Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Guest Author: Siri Mitchell

I'm excited to welcome Siri Mitchell today. Siri and I recently met at the ACFW writer’s conference in MN. Read on to learn more about our exchange. Here's our interview celebrating the release of her book "A Constant Heart." We're also running a CONTEST for a chance to win a free copy. See below for more information.

Thank you, Siri, for visiting. Welcome!

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit. I’m excited to be here!

Tell us a little more about your writing life. How long have you been writing? Was “Kissing Adrien” your first book? (I love that book.)

Thanks for your kind words! I began writing in 1994; 4 manuscripts, 10 years, and 153 rejections later, my first book went under contract in 2004. But it wasn’t actually my ‘first’ book that got contracted; it was a fifth book that I wrote just for the publisher. They had read my non-fiction manuscript (Christians Should be More Parisian) and a fiction manuscript (which would later be published as Chateau of Echoes) and they asked if I could turn the non-fiction manuscript into a novel. After having written for 10 years without any publisher or agent interest, it actually took me a month or two to decide whether I really wanted to write a fifth manuscript without a firm commitment to publish. Eventually, I decided that I would try and, after having read some sample chapters, Harvest House contracted Kissing Adrien as well as the second manuscript I had written, Something Beyond the Sky.

Please tell us more about A Constant Heart. What is the plot of the story?

A Constant Heart represents a new path in publishing for me. It’s my first historical and is set in Elizabethan England where beauty is a curse, friendship is bought and sold, and true love is the unpardonable sin. Written from two POVs (his and hers) it follows a knight’s daughter upon her introduction to Court after her arranged marriage to an earl. When her introduction to the Queen goes awry she has to figure out how to navigate the courtier’s lifestyle and how to place her husband back into the Queen’s good graces. And along the way (horror of horrors!), the earl and his wife manage to fall in love.

What inspired this novel?

I knew I wanted to write a historical and I wanted to investigate what it would have been like to be a woman in a different era. I’ve always been interested in fashion, so that’s where I started my research. The more I read about the history of fashion, the more I realized I wanted to write about women in past eras and how (and why) they subjected themselves to dangerous beauty practices. The fashion element in this book was the use of lead-based cosmetics at the Elizabethan Court (and the resulting lead poisoning). The idea that a woman would destroy her body while trying to become beautiful was haunting. And I found the thought of love not being the answer (to any question at the Elizabethan Court) to be fascinating.

Will there be a sequel to A Constant Heart?

There’s not one currently planned. There will, however, be two historicals that follow it. The next, Love’s Pursuit, will be released in June. A classic love story set in Puritan New England, it features the fashion element of Puritan dress codes and it examines the great lengths to which God will go in order to pursue us. The third will be set in 1890s NYC during the debut into society of the main character. The fashion element is tight corseting. It will be a story of romance in unexpected places and of competition for the most eligible bachelor in the city. When marriage is an obligation and the social season is only a few months long, what’s a little rivalry among friends?

A Constant Heart is a very well-written historical. Is this your first historical? Why the change from contemporary? Which is your favorite to write (contemporary or historical)? Can we expect more historicals from you?

Thanks so much for the compliment! A Constant Heart is my first true historical. Chateau of Echoes had a medieval component to it, but it’s classified as contemporary fiction. I like writing in both genres and derive the same satisfaction from both. I have to admit though that writing historicals takes a bit longer for me simply because there’s more research to be done. Had I been smart, I would have proposed three historicals in the same time period. As it is, by the end of this year, I’ll be widely read in Elizabethan England, Puritan New England, and Victorian America!

What is the primary take-away you wish for readers to hold and ponder when they’ve finished reading A Constant Heart?

I want them to think. I want them to ask questions like: At what price, beauty? At what price, love? What is true beauty? Who owns beauty? And who gets to decide what is beautiful?

What’s next for you in writing?

Love’s Pursuit, the Puritan love story, will release in summer 2009. The third book, the Victorian romance, will release in spring or summer 2010…it will depend upon how quickly I can write it. I would love for readers to have access to it sooner rather than later, so I’m typing just as fast as I can!

How can readers learn more or contact you if they wish?

I love to hear from readers at siri@sirimitchell.com Fun links for my books can be found at http://sirimitchell.com and readers can also sign up for my e-newsletter at that site. All readers are automatically entered every month in a drawing for a free book.

Thanks again for visiting! It’s been a pleasure. And it was great meeting you at ACFW’s conference 2008. We wish you all the best.

And now for my review:

When I caught up to her at the Mall of America Booksigning (where we made history with 127 Christian authors all in one place signing books!) she signed a book plate (a sticker) for me to take home with me for later placement in the book. Here’s what she wrote:


To Annette—

May your beauty

Always be

Your own

Siri


Wow, huh? I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. I'd never seen a comment like that when other authors had signed books. Then I read her novel. Amazing.


In the name of beauty, the characters in Siri’s book used lead paint on their faces in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. They also dyed their hair with potions that made them woozy and made their eyes burn. (oooh, that sounds a little familiar to our culture) In their wig-crazy upper society, the thinking was that the “hairs” would eventually fall out from all the mistreatment of the hot iron used to twist it which caused breakage as well as the dyes, and then you could order a periwig made. Problem solved! Oh, boy….


The female courtiers who wore the lead-based paint suffered lead poisoning without understanding their regimens in the name of fashion were killing them, affecting their mental capacity, their physical health and leading to the deaths of their babies (in utero as well as still births). Very sobering. Siri had a wonderful knack for immersing us in her story world. I loved that the book was written entirely first person POV. She took us into both the hero’s and the heroine’s heads. I highly recommend this well-researched book. Ladies will rethink their beauty regimens. This book is entertaining as well as insightful.


Other recommendations: Kissing Adrien, Siri Mitchell’s first published book.


CONTEST INFO: Hey readers, leave a comment for a chance to win Siri's book. We'll hold the drawing first thing Tuesday, October 14th.

20 comments:

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I believe I'd greatly enjoy this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

Anonymous said...

This book looks interesting. Please enter my name. Thanks!

Erica
bookhearth [at] yahoo [dot] com

sarahw said...

looks and sounds really interesting. please enter my name in the draw.
thanks,
sarahwoll at hotmail dot com

Carole said...

Siri is a new author to me, and I enjoyed the interview. Historical fashion and dangerous beauty practices are great motivators for research. I would love to read this book and appreciate the giveaway.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Kelley said...

I love Siri's books and would love to win this one! Thanks!

Lindsey said...

I'm really excited about reading this - and I'd be thrilled to win! Thanks for the giveaway!

Lindsey
ladyufshalott at yahoo.com

tetewa said...

Just received her newsletter with a link here for a free read, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

squiresj said...

I got the priviledge of reading this book before it hit the shelves. It was sure different than any book that I had every read. Because it was so unique, it kept me reading and reading and reading. It was very difficult to put down.
Jane Squires jrs362 (at)hotmail (dot) com
If I win, send the copy to Kim Vogel Sawyer's who's books I have truly enjoyed too.

Katherine said...

I'm in Paris now andI am starting to feel the mental crunch of beauty and trying to match up to what society feels is beautiful. This would be an interesting book, because our ideas about beauty haven't changed, just what we consider to be beautiful.

Rachelle said...

The book sounds similar to "The Other Boleyn Girl" which is also about power struggle and losing/finding love. I've watched the movie and loved it. I'm very interested in this book. Hope I get a chance to read it. :)

The Dynamic Uno said...

Siri Mitchell's writing definitely sucks you right in. Thank you for giving me a chance to win this book. :)

Moose Spot said...

I can't wait to read Siri's new book. I loved "Kissing Adrien" and "Chateau of Echoes". Please enter me in the drawing...

Melissa said...

This sounds like a good book, please enter me into the drawing. imagacutie[at]bellsouth[dot] net

Annette M. Irby said...

Hey everyone, welcome! So glad you're all here reading about Siri's book. I'll hold the drawing in the morning.

FYI. The drawing results will be posted here, and I will contact you via email. But, I've just launched a new book review blog for future book reviews. Check it out for more fun book news as I start adding reviews after this post's drawing tomorrow! www.annetteirbyreviews.blogspot.com (Net's Book Notes)

God bless, dear readers!
Annette

Celeste said...

I have loved reading all of Siri's books and I would love the opportunity to read this one as well! Thank you!!

jessica merritt said...

I can't wait to read this book! I love her other ones. Thanks for the opportunity to win one! :)

Jessica

Lynette Sowell said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! :)

Annette M. Irby said...

Hey everyone, I wrote all your names on scraps of paper and pulled one from the bowl. And the winner is----Jane Squires (SquiresJ) who has requested, since she's already read the book, that I pass it along to Kim Vogel Sawyer. So, Kim, you win!

Thanks everyone for reading.

Just a little FYI---after today, my new book reviews/contests, etc. will be held at my new book review blog: "Net's Book Notes" (www.annetteirbyreviews.blogspot.com)
This blog will have posts on my thoughts about life.

Happy reading!

Jennifer said...

Yea! Another book by Siri Mitchell. I can't wait to dive into another enchanting tale! Please enter me in the contest.

Annette M. Irby said...

Hi Jennifer, sorry to let you know we've already had the drawing.

Please check over at my new book review blog in the coming weeks for more book reviews and contests.

www.annetteirbyreviews.blogspot.com