24 September 2022

An interview with Heather B. Moore, author of 'In the Shadow of a Queen'

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Heather B. Moore, an author whose growing catalogue is a joy to behold for historical readers. I particularly love it when an author takes a real historical setting and weaves a story which is part fiction, part fact - and the two blend seamlessly. 

This is the case with Moore's new release, In the Shadow of a Queen, in which she imagines the life of Queen Victoria's daughter Louise, who is a striking character in her own right.

Here is the book description:

Book cover for 'In the Shadow of the Queen' by Heather B. MoorePrincess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother―the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.

Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

And now, on to the interview!

Hello Heather and thank you for taking the time to do this interview for the release of In the Shadow of a Queen. I just loved the book!

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book!

You are very prolific, including many books of this kind of historical fiction. What is it about bringing the past to life that appeals to you? How long does it take you to research something like this?

I started reading historical fiction as a young teen, and I became fascinated by stories and experiences of the past. Learning about what happened in the past continually gives me a better perspective of challenges in the world today. This particular novel took me six months to research and write, working on it full-time, probably 30-40 hours a week. I spent nearly a month of that just reading everything I could find and annotating biographies about Princess Louise, Queen Victoria, and all the siblings.

What was it about Louise specifically that interested you?
Portrait of Princess Louise by William Corden copyright by The Royal Collection
Princess Louise was very intriguing to me because although she lived in the 1800’s, she had a very modern and forward-thinking mindset. Even when her mother, who happened to be the Queen of England, didn’t support women’s suffrage, Louise found ways to offer patronage to suffrage groups. Some might view Louise as a rebellious daughter, but she was also fiercely loyal to her mother no matter their conflicts.

Did you try to write in Louise’s “voice” as you may have found it in letters, or did you purely invent it?

I read many letters written by Louise, so I had a good sense of her voice. I’d characterize her as a very affectionate, compassionate, with an almost “gushing” personality. She used endearments all the time such as “dear” or “dearest” or “darling.” She either hated things or loved things, she wasn’t afraid to express emotion, and she was always looking to be a friend to others, no matter their station. I had one Louise, Duchess of Argyleadvance reader who told me it was tiresome to read so many endearments, so I cut a few out, but I wanted to stay as true as possible to her natural way of expression.

In a similar vein, how many of the scenes are historical as opposed to your own invention? Are all the letters real?

Yes, all the letters came directly from preserved royal correspondence that is either published in book form or online. I’d estimate that there are 3-5 references per page throughout the entire manuscript. Even if I made up a situation—such as the opening scene with the children gathering for a game, I based the game on something they played, the gathered children were those who frequented the palace, and their conversation about an event that was truly about to happen.

The romance in the story is captivating. Were there a lot of resources to draw from about John Campbell or did you need to guess what his personality might be like?

John Campbell was a prolific author and poet. I studied many of his works and read through them for his general vernacular. His writing was very descriptive, yet formal, which is why I didn’t put in Scottish dialect when I wrote his dialog. He might have used local dialect in some of the Princess Louise and John Campbell engagementScottish towns, but in general, he spoke formally. Ironically, it was a huge sacrifice for him to marry a royal princess and put her interests before his. But he’d known Princess Louise most of his life, and their families were closely connected, which told me he didn’t go into the marriage with any unrealistic expectations. He wasn’t weak-kneed though. He did stand up for himself multiple times with the Queen, and Louise supported his decisions.

As a modern reader, it’s tempting to think of John Campbell as highly-ranked – he is still a duke, after all. Was it really a scandal that Louise married him?

Louise’s older siblings were very frustrated that the queen would even consider such a match. Her brother Bertie was insistent that she maintain protocol and marry a royal. Bertie’s wife, Alexandra, wanted to strengthen the connection to the Danish throne and have Louise marry her Danish brother, who was the crown prince of Denmark. Alice and Vicky, both who’d married Prussians, wanted her to be with them in their country. This all brought about major contention among siblings, and when Queen Victoria gave her blessing on Louise’s decision to marry John Campbell, that was a deep wound to Bertie especially, since he never felt like he had the trust and support of his mother. The country of England loved that Louise was marrying “one of them”—and the couple was very much celebrated.

I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t typical for women to attend funerals! What historical facts surprised you during your research?

Since I’d read books set in Georgian and Regency eras,Queen Victoria, 1876 by Princess Louise copyright The Royal Academy I was also surprised that women still weren’t attending funerals when Prince Albert died. I felt disconcerted to learn that the wetnurses for the royal children had to stand while breastfeeding. Also, that Queen Victoria was appalled when Vicky decided to breastfeed her babies. I was surprised to learn how much Prince Albert crafted the education of his children, especially Vicky and Bertie, and how insistent he was that his children learn things like gardening and baking. I was also surprised to learn that the younger siblings weren’t allowed to be alone together. They always had to have a staff member with them. This was so that there wouldn’t ever be accusations of molestation between siblings—something that Queen Victoria was very paranoid about. Another interesting tidbit that takes place later than my story, is when Beatrice declares she’s fallen in love and wants to marry Prince Henry of Battenberg. Queen Victoria didn’t approve of the match, and for the next six months refused to speak directly to her daughter.
They communicated only through letters. Finally, Queen Victoria gave in, with a lot of conditions—one being that Prince Henry promise to live in England.

Are you intending to write about any of the other siblings, or other royal characters?

This is definitely a possibility! I recently completed a novel set in the Pacific Rim World War 2 era, so that will be my next release. But if In the Shadow of a Queen is received favorably by readers, then another royal story might be in the works.Author Heather B. Moore

About the Author

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American Collage in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

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