The Chateau of Chenonceau in France.

Marianne Perry was interviewed February 24, 2015 by the Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner. Here’s a copy of the column.

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Marianne Perry, author of “The Inheritance” answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.

1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?

Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance artist, scientist and visionary who lived from 1452 to 1519, mesmerizes me. The child of a peasant woman and notary who never married, I have viewed his paintings in galleries around the world plus visited the Chapel of Saint-Hubert at Chateau Amboise in central France where he is buried. To inhabit the mind of this genius for even one day would be a profound experience.

2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?

I would like to have lived during the Italian Renaissance. The period 1330 to 1550 was a zenith of cultural achievement and the latter years of Leonardo’s time would be my preference.

3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite five people from history, who would they be?

My maternal uncle, an artist, sparked my interest in art when I was a young girl and I would invite the following to a dinner party: Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Raffaello (Raphael) Sanzio, Johannes Vermeer and Leonardo da Vinci.

4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?

The Chateau of Chenonceau in north-western France spans the Cher River. Developed and owned by a succession of women, I visited this five hundred year old castle with its spectacular gardens while exploring the Loire Valley. It is breath-taking and I would love to live there while working on a writing project.

5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?

My paternal aunt introduced me to historical fiction during my teens. She recommended I read Taylor Caldwell and my first books were “Dear” and “Glorious Physician” about St. Luke and A Pillar of Iron, which told the story of the Roman senator, Cicero. Susan Vreeland’s novels explore art and I have enjoyed “The Girl in Hyacinth Blue” about an imaginary Johannes Vermeer painting and “The Forest Lover” that deals with Emily Carr. I would relish a historical themed tour of the world with these authors.

6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis X1V of France?

After visiting The Palace of Versailles ten miles southwest of Paris, I would select King Louis XIV who transformed this former hunting lodge into a luxurious residence for his court.

7. Which of the six wives of King Henry V111 is your favorite?

My favourite is Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Previously married to his brother, he’d had their marriage annulled to wed Anne Boleyn. Despite her husband’s actions, Catherine believed her Henry’s legitimate wife. There only surviving child was Mary who eventually became Queen of England.

8. English monarchy or French monarchy?

I am a second generation Canadian-Italian. Our country is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth and I would choose the English monarchy.

9. What three novels could you read over and over?

My interests are solving family mysteries through genealogical research, understanding family dynamics and honing my writing skills. In addition to art, I have a passion for adventure and have travelled to every continent on our beautiful earth. I set my writing in places I have been and the books selected reflect my interests.

  1. “The Pillars of the Earth”. Ken Follett’s story of the building of a 12th century Gothic cathedral in England.
  2. I have affinity for the city of Venice, Italy. As Donna Leon sets her Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery/crime books here, I have given her a general reference.
  3. “The Birth of Venus”. Sarah Dunant’s book in 15th century Florence during the Italian Renaissance would be a fabulous re-read.

10. Tea or coffee when writing?

Three cups of coffee wake me up in the morning but when I write; I drink cool water from the two-hundred foot well on the property of our Lake Superior country home in Northern Ontario.