Please welcome Marci Jefferson, author of the debut historical novel GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN (Thomas Dunne Books, February 2014)!
Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.
No kings are more alluring than the decadent Louis the Fourteenth or the passionate Charles the Second, and no reign more controversial than James the Second’s. They led the glittering seventeenth century courts of France and England, and each declared their love for Frances Stuart. She rejected each one and graced England’s coins for generations as the model for Britannia.
In addition to being a fabulous author, Marci is a close friend and critique partner of mine, and we also share the same editor — the delightful and talented Toni Kirkpatrick at Thomas Dunne/Minotaur Books. We’re published on different imprints, but “house sisters” all the same!
And so, with no further ado, here’s Marci!
Where did you grow up? Will you share a favorite story from your childhood?
I grew up an Air Force brat. We lived all over the south and lived in the Philippines twice. My favorite memories are from going to North Carolina to my grandparent’s houses. One set lived on a lake, the other in the mountains. Going there was the only constant in my life until my adulthood. The only places I felt grounded.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always written – short stores, journals, poems. I even wrote nursing care policies when I worked in nursing quality assurance.
If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
Write every day. Research less. Have faith. Enjoy it.
Your debut novel, GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN, tells the story of Frances Stuart, a woman whose beauty dazzled kings, and served as the model for Britannia on Britain’s coins. What inspired you to tell Frances’s story?
I first learned about the Royal Stuarts during a stay in London over a decade ago. Someone happened to point out the Banqueting House, stating that’s where Charles I was beheaded. Since, up to that point, I thought kings ordered all the beheadings, I felt compelled to study the Royal Stuarts independently, to understand their fascinating rule. Frances Stuart initially stood out as a woman who embraced her personal liberty in defiance of kings.
A few years later I read THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and became obsessed with the desire to do for the Stuarts what Philippa Gregory had done for the Tudors. I picked up my independent studies again and soon realized Frances Stuart’s independent streak matched the collective spirit of the Restoration age. Since she also happened to be the model for Britannia, I realized there was no better subject for a novel of Restoration England.
Do you have a favorite author, book, or genre? If so, who (or what) is it, and why?
I love all historical fiction. Especially novels set in the late seventeenth century!
What did you find most difficult about writing a novel with so many “real” characters—and do you find it more, or less difficult, to write about people who really lived?
It was unspeakably difficult. I can’t even list how many biographies I read. I felt a real sense of responsibility to get the history right, and to keep the parts I had to fictionalized as true to the historical character’s spirit as possible.
Do you have a favorite scene or section from GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN? If so (and if you can tell us about it without revealing any spoilers!), what makes that scene stand out for you?
Catherine’s birthday ball, where Frances Stuart wore silver lace on her black gown, sparkled with diamonds, and out-danced everyone else at court. Her external struggles behind her, she was blissfully unaware of the internal struggles to come. It was her moment of triumph. She and the king were in love, everyone was at their best, and everything was perfect.
What is the last book you read, and why did you choose to read it?
I held on to Michelle Moran’s last novel THE SECOND EMPRESS for ages, waiting for a time when I wasn’t too busy to savor every chapter. Finally I just couldn’t wait and, after I read the first page, I was hooked.
I know you love research, and did a lot of it for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN. Will you share an interesting fact you discovered that didn’t make it into the novel?
I kept trying to work one of the London Frost Fairs into the story, but it just never seemed to fit. The Thames did freeze during her lifetime, and exciting winter fairs were held on its frozen surface. Frances certainly would’ve enjoyed them.
Do you have any upcoming signings or readings?
Yes, here are a few…
February 11, 2014, 7:00 p.m.: Barnes & Noble, 4140 West Jefferson Boulevard, Fort Wayne, IN, USA
February 18, 2014, 7:00p.m.: Carmel Clay Public Library, 55 4th Avenue Southeast, Carmel, IN, USA
February 22, 2014, 2:00p.m.: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH, USA
March 31, 2014, 6:30p.m.: Fountain Bookstore, 1312 East Cary Street, Richmond, VA, USA
April 02, 2014, 5:30p.m.: The Inn at Warner Hall, 4750 Warner Hall Road, Gloucester Courthouse, VA, USA
And now, the speed round:
Plotter or pantser?
Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Socks or no socks?
There is a foot of snow on the ground here…what do you think?
Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Thank you so much, Marci, for joining us here today!
GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN releases on February 11 in hardback and ebook formats. You can find it at your local independent bookseller or online at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere else books are sold.
I’ve already finished Marci’s book, and loved it — if you’re a fan of historical novels, or lovely writing, or just a well-told tale, you should definitely check it out!