Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Interview with Joyce Elson Moore

Today it's my pleasure to introduce Joyce Elson Moore, author of historical fiction. I "met" Joyce through the Five Star authors' online group. I've always been curious about the research process as well as why writers choose the periods that interest them most. Joyce has been kind enough to provide some answers.


An Interview With Joyce Elson Moore

Joyce, how long have you been writing, and what led you to historical fiction as your genre of choice?

Like almost everyone, I wrote teenage poems about love (or what I thought it was then) and hid the poems in my dresser drawer, away from my three sisters’ prying eyes. I took early retirement from a teaching career and began writing as a second career. I’ve always loved history, and read historical fiction, devouring Sharon Kay Penman and Carolly Erickson and others. I knew what I wanted to write.

Were your first manuscripts published, or do you, like many of us, have various drafts sitting on a shelf or stashed in a box in a closet?

Strangely enough, my first book was published. It’s a non-fiction about places in Florida that are haunted. It’s titled Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida, but yes, I do have some unpubbed historicals on my hard drive. Some of them I’ve reworked, after looking back and seeing how horrid they were. We all have “practice novels”, I think.

Do you have an agent? If so, what was your agent search experience like?

I did have an agent for The Tapestry Shop, but we parted ways, amicably. She remains my friend, but the professional partnership didn’t work out. Right now, another agent and I are talking, but nothing is set in stone. I think agents are valuable partners for an author. The only way to get an agent is to send out queries with your very best writing, or meet them at a conference. I think, in order to snag a good agent, professionalism is right up there after a good story. With the rapid changes we’re seeing in the industry, an agent may be more needed now than ever. A good agent earns his/her commission.

According to your website bio, you enjoy “taking classes in almost anything you have not tried.” Tell us a little about that, including the most unusual class you’ve taken so far.

Well, I’m a Gemini, so my interests change with the tide. Besides the classes I took for my music degrees, I’ve taken courses in Building Construction, Real Estate Brokerage, apple tree grafting, photography, rescuing injured wildlife, ballroom dancing, medical terminology, acrylic painting, and French.

You bio also says you’re an unabashed Francophile (as am I). What part of France do you enjoy visiting most?

I do love anything about France. To research for The Tapestry Shop, I went to northern France, to Arras specifically, and went into underground tunnels beneath the city. That’s a story in itself. Also, they grow masses of tulips, like those pictures of Holland. Then I went to other towns, to see places like Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which figures in my novel. I stayed with a Jewish woman in Paris whose family fled from the Germans during WWII, and she told me some awesome stories. Then I rented a car and drove into southern France. It was spring, and just thinking about it makes me want to return.

Your historical novel from Five Star/Gage, The Tapestry Shop, was released in October. The setting is Arras, France in 1265. How difficult is it to research a time period so far in the past?

The research is more difficult, but I had the help of reference librarians and also some experts in the field of medieval music. I used material that chroniclers, like Jean de Joinville, left behind. He went on a crusade with Louis IX. Original sources are always good. You have to dig a little deeper for 13th century research, but it’s there.

Your main character was a real person, Adam de la Halle, “the wandering minstrel who first penned the story of Robin Hood.” Did you find much documentation about his life?

There is some documentation, although there is conflicting information, such as dates. One of his plays is believed to be autobiographical. A lot is speculative, but there were records pertaining to his life, and he belonged to the Puy, a guild of artists. I just had to piece together what was there. It’s almost certain he was patronized by Count Robert (the king’s nephew) and hope I did right by Adam. I always felt like he was depending on me to tell his story. So far, it’s gotten great reviews, so I hope he approves.

Your blog, Joyce Moore’s Historical Books Blog, has a wealth of information for writers and readers of historical fiction. You’re also a contributor to two other blogs, Author Expressions and Historical Hussies. What are your thoughts on social media (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) as a promotional tool for writers?

There’s no real way of knowing what translates to sales, but I blog about things that interest me, and in the doing, I always learn something. Blogs push me out of my comfort zone, and that’s good. I love the interaction on Goodreads, where there’s a group for historical fiction lovers. I’m on Facebook, and have an author’s page. I also am a member of Backspace for Writers. Days go by where I just don’t get to Facebook or Goodreads or Backspace. I have no idea how some authors manage to be all over the place and still write. I think I need to take a course in time management.

Thanks so much, Patricia, for inviting me to post on your lovely blog. I’d love to hear comments from readers, and one lucky commenter will receive a $15 gift certificate toward their choice of gifts made by a glass artisan. Here are a few of her designs.

The letter openers, purse hangers, bookmarks, etc. are each $15. The jewelry runs a little more, but is beautiful and one-of-a-kind.


Joyce, thank you so much for sharing this information with us today. For those of you who have book launches coming up, Joyce's post about her Book Launch at a Winery demonstrates how we can think outside the box for new ways to attract readers to our book events. Joyce and I have exchanged blog interviews. She will publish her interview with me on November 30th at Joyce Moore's Historical Books Blog.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joyce and Pat,

This is an excellent informative interview!
Your novel sounds interesting on many levels.
I look forward to reading it.

Mary Vaughn said...

Joyce and Pat, thanks for all the information. Must admit I've wondered how historical writers research.

Monti said...

Great interview, Joyce and Pat. The research in France sounds intriguing! A course in time management is something I need as well.

All the best,

Clarissa Draper said...

I love historicals based on real life. I would love to read the life of the man that penned Robin Hood. I don't know much about his life. I think it's also wonderful that you never stop learning. I hope to be like you when I'm older.


Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - Thanks for hosting Joyce.

Joyce - How fascinating! I love historical fiction, and I think the research for it is so important. I enjoy learning about how authors do that research, so thanks very much for sharing your journey.

Also really interesting to learn that you've got a non-fiction background, too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, everyone -- Thanks for coming by. Historical research and time management are two favorite topics for writers and bloggers. I think we'd all like to find a great character or plot that requires us to travel to exotic places for research (and we'd also like to have the funds for a long stay). :)

Terry Odell said...

I'd doff my hat, but I don't wear hats. I admire anyone who can do historical research and then turn it into a story. (And I, for one, would never notice an error, since history isn't my forte)

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Although I've known Joyce for years, I'm continuously learning new things about her. As for the jewelry--I have an original Schella. Wherever I wear the necklace and earrings, people stop and comment on the set's unique colors.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A most informative interview, thank you Joyce for the wonderful answers and thanks Patricia for the interview,


Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Jacqueline, and thanks for stopping. When you get around to reading The Tapestry Shop, let me know what you thought of it.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Mary V; I see you have notebooks of stories. I hope you're writing with NaNoWriMo. I know a gal whos now published, and she started writing with other NaNo people. Glad you stopped by.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Monti: I see you published a book on how to get published, along with other things. You're a busy girl. Yes, France was fun--traipsing around old ruins and visiting ancient cathedrals. I love to travel and do research but the time comes when you have to sit down and write. Glad you stopped by.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Clarissa:I snooped around your blog, and enjoyed reading about belladonna. When writing medieval, I always want to know about herbs, salves, and poisons. The Tapestry Shop is probably at your library, or you can ask them to get it. Thanks for dropping by today.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Margot: I love your dogs. I'm a dog person myself.I think all authors tackle research differentlySome say they can write about a setting without going there, but I like to get a feel for the place, and it's easier imagining my characters living and breathing and going about thier life in that place. I appreciate your stopping by.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Terri: I know that you do research for your mysteries, like going to police academies and places. It's not historical research, but it's research all the same. Glad you stopped by today.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Loretta, and thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to stop by. Glad you enjoy the jewelry.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Yvonne: I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Patricia did all the work, I just answered her questions, and it was really fun to meet all her visitors.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting, Pat. I want to read Joyce's book. And I'm now going to take a look at her blog. Like she says, I don't know how writers do everything--Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and also write. I'm trying to figure out how to keep up with it all!!!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Thanks for this interview, Pat! This sounds like a fascinating book in a historical period I know a bit about; but not in France. I'm far more familiar with English history than what was happening across the Channel...

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Ann: I see you live in Virginia. My husband was from Clifton Forge, and when we drove up to see his family, there and in Staunton, I marveled at the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, and always teased him about how he could possibly have left such a beautiful place and moved to Florida just to play golf. Glad you stopped by Pat's blog today.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Elspeth: Glad you stopped by today. The 13th c. has interesting people and events in England, too. Besides, they traveled (in fair weather) across the Channel, so maybe one of Adam's plays was performed at England's royal courts, who knows? Interesting subject.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Joyce, I really enjoyed the chance to interview you for my blog.

And thanks to everyone who stopped by today and left a comment.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Joyce, I've only been through a corner of France but hope to return some day. I'd especially love to see the prehistoric caves and have momentarily forgotten the locations. I'm not a morning person. LOL I know people aren't allowed inside the actual caves now, but they have reporductions in the site's museum.
Great interview.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia and Joyce .. loved this - I think this must be my era too - albeit I don't write historic stories.

Thanks - I'd love to visit the Arras caves .. and the whole area sounds fascinating. I love the way you describe the scenes and your research .. thorough while using your interests - medieval music - wonderful.

The Tapestry Shop - really does draw one in .. and one day I will definitely read again and more ..

Thanks - loved this and learning some more .. have good weekends .. Hilary