Today I interview Iris Anthony about her new book The Miracle Thief. There is also a giveaway.
1. Who is Iris Anthony?
Iris Anthony is a pseudonym I use for my general market historicals. The other book I released this spring under my own name, Siri Mitchell, is a madcap comedy set in the 1920s in Boston. I wrote The Miracle Thief (set in the Dark Ages of Europe) first and then Love Comes Calling right after. On the continuum of ’intense and brooding’ to ’light and zany’, these two novels would sit at opposite ends of the spectrum and yet they’re both still absolute reflections of me. They both examine the concept of worth. As a writer I find myself very susceptible to the influence of the time periods I’m researching. Some readers might think me very inconsistent as a writer if that wasn’t understood. I tend to reflect back the culture and tone of historical eras I investigate. I guess that makes me a bit of a chameleon.
My Siri books are generally set in the United States. I write them for the inspirational market, so even if the endings are bittersweet, they’re always flavored with hope. But I’ve always had a bad case of the ’Why?s’ and with Iris I feel like I can ask more questions about life and meaning and purpose than I can with Siri. I’m also able to set my books in Europe. Either way, I tend to like overlooked time periods or stories that haven’t really been told before. Siri and Iris both have very itchy feet, so I’m forever wandering the halls of history, never stopping in one era for very long.
2. Can you tell me about your new book, The Miracle Thief?
It’s set in what some historians call the darkest hour of the Dark Ages, in the years 911/912. It’s written from the perspective of its three female protagonists: a princess, a pilgrim, and a nun. They all look to a relic of Saint Catherine in hopes that she will intercede on their behalf. A crafty archbishop and his band of Danes (Vikings), however, want to stea l the relic for their own purposes. As much as I could, I included historical characters and when possible, I tried to make sense of the turbulent and confused history of the period...if only so I could explain it to myself.
3. To those who have not read this book, was one of the POVs, Princess Gisele real or not?
That is one of history’s great mysteries! If she truly lived, Princess Gisele was the daughter of King Charles the Simple (or Straightforward). In 911 when he signed a treaty with Rollo the Viking, part of the agreement was Gisele’s hand in marriage. Though Rollo did sign the treaty, Frankish records don’t record a marriage even though the Danish records do. If she lived, she would probably have been born when her father was in his very early teens. The idea of him fathering a child at such a young age is the main reason early historians supposed her to be a figment of imagination. Although Charles was twice married, Gisele appears in neither of those official geneologies which would have made her illegitimate. Carolingian kings often had concubines so the fact that he may have had an illegitimate daughter would not have been uncommon and he is credited with several other illegitimate children. With little historical material to go on and only the briefest sketches of those who really did exist, I inferred relationships by the outlines of the gaps in my research. Did I put the puzzle together right? I don’t know. I don’t know that we’ll ever know. But the little bits and pieces of history I uncovered as I was writing seemd to confirm my ideas and the story and characters feel right to me. I guess the reader will have to be the judge!
4. What was the inspiration behind these 3 very different women?
The story came from a book I happened upon which referenced monks stealing relics from each other during the Dark and Middle Ages. Since I was interested in that idea, I had to set up a situation in which a relic needed to be sought for something. Gisele, of course, was inspired by the legendary princess and the question of whether she did, in fact, marry Rollo. Danes are the villains in my story and I have them seeking the relic as well, but I needed someone willing to stand up to them in defense of St. Catherine, no matter the cost. That inspired my nun, Julianna. Nuns of the period weren’t all admitted to convents as virgins. Many came later in life after having been widowed or following affairs with powerful men. I wanted Julianna to have knowledge of the world beyond the abbey’s walls in contrast to my pilgrim, Anna, who had been very sheltered. I really wanted to write about a miracle in this book because I wanted readers to grapple with what they believed about faith and the miraculous. In order to do so, I needed a character in desperate search of one. I also wanted the miracle to be visible, so she needed to have a physical deformity. Those criteria inspired Anna.
Between the three characters, I was hoping that most of my readers would be able to place themselves on the continnuum of faith: true believers, like Anna, whose hope rarely wavers; those, like Julianna, who are drawn to the promise of grace, but have a difficult time believing themselves worthy of it; and those like Gisele who are driven to faith by desperate situations.
5. Are you working on something right now and if so, what?
I’m currently editing next spring’s Siri book, Like a Flower in Bloom, which is set in 1850s England during the period of great conflict between faith and the maturing science of botany. It’s a comedy of manners that I’m referring to as my anti-Victorian novel. I’m also researching my 2016 Siri release which I’m setting at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, also in the 1850s.
Thank you so much for having me!
1 copy of The Miracle Thief
1. Open to US and Canada
2. Ends April 26
3. Just enter :)
Or ask anything...or tell me if you'd want to marry Rollo the viking