Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview with Karleen Koen (author of Before Versailles) and Giveaway!

I am honored today to have author Karleen Koen on my blog.  Koen is one of my favorite historical fiction novelists.  She writes with vivid historical detail and accuracy, and wonderful characters that bring history to life.  I have enjoyed all of her novels:  Through a Glass Darkly, Now Face to Face, and Dark Angels.  Her latest novel, Before Versailles, was published last year (my review is located here) and is currently being published in paperback by Sourcebooks with a beautiful new cover.

Without further ado . . . an interview with Karleen Koen.

LAG: I love your wonderful, descriptive historical fiction novels. What first drew you to writing in general and writing historical fiction specifically?

KK: My invalid grandfather was a reader of historical fiction: specifically Frank Yerby, Frank Slaughter, and Zane Gray, and I started reading them when I was a little girl. I never questioned or did any market research when I decided to write. I knew it would be historical fiction. I started writing fiction to see if I could, to fill some time once I'd left a job I had. I have quit fiction before, between the novels Now Face to Face and Dark Angels. The solitude and the living through rough drafts are difficult for me.

LAG:  You write fantastic characters in your novels, is that was first drew you to the story of Louis XIV and his many loves?

KK:  Actually, Louis doesn't have as many lovers as other kings. I particularly contrast him to Charles II, who was his cousin and contemporary. And the intricacy of his lovers, often friends with one another, is interesting to me. Court is like a small town, where everyone knows everyone and is likely distantly related. I didn't know I was going to write a story about him. I thought I was going to write about Princess Henriette or Louise de la Valliere. That's one of the very intriguing things about fiction.....that it has its own destiny, and you, the writer, have to stay open to discover it.

LAG:   Louis and Henrietta . . . what do you think family relations were like after Louis fell for his sister-in-law?

KK:  Well, since he fell for her, but then fell for someone else, not great....right? His brother had to be furious but somehow placated, and so did she. Interestingly enough, Louise and Henriette became dear and deep friends afterwards, which says something interesting about both of them. The one who bore the brunt of ill feeling was Louise. Henriette hated her and plotted against her with Olympe de Soissons for a long time. But, before Henriette died so tragically, she and Louise were friends.
LAG:  Did you visit Fontainebleau while you were researching this novel?

KK: I did. I went with a French translator and had a interview with some of the folks who run the museum. It's a charming and lovely palace about an hour's train ride from Paris.

LAG:  What do you think first drew Louis to Louise?

KK:  What did I use in Before Versailles......her innocence, her lack of ambition, her crush on him, and I'll bet she was very pretty. I think he needed someone he could protect. I think he was very much a fairy tale prince when he was 22.......yummy.

LAG:  Will you ever revisit the characters from the Through the Glass Darkly series?

KK:  I plan to when i finish two more novels involving Alice, the Duchess of Tamworth and Barbara's grandmother.

LAG:  What are you currently writing?

KK: A novel about Alice and Richard and Louis XIV, set in 1673.

Thank-you for the interview Karleen Koen!

More about Before Versailles (from Goodreads): 
Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.

Giveaway Details

Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of Before Versailles by Karleen Koen.

If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this interview.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday September 21, 2012.

Please make sure to check the last week of September to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner but lately I have been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


  1. I am delighted to learn through this interview that the author is planning two more novels about Alice. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Before Versailles sounds like a book i would enjoy....
    thank you for this giveaway & good luck & congrats to Karleen!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  3. I adored Karleen Koen's Through A Glass Darkly and would love an opportunity to read another of her books! Thank you for the interview an giveaway.

    joannemccabe9 (at) cox (dot) net

  4. I love that Louise and Henriette became good friends in the end. It must of been a hard life at court.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  5. I have read Through The glass Darkly and would enjoy this book very much. Many thanks for this feature. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. What a wonderful interview. The novel sounds fascinating and I enjoyed learning about the author and her background. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. I am an avid historical fiction reader and especially love French royalty. I think this novel would be a perfect fit for me! Thank you :)

  8. I am intrigued by Louis XIV (I think we share the same birthday) and would like to find out about his younger days. This book sounds like wonderful historical fiction. Laura, thanks for hostign this giveaway--I'll add it to my sidebar.

    I am a Follower. suko95(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. I love historical fiction. I would like to know more about the relationship between Louisa and Henriette.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  10. Love Court intrigue. Thanks for the giveaway.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  11. I love anything about Versailles and French history

    Patkf2007 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  12. I love history, but I'm a late comer to historical fiction. As a fantasy/sci-fi nerd, I tend to loose interest in stories that aren't fantastical. I am however very interested in this particular period of time, as French history is one of my favorite topics.

  13. I would love to read this! A refreshing change from Marie Antoinette/versailes. Thanks for the giveaway!


  14. It sounds like an interesting book. I'm part French and would like to learn more about French history. I like the Three Musketeers so it sounds like a book I might enjoy.


  15. I enjoy reading about the history of Europe and all the kings and queens. This sounds really good and it would be a new author for me.
    mittens0831 at aol dot com