Today I’m excited to share with you a wonderful and candid interview with Gail Meath, author of Agustina de Aragón, which is set in Spain during the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s. It will be released tomorrow. My review and the book trailer are below.
Bonnie: Hi Gail. It is so great to finally meet you. Tell the readers a little bit about yourself:
Gail: I’m from upstate NY by Lake Ontario. I grew up here. I have two grown children and two grandchildren, ages 9 and 6. I started writing in high school and discovered that I was a really good writer. I wasn’t a very good student except when there was an essay question. Whether I knew the answer or not, I could flub my way through any essay question and get a good grade. I was really proud of that as a kid.
Bonnie: How did you get into writing historical fiction?
Gail: I started writing and doing historical research mainly as therapy. My first marriage was not good and I was unhappy. I dove into historical research and writing as a way to escape. I could go to these faraway places through my writing and write about strong female characters because I did not feel strong myself at the time. I was married 23 years. I wrote my first seven novels during that marriage, and then stopped writing for ten years. It was after my second marriage, and with strong encouragement from my husband, that I decided to publish my first seven novels. Before that I had never shared them with anyone. And recently I wrote my newest book, Agustina de Aragón, the first novel I had written in ten years.
Bonnie: Could you give the readers a short synopsis of Agustina de Aragón?
Gail: Agustina was a peasant girl in Barcelona, Spain, whose father was a bladesmith. She was very interested in the beginnings of the war between Napoleon-led France and Britain. She hung around the military base, not to find a husband as some girls did, but to find out more about the war. As she gained more knowledge of the military, she began to feel the Spanish soldiers were inadequate. She met Juan Roca, also a soldier, and they fell in love. When Napoleon invaded Spain, Agustina and Roca both got very involved in the resistance, and Agustina herself rallied the soldiers to fight. She was a remarkable woman who became a soldier in her own right and literally turned the war around.
Bonnie: Your well-researched novels have led me to think that you must have been a history teacher or a historian at some point. Am I right?
Gail: No, I am an accountant. I have an accounting degree and my own business, but I am winding the business down and will focus even more on writing. I feel my organizational skills developed in the accounting business have really helped my research. I keep detailed files for all my books, and that comes from my business background. But I always loved to write, and it came easily to me. My father was an artist. I was never artistically talented in that way, but I found joy and purpose in writing. He always said to find your passion, and writing is my passion.
Bonnie: Your books that I have read, Countess Jacqueline and Agustina de Aragón, are about very strong women from real life who had roles that were not typical of their times. They are also women who are not as well known as other historical figures. Are these themes you want to continue in subsequent books?
Gail: Yes. For me to write, it has to be something that I can also learn and will hold my interest. I look for lesser known historical figures who I can research, and the research is a very important part of my process. I also want to talk about the heroes. My heroes are strong, but not macho. They are confident, but not arrogant. They are partners, but not dominant over the heroines. This is something that is very important to me, and also comes out of being in a bad first marriage.
Bonnie: What are you working on now?
Gail: I’m writing a murder mystery which is more lighthearted and kind of fun, and set in 1920s New York. I have also started a Civil War novel. The murder mystery will be published next.
Bonnie: What does your writing day look like:?
Gail: I mainly write on a desktop computer, but I will take a laptop outside by the pool. I usually write and research all day, starting at 5 a.m. However, I take plenty of breaks to see my grandchildren, who live right around the corner.
Bonnie: Do you have any hobbies when you’re not writing or researching?
Gail: I’m a HUGE New York Yankees fan and have a room full of their paraphernalia.
Bonnie: Who are your favorite players?
Gail: My favorite Yankees players are Andy Petit and Derek Jeter. My absolute favorite pitcher of all time wasn’t a Yankee for long. Randy Johnson (the Big Unit, he was called), pitched from 1988-2009, mostly for the Seattle Mariners, but he was a Yankee briefly at the end of his career.
Bonnie: Do you have any advice for new and aspiring writers?
Gail: I would advise anyone who wants to write to get going. Don’t make any excuses and write every day. Also, do not be afraid to share your writing with the world. I never showed anyone my first seven books for years. I kept them to myself and I regret that.
Bonnie: Gail, that is great advice, and it was something I needed to hear as an aspiring writer. It was so great to talk to you. I really enjoyed Agustina de Aragón, and I can’t wait to read your next book.
Gail Meath brings a legend to life in this beautiful historical romance/thriller based on the life of Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa, or Agustina de Aragón, also known as “The Spanish Joan of Arc.” We learn the true story of Agustina’s heroic acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, her life as a soldier and prisoner, and her romance with her beloved Juan Roca. Set in Barcelona and then Zaragosa, and other points in Spain, we meet Agustina as a girl and then follow her into womanhood, motherhood, and war.
The author’s meticulous research into the life and customs of early 1800s Spain is obvious, as Agustina’s world comes alive. The reader will feel as if they are there, visiting the marketplace and working alongside Agustina in her father’s bladesmith shop. The love story between Agustina and Roca is very well done, and their passion and dedication to each other are painted across every page.
When danger arrives in the form of the Napoleon-led French Army, we can see the bloody battles and the savagery of the enemy, as well as the bravery of the Spanish people, as they fight off onslaught after onslaught. The terrible price of war is shown again and again, and the reader will weep along with Agustina as she faces unspeakable loss. The author’s knowledge of the topic is impressive, and I learned so much about Napoleon’s attacks on and eventual takeover of Spain. Although Agustina is famous for her acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, she was also a mother, soldier, and prisoner of war, and it all comes alive in this novel. The ending is absolutely intriguing, and not to be missed.
I require two things from historical fiction. The first is that I be transported to the time and place being described. There is no question I felt transported to marketplaces, battlefields, and even prison in this fantastic novel. The second is that I learn something, and this book introduced me to Agustina herself, and then taught me much about the Napoleonic wars.
Agustina De Aragón introduces us to a compelling real-life legend, takes us into her world, and shows us the realities of war. It is a must read for fans of strong female characters. If you have never heard of Agustina, this book will introduce you in an unforgettable way.
LINK TO BUY AGUSTINA DE ARAGÓN (Released April 16, 2021). READ A GREAT NOVEL FOR ONLY $2.99.
CHECK OUT SOME OF GAIL MEATH’S OTHER WORKS: These are great books available on Kindle Unlimited.
FIND GAIL MEATH ON SOCIAL MEDIA