someone above her station. But when she disguises herself as a footman in a wealthy household, she falls head over heels for her boss: Dominic Hale. Dominic finds himself intrigued by his young employee, but a torrid romance could ruin them both.

    The Switch, by Lynsay Sands
    Twin sisters escaping their uncle take turns pretending to be a boy in order to keep themselves safe. But Charlie winds up falling for Lord Jeremy Radcliffe, and she finds it more difficult to keep up the ruse while she’s in danger of losing her heart.

    Devil’s Bride, by Stephanie Laurens
    Devil has lived up to his name and compromised the honor of governess Honoria Wetherby…but instead of giving in to his rakish ways he winds up proposing marriage. But Honoria cares little for keeping her honor; she wants a lover who can live up to her expectations—and quickly puts Devil to the test.

    The Prince Who Loved Me, by Karen Hawkins
    Prince Alexsey is a notorious flirt with no plans to marry. So when he meets Bronwyn—a girl who prefers books to vain matters of beauty—he is convinced his Grandmother won’t allow the match. But when sparks fly between them, and a wicked stepmother gets in the way of their newfound passion, they have to prove that an ordinary girl and a prince can find happily ever after.

    In the Prince’s Bed, by Sabrina Jeffries
    In order to secure her lost inheritance and save her family’s prospects, Katherine will do anything…including marry a childhood friend. But Alexander Black, the Earl of Iverslley, also needs a woman of wealth to warm his bed, and so he does what any rake would do to get the other man out of the way.

    The Serpent Prince, by Elizabeth Hoyt
    In this sensuous historical romance, Lucy lives a content country life—until her routine is disrupted by a naked Viscount beaten half to death, whom she must heal back to health. But while Simon is consumed by his quest for vengeance against his attackers, Lucy is consumed by her desire for him.

    A Royal Invitation, by Nora Roberts
    Two love stories intertwine in this romance series from bestselling author Nora Roberts. In one, Prince Bennett is obsessed with Lady Hannah and will not rest until she belongs to him. In the second, a princess flees the confines of the palace in search of a simpler life…but falling for Vermont archaeologist Delaney Caine proves to be anything but simple, indeed.

    The Trouble with Princes, by Tracy Anne Warren
    Ariadne is ready to make a change: when she receivs her inheritance, she will publicl declare her intent never to marry, but to find a lover instead. Rupert Whyte is the prince of a small kingdom, also determined to enjoy his freedom…that is, until marriage gets in the way. But while he seeks an independent lifestyle, he fears Ariadne is about to make a terrible mistake…

    The Heir and the Spare, by Maya Rodale
    An American has charmed London society with her sparkling wit and personality. But Emilia only has the intention of being charmed by one man—Lord Phillip. However, the man she thinks is Phillip, is actually his twin, Devon, the spare child forced to endure society rituals while his brother, the heir, spends their fortune. But Emilia does not know the difference, and unwittingly finds herself being courted by two men who share the same face.

    Be My Prince, by Julianne Maclean
    Forced into an impossible situation, Lady Alexandra is tasked with the impossible: she must become engaged to Prince Randolph to secure her family’s future. Instead, she falls for his younger brother, Nicholas, and the resulting war between her passion and her duty threatens to ruin everyone she holds dear.

    Splendor, by Brenda Joyce
    A woman of little means, Carolyn has managed to garner notoriety as a columnist in a London paper under a male pseudonym. But when her wry wit targets a foreign prince, he stops at nothing to discover her true identity—and to show her the beauty of all she claims to hate, by whisking her away to his home court of St. Petersburg.

    Forbidden, by Jo Beverly
    After a terrible marriage, Serena Riverton is finally done with men. But in a moment of passion and desperation, she seduces Lord Middlethorp, ruining his chances at an honorable marriage. The consequences of one night of passion ensnare them both in a love affair that soon enough neither of them want to escape.

    Thorn, by Intisar Khanani
    A princess cursed to spend her life in the shadows of her family and the court, Alyrra has been forced to marry a foreign prince. But along the journey, they are attacked…and when her identity is mistake for someone else’s, she takes the chance to live someone else’s life.

    Reign of Madness, by Lynn Cullen
    Isabel and Fernando are the heart of the Spanish monarchy…and Juana, their third child, will never sit on their throne. So when she marries, she hopes it may be everything to her that being Queen never would be. That is, until Juana unexpectedly winds up on the throne, and her husband turns on her and seeks power for himself. Learn the story behind infamous Spanish monarch Juana the Mad in this captivating novel.

    Empress of the Night, by Eva Stachniak
    Catherine the Great relives the events of her life including her early years as a daughter-in-law to an Empress, her plans to usurp a King’s throne, and the years of occupying the throne herself.

    Medicis Daughter, by Sophie Perinot
    Catherine de Medici is a fascinating character of history…but her daughter is the one who stars in this story, as she moves from a daughter eager to please her powerful mother by marrying a man she did not love, and suffering in the bloodshed that followed.

    The Princess Saves Herself in this One, by Amanda Lovelace
    This beautiful poetry collection melds fairytales and real life to put the reader in the position of princess in her own story; conquering demons and dragons both physical and internal to find the happily ever after we all deserve.

    What royal reads are distracting you as we count down to the next royal wedding?

    The post Prepare For The Royal Wedding With 50 Royal Reads appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lauren Passell 8:31 pm on 2015/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , hilary mantel,   

    “Strange Things Happen at Wolf Hall:” 14 Things We Learned At Hilary Mantel’s #BNAuthorEvent 


    Photography by Andrew Katzowitz

    Hilary Mantel is the author of the wildly popular Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, two books that focus on Thomas Cromwell and the Tudors, and have been turned into a hit TV show and plays in both London and the US. With Mike Poulton, she wrote Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies: The Stage Adaptation, on sale now, and she spoke before an audience in New York City about watching her characters come alive on stage and screen.

    She’s aware how dark and difficult her books are. “Being so close to this material, I probably forget how disturbing it is. How far off from the kind of redemptive narrative that tends to carry away awards. We make our audience feel but it isn’t feel-good. It’s dark. It’s difficult. The kind of narrative that is easy to like and easy to judge and easy to reward is the kind of narrative where they are lying in the gutter but are looking at the stars. And it’s about self-realization it’s about triumph agains the odds. It’s against smiling through your tears. But in our plays and in my books if you’re lying in the gutter you’re lying in the dirt. You’re not smiling through your tears, youre spitting out your teeth. It’s harsh it’s violent. But it’s Tudor life, we get on with it.”

    She didn’t plan to write three books about Cromwell. “When I first wrote Wolf Hall, I thought I could tell the whole of Thomas Cromwell’s story in in one book. That was my plan. It was only when I got part way through that I came to realize the complexity of the material.”

    Mike Poulton was a great teammate. “We worked together and we worked productively, usually in different parts of the country, sitting up all night, emailing each other draft after draft, scene after scene. I think we entered some sort of match or contest, who could be at the word processor the latest, and who could get up the earliest. I think Mike won because I don’t think he ever slept. And the plays had these amazing disposition to grow longer and longer. In those scant hours when I was asleep and Mike was doing whatever Mike was doing, I think the characters rose from the dead sat down at the keyboard and tapped out more parts. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for why we went to Stratford-on-Avon (where the play is being produced) with plays that were at least a half an hour too long.”

    Finding the perfect characters for the play was all about their energies, not their looks. “When they cast they weren’t after look-a-likes. We wanted someone who could embody the energy of the characters. Because that’s how they are in my mind. Each one was a distinctive energy. And it was much more important to capture that than to match them up feature for features.”

    Writing the play helped her write the third book. “The process of the rehearsal would give me insight as to what I should do, how I might develop characters, even going onto the third book. You might say by the end of the second book, the second play, “isn’t everyone mostly dead?’ This doesn’t stop character development. How can they develop or evolve? Because they go on in Thomas Cromwell’s mind and in memory, that’s where history changes. The dead change long after they’re buried.”

    The third book is taking its time to be written. “People ask me when the third book will be done and I say, “when it wants to be.” This is a big project in my life. I don’t want to compromise it. I owe it to too many lovely readers, a respective audience, to get it right. And if that means taking another season so be it.”


    Photography by Andrew Katzowitz


    Stage production changed greatly when Mantel and Poulton brought the play to the US. “It wasn’t a question of translating it for an American audience as people sometimes think. I have always found that my American readers are as well informed as my English readers. And I anticipated, and thankfully I was right, that Broadway audiences would be very quick. When we were asked was to shorten the scripts, that meant big restructuring, big rewriting and it gave me the chance to put into play some new ideas to consider from the actors and what they brought to it and allowed me to profit from the experience and their commitment to the characters. The actors give me so many ideas often unconsciously. They’re quite capable of turning around to me and saying, “I would never do that,” I like that. Because it means they’re thinking inside that person.”


    Photography by Andrew Katzowitz

    She is enjoying the ride. “This is a central part of my life but it is also the most interesting creatively. I never imagined for myself the creative gains of the last two years, the way it may change what I do in the future, the ideas that have poured in, simply the amount I have learned, I would say more about writing in the last two years than in the previous ten. And I never imagined the success—the phenomenon—that the books have become. So many people have poured their talent and their commitment into them. I never imagined it but then as one of the characters said, “Strange things happen at Wolf Hall.”

    Her high school history teacher inspired her to fall in love with historical fiction. (But not as you’d think.) “It’s a very great challenge to write historical fiction. You can always tell who’s done their research and who hasn’t. What goes on the page has got to be the tip of the ice berg and supported from below by all the other things you learned. I think I learned this from my history teacher in high school. When we think of inspirational teachers we think of wonderful stories and making the past dramatic. She didn’t do that. She just stood eloquently and we took notes as best we could. But why she was intriguing and led me on into the study of history was that you knew that there was much more to it than she was telling you. It’s a great lure that you know that there is a greater complexity waiting. And having learned that from her that has always been the way I’ve tried to work—from the great mass of facts you have you must select the right one, the telling detail, the one that makes a page sing. Don’t tell the reader all you know just to make the reader want to know more.”

    Writing for theater has made her a better writer in general. “I’ve enjoyed facing new challenges in storytelling, which is always good for a writer part when yo’ve come to a certain part in your career when frankly you could just get by doing just what you did. But you don’t want to get into that groove. I’ve had the invaluable experience of being a beginner, walking into the rehearsal room thinking, “I have no idea what’s going on.” It’s so valuable to be plunged back into that creative chaos. There are things I’ve learned about the characters and storylines that I would not have invented if I hadn’t been working with the actors.”

    For Mantel, history comes alive in her research. “In the early days of the play, the week before we went into preview, I was going back to my hotel room reading Thomas Wyatt’s poem written after the death of Anne Boleyn about the lovers, the men who died with her. A verse for each one. It’s an awe-inspiriting and shaking poem. Wyatt has watched these men go to their death. We know where he was held. I read his verse around again and again and again and suddenly I think, “Oh my god he thinks Henry Norris is guilty!” And I can’t prove that. It came flying to me as an instinct. And I read it again and again and again and convinced myself I was right. But that portion of that book is already done. There’s always flashback.”

    Some of the parts of the play are not in the book. “There were reasons I didn’t feel comfortable writing Thomas More’s trial into my novel but everyone said, “Come on, Hill. People expect the trial.” And they do. So I put some stuff together and I was happy with the way it turned out.”

    Mantel cares about details. “In the play, people carry about all sorts of letters and piles of papers, and if by chance they were to drop one one night the audience would see that what’s inside is just what it should be. There’s a brillaitnt woman in Stratford-on-Avon who sits in a workshop at a big table and impersonates people’s handwriting. When I dropped into see her she was learning the script of William Tyndale so Thomas could have a letter from William Tyndale on his desk. It’s that degree of perfectionism, it isn’t seen by audience but it gives the actors a solid place to stand.”

    In Wolf Hall, constantly referring to Cromwell without the antecedent, instead using “he,” was no accident. “I was trying to be always inside his head. I know some readers complained about it, but some readers caught on in the first sentence. It’s always a question when writing historical fiction: how do you feed information to your reader? Two errors: one is to baffle them one is to spoon feed them. If I have to fall into one error or the other I prefer to baffle them. I’ve always wanted to write the book I want to read. I took a risk there and something interesting happens. When you’re inside Cromwell’s head, it seemed to me slightly false that he should be talking about himself, naming himself as Thomas Cromwell, so it became “he.” But as times goes on and the second book dawns, Cromwell is becoming a phenomenon that astonishes even himself. And so sometimes he does name himself he says “he, Cromwell” as if in astonishment that he’s got to be where he is with the people he’s with. I’m trying to do something very difficult with Thomas Cromwell. I’m writing from the inside of the head from a man who is not introspective. He doesn’t take a break to add himself up. He is what he says. People sometimes says “it’s such a deep psychological probing,” but actually it’s not. It’s all illustrated, it’s shown to you. which is why it could take on a visual form.”


    Photography by Andrew Katzowitz



  • Lauren Passell 8:26 pm on 2015/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , hilary mantel, ,   

    A Bookish Conversation with Hilary Mantel at her #BNAuthorEvent 

    HillaryMantel3 (1)

    Artwork by Grant Lindahl

    Hilary Mantel recently visited the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan to sign copies of Wolf Hall & Bring Up The Bodies: The Stage Adaptation, Mike Poulton’s two-part stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels. Before the event, we had some questions for her.

    Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are written completely around facts, and you stick to that methodology. Why?
    I only make things up when the facts run out.

    So you look in the gaps?
    Exactly. But you have to make sure that whether a fact is unknown or whether you personally do not know it.

    How do you do that?
    That’s where the work lies, in making sure you’ve covered every possible angle and being very careful and only in the last inch saying ‘nobody knows this and nobody could ever know this.’ Because the last thing you want is to be proven wrong.

    Has anyone ever called you out on anything?
    No, they haven’t, to be quite honest. Sometimes I’ve found things out afterwards that I wish I’d known. But it’s seldom quite as simple as that. It’s usually that you get a little bit of knowledge after. Or sometimes you wish you had the courage of your convictions. There is an instance in Wolf Hall where my guess was better than the usually accepted version but I didn’t have the confidence right at the beginning to go with my guess and now I wish I had. And now more things have come to light since. You think that it’s the sixteenth century and nothing will come up, but things come up all the time.

    Do you think that’s because of you and what you’ve done?
    I think it is in a way because it makes people go looking. There’s a particular instance, Cromwell’s son, there was no known portrait of him. And yet it’s obvious he must have been painted. Now we have two, by people’s best guess. I raise the question of his age. And they were looking for someone of the wrong age. I can’t take credit for that but I was very pleased to see it in his face.

    What was it like to reread A Place of Greater Safety after holding onto it. Was it hard to reread something you’d written so long ago?
    Yeah, it had been sitting on a shelf for years, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was quite possible that it was no good at all, and if it was no good at all, I’d have to say, ‘oh well, that’s where my twenties went.’ It was a frightening time. But it was my choice because I could have kept it quiet.

    You wrote it in the present tense?
    Parts of it, a good part of it. Some of it was in the past tense, unlike Wolf Hall which is in the present tense. But it’s actually technically a much more complicated book. It has everything you can think of. That’s what you do with your first book, you try things out.

    Are you ever tempted to stretch the facts and sneak in creative liberties?
    Never. The joy is in having the facts. The better the facts, the greater the triumph when you manage to work them into drama. It’s up to you as the writer to be s0 quick on your feet that whatever obstacles those facts present, you just work around them. And I don’t mean in the sense of avoiding them.

    So you have set up a challenge that most writers don’t want to work with?
    I don’t know if most people would. My kind of historical fiction is different than most people’s because I like writing about real characters. I write about real people. It’s a different set of challenges faced by some historical novelists. It’s not that I think they are shirking it, I think they’re just doing something different. Historical fiction covers such a multiplicity of styles and forms. Nobody is doing it wrong, it’s just a question of, this is how I do it.

    Who else does it like you? Did you learn how to do this from someone else?
    No, I didn’t. People have written with real figures in the foreground but I can’t say I was apprenticed to someone. When you come across a book that’s done that well, it gives you courage. I think that’s what influence is, the influence of other writers. It’s that they inspire you by existing.HillaryMantel4 (1)

    Is it true you like to write about the underdogs? 
    That’s fair to say. I’m not interested in people born to power. I’m interested in people who have to go out and wrestle with circumstances. A story with kings and queens can be very intriguing but it’s not really my story.

    When did your fascination with Cromwell begin?
    I’ve been thinking of him for all of my writing life, that is to say, I began writing in my early twenties, and I saw myself as a historical novelist. And I thought when I finished my book about the French Revolution but then I became a contemporary novelist and then I wrote other books and you come to a point where it’s very hard to break off from a certain period. It’s so time consuming. It’s easy to do when you’re unpublished and time stretches before you. But it’s not easy to stop the world and get off while you research a whole new period. Eventually I thought, “now is the time.”

    Do you know who else you would write about?
    I have no one in view, to be honest. I have other books in view. But not one single character.

    How does your creativity come into play when writing around facts?
    Every time I say, “he thought,” I’m making it up. I don’t know what he thought. It’s implicit in every line. The whole world is interpreted through Cromwell’s eyes. And I think also the creativity comes in the synthesis and the connections between one piece of knowledge and another. It’s always hard to think of examples. But you cast your net very widely. You don’t just study the politics but the whole era, its culture, and you go back a couple of hundred years because you’re thinking of what these people have read and what they see, Cromwell particularly as a young man in Italy being shaped by a very different culture. I think when a spark jumps, that is a real joy of writing historical fiction. Or when you make a connection that’s grounded in someone’s life, in their sensory experience.

    What do you do to inspire your creativity to write?
    Oh, I’m always in the mood to write, I’m never not. Sometimes it is true, there are spring breaks, and you’ve been exposed to too many words. And what I think you do then I don’t have to go look at something, I just have to think and walk. I’ll maybe just go and read some poetry. I’ll get some different rhythms in my head.

    If you didn’t win these awards and didn’t have millions of fans, if people weren’t dying to read what you’ve written next, would you still have to write?
    I would have to finish this project, yes. I think that if somebody came along and said ‘you will never be published again’ I think I’d do something else.

    What would you do?
    Another form of writing. Or I don’t know! Twenty years ago there were probably more choices. But I think I do know people who cease to be published and they just write their manuscripts and throw in the towel. I don’t think I’m like that. I think I’ll always find some practical use. I’ve worked in different forms. I think that if somehow I run out of steam as a novelist I’ll just skip to someone else. My problem is never lack of ideas. It’s how to prioritize which project to do next.

    You walk into a big, beautiful Barnes & Noble like this one. Which section do you head to first?
    I’d go to history to see what’s new. First thing you think is, “have I missed something? Has something sneaked out and been printed and I didn’t know?” And then I’d head over to psychology.

    Mantel’s husband: Followed by stationary.

    Oh yeah, I like to buy notebooks.


    Artwork by Grant Lindahl

    You write in a notebook?
    Yeah, I do. I keep a journal as a work book.

    If you were going to pick one book to be in the Hilary Mantel book club and make everyone read it, what would it be?
    I’d make it a book I dearly wish I’d written called Good Behavior, by Molly Keane. I think she would have won The Booker Prize if it hadn’t been published the year of Midnight’s Children. It is the perfect novel. It might not be everyone’s taste but technically it’s indivisible. She wrote it after recovering from a stroke and lost all her speech. And she produced this wonderful thing. It’s in a different league. I can read that book again and again.

    How many times have you read it?
    I don’t know because I pick it up and dip into it. How does she do it, wow! It’s one of those books the the narrator doesn’t know what’s going on. And gradually the reader grasps what’s going on. There a lot of books that use that conceit but it’s so exceptionally well done. You have a real love/hate relationship with the narrator. It’s a succession of beautiful set pieces. As someone who loves the theater, I love set pieces.

    What book did you like as a child or teenager?
    Kidnapped. It was the first time I read a story and thought, how is this done? And it was the beginning of reading analytically, I think.

    It was the book that made you a reader?
    It was the book that made me a writer. Although I didn’t form an ambition to be a writer then. But something got into my head as a template. Even though I wanted to know how it was done, I’m not sure I had any answers. I don’t think I had the vocabulary. I just knew it was working well.

  • Jeff Somers 6:58 pm on 2015/06/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , hilary mantel, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, the king and i, the tonys, ,   

    Four Books That Won Big at the Tonys (and One We’re Waiting For) 

    When you hear the word adaptation in reference to novels, you tend to think of big-budget TV series like HBO’s Game of Thrones or Starz’s Outlander, or big-budget films like World War Z. But in recent years, there’s been a surge in novels adapted for the Broadway stage. In a modern theater atmosphere where a bunch of ABBA songs and a plot so thin you can see through it can be a huge hit, these novel-based shows have become the most exciting tickets to snag.

    Case in point: the 2015 Tony Awards were dominated by shows based on books, with four books in particular winning sixteen major-category Tonys at the awards ceremony.

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    WINNER, Best Play, Best Actor in a Play (Alex Sharp), Best Direction in a Play, Best Scenic Design in a Play, Best Lighting Design in a Play
    Haddon’s award-winning 2003 novel is narrated by Christopher, a highly intelligent boy of 15 who suffers from a collection of symptoms—social anxiety, difficulty reading social cues, dislike of physical contact, difficulty appreciating subtlety—that point to something like Asperger’s Syndrome. When he finds a neighbor’s dog murdered, he decides to use his intellectual powers to investigate the crime, slowly expanding his narrow world in frightening ways, and discovering that all is not as it seems. Getting Christopher’s distinctive perspective into a live-action production is an amazing achievement. The play ingeniously captures Christopher’s humor, panic, unhappiness, and ultimately unique voice while showing the audience how the world appears to him.

    Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    WINNER, Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris), Best Direction in a Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score
    The first Broadway play to feature a lesbian protagonist (no, really), this musical is very different from Bechdel’s comic memoir about coming out and discovering that her father, a teacher and owner of the local funeral parlor—the “Fun Home” of the title—was a man of mystery: a closeted gay man who may have had relationships with boys under the age of consent and who may have committed suicide. Bechdel’s surprisingly rich and humorous memoir is transformed on the stage into a thrilling, satisfying musical that stays true to the real heart of Bechdel’s memoir, which has everything to do with the simple universal tragedy that it’s hard to know even the people we love the most —and that we often do not realize this until it’s too late to do anything about it.

    The King and I, based on Anna and the King, by Margaret Landon
    WINNER, Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Kelli O’Hara), Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, Best Costume Design in a Musical
    Landon’s “semi-fictionalized” biographical novel has been beloved by readers for generations, and was originally adapted for Broadway in 1951. Based on the two memoirs of the real-life Anna Leonowens, the story of an English widow with two children who is invited to Siam by its king in the late 19th century to teach him and his family English and British customs has been a permanent part of the popular culture ever since, with Yul Brynner’s performance in the original production remaining iconic to this day. The 2015 revival is the fourth time this musical has been staged, and may well be the best, as its four Tonys suggest, and while he didn’t win a Tony like his co-star, Ken Watanabe is always wonderful to see perform.

    Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
    WINNER, Best Costume Design in a Play
    Mantel’s Wolf Hall is quickly turning into a phenomenon, as the stage adaptation took home a Tony and the television series produced by the BBC is some of the best appointment-viewing of recent years. By focusing on Thomas Cromwell instead of Henry VIII, Mantel gave us a view of the Tudor Dynasty seldom seen before, and the events of Henry VIII’s reign are still more dramatic and shocking than most completely fictional dramas, including Game of Thrones. The Broadway adaptation finds a footing and tone distinct from the books (or the series) and reads as almost a lighthearted, gossipy approach to the material, which works incredibly well in a live audience scenario and brings out aspects of Mantel’s work and actual history that might otherwise be missed.

    One We’re Waiting For: American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
    Look, no one’s saying adapting this novel into a musical was a good idea, or a workable idea—in fact, reviews from its London run, despite starring The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, were not great—but it’s coming to Broadway in Spring of 2016, and who could possibly resist the delirious idea of turning this book into an all-singing, all-dancing piece of live theater? We cannot. It may not win any Tonys, but any Broadway show that includes “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis and The News has already magically sold us tickets.

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