Author Interview with Priya Parmar + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Interview , Priya Parmar , The Latin Lover Posted on May 9, 2011 @ 6:00 am 21 comments
Today I am extremely happy to welcome to BLI and introduce to you a wonderful new author and one of the kindest persons I know: historical fiction author Priya Parmar! Priya’s debut novel Exit the Actress (released in February) takes the reader on an enchanted time travel back to the colourful and buzzing theatre scene of 17th century London. You can read my review of Exit the Actress here, but now please give the warmest welcome to Priya and read on to discover more about her, the novel and all the little secrets behind the writing of the story there is to know 😉 

Stella: Priya can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Priya: I did not plan to write a novel. It just sort happened in a really fun, collective way. I did postgraduate work at the University of Edinburgh and then I began working with Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues in both London and New York. I also did freelance editing until a friend suggested I write my own novel. My mother was an editor and I trusted her to tell me if what I was writing was terrible and so I just began to research and then write.
I have always sort of lived in parts. I grew up part of the time on the East Coast and part of the time in Hawaii and then I moved part of the year to London and part of the year to Hawaii. I have a suitcase permanently in the corner of my room.
I have never left the house without a book since I was ten. I was also essentially illiterate until I was ten. I secretly could not read and had just learned to memorize everything and no one knew. Once I could read I plowed straight into Gone With The Wind and did not leave the sofa for two weeks. I had fallen madly in love with words.
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Priya: I have really strict, strange rules for myself in terms of writing. I wake up and turn on the computer before I do anything else and write. I let myself write just four pages in a day whether that takes one hour or eleven. And then I stop. I never give up and decide to give myself a day off on the day. If I decide the night before that is fine but never as a reaction to writing. And then I never make up the work if I do have a day off. I just start over the next day. And if I am in Hawaii I go an jump in the ocean when I am done…
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Priya: I am not sure. I think the switch happens when you don’t just read a book but treasure it and keep the story with you long after you finish. I know lots of people who like a story while they are reading it but do not miss it terribly when it is over. I miss a story terribly if I have really fallen in love with it.
Stella: What can we expect of Exit the Actress?
Priya: It is not a typical story of Nell Gwyn, nor of a royal mistress. It is a more historically rooted Nell in terms of her family history and it rejects the cockney, lewd Nell of popular myth. She is a complete person and has ambitions of her own outside of her affair with the king.
The secondary characters are different as well. Nell was the only mistress who befriended Queen Catherine. I was fascinated by the relationship between Charles and his queen as well as the queen and Nell.
Stella: Not many historical novels are set in the 17th century, why did you choose to write about this time period?
Priya: I did not really set out to set a novel in Restoration London but it is where Nell lived. The people are what drew me to the time. Once I got there thought, it was absurdly fascinating.
Stella: How did you come to know about Nell Gwyn and what compelled you to make her your heroine?
Priya: Nell was one of the first women I met while researching my doctorate. Her story stayed with me and when I decided to write a novel she was just insistent that she star in it. It was interesting. When I moved down to London from Edinburgh, I bumped into Nell’s life everywhere. I kept finding myself on streets that featured in her life and my bus passed her house with the blue plaque everyday.
Stella: Why did you choose to write a historical fiction novel? Was it a conscious decision or the story just flew that way?
Priya: I do not remember actually choosing to write a historical novel. I was not even sure I could write a novel. It all just sort of happened. I think I reasoned that it was actually easier for a first time author to hang a story on a historical frame rather than originate a story completely. Of course, that reasoning did not take into account my obsessive compulsion to get it historically accurate!
Stella: Would you like to try your hand at writing a novel in a different genre? If yes, which one intrigues you?
Priya: I like the idea of writing a fictional novel inside a historical period. I love the idea of people from history wandering in and out and going to parties with characters that I have just pulled out of thin air.
Stella: How long have you spent researching Exit the Actress? Can you give us a glimpse behind the scenes of how the novel came to life?
Priya: It is difficult to say as so much of the research happened during my earlier doctoral research. I would say, I spent a year researching and then four years researching and writing. The researching never stops. I was in the copy edit phase and still double checking that a certain color cloth would have been used in 1668.
Samuel Peyps was a wonderful guide. It was wonderful to have this randy old goat for company as I wandered through the Restoration. I knew the definite plot points of the story but so much of her daily life (other than when I was sure she was playing this or that role) was unknown. Samuel Peyps and John Evelyn, the diarists of the time, gave me the weather, the social calendar the gossip. It was wonderful to have them.
The interior landscape is what is really fictional. I looked at what happened (i.e. Nell went to Epsom and sent all her scripts back to the theatre but was back in a month playing terrible roles) and had to construct a plausible emotional, practical trajectory for how these things could happen.


Stella: What time period do you personally find the most fascinating and why is that?
Priya: It moves around. I am currently madly in love with WWI because that is what I am writing about but I have fallen for everything from the Romans to the Regency period. I loved eras of shift and collapse and movement; when the social, moral, cultural cards get thrown in the air.
Stella: Can you summarize Exit the Actress for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Priya: I am so bad at Twitter. I signed up and did not use it. Umm… ‘Ellen’s great adventure in becoming Nell Gwyn.’ How many characters is that?
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Exit the Actress?
Priya: It is terrible but I don’t know? I love her story. I love her voice. People worry about the format but it honestly dissolves after a few pages and just flows through the book. It is not about a royal mistress as much as it is about a woman looking for the life she wants to lead.
Stella: Do you plan on returning to the Restoration period? What is next on your schedule?
Priya: I am currently writing a novel set in WWI but I definitely hope to return to the Restoration. I miss it. I miss the shoes and the dancing and the friendships and the theatre. I really miss the theatre.
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Priya: I can walk on stilts and do back flips. But only into water and only on the stilts my dad made me when I was twelve.
Stella: Thanks so much Priya for stopping by and answering all my questions! 🙂
You can reach Priya at her website: or blog:





We are giving away a copy of Exit the Actress to one lucky commenter.

All you have to do is ask Priya a question
or leave a meaningful comment about the interview.

Which time period would you like to visit or which historical person would you like to meet?

Please leave us a way to contact you
(email in blogger profile or twitter name-
no way to contact you – no entry).
This giveaway is international
Giveaway ends on Saturday, May 21th  2011 and we will announce the winner on Sunday.
Good luck!

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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Join the Discussion
  • Birgit May 9, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Thanks for the great interview! I'm impressed how much time Priya spent on research, then again, I often wish other authors would do the same, because a lot of books that dip into history leave something to be desired.

    As to the question: It's hard for me to choose, really, but I think the Middle Ages sound fascinating to me for sure!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  • Jen B. May 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I'm a lot like Priya, in that I am in love with whatever timeperiod I am currently reading. I have always thought it would be great to spend a day with Ghandi. He radiated such peace. I have also thought it might be fun to attend a royal ball in the courts in King Henry or the like. But only at a distance as an observer. Those were tumultuous times. Exit The Actress is set in a time period I am not too familiar with. I always love to read about times and places that are new to me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • BrittanyGale May 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Great interview! I love historical fiction and this one sounds really good 🙂


  • Elysium May 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Haven't read much about Nell or Charles II (shame on me!) and this sounds really good! I've wanted to get my hands on this.

    I'd love to meet William Marshal and visit that time period. And while there I wouldn't mind meeting Eleanor of Aquitaine too 🙂


  • Sugar May 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    sounds fascinating.. I also fall in love with the time periods of novels.. only if they are truly loveable stories..
    I can always imagine myself in that time..
    my question is:
    did you take any great pictures of your research areas while there?

  • Shannon May 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I've read maybe 2 or 3 of the "lewd Nell Gwyn" books and I'm very interested in a book that tells her whole story. I felt the last book I read about was really just a list of the men she shared a bed with.

    I'm very comfortable in my own time period and definitely prefer reading about others over actually visiting them.

    tiredwkids at live dot com

  • Aleetha May 10, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I have seen this book in some blogs. But I have not really check the review. Have you guys written the review?

    17th Century, I don't get any picture about that era. I don't think I have learnt history in those years. I wish she gave us one hint for that. Restoration London does not ring any bells to me. Is it in the same era with Industrial Revolution?

    I think I should check its synopsis. at gmail dot com

  • Tore May 10, 2011 at 10:15 am

    What other generes do you like to read or write? Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  • Maureen May 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Is your story about WWI about an historical figure too?
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  • Melissa (Books and Things) May 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Time period? Well old England as long as Capt'n Jack Sparrow was a real person and captured me upon his Pirate ship! lol

    Oh and all I can think of is stilts? I can't even walk well in heels!
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • TheJay2xA May 11, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Which time period would you like to visit or which historical person would you like to meet?

    This is really hard question for me. But if I was given a chance to meet a historical person I would choose to meet none other than Sidney Sheldon. He is one author I really look up to in terms of writing and passion. I would really love to meet him and be mentored by him. Having to meet an author like him would be really nice.

    email: fallendream03(at)gmail(d0t)com

  • marybelle May 12, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I would love to have met Queen Victoria. She was a Matriarch with a capital M. Her bloodline once sat upon most thrones: including Russia, Prussia & Great Britain.

  • Jeanne May 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Great interview 🙂 I would like to visit France in 17. or 18. century and It would be also amazing meet Louis XIV.

  • marybelle May 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    YAY THE BLOGS ARE BACK UP. 'Exit The Actress' looks amazing. I love historical novels.

  • EVA SB May 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    If you have already written your 4 pages and your head is still bursting with ideas doesn't it drive you crazy?

    I love history and would love to visit England in the 17th century but only if my health and safety were assured. Both disease and the treatment of women make me a little uneasy about historical times.[@]gmail[.]com

  • Dinda_SI May 14, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Great interview !!!
    I love historical fiction and this story sound interesting. I also love old England.


  • Margaret May 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I'm excited about this giveaway!! I really want to read this book! I've always been curious about Charles II as he was married to a Portuguese princess and I am from Portuguese descent.

    I love Ancient Egypt and I guess I'd love to meet Cleopatra.

    I've also wished I could do back flips lol so that's great to hear you are able to Priya!


  • JessS May 19, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Awesome interview. And wow, you do so much research, which is great because it makes things more accurate.
    I'd love to visit the Jane Austen type time period (so 200 years ago?) because I'd like to experience the society with all its rules and social customs and politeness. I'd love to see people talking like that and all the clothes.
    Thanks for the giveaway!


  • Riva May 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I'm rediscovering my love of historical fiction and this book sounds WONDERFUL!

    I think I'd most like to visit the American Old West. That would be far enough back to get a feeling of history without being so far back as to cause culture shock.

    dulcibelle [at] earthlink [dot] net

  • Erika May 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Priya! You say you also love the Roman and Regency periods. My question is, do you think you will ever write a book set in either of these time periods?


  • Priya Parmar July 25, 2011 at 4:42 am

    i am so sorry! i just saw your question! i would love to write in both of those periods. i would probably begin with regency as the roman era is such a dramatic departure from what i am doing now. they would be so much fun to do though!

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