THE STEEL BENEATH THE SILK by Patricia Bracewell - Interview

“A magnificent book! This masterful culmination of Patricia Bracewell’s epic Emma of Normandy trilogy could rival any Norse saga.” —Anne Easter Smith, author of This Son of York

The Steel Beneath the Silk by Patricia Bracewell

The Steel Beneath the Silk

A breathtaking conclusion to Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy Trilogy, brimming with treachery, heartache, tenderness and passion as the English queen confronts ambitious and traitorous councilors, invading armies and the Danish king’s power-hungry concubine.

In the year 1012 England’s Norman-born Queen Emma has been ten years wed to an aging, ruthless, haunted King Æthelred. The marriage is a bitterly unhappy one, between a queen who seeks to create her own sphere of influence within the court and a suspicious king who eyes her efforts with hostility and resentment. But royal discord shifts to grudging alliance when Cnut of Denmark, with the secret collusion of his English concubine Elgiva, invades England at the head of a massive Viking army. Amid the chaos of war, Emma must outwit a fierce enemy whose goal is conquest and outmaneuver the cunning Elgiva, who threatens all those whom Emma loves.


Meet the Author

Q&A with Patricia Bracewell

Books & Benches: Please join us in welcoming Patricia Bracewell to the B&B blog. We've read rave reviews for her fascinating works of historical fiction, but let's hear directly from the author on her writing and a little something extra about the book.

Who are your main characters? Tell us a little about what makes them tick.

Emma of Normandy has been bound in a political marriage for ten years to a man she neither loves nor respects. Intelligent and deeply religious, her strongest character trait is loyalty, so she is loyal to the king despite her dislike for him, her outrage at his brutal acts, even despite her love for another man. She has to walk a very fine line, though, between her loyalty to the king for the sake of her children, her belief in what is right and wrong, and her resentment at the king’s efforts to marginalize her. She is protective of those in her care. She knows who her enemies are and does whatever she must to thwart them. She has suffered great loss, and that has matured and even hardened her. She can be self-reproachful and sometimes doubts herself.

Elgiva is an English noblewoman who is convinced that she is destined for queenship. She is tortured by the fate that has made her a woman in a man’s world, but she uses her sexuality to get what she wants. She is determined to be the spinner of her own fate. She loves intrigue, but only to pursue her own ends. She is not very perceptive. She only really understands people who are just like her—driven by a desire for power. She is a risk-taker, afraid of almost no one. Her conviction of her own invincibility gives her courage to face just about anything….even death.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

Yes, I have to be alone and quiet. It’s a mystery to me how other very fine writers can listen to music while they work. I would find it utterly distracting. Nor is there any question of going off to a coffee shop to write—something that I did ages ago before I decided to write a historical novel. I’d have to bring several shelves of books along with me in case I wanted to verify something. Horribly impractical.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I want each of my novels about Emma of Normandy to stand on its own. This gets harder with each book, though. The early drafts of The Steel Beneath the Silk leaned heavily upon events that happened in Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood, but I needed it to stand on its own two feet. An editor went through it and suggested where I could bring in just a line or two of back story—enough to give a reader new to the trilogy necessary information, yet not so much that readers familiar with the first two books would be bored.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I read my book reviews. Once a book is out in the world, it doesn’t really belong to the author any more. It belongs to readers, and because each reader brings different life experiences to the book, it strikes different readers in different ways. I’m sometimes astonished at the insights that readers give me to my own work. Of course I appreciate the positive reviews. As for the ones that are critical, well, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Novelists have to be thick-skinned, which is not to say that negative reviews don’t bother me, but I try not to read them more than once.

If you were to genre-hop, which genres would you most like to try writing?

It would be fun to try my hand at medieval fantasy. A reviewer wrote that The Steel Beneath the Silk is like Game of Thrones without the dragons and I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I should add some dragons sometime.” The trouble is, George Martin, Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey have already done it, and brilliantly. Still, that northern European, mythic world has always appealed to me. I would enjoy immersing myself in it for a time.

Want more? Read an excerpt from chapter one.


The Author

Author Patricia Bracewell

Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. Her first novel, Shadow on the Crown, about the 11th-century queen of England, Emma of Normandy, was published in 2013. Its sequel, The Price of Blood, appeared in 2015. The final book of her Emma of Normandy Trilogy, The Steel Beneath the Silk was published March 2, 2021.

Patricia lives with her husband in Oakland, California.

Visit her website at



Genre: Medieval/Historical Fiction

Type: Novel

Publisher: Bellastoria Press

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Series: Emma of Normandy, book 3

Content Rating: PG-13

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Tour Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, the author is giving away two paperback copies of The Steel Beneath the Silk! The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 30, 2021. You must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is sponsored by the author and hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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