Friday, July 5, 2019

Laura L. Sullivan Interview - Milady

Photo Content from Laura L. Sullivan

Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker and deputy sheriff who writes because that's the easiest way to do everything in the world. She lives in the woods of Kentucky with her loved ones. She is the author of Under the Green Hill and Guardian of the Green Hill.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
A firm belief in the existence of unicorns, and the need to proselytize about them! I was seven or eight at the time. 

What do you hope for people to be thinking after they read your novel?
In the era of fabricated 'news' and deepfake videos, we have to approach everything with the presupposition that we might not be getting the real story. I treated the original novel The Three Musketeers like a news article of questionable veracity. So much of the story raised issues. Motivations were cloudy, supposedly intelligent people did foolish things, allegiances seemed to change overnight. It seemed to me that The Three Musketeers might be the version written by the winners. MILADY is the fact-checked version!

Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about MILADY?
For more than 150 years since the publication of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers in 1844, Milady de Winter has reigned as one of the great female villains of literature. Cunning, remorseless and ruthlessly vindictive, Milady moves throughout Dumas's epic novel with such a coldblooded evil that the reader assumes, like the famous fable of the scorpion, it's in her nature. But there is more to Milady's story. 

She began life as Clarice, a simple Yorkshire lass. Her idyllic youth was shattered when she was sent to the licentious court of King James of England. Tangled in a web of treachery, she had no choice but to shed her innocence. A sacrifice for love led to a cascade of events that took her from a brutal French convent to the bed of a Musketeer. Through her trials she grew ever more deadly with poison and the blade, with her clever tongue and cunning lies. But does a loyal, honorable, and passionate woman lurk behind the wicked image of Milady? She's been judged by the Musketeers, and by the executioner. Now it is time for a new generation to judge her. 

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why?
I'm terrible at favorites! I can never narrow it down. Seriously, we'd be here all day. But the books I've read most often are Pride and Prejudice, Forever Amber, Maia, and The Crimson Petal and the White.

Anthony Trollope is probably my all-time favorite author, though since he wrote 47 novels I've only read a few of them more than twice (though I think I've read them all at least once.)

My favorite living writer has to be Laurie Graham. ( She writes the most amusing, acerbic, well-researched historicals – as well as some modern novels with spot-on social comedy. The first I read was Gone with the Windsors, a story of Wally Simpson told through the diary of her ditzy friend. Some other favorites are The Great Husband Hunt (with a main character based on Peggy Guggenheim) and The Future Homemakers of America (about wives of American GIs in post WWII England.) Lately, she's also boldly written some fantastic middle aged and elderly main characters. Which (as I check the latest CDC report and come to grips with the fact that I'm officially past middle age by more years than I realized) I appreciate more and more. 

What was your favorite chapter to write and why? 
Definitely the first chapter – because it was the last chapter I wrote. In traditional first chapters (being the first ones written) I'm still establishing my grasp of the character. But in MILADY I decided late in the game that it needed a new opening, and it was such fun because I understood Milady's character so perfectly at that point. The story is told in a dual timeline – when Milady is an innocent young woman, and when she is in her prime as a spy – and this new first chapter shows her in her full mature glory.

It also has bondage, murder, and raspberry tarts, so that was fun!

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Right now I'm working on an exciting co-writing project with a Colombia University professor, Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, who was a teen during the Bosnian War. It's a survival story with a lot of heart – and a cat! It is called MACI, which is “kitty” in Bosnian, and should be out in late 2020.

I'm also in the research stage of my next novel. I'm not quite ready to talk about it yet, but I can tell you it has love, sex, death, and art...

  • 1. It passes the Bechdel Test.
  • 2. You'll learn how to poison people with potatoes.
  • 3. It will encourage you to fight the patriarchy.
  • 4. It will also affirm your belief in true love, and in men in general, because one really great one sure can make up for a bunch of rotten ones. Kind of the opposite of the one-bad-apple theory.
  • 5. Connie is the most sex-positive character I've ever written.
  • 6. “Pigs in Springtime” will be your new euphemism for sex.
  • 7. You'll discover that Cardinal Richelieu is a cunning linguist (heheh).
  • 8. It's being published in a lovely PAPERBACK first edition first, which means you can take a chance on an unfamiliar author without spending a fortune. How can you go wrong?
  • 9. Can you keep a secret? Of course you can't! That's why I'm only going to say I have some AMAZING news about a film option that I'll be able to share soon.
  • 10. I shouldn't tell you this either, but... it has a happy ending! (I mean, come on, how could I give Milady a bad ending after what Dumas did to her?)
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Milady would really like Zabby, a character from LADIES IN WAITING, a story of three maids of honor in Restoration England (1660s). Zabby is a protege of Lucy Cavendish (philosopher, writer, scientist, and the first published female science fiction writer) and has to friend zone King Charles II even as she's looking at his wiggling sperm sample through one of the world's first microscopes. 

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I love finding treasures, so I like my adventures to reflect that in some way. They can be exotic or simple – anything from fossil diving to thrifting. If I can discover something marvelous that has been overlooked for years (or centuries or eons), I'm happy. 

For travel, maybe diving around Micronesia, or anything where I can interact with animals in a way that doesn't exploit or threaten them. 

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I think I've lived a fairly narratively humdrum life! I'm perfectly happy with it, mind you, but it doesn't have a great narrative arc. Though I am a fan of strange little quirky movies that aren't about all that much, so the Duplass brothers could probably do something with my life! 

She was the greatest nemesis of d'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers--but Milady de Winter was so much more than just a villain in their swashbuckling adventures.

I've gone by many names though you know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess, seductress, a secondary player in The Three Musketeers story.

But we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong.

So before you cast judgment, let me tell you of how a girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe. A target for antipathy, a name whispered in fear or loathing.

I don't need you to like me. I just need to be free.

It's finally time I tell my own story. The truth isn't tidy or convenient, but it's certainly more interesting.

Praise for MILADY

“Laura Sullivan’s Milady is an enthralling historical novel, beautifully crafted and richly detailed. Its fascinating, utterly real characters and spellbinding plot twists will keep readers breathlessly turning the pages.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Resistance Women

“As sharp and merciless as a Musketeer’s blade, Milady is the historical adventure I’ve been waiting for, one that will leave you gasping to the very last page. Adventuress, assassin, and provocatrix, Milady de Winter is an unforgettable heroine, more than a match for any adversary. This is the story Dumas should have told.” —Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of A Dangerous Collaboration

“A woman's place is no longer in the subplot and Milady de Winter is a 17th century heroine destined for the 21st century. With bold, witty writing, and a narrative that rips along, Laura L. Sullivan crafts a compelling novel for a character deserving of her own story. I loved it!” Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

“Middle grade and YA novelist Sullivan’s adult debut is a rousing tale of spies, love, sex, and death. It is a delight…. This is truly entertaining historical fiction, an imaginative retelling of a classic from a new viewpoint. Readers will identify with Milady’s struggle to find her place in the world, to find happiness and love. Fanciers of adventurous historical fiction will love her story.” —Library Journal (starred review)

"A devious, delectable historical spy confection in which an icing of lavish court intrigue slyly masks heady doses of ripe feminism and lethal social commentary. Milady snared me in its web from the first pages and I'll be first in line for the film premiere." Lyndsay Faye, Edgar-nominated author of Jane Steele and The Paragon Hotel

“There’s nothing more satisfying than a riveting tale with a swash-buckling, cunning female spy at its center. Milady is a worthy addition to the canon of The Three Musketeers, told with well-paced, elegant prose and a keen eye for historical detail. I couldn’t put the book down!” Heather Webb, Internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

“The clever ending is certain to delight both Dumas fans and newcomers who enjoy historical fiction featuring smart, adventurous, determined women.” —Booklist

You can purchase Milady at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LAURA L. SULLIVAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Milady by Laura L. Sullivan.


  1. I think my trip to Alaska would make a good movie.

  2. I think my trip to Bali that I made with a group of ladies might have made a great comedy.

  3. No event in my life would make a good movie.

  4. Me being sick since Sunday and missing The 4th of July. Thank you

  5. No event my life is pretty quiet.

  6. Having undiagnosed twins would make for a unique movie and story. They didn't know the one hid the other as I had a C-section because they were laying sideways, shoulder presentation. I was happy, because all those overflowing trays of food at work payed off.