Tara Conklin, author of “The House Girl” 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?
The remarkable photographer Lee Miller. She was a true adventurer who really lived her life and witnessed first-hand so many significant moments in 20th century history and art.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
This is a tough one to answer because I think the best time to be a woman is now. That said, Paris in the 1920s holds an enduring appeal – it was a time of such incredible artistic innovation and it would have been great fun to be in the middle of that.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
Continuing with my Pairs in the 20s theme, I’d invite Ernest Hemingway, Lee Miller, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. And then hopefully they’d bring their friends and significant others: Zelda Fitzgerald, Alice Toklas, Man Ray, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and all the other amazing writers and artists of that place and time. I suspect there would be far too much drinking, a lot of arguing and flirting, and everyone would limp home as the sun rose.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
This isn’t really a castle, but I would love to have lived at Machu Picchu. The location is absolutely breathtaking, but more importantly: I want to know what happened there! You can’t leave that place without an overwhelming sense of mystery and wonder.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
I’d have to say Sarah McCoy and Dana Sachs, although I don’t think they consider themselves strictly historical fiction authors. We appeared together on a festival panel earlier this year and I’d love to continue our conversation.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Can I say neither? I’d describe them both as dastardly!
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Eek, I’m afraid I’ll have to punt this one and pick the only one whose name I can remember: Anne Boleyn. She seems to have gotten the rawest of deals and, like so many prominent women in history with tragic endings, would have fared much better in a different time.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
Seeing as I’m married to an Englishman, I have to say English or risk being locked out of the house.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
“Possession”, by AS Byatt; “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, by CS Lewis; and “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee most definitely. The stronger, the better.
Tara Conklin’s official website: