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Songbird by Karen Heenan - Book Tour

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Songbird: A Novel of the Tudor Court

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels, best grows up with in the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

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Author Q&A
1. What is the first book that made you cry?

There were random animal books as a small child, but the first “real” cry was Anne of Green Gables (Matthew!). I lost my dad young, so I could really get inside of Anne and it gave me a way of processing feelings I didn’t yet have the words to describe.
Also, whichever volume of the Little House books when Laura’s dog, Jack, died. They’d been through so much together.
2. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
I’m learning that now. Songbird took ages, but that was because I wasn’t writing for publication. I wrote for myself, because I enjoyed it, and as a form of therapy when I got home from my office job. Since there were no deadlines, I took my time, meandered through history, wrote, rewrote, tinkered…
Final edits for Songbird were handed over in March or April, 2019, and I started working on a not-sequel, another Tudor book featuring a secondary character from Songbird, not long after. I’m almost done with the first draft, and I hope to be able to turn it around and have a draft fit to be read by others by early spring.
That’s a long way of saying “about a year.”
3. How do you select the names of your characters?
Since I write historical fiction, I start with common names at the time and try not to do anything that will bring the reader out of the time period. As much as I might like to change things up, I remember all too well reading historical novels with heroines named “Lavender” and “Raven.”
4. What creature do you consider your "spirit animal" to be?
Definitely a cat. I’m very good at napping and stretching, and I alternate from unconsciousness to frantic tail-chasing activity very easily.
5. What are your top 5 favorite movies?
Oh, that’s a difficult one. Movies are like books--it really depends on what you need at the moment, but here goes:
1)            Casablanca (forever)
2)            Love Actually (I know some people find it problematic, but I love the entire cast, and the interweaving of stories is so well done)
3)            Henry V (the Kenneth Branagh version--great cast, great music, and my favorite Shakespeare play)
4)            It’s a Wonderful Life (who doesn’t need a good cry at least once a year?)
5)            A Room with a View (so. stinking. beautiful), tied with The Philadelphia Story, for snappy dialogue and amazing casting--every single one was a winner).
6. If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?
Curl up with a pot of coffee and a book, and know I could read in peace.
7. What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?
Jo March. She always seemed like a lot of fun, and we could talk writing and read each other’s work.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Perfectionism hurts. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Writing is a process. It takes practice to get good, but just keep going. First drafts are messy. They never look like the idea that was in your head, but with each revision, you get closer. You can’t fix a blank page. Also, read. A lot. In your genre and outside of it. Being a lifelong reader is what made me a good writer.
9. What book do you wish you had written?
The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett. Her immersive world-building, her characters, the level of historical detail that makes you never question--she is writer goals for me.
10. Tell us 10 fun facts about yourself! :)
1)            I’m a cat lover who’s still slightly allergic to cats. At my peak, I had 13 of them anyway.
2)            I love to sew, and make a lot of my own clothes, and most of my husband’s shirts.
3)            I try to grow as much of our food as I can. Gardening clears my head, and it gets me up and moving from too many sedentary activities.
4)            I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. (It didn’t happen).
5)            I can’t drive. Never learned how.
6)            I also can’t swim. I might tackle that someday.
7)            I’m an only child, so I was always fascinated by books with large families.
8)            I love to travel, and until I met my husband in 2007, I always traveled alone. The first time I went overseas, I was 18 and I’d never been on a plane before.
9)            I spent 30 years in a cubicle as a legal secretary. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean it should be a life sentence.
10)          I was painfully shy as a kid and it still surprises me to hear myself speak in public.

Author Bio –  Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.
She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

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