author of The Traitor's Wfie
The Traitor's Wife is a well-written historical fiction novel that follows the life Eleanor de Clare the niece of King Edward II. Eleanor is a loyal woman, perhaps to a fault. Her husband, Hugh le Despenser, becomes a lover of the king she not only continues to support but shares her own body with as well. Amidst the he King's wife Isabella, whom Eleanor honorably serves, takes a lover of her own. Author Susan Higginbotham has a special talent for versatile writing, taking the reader from rich palaces to bloody battlefields, scenes of love and passion to lies and betrayal.
Kelly Hewitt: I have read about your struggles to get The Traitor's Wife visible on Amazon.com and to get it picked up by the big book retailers. It looks like you've done an amazing job and that you have more than achieved your goals. Have you made it on the shelves of the major stores? How long did that entire process take?
Susan Higginbotham: No brick-and-mortar chain bookstore stocks my book as far as I know, but it's available through all of the major online booksellers. I'm a firm believer in the "long tail" theory, so with the knowledge that my book would be sold mostly online, I've devoted most of my marketing efforts to that end, using all of Amazon's free tools (such as Search Inside the Book) and building a website that would attract people interested in medieval England and historical fiction. It's an ongoing process, keeping the website fresh and the book visible. I also have several blogs, which are an excellent way for authors to draw readers.
Kelly: Some of the reviews I have read online have come from people who read the book and liked it but have had a hard time swallowing the relationship between Edward II and Hugh. History tells us that the relationship most certainly occurred. Why do you think some readers have had a hard time with this relationship?
Susan: Most of the objections I've heard have been from people who thought I was too soft on Hugh—they wanted more of an all-round villain, I guess, instead of a man who thought nothing of extorting land from a vulnerable widow yet who was a caring husband and father. But such contradictions aren't uncommon in real life. Eleanor's grandfather Edward I was an example in a different way—he treated some of his Scottish high-born female prisoners badly even by the standards of the day, making them live in cages hung outside castle walls with no protection from the elements or concession to privacy but a privy, but he was a devoted husband who grieved sincerely over the death of his first wife.
I think some people may also be uncomfortable with a man using a sexual relationship to gain advancement—it's considered more of a female thing. But I think Hugh's craving for land and power was sufficiently great that he was able to lie back and think of Wales.
Kelly: I think that it is apparent in your writing that you like writing the Eleanor de Clare character. If you could select any other female character from history who would you choose?
Susan: There's so many of them! I'm drawn to strong women characters. I don't mean strong in the sense of being aggressive or of always having to best the men about them—actually, I find such characters rather obnoxious. Rather, I'm drawn to women who are strong in the sense of being able to meet adversity with grace and fortitude or who are able to use their wits to deal with the situation around them. These days, I'm particularly interested in some of the women from the Wars of the Roses, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort in particular. I also find Henrietta Maria, Charles I's queen, to be a fascinating person. In many ways, her situation was a mirror image of Queen Isabella's in the fourteenth century—both were Frenchwomen who married ill-fated, unpopular kings, except that Isabella turned against her husband and Henrietta Maria was loyal to hers.
The entire interview with Susan Higginbotham will be available soon at LoadedShelf.com
Are you an author of a book that is only available via the web? Please write me with information about your book at KellyHewittLS@gmail.com. I would like to begin spotlighting books without big box store support every month on Loaded Questions.