Interview and Giveaway: The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

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

The Chalice is the second book in The Crown series, and though it is part of a series, this book could easily be read as a stand alone. Joanna is a nun in the Tudor period who is  fighting against a deadly prophecy that implies she is the ‘one who will come after’ and restore the Catholic faith in England. Will Joanna embrace her destiny or continue to fight against it and what will happen to those that she loves? Will she destroy everything she holds dear to escape the prophecy?

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 The Chalice (open to US ONLY). Be sure to Tweet about the giveaway using the Twitter hashtag  #TheChaliceVirtualTour and check out the other stops on the tour!

Giveaway runs from 4/15/13 to 4/21/13.

Winner will be announced 4/22/13.

Nancy also agreed to do an interview with me, so without further ado please welcome Nancy Bilyeau to The Lit Bitch!

The Lit Bitch: The Tudor period is obviously a very popular period for historical fiction, what do you think it is about the Tudor period that makes it so popular? What was it about the period that made it ideal for you and your story to unfold?

Nancy Bilyeau: I’ve been reading about the 16th century since I was 11 years old and watched “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” on Masterpiece Theater with my parents. I love the vivid personalities, family dramas, the pageantry and literature. I narrowed the century to the 1530s and focused on the Dissolution of the Monasteries because it was such a wrenching, harrowing change for people, I wanted to write about it.

The Lit Bitch: What was the inspiration behind Joanna’s character? Why make her a nun? What limitations and what liberties did you encounter with her character and her profession?

Nancy Bilyeau: I wanted to create someone different from the princesses and queens and ladies-in-waiting who’ve dominated Tudor fiction.  A nun in an enclosed order cannot leave the priory and follows strict rules. That’s why I made her a headstrong nun. Seriously, though, I did read a lot about monasteries and my characters live an authentic existence. I had emails from a nun and several friars who said I got it right too.

The Lit Bitch: How much research went into The Chalice and The Crown series in general. Can you discuss how that all came together for you. Did you travel to many of the Heritage sites that the novel takes place as part of your research, if so please discuss what that experience was like for you.

Nancy Bilyeau: It took me five years to research and write the first book. I had a home library of Tudor history books. I then read deeply on monastic history and also Saxon kings, as well as the Pilgrimage of Grace. I traveled to London and Dartford in Kent. I spent time in the Tower of London, Smithfield, and most of all Dartford, where the priory was located. It was very moving to walk along the 700-year-old wall hugging the road that is all that remains of the nuns’s era. For the second book I read deeply on politics in England in the late 1530s and prophecy and necromancy. I managed to find the tombstones of several friars near the original site of the Dominicans’ mighty Blackfriars.

The Lit Bitch: I really enjoyed the love triangle between Geoffrey Scovill and Brother Edmund, each clearly have something Joanna finds attractive. Can you discuss what qualities you thought were most important to their overall characters, what are their most redeeming qualities are as love interests? 

Nancy Bilyeau: Geoffrey is a strong person, good at his work, resourceful, bright, with a sense of humor. But he can be strident and jealous of her. Still, it’s his deep love for Joanna that carries the day. Edmund is highly intelligent, sensitive, talented, empathetic. He is something of a soul mate for her, especially the fact that he is flawed and vulnerable, like she is, and so they are always trying to keep each other going.

The Lit Bitch: Was there one scene or character in The Chalice that you found more difficult to write than another?

Nancy Bilyeau: Gertrude Courtenay was a challenge because she was so deceptive and I wanted to very slowly tip that to the reader…but not too slowly either. She’s also a mix of good and bad qualities. I never wanted to turn her into a villainess.

The Lit Bitch: Which book was more difficult for you to write, The Crown or The Chalice and why? 

Nancy Bilyeau: The Crown because I didn’t have any idea if I was going to sell it or even if I was on the right track. It was only workshopper feedback guiding me.

The Lit Bitch: How many books are planned for The Crown series and when can we expect to see where Joanna’s life takes her next?

Nancy Bilyeau: I’m writing the third book now. It’s called The Covenant and Joanna is fighting for her life. 🙂

The Lit Bitch: Since you are clearly a fan of Tudor history, which of King Henry VIII’s wives was your favorite and why?

Nancy Bilyeau: Catherine of Aragon, because while most people worship Anne Boleyn and think Catherine was a tiresome older woman who couldn’t crank out a son, I think she was amazing: educated, cultured, kind, gracious and yet capable of being absolutely and ferociously fearless!

The Lit Bitch: If you had it to do over again is there anything you would change in the book?

Nancy Bilyeau: I wanted to write a plague outbreak but I just didn’t have room for it. Still, I wish I’d found a way to get the plague in there!

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

Nancy Bilyeau: Oh that is so tough, but all things considered…Mary Shelley.

About The Chalice: 

In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…

About the Author: 

Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Her latest position is features editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she graduated from the University of Michigan. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. 

For more information, please visit Nancy Bilyeau’s website.  You can also follow her on Facebook andTwitter


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Review at She Reads Novels

Wednesday, February 27
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Thursday, February 28
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Friday, March 1
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Monday, March 11
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Wednesday, March 13
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Thursday, March 14
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Friday, March 15
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, March 18
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 19
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Wednesday, March 20
Review, Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria

Thursday, March 21
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Friday, March 22
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Monday, March 25
Review at The Novel Life
Review at Devourer of Books

Tuesday, March 26
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

Wednesday, March 27
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, March 28
Review at Layered Pages

Friday, March 29
Interview at Layered Pages

Monday, April 1
Review at Words and Peace

Tuesday, April 2
Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, April 3
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book

Thursday, April 4
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, April 5
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Tuesday, April 9
Review at One Book at a Time
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Wednesday, April 10
Review at Jenny Loves to Read

Thursday, April 11
Interview at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 12
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at Drey’s Library

Monday, April 15
Review, Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, April 16
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, April 17
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Giveaway at Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, April 18
Interview & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, April 22
Review at Book Drunkard

Tuesday, April 23
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at Review from Here

Thursday, April 25
Review at Historical Novel Review & Great Historicals

Friday, April 26
Review at Enchanted by Josephine
Guest Post & Giveaway at On the Tudor Trail

Monday, April 29
Review & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book

Tuesday, April 30
Review at Tea at Trianon
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Wednesday, May 1
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Thursday, May 2
Review at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Friday, May 3
Interview & Giveaway at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

5 thoughts on “Interview and Giveaway: The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

  1. Great interview! I So want this book! I love the Tudor era and I descend from Staffords during that era. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com

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