Interview and Giveaway: Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Thwarted Queen as part of the Thwarted Queen Virtual Book Tour thanks the the lovely Amy over at Historic Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Thwarted Queen takes us thru a thrilling period in English history, The War of the Roses and the end of the Plantagenet kings. In this novel we meet the spirited woman who would be the mother of two notorious kings: Cecylee de Neville. When young Cecylee marries Richard Duke of York she has no idea what her future will hold, but this strong woman holds her own in a world where the enemy is everywhere…lurking behind curtains, plotting against you….waiting to destroy you.

If you haven’t done so already be sure to enter the giveaway (details at the end of this post) for a chance to win a copy of Thwarted Queen (open to US ONLT). Be sure to Tweet about the giveaway using the Twitter hashtag  #ThwartedQueenVirtualTour.

 Giveaway runs from 2/19/13 to 2/26/13.

Winner will be announced 2/27/13.

Cynthia also agreed to do an interview with me, so without further ado please welcome Cynthia Sally Haggard to The Lit Bitch!


The Lit Bitch: You are obviously a fan of the Plantagenet kings and the War of the Roses. Can you tell me what it was about Cecylee de Neville in-particular that captured your attention most?

Cynthia Haggard: Cecylee lived at a time when women were not treated well, but she doesn’t behave as a doormat. So I was intrigued by this contradiction. How does a woman who grows up in a culture that tells her she is inferior develop the kind of will to fight back? That is what interested me about her.

The Lit Bitch: Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, Thwarted Queen is a historic fiction novel, but since it’s based on true events did you find it difficult to separate fact and fiction?

Cynthia Haggard: I must say I didn’t. I tried very hard to be truthful to what was known about her, and when I had to invent things I tried to do it in a way that made sense to what we know about her. For example, she had two nicknames. The flattering one was “Rose of Raby” because of her beauty. The unflattering one was “Proud Cis” because she had a temper. I tried to use these nuggets of information to give the reader a three-dimensional character, who was as truthful as I could make her.

The Lit Bitch: With the recent announcement of the discovery of Richard III’s bones in Leicester recently, I expect a resurgence in all thing Plantagenet. As a writer and a historian, I’m sure you find that exciting! Can you talk about what first attracted you to this particular historic period and why?

Cynthia Haggard: This is such a fascinating time in history because it has aspects to it that we can still connect with, yet it is far enough away to be very foreign. I love reading Fairy Tales, and I find it interesting that the Victorian illustrators of these tales chose the fashions of the fifteenth century, when Cecylee was alive, to clothe the characters. This means that the time period is forever set in our minds as some kind of fairy tale, just out of reach of reality. Yet, when you dive into the period, you find that the people there were not unlike the people of today, with similar aspirations and drives.

The Lit Bitch: What was the most difficult character or scene for you to write in Thwarted Queen? 

Cynthia Haggard: Cecylee’s daughter-in-law Queen Elisabeth Woodville, the wife of her eldest son King Edward IV. Cecylee detested her so much that she actually tried to “disturb” the marriage!

The Lit Bitch: If you could use one word to describe Cecylee what would it be and why?

Cynthia Haggard: Willful or strong-willed.

The Lit Bitch: I found the relationships in Thwarted Queen complex and intriguing, of all the characters who do you think is the most complicated and why? Which characters have the most complicated relationships in your opinion?

Cynthia Haggard: The character who is most complex is that of Richard III. He was such a loyal brother to King Edward IV while he was alive, and then he seems to have completely changed after his death. Part of the process of writing the novel was to explain what happened and why he acted as he did. The most complex relationship in the novel is that between Cecylee and her husband Richard, Duke of York. That marriage was always one-sided in my opinion, and it gradually accreted layers of wariness and distrust as both Cecylee and her husband grew older.

The Lit Bitch: Which of Cecylee’s sons was your fav and why?

Cynthia Haggard: My favorite son was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who became King Richard III. The reason is because he seems to have been a more interesting character than the others. Unlike his brothers, who were tall, good-looking men, Richard always had to struggle. He was a sickly child who was not expected to live. And now the evidence of his skeleton shows that he must have been in constant pain most of the time. He needed to have grit and strength of character just to do the normal things that his brothers took for granted.

The Lit Bitch: How much time did you devote to researching Thwarted Queen? I am sure there was tons of information to sort through, did you have a plan or a sketch of the story you were going to write or did it develop as you did your research?

Cynthia Haggard: The story developed gradually as I did my research. And it took me a long time to write, seven years!

The Lit Bitch: Who is your all time literary crush?

Cynthia Haggard: ?

The Lit Bitch: What are you working on next?

Cynthia Haggard: I am currently working on a novel set in Berlin in 1938, the year that Hitler gained power over both Austria and Czechoslovakia. So it is very different from Cecylee and her world

Thank you for asking such interesting questions!

About the Author

Born and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Why does she write historical novels? Because she has been reading them with great enjoyment since she was a child. Because she has a great imagination and a love of history that won’t go away. And because she has an annoying tendency to remember trivial details of the past and to treat long-dead people as if they were more real than those around her.

Cynthia’s biggest influence was her grandmother, Stephanie Treffry, who had a natural story-telling ability. As a widow in 1970s Britain, Grandma Stephanie didn’t drive a car, so would spend time waiting for buses. Her stories were about various encounters she had at those bus-stops. Nothing extraordinary, except that she made them so funny, everyone was in fits of laughter. A born entertainer, Cynthia tries to emulate her when she writes her novels.

In case you were wondering, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of her great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website

About the Book

THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War – during which England loses all of her possessions in France – and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.


“Thwarted Queen: A Saga About the Yorks, Lancasters and Nevilles, Whose Family Feud Started the Wars of the Roses is historical fiction at its best, an account which takes the real-world stories of a woman trapped by power and her husband, a Royal duke, who faces  down his political opponents, and melds their lives into an exciting fictional drama.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review.

“Thwarted Queen is extremely interesting and cleverly written-I was completely enthralled!” Lucy Bertoldi, Historical Novel Society.

“Gripping, well-researched historical novel, revealing a violent age. Cecylee and the other characters are well-drawn, with great subtlety and depth.” Lindsay Townsend, author of TO TOUCH THE KNIGHT.

“The author immerses the reader in a complex and vivid world that is depicted with persuasive confidence.” Curtis Sittenfeld, author of AMERICAN WIFE.

“A wonderful novel to introduce Cecily Neville and historical biographical fiction to young female readers.” Mirella Patzer, author of THE PENDANT.

Giveaway (how to enter)

On this blog you must leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.  Your comment MUST include your email so I can contact you….if you do not enter an email in the comments your entry will be void. 

Make sure you note if you have done the following for more chances to win: Tweet about the giveaway (+1), share on Facebook (+1), like The Lit Bitch on Facebook (+1), follow The Lit Bitch on Twitter (+1), subscribe to The Lit Bitch’s blog (+1).

The Thwarted Queen Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, February 11
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, February 12
Review at The Book Garden

Wednesday, February 13
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, February 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 15
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, February 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 19
Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, February 20
Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, February 21
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Feature & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court 

Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Monday, February 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, February 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, February 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 28
Author Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 1
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

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