Michelle Gable, author of “A Paris Apartment” 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?
Though I’m not keen to assume her profession (blush), courtesan-turned-princess-turned-nun Liane de Pougy lived a fascinating life. I would love to spend some time in her shoes…or corset!
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
Probably 1900, in Paris. A large portion of my novel takes place in the City of Lights during the Belle Époque, otherwise known as the Golden Era. It’d be great fun to attend the period’s grand parties, visit the cabarets, and meet its artists and writers. It’s a period brimming with such abundance and life.
3. You’re having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
First I’d invite Edith Bolling Gant Wilson, wife of former President Woodrow Wilson and called by some “the first female President.” I’d have to know, did she really take over after her husband’s stroke? Was she the one running the show?
Since reading Giants by John Stauffer, I’ve been fascinated by Frederick Douglass. His forward-thinking views–he championed women’s rights in addition to his own–as well as his mesmerizing speeches would fascinate any dinner crowd.
Allan Pinkerton formed a detective agency that is still around, and created many of the investigative techniques used today. He also played a huge role in the Civil War. Between saving Lincoln from an initial assassination attempt and later hunting down Jesse James, he’d have a few stories to tell.
Then I’d have to choose two real-life characters featured in my book. Who better to have at your party than a man who wears a velvet green suit, owns jewel-encrusted turtles, and dons a necklace filled with human tears? Robert de Montesquiou would and did enliven many a scene.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and site of many scandals.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you’d like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Tasha Alexander would be number one. Not only is she a fun person, but she knows more about travel and history than anyone I know.
If we could reincarnate James Clavell, he would be my second pick. He was a writer and a filmmaker, with extensive knowledge of Asia, and he’d certainly know how to bring out the cinematic quality in any setting.
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
Louis XIV of France. The man had some longevity–he ruled for 72 years! Plus he was nice to his mother and a patronage of the arts. Henry VIII had his good qualities but he did not excel in keeping wives happy (or alive) and was horrible with his personal finances. Though I will admit I prefer Henry’s more neatly trimmed hair.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Catherine Parr, the Queen of England and Ireland. She was beautiful , shrewd, and kind, and did not angle for the Queen role while Henry was married to someone else. She seemed like a pretty great stepmother and handled adversity and naysayers with skill and grace. Also she nearly matched Henry in terms of spousal count!
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
“Father of the Rain” by Lily King
“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden
“The Lotus Eaters” by Tatjana Soli
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee, always! Also a lot of Diet Coke.
Michelle Gable’s official website: