An interview with C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen's Vow

As a huge fan of C.W. Gortner and his work, I was so pleased to be able to interview him about his latest novel, The Queen's Vow and get to know a little more about him as a person!  I'll be reviewing The Queen's Vow tomorrow, so pop back tomorrow to check that out!

Before we get to the interview, I thought I'd share a little bit of his bio:

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

And now, on to the interview...

1. Tell us a little bit about the book:

The Queen’s Vow is the rarely told story of young Isabella of Castile’s dramatic and tumultuous struggle to win her throne. It follows her life from her childhood as a forgotten princess, living in exile with her mother and brother, to her dangerous adolescence when she was branded a traitor and risked everything to marry Fernando of Arag√≥n, to her transformation as the famed warrior-queen who irrevocably changed Spain and the world. The novel ends with the most triumphant year of her reign: 1492.  

2. How long have you been writing and what do you love about it?
I’ve been writing all my life and writing professionally – getting paid J – since 2005. What I love most about writing is the unexpected: I often don’t know from one day to the next what will happen on the page, how a character may choose to react, how a scene might develop. Though I write historical fiction and of course have facts and a timeline to adhere to, the creative process of re-imagining these people’s lives, of turning the arid historical record into a living panorama, is always exciting for me. I feel as if I have a chance to travel back in time.

3. Your books are all steeped in so much history, how do you do all of your research?
Well, I’ve often researched a lot of it beforehand. I’ve been studying history, in particular the 16th century, for many years; history was my favorite subject in school. I read history books for fun. So, much of the background information I need to flesh out my story is familiar to me and when I find a particular person to write about, I focus my intensive research on her. All in all, the research for a book can take up to three years but I’m also one of those writers who researches as I go. I cram in enough to get started and plunge in; otherwise, I could happily research forever and not write a word. When I get stuck or find myself lagging, I return to my sources for inspiration. Also, my evenings are dedicated to at least an hour of research reading.

4. What hobbies/interests do you have?
Besides reading, I like to cook, travel, watch movies, do animal rescue work, take care of my pets, be outdoors in nature, and, of course, shop. I’m a wee bit addicted to shoes.

5. If you could invite 4 people (real or fictional, living or dead) to a dinner party, who would you invite and what would you serve?
I’d invite my partner, my late father, Catherine de Medici, and my agent. I’d serve pasta.

6. I can’t live without…

7. Something people would be surprised to know about me is…
I rarely drink alcohol; I don’t like the taste.

Thanks so much Mr. Gortner for participating in this Acting Balanced interview... readers who want to connect with him can check out his website at and follow him on twitter @cwgortner