Jeanne Moran, author of “Risking Exposure” 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?
First, a confession. I’m a bit outside the mainstream – I’m generally unimpressed with people in positions of fame and power. I just can’t relate. I prefer ordinary people who lived in interesting or difficult times. People who had some extraordinary impact on others around them or on the future of their community stir my soul more than those born into a highbrow lineage. That said, I’d like to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. She lived a simple, honest life with no expectation of power or influence. Yet her adventurous, indomitable spirit endures through her written works. For well over one hundred years, her sphere of positivity and hope in spite of difficulty has stretched over millions of readers and viewers. That makes her more successful in my opinion than many figures in politics, business, and other more typically ‘important’ positions.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
Sometime in the 1930s. That between-the-wars era fascinates me. There was this crazy combination of catastrophic events – the worldwide Depression, the Dust Bowl, and widespread occurrence of horrific diseases like polio, measles, and tuberculosis. In contrast to that, people went to the cinema, bought clothes from the Sears-Roebuck catalog, and took their best girl home to meet the folks. While most people were occupied with their own lives, notorious criminals and powerful dictators wove their webs of deceit and horror. Al Capone, Hitler, John Dillinger, Mussolini, Bonnie and Clyde, and Chairman Mao were all spreading their influence during those years. Fascinating stuff, in my opinion. Makes me wonder what’s going on in the world today while I’m not paying attention.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
I’d like to dine with people who had a positive influence on their corner of the world, and because of my interest in the era, I’d choose people who lived in the 1930s. Clockwise around the table, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic nurse who rescued 2500 Polish Jewish children from the Nazis; Father Rupert Mayer, a German Jesuit priest who worked tirelessly with Munich’s poor and spoke out against the Nazis from the pulpit; Nicholas Winton, a Czech stockbroker who organized a transport to save 669 Jewish Czech children by sending them to Great Britain for the duration of the war; Anne Frank, the girl whose diary overflows with truths and whose cruelly brief life has robbed us all of her great potential for good; and Jesus, because he’s from all historical time periods and my favorite role model.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps, the fairytale castle of Mad King Ludwig. I’ve been there twice. The grandeur of the setting, the multicolored stonework, the turrets and balconies – it makes me feel like a little girl.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Markus Zusak, author of “The Book Thief”, and Connie Willis, author of “Blackout” and “All Clear”. While they’re both obviously intrigued by history, they also stretch their writing into other genres. Their written works speak of openness to alternate views of the world. Seriously, who else uses Death as his novel’s narrator? What other historical fiction writer also wins awards for her sci-fi? What interesting travel companions they’d be!
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
As I mentioned, royalty doesn’t wow me. But to answer your question, it’s a toss up. Louis XIV was probably more dashing in a romantic sort of way. As a character, Henry VIII’s exploits make for interesting reading, what with all those self-centered misbehaviors. He acted like a spoiled child in the body of a dictatorial man.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Catherine of Aragon. Sure she was long-suffering and banished, but I admire her for her uncompromising attitude toward her faith and her word.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
I’ll have to say English, only because I know more about them and have visited a couple of their gorgeous castles.
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
“I Am The Messenger” by Markus Zusak, “Holes” by Louis Sachar, and “The Return of the King” by JRR Tolkien.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Dark roast coffee, black, before 4. Anytime after that, it’s herb tea all the way.
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