Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you get your ideas?
As a passionate student of history, I’m never at a loss for inspiration. Sometimes I come across an intriguing nugget while researching another book; sometimes I feel a story surging around me when I visit a particular place. Newspaper articles, family tales, old letters, old movies, operas—all of them set my brain in motion. What intrigues me most about the past is not the grand historical event, however; it’s the people who existed inside that history, for whom it was their present reality. I want to immerse my readers in that experience, to set them down in another time and place and invite them to understand that world as a vital glass through which to understand our own. The truths I want to illuminate come from historical details, not historical events writ large; from human dramas, not from headlines.
Does it matter in which order I read your novels?
Other than the Prohibition series I began with The Wicked City, I write all my books to stand alone, and you’ll enjoy reading them in any order. That being said, I started creating my shared fictional universe with A Hundred Summers in 2013, and if you’re a stickler for sequence, you might prefer to read them in order of publication. Even if you’re not, I’d recommend reading the so-called “Schuyler sister” novels in sequence—The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Tiny Little Thing, and Along the Infinite Sea—not because it’s necessary, but because you might otherwise encounter a spoiler or two.
Do you recommend any other authors?
My library shelves overflow with much-loved books and authors. Favorites in historical fiction include Patrick O’Brian, Daphne du Maurier, Sebastian Faulks, Anya Seton, Deanna Raybourn, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley, and of course, my dear friends and writing partners, Lauren Willig and Karen White. From the classics shelf, I always return to Waugh, Fitzgerald, Austen, the Brontes, Trollope, Burney, Dumas, Woolf, and Wharton. Finally, my obsession with twentieth century history began with Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, a devastating chronicle of the impact of the First World War on a entire generation.
Do you write under a pen name?
My mainstream historical fiction all appears under my real name, Beatriz Williams. I have also written eight award-winning works of historical romance and historical mystery as Juliana Gray.
Who's the redhead who turns up with Agent Marshall in the epilogue of "Cocoa Beach"?
I’m afraid you’ll have to read The Wicked City to learn more about her! I do love populating my novels with characters from other stories, and all my Jazz Age novels are linked in this way. For example, we first meet the protagonist of Cocoa Beach as a secondary character in A Certain Age, and while The Wicked City is the first book in its very own Prohibition series, its ending slides right into the epilogue of Cocoa Beach. Meanwhile, the second Wicked City book–The Wicked Redhead, due for publication in 2019–will pick up right where that epilogue leaves off. Happy reading!
Why--and how--do you write books with Karen White and Lauren Willig?
When I first entered this crazy world of publishing, I discovered many new friends among the other authors I met at conferences and book signings, and a few of them turned out to be kindred spirits. One late evening with a bottle of wine, Karen White, Lauren Willig and I had this terrific idea: we should write a book together, which would not only give us an excuse to meet more often, but would allow us to go on a book tour together (at our publisher’s expense, of course!). Since all three of us write novels that take place over multiple time periods, we plotted out a story in three interwoven narratives–a mystery surrounding a New York City mansion during the 1890s, the 1920s, and the 1940s–from the perspectives of three generations of women. Each main character was narrated by one author, and we wove these stories together in alternating chapters (round-robin style) to create a seamless whole. That first draft became The Forgotten Room, which was an instant New York Times bestseller in 2016 and a beloved favorite of many of our readers…and the basis for what might have been The Best Book Tour Ever (TM). After such a magical storytelling experience, we couldn’t wait to do it all over again with The Glass Ocean, out in September 2018.