1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I can't point to any specific inspiration because I have been writing almost as long as I remember. There have been times when my writing took a backseat to other pursuits, but never a time when I gave up on the idea of authorship altogether.
2. What is your favorite book you have written and why?
They all have a special place in my heart, but The Traitor’s Wife is the book that got my career as a novelist started, so it's probably my sentimental favorite.
3. Who is your favorite character you wrote about in Her Highness, the Traitor and who is your least favorite?
When I started writing Her Highness, it was originally going to be about only Frances. Then I came across the letter that Jane Dudley wrote to Lady Paget begging for help in saving her husband’s life, and it moved me so much, I knew I wanted to tell her story as well as Frances's. So for a time, Jane Dudley became my favorite character—to the point where she eclipsed poor Frances. But as I got to know Frances better, I became very fond of her too. John Dudley also endeared himself to me. I even developed a sneaky affection for the Duchess of Somerset, to the point that I'd like to give her a novel of her own someday.
I find it very hard to dislike any of the characters in Her Highness—at least any of the major characters, because I think they all had some redeeming quality. Collectively I dislike the men who deserted Jane Grey's cause at an opportune time and left John Dudley to face the queen’s wrath alone.
4. What is your next book project?
I'm working on a novel about Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, who was a niece of Henry VIII. As a young woman, Margaret had the bad judgment to become secretly engaged to Lord Thomas Howard and got thrown into the Tower as a result. Later, Margaret schemed to marry her son Henry, Lord Darnley to Mary, Queen of Scots. It was a match which would in tragedy—and which would ultimately put the Stuarts on the throne.
5. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Read widely in your chosen genre, so you can figure out what works and what doesn't and so you can develop the skill to recognize when your work needs to be improved. Listen to constructive criticism and be willing to learn from it. Above all, write! Too many people wait for the perfect time and place to write and because of that never get anything done. You don't need the perfect writing nook; you don't need to retire or to have the kids in school. You just need your imagination and your passion to tell a story, and if it’s a story worth telling, you need to make the time to tell it.
Thanks for interviewing me!
Susan Higginbotham has worked as an attorney and as an editor and currently works for a legal publisher. She lives in North Carolina with her family. Her first novel, The Traitor’s Wife, won the gold medal for Historical/Military Fiction in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Susan has written two novels, The Traitor’s Wife and Hugh and Bess, set in fourteenth-century England, and two novels, The Stolen Crown and The Queen of Last Hopes, set during the Wars of the Roses. Her forthcoming novel, Her Highness, the Traitor, is her first foray into Tudor fiction.