Pageonelit.com: Where did you grow up and was
reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest
influences and why?
Paula Paul: I grew up in West Texas on a
farm/ranch thirty miles from a town. Since it was such a remote
area, reading quickly became my primary source of entertainment, and
I was a voracious reader. My mother was the earliest influence in my
reading life. The library in the court house basement was always one
of the regular stops when we went to town, along with the feed store
and the grocery store. We rarely bought books, but it was a special
treat when we could.
Pageonelit.com: Why do you write?
Paula Paul: I’m not sure why. It’s just that I
can’t NOT write. Maybe it was because I learned early in life that
reading and writing were good ways to communicate ideas. Also, I
loved stories, and every time I read one, I’d get the feeling that I
could write a better one.
Pageonelit.com: Discuss your new book Sins of Empress.
Paula Paul: SINS OF THE EMPRESS is a historical
novel about Catherine the Great of Russia. Catherine was a
fascinating eighteenth-century German princes who became the bride
of Peter III, heir to the throne of Russia, through an arranged
marriage. Arranged marriages were, of course, common in those days,
especially among royalty. She wasn’t treated well when she came to
the Russian court at the age of fourteen. She didn’t understand the
language or the Orthodox religion since she was Lutheran, and she
knew very little about the nation of Russia. To make matters worse,
Peter, her betrothed, had been an alcoholic since the age of eleven
and was, consequently physically, emotionally and maybe even
mentally immature. For example, even as an adult on their wedding
night, he brought toy wooden soldiers to bed to play with, and he
seemed to have no idea of the mechanics of sex.
SINS OF THE EMPRESS is the story of how Catherine
over came all of those obstacles and of the dangerous decisions she
had to make and actions she had to take to save herself from death
and her adopted country from ruin.
Pageonelit.com: Who is Princess Sophia/Catherine?
Why was she made to change her name? Who is Peter?
Paula Paul: The young German Princess Sophia
became Catherine II of Russia shortly after she was chosen by then
Empress Elizabeth to become the bride to the heir to the throne.
Elizabeth had never married and had no children of her own, but she
was the guardian of her nephew, Peter III. She chose Princess Sophia
from a minor principality in Germany because Sophia’s uncle had been
her lover before he succumbed to smallpox. Elizabeth changed
Sophia’s name to Catherine which was her mother’s name, when she was
confirmed in the Orthodox church. She obviously thought Sophia
needed a name change to symbolize her new life as a Russian.
Peter III was a Prussian prince, and a distant
cousin of Sophia’s—all of European royalty seems to be related
somehow.. His birth name was Karl Peter Ulrich. Empress Elizabeth
named him Peter III when she designated him her heir. As I
mentioned, she had no children of her own, and he was the son of her
sister, the Tsarina Anna, who died when Peter was an infant. Both
Anna and Elizabeth were daughters of Peter the Great, so Peter III
was a direct descendant of Peter the Great.
Pageonelit.com: You are an award winning author of over 25 books -
As an author what were you trying to accomplish new with Sins
of the Empress?
Paula Paul: I had written other historical
novels, but I wanted to write a sweeping story that played out on a
field as immense as Europe. It was a chance to try my hand at a big
Pageonelit.com: What should readers learn from reading Sins of the
Readers will learn a little
bit of Russian history, of course, but beyond that, they will learn
the details of the life of a woman who changed history. One of the
most fascinating aspects of reading the story is the chance to see
how women’s issues were present in the seventeenth century and how
Catherine dealt with them. They will also see how Catherine had to
marshal strength beyond what a man would need in order to survive as
royalty and to save her adopted country.
Pageonelit.com: How much research went into
of the Empress?
Paula Paul: A tremendous amount of research
went into this novel. Not only did I read several books about
Catherine, but I read books about her lovers and her contemporaries.
I also read her memoir which, sadly, she never finished, and I read
her letters to Voltaire and to one of her lovers. I also read books
that she herself read. That included Voltaire and Montesquieu. I
have to say, Montesquieu’s THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW was pretty
difficult reading, and it was undoubtedly more meaningful for an
empress than it was for me. Beyond that, I studied
seventeenth-century maps of
Europe to get a feel for the locations of some of the
battles. I had no idea of the location of some of those small
principalities in what is now Germany, so I had to seek out maps to
learn about them. I also read books about the Russian Orthodox
Pageonelit.com: If Hollywood called and
asked you to cast Sins of the Empress, who would you cast and why?
Paula Paul: I would, without question, cast
Merle Streep as the adult Catherine because she is the most
versatile actress I’ve ever seen. I would have to give some thought
to who would play the younger Sophia/Catherine. Maybe Jennifer
Book What are
readers saying about Sins of the Empress?
Paul brings to life this shunned and used young woman and helps us
understand her in a way other books have not. Written in first
person, the book seems like a memoir that Catherine the Great might
have written herself. She shares her fears, disappointments and
ambitions in a personal, believable way all the while following the
history of Russia very closely. Val Wallace, Amazon reader.
This is the first time I read an HF novel on Catherine the
Great- and I loved it! Lucy’s Reviews-Enchanted by
Paul’s deft rendering of this exciting time and place and
the passions, struggles and triumphs of the people who
inhabit it will keep the readers enthralled. Albuquerque
Pageonelit.com: What do you hope to achieve with Sins of the
Paula Paul: I want readers to be
entertained, to learn a little about Russian history and Catherine
the Great, and to be enticed to read more of my work.
Pageonelit.com: What was the last book you read?
Paula Paul: OBEDIENCE by Jacqueline Yallop. It’s
a literary novel set in modern day France and France of World War II
about a convent that is closing and how one of the old nuns is
dealing with her past. I love books that bring the past and the
present together, and that’s the kind of book I hope to write next.