Tell me a little bit about who you are and where you live.
After I retired from high school teaching, my husband and I moved from the New York City area to a rural community in Vermont. We thought the town would be a “good fit”; we both liked hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing—outdoor activities that Vermont fosters.
Beginnings are so important. Shortly after I had unpacked the last box, I discovered a new side of life in Vermont. A newly-made friend asked me to join The Mad River Poets—and so I put pen to paper in my first effort at poetry. The praise and support of these local writers encouraged me to keep writing, to submit my work to magazines for publishing, and eventually to try my hand at prose.
I find poetry and prose are intertwined. A Tapestry of Queens grew out of a poem, “Anne Boleyn’s Dressmaker.” Over time, as I thought about this dressmaker, she acquired a name, Cordelia, a husband, Roger, and a stepdaughter, Olivia. Finally, with the publication of A Tapestry of Queens in 2015, Cordelia stepped into an international world, a world that embraces three sixteenth century courts. For me this step has been a dream come true—a dream extended and amplified by the 2016 publication of my poetry chapbook, In the Company of Queens.
I have since moved from that rural community to Middlebury, a college town in Vermont. I have learned that you don’t leave places behind you. Trips to New York, visiting family and friends in The Big Apple, are a part of my life. I frequently drive over the Appalachian Gap, staying in touch with people who supported me in those days when I was struggling to complete my first manuscript, hoping to find a church that answered my spiritual needs, and eventually coping with my husband’s illness.
Retirement gives the gift of time—time for friendship, reflection, and exploration of interests. I’m not certain of Wallace Stegner’s phrase “Crossing to Safety” – I have found little “safety” in these years—but I have found new experiences and exciting opportunities.
Are there any favorite local spots you like to visit, ones that inspire your creativity?
There is a bench overlooking the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury where I sometimes go, pen and paper in hand. But I like solitude; my garden, a quiet, secluded spot, is beautiful and reassuring.
Wow us with shock value. Is there anything about you that would surprise readers?
I like adventure travel. I’ve climbed mountains in the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains (but failing to summit Camel’s Hump!), and the Canadian Rockies. Most recently I’ve climbed the Black Cuillin ridge in Scotland.
What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a neurosurgeon?
First, I hate the sight of blood. Seeking a second career, I became an English teacher. Then, after retirement, I found the world of writing prose and poetry.
If you could spend a day with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would like to spend a day on the Cote d’Azur with F. Scott Fitzgerald. That way I would meet not only Fitzgerald but also Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, the Murphys, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, and Picasso, among others. I would meet the people who feature in Fitzgerald’s novels, eat one of Sarah Murphy’s delicious picnics, and lounge in the sun in one of the world’s most beautiful places.
Does the area in which you live provide influence in your writing? How so?
Vermont nurtures me. It is a rural state with few distractions and provides the quiet that I need to write. The state is very supportive of creative efforts; I am sought after to do poetry readings and book signings. Recently I was selected to present a course on the wives of Henry VIII at Middlebury’s Senior Institute.
What is the most critical piece of advice you would give to new authors?
Be certain your manuscript is as polished and complete as possible before you send it out. In short, put your best foot forward.
Coming up with a title can be difficult. Tell me how you came up with yours.
The editors at Bagwyn helped. Since my novel is so infused with textile imagery, they suggested that the title should reflect this motif. After some thought I changed the title from A Royal Pawn to A Tapestry of Queens. I like this title because—not only does it suggest the novel’s imagery—but it reflects that the novel weaves the lives of several queens into the narrative.
Are there more books coming from you in the future? Do tell!
Yes. As in the past, I am working on both poetry and prose. My next novel will be set in 1548 with flashbacks to 1536. Cordelia will again travel to Scotland and witness how a ruler as strong as Marie de Guide can change history. Also the novel will explore the legacy of Anne Boleyn. I believe both women changed not just the sixteenth century but the world we live in today – and I want to explore their legacy.
Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
If you would like to learn more about A Tapestry of Queens and/or order copies, visit my website at http://carolmilkuhn.com or at http://atapestryofqueens.com. There is a direct link to buying from Bagwyn Books on the website.
A Tapestry of Queens is also available at The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, VT. (802-388-2061)