Sandra Byrd, author of “To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn” answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.
1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
I honestly don’t think I’d want to trade my life for anyone else’s, but I’d like to have observed quite a few things. I’d like to have been in Jerusalem during the time of Christ. I’d like to have been an observer of both the French and American revolutions. I’d like to pop in and out of London at various points from its founding more than 1000 years ago to present, especially in the earliest years. I’ve always been interested in Morocco.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
Anytime from 1500 to 1900 in England. I love the early Renaissance through the Victorian age.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Cate Blanchett, Glenda Jackson, Helen Mirran, Anne-Marie Duff, all of whom played Queen Elizabeth I, and the sovereign herself. I’d like to see her feelings on how each actress interpreted her.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Sir Robert Worcester, the owner of Allington Castle, the historic home of the Wyatt family, has invited me to be a guest at his home. Perhaps I could simply overstay?
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
I’d love for Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt to come back and give me a tour of high-brow England, visiting all of the places she wrote about, which I love best. And I’d love for Charles Dickens to take me ’round the darker, common-man kinds of sites he knew best.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Henry was certainly dashing in his earliest years, but I think Louis remained dashing longer. I’ve always been fascinated by his unusual marriage with Madame de Maintenon, to whom he seems to have remained faithful! While I love Tudor England, Louis gets points for seeming to be repentant on his deathbed.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Tie between Anne Boleyn and Kateryn Parr. I love Anne for her fire, wit, and strength. I love Kateryn for her affection, sweetness, and learning.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
Oh, English for sure. The French win for food and fashion, hands-down. I read that Somerset Maugham quipped if you want to eat well in England eat breakfast three times a day. But the French have always had trouble finding a keeping a stable government.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
“Shogun”, “The Sunne in Splendour”, and “A Sweetness to the Soul”.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
As a Seattle girl, normally I’d say coffee, but a London Fog (Earl Grey, slightly sweetened, with warmed milk) is pretty tasty, too.
Sandra Byrd’s official website: