18 May 2016

Born to Treason

Full Disclosure: I have known E.B. Wheeler since college. Life has taken us its various ways, but one thing has always held true--Emily B. knows how to write a good story. She has only gotten better with time, and Born to Treason showcases her talent admirably.


From Goodreads:

"Joan Pryce is not only a Catholic during the English Reformation but also Welsh, and comes from a family of proud revolutionaries. But when a small act of defiance entangles her in a deadly conspiracy, a single misstep may lead her straight to the gallows. Now, Joan must navigate a twisting path that could cost her life, her freedom, and her chance of finding love."

Joan Pryce is one of those characters that feels really true to life--the reader can really get into her head and understand not only what she is feeling, but why she is feeling that way. The details of domestic life in the 16th century are neatly woven into the narrative and bringing to life what it was to live in a manor--the persistent cold and damp, the daily occupations that needed to be performed even by the heads of household to meet everyone's needs, even the relative scarcity of good clothing. Add those to some excellent character and plot development, and there were no info dumps required to get the reader up to speed. I cannot tell you how much I *loved* that!

Instead, Emily brought the conflicts of the time to life by letting us see how Joan felt about them, how her loyalty to religion and country called into question her right to exist, according to the policies of the current government. This was difficult for me to read, because I really admire Elizabeth the First for balancing the forces in England and making her reign possible, but I sympathized with Joan and how the policies Liz 1 put in place negatively affected her life. But I truly admired the fact that Joan didn't make any reckless choices, either--she did what she could, but didn't overreach her abilities and resources. She was careful with the people around her, and how her decisions could affect their lives. She had the maturity I would expect from a character her age in that time period.

I had a hard time putting the book down--the entire story was intense, but not overwhelming. Emily, I tip my hat to you. Now will you please write a story about Nicholas? Because he was pretty awesome too, and I think his history would be an intriguing read.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

I got an interview with Emily, too! My life rocks. 

First, a short bio:
E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She attended BYU, majoring in history with an English minor, and earned graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. She's the award-winning author of THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL and several short stories, magazine articles, and scripts for educational software programs, as well as BORN TO TREASON (May 2016) and NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN (November 2016). She lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband, daughters, various pets, and as many antique roses as she can cram into her yard. If she had spare time, she would spend it playing harp and hammered dulcimer, gardening, hiking, shooting archery, knitting, and reading.

And on to the interview!

1. In your early attempts at writing, what is the most embarrassing thing you wrote?

In high school, my best friend and I wrote scripts for several mash-up parody movies, like “Swing Kids: The Next Generation.” They involved scenes like Kenny G trying to use his saxophone to smash open canned food in a post-apocalyptic world. Though, honestly, we had a blast doing it, so I'm not that embarrassed. :)

 2. What is your writing routine? 

 I'm not a morning person, but I've found, with my kids' schedules, I only have the time and emotional energy to write first thing in the morning. So, I get up an hour or so before everyone else and write. If I'm struck by inspiration during the day or at night, I'll jot down as much as I can and then plot while I clean, walk the kids to school, etc.

 3. Do you have any favorite music to listen to while you write? Why?

 When I'm in the writing groove, I tend to tune everything else out, and while I'm editing, I don't like any distractions, so I'm not a music-while-writing person.

 4. Just to switch things up a bit -- you can have any superhero power you want but you're trapped in a book. What power do you have and what book are you trapped in? Why?

I wouldn't want to be stuck in most of the books I read! I'm going to cheat a little and say I'd love to be trapped in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender (they have graphic novels—it counts!), and be a fire bender. Why? Because it would be awesome! :)

We love The Last Airbender at our house! I think I'd rather be an earth-bender, but that might be because I'm not looking forward to landscaping my new front yard. Being an earth-bender would make that so much easier! Anyway....

5. When you're absolutely sick of your own writing, what books/genre do you read to give yourself a break? 

I enjoy escaping into Georgette Heyer's world, and my guilty pleasure is Gothic romance. I'm not sure I'll ever try to write one, but I love reading them, and they give me a good break from some of the heavier stuff I read in history and historical fiction.

 6. What's the best feedback/compliment you've ever gotten? 

 Unofficially, one of my former professors—an expert on Renaissance Britain—said Born to Treason “...didn't make me grumpy.” Coming from him, I felt like I'd won the Newbery or something. Officially, I got a review from a teenage girl saying she liked my book because, “The romance isn't stupid.” I set out to make the romances in my books “not stupid,” so I was thrilled.

I'm no expert on Britain in any form, but I have to agree--your details seemed to be dead on. And the romance is definitely NOT stupid. Well done!

 7. What is the most important life lesson you've learned so far? 

 Writing has taught me a lot, but I think the most important thing I've learned from it so far is to be true to my own vision—to focus first on what I know the story needs, and then to listen with an open mind to other people's opinions. Oddly enough, by stressing less about what other people think, I'm able to listen better to what they have to say.

Thanks for stopping by, Emily, and thank you SO MUCH for writing Born to Treason. I really enjoyed it!

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