Tuesday, 1 October 2019


Katherine - Tudor Duchess
New from Tony Riches, Author of the best-selling Tudor Trilogy
Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US
(Audiobook edition coming in 2020)




Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor Court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth and his son Edward.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is ueen Catherine of Aragon's lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne's dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen.After teh short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England. When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine's good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king's sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine's young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince  Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine's Protestant faith puts her family in great danger - from which there seems no escape.

Katherine's remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.



Author Bio

Tony Riches is a full time UK author of best sellng historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and lives of the early Tudors. Tony's other publishedd historical fiction novels include: Owen -Book one of the Tudor Trilogy, Jasper - Book two of the Tudor Trilogy, Henry - Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy, Mary - Tudor Princess and Brandon - Tudor Knight. For more information about Tony's books please visit his website: tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches












Sunday, 4 August 2019

Sir Thomas Wyatt: Diplomat, Poet, Lover


Thomas Wyatt by Holbein the younger
Thomas Wyatt’s portrait suggests he was a discontented fellow. His eyes are troubled, mentally tortured even, his mouth down-turned, his cheeks sagging, as if he is tired of life and living.

But maybe we are swayed by the stories we’ve all heard of his unhappy marriage, his unrequited love for Anne Boleyn, his lovelorn poetry, his enforced exile, false imprisonment. But what do we really know?

Was Tom Wyatt really the tortured poet and lover that we like to think he was? There are plenty of known facts about him, placing him in a certain place at a certain date, clues we can pick up and learn from. There is the aforementioned portrait by Holbein, various letters and papers, a biography of Anne Boleyn, written by his grandson, George Wyatt…and, closest to his heart of all, there is his poetry.

Born in 1503, Thomas Wyatt was destined for life in the royal court, his father remained in high favour since his support of Henry VII at Bosworth, and Wyatt’s first recorded presence is in the entourage of the christening of Princess Mary. (A future queen, incidentally, who would one day be responsible for the beheading of Wyatt’s son after the Lady Jane Grey affair in 1554.)

In a dynastic power match Wyatt was married to Elizabeth Brooke in 1520, a union that, despite the birth of Thomas Wyatt the younger, proved both unhappy and unsuccessful. In later years Wyatt, after accusing her of adultery, parted company with his wife to live openly with his mistress, Elizabeth Darrell.
Henry VIII - the Chatsworth Portrait
One of Henry VIII’s esquires of the body, he became one of the King’s intimates, entering into the courtly pastimes--jousting, hunting and dancing. Like Henry, Wyatt wrote verses, an important component of the courtly love games that were so popular among the royal household. These poems were often left where a girl could find them, or offered as tokens; sometimes the poems were altered or embellished by another hand before being passed on. They were not published in his lifetime and in all probability never meant for close interpretation. Due to Wyatt’s central role in the story of Anne Boleyn however, history has decided otherwise.

It must have been during this carefree period of Henry VIII’s reign that Wyatt’s romantic interest in Anne Boleyn was first piqued. As part of Queen Katherine’s household Anne would have been fair game for Wyatt’s attention but, when it became clear that Henry had set his sights on the same target, Wyatt either withdrew or was sent by the king on a mission that took him away from court.  
Anne Boleyn: the Hever portrait
Most historians seem to agree that some sort of an attachment existed between Thomas and Anne but we can only guess at the extent of it. Some read a physical involvement into the poems but it seems to me to have been one sided.  Although there seems little doubt in the depth of Wyatt’s involvement, at the time he first began to make reference to Anne, she was engaged in a liason with Henry Percy, an affair that was quickly nipped in the bud by Cardinal Wolsey.
I am not skilled enough to judge the quality of Wyatt’s poetry but his particular choice of words and nuances of meaning can leave no doubt as to his state of mind. This is love if ever I saw it. A riddle, punning on the name ‘Anna’, points to the possible identity of his secret lady.



What word is that that changeth not,

Though it be turned and made in twain?

It is mine answer, God it wot,

And eke the causer of my pain.

It love rewardeth with disdain:

Yet is it loved. What would ye more?

It is my health eke and my sore.

It could, of course, be another Anna, it was a common enough name. It is not until you read all the poems as one unit that the argument for the object of his passion being Anne Boleyn becomes stronger.

The following poem is believed to have been written later, and the lines were altered at some point to make them less dangerous.  The line "Her that did set a country in a roar" was changed to read, "Brunet, that set my wealth in such a roar".  Obviously the initial reference to Anne was far too explicit, after all, what other ‘brunet’ of his acquaintance had ‘set the country in a roar?’
     If waker care, if sudden pale colour,

    If many sighs, with little speech to plain,

    Now Joy, now woe, if they my cheer disdain,

    For hope of small, if much to fear therefore;

    To haste to slack my pace less or more,

    Be sign of love, then do I love again.

    If thou ask whom; sure, since I did refrain

    Her that did set our country in a roar,

    Th'unfeigned cheer of Phyllis hath the place

    That Brunet had; she hath and ever shall.

    She from myself now hath me in her grace:

    She hath in hand my wit, my will, my all.

    My heart alone well worthy she doth stay,

    Without whose help, scant do I live a day.

Taken individually, Wyatt’s poetry could refer to anyone, it is not until you come to the most famous verse of all that arguments against it being Anne  begin to collapse. It could, I suppose, have been poetic licence or wishful thinking but surely, the words are too personal for that.  In my opinion these lines can only have been written by a man who has lived them and it is this poem that endorses all the others. There is no need, I think, to explain the meaning, Wyatt speaks as clearly now as he did then but he also illustrates, quite clearly, that the attachment was one-sided and, at least by the time that this verse was written, Anne belonged to Henry:

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,

But as for me, alas, I may no more,

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore.

I am of them that farthest cometh behind;

Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the Deer: but as she fleeth afore,

Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I may spend his time in vain:

And, graven with diamonds, in letters plain

There is written her fair neck round about:

Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

Another poem, possibly written after Noli Me Tangere shows Wyatt trying to reconcile himself to the fact that he has lost, trying to convince himself (and others perhaps) that his affection had been nothing but folly. But, all these years later, are we convinced? Or do the words smack of bravado? How many of us have shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘I never loved him anyway’?

Some time I fled the fire that me brent

By sea, by land, by water and by wind;

And now I follow the coals that be quent,

From Dover to Calais against my mind.

Lo how desire is both sprung and spent!

And he may see that whilom was so blind,

And all his labour now he laugh to scorn,

Meshed in the briars that erst was all to-torn.
Wyatt continued to serve the king. He was made High Marshal of Calais and Commissioner of the Peace of Essex.  In 1532 he accompanied the King and Anne, who was by then the King's mistress, on their visit to Calais and when the royal divorce was finally granted Anne Boleyn married the King in January 1533. Wyatt served in her coronation in June and in 1535 he was knighted but a year later, when Anne’s fortune turned, Wyatt’s former attachment for the queen almost dragged him down with her.

 It is said that he witnessed Anne's execution, from the window of his prison in the Bell Tower, writing a lengthy elegy to the men who died alongside her, and making no secret of his broken heart. He also remembered her in another verse, although he still does not dare to mention her name.

These bloody days have broken my heart. 

My lust, my youth did them depart,

And blind desire of estate.

Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.

Of truth, circa Regna tonat. (around the throne it thunders)

The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.
Some say it was thanks to Cromwell that Thomas Wyatt escaped execution, but he may well have suffered the more for surviving. A diplomat as well as a politician, his subsequent career took him back to Europe where he became involved in intrigue and espionage, leading to his capture and ransom by Spain. His involvement in the attempted assassination of Reginald Pole led (somewhat ironically) to an accusation of treasonable contact with the king’s enemies and a second spell in the Tower.

 As a diplomat (some say spy) Wyatt was in constant danger, and wherever he travelled, he will have taken his memories with him. He doesn’t seem to have achieved happiness and some biographers have accused him of revelling in poetic misery. That may be a little harsh. It is easy to sit in our secure, warm environment and judge those who lived in tougher times. I think we can say Thomas Wyatt was a man who, although unfortunate in love, understood love. I think we can say he suffered for his love, and I think we can say he was a victim of the times he lived in – yet another victim of Henry VIII. He died of a fever in 1542, just six years after Anne and in a letter written to his son in 1537 he described his life as "a thousand dangers and hazards, enmities, hatreds, prisonments, despites and indignations"


A full account of Anne Boleyn's life, featuring her relationship with Wyatt can be read here.


I explore the relationship between Anne and Wyatt Here


Judith is the author of eleven historical fiction novels and is currently researching and writing the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England.

author.to/juditharnoppbooks



Wednesday, 26 June 2019

What did Anne Boleyn really look like?

Anne Boleyn, National Portrait Gallery

I am often told that readers are fed up with Tudors.  They know the stories, they’ve heard it all. The need for Tudor novels is over. But the reading public doesn’t seem to believe that. Since I first became an author of historical novels the most recurrent question has been, “Have you written any Tudor books?”

It seems to me that the reading public, both in England and especially overseas, cannot get enough of Henry and his wives. I think the reason for this is not just the glitz and the danger of Henry’s court; it is the many different interpretations we can put upon the stories and the people that inhabit them. There are more explanations for what went on than there are stars in the skies, and there are novelists enough to encompass them all. Added to that of course is that new generations are emerging all the time; a new batch of people who know nothing about the Tudors.

Anne Boleyn remains the number one favourite; the wife that everyone loves to read about. She has been depicted in many different ways; a schemer, a witch, a victim, a whore. She has been demonised by some novelists, and sanctified by others but how close to we ever come to the real Anne? We can never really know the truth about her, we can only piece little snippets together to make up a shadow of the real woman. That is what makes history, and enigmatic figures like Anne, so irresistible. Anne Boleyn was, and still is, a fascinating woman who deserves after all this time a fair reappraisal of her life and death.
  
In his nonfiction book The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives,  now sadly passed on, reveals a credible figure. He has done the hard work for us, demolishing many of the myths that in the space of several centuries have solidified into fact, and illustrating that what remains is an intelligent, ambitious, but God-fearing woman who happened to win the love of a king.

It is refreshing to discover that perhaps Anne was not a scheming witch with a penchant for sleeping with half the court, (her brother included). Nor was she a woman who gave birth to a monster and plotted the death of the king. Ives’ research reveals someone more sinned against than sinning, and a woman whose mistakes were human ones. Anne was a queen who failed to produce an heir, and a woman who fell foul of the King’s most powerful advisers.  The woman that emerges from Ives’ research is the Anne Boleyn that walks the pages of my novel The Kiss of the Concubine.

To be honest, the real Anne is so obscured by myth and legend that we know much less about her than we think we do. We are not even sure what she looked like. We think of her as dark haired and thin but the familiar portraits we see of her are not contemporary; the originals were lost long ago. Experts disagree, but the oldest 17th century portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery is likely to be a copy of an original, and is favoured by Eric Ives as being the one that comes closest to a real likeness.

There are several written descriptions from her contemporaries and, while none rate her as a great beauty, none remark upon any physical failing either. The fact that she doesn’t emerge as breathtakingly beautiful is refreshing, and illustrates that Henry may have been more taken with the personality within, than with an alluring or fashionable face and figure. 


Brantome, a courtier from France, wrote in his memoirs that Anne Boleyn was ‘the fairest and most bewitching of all the lovely dames of the French court.’ (Weir, p. 151) And Lancelot de Carles stated that she was beautiful with an elegant figure and was ‘so graceful that you would never have taken her for an Englishwoman, but for a Frenchwoman born.’ (Weir, p. 151)

This is praise indeed, perhaps a little too flattering to be true, and many eyewitnesses agree that her looks were unfashionable and not to every one’s taste. As Francesco Sanuto, a Venetian diplomat, illustrates with his description of Anne as  ‘Not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, a bosom not much raised and eyes which are black and beautiful.’ (Ives, p. 40)

It is only after her death that the really detrimental reports begin to emerge. Writing in the reign of Elizabeth I, Catholic supporter, Nicholas Sander, describes Anne as, “rather tall of stature, with black hair and an oval face of sallow complexion, as if troubled with jaundice. She had a projecting tooth under the upper lip, and on her right hand, six fingers.  There was a large wen under her chin, and therefore to hide its ugliness, she wore a high dress covering her throat. In this she was followed by the ladies of the court, who also wore high dresses, having before been in the habit of leaving their necks and the upper portion of their person uncovered.” (Ives. P.39) 

 attributed to John Hoskins [Public domain]

But, although there are common factors when it comes to colouring and bone structure in all these descriptions, I think we can dismiss the idea that she was seriously disfigured in any way. The 16th century was a superstitious time and the characteristics described here all point to witchcraft. It is a clear attempt by Sander to demonise the former queen. Even had the king not been superstitious, I cannot image Henry VIII, who had the pick of the court ladies, finding a woman disfigured in this way to be even remotely attractive, let alone spend seven years of his life trying to get her into his bed. You can read a more in depth look at Anne’s appearance on an earlier blog I wrote for the English Historical Fiction Authors here.



Anne was accused of adultery, incest, high treason, and plotting to kill the King, and she died for those crimes. Yet none of these charges would stand up in a modern day courtroom. Eric Ives states that it can be proved that she was elsewhere on at least twelve of the occasions when she is supposed to have been committing adultery. The only actual ‘confession’ came from her musician Mark Smeaton, who we believe was subjected to torture in the Tower. Although Anne’s sister in law, Jane Rochford, gave evidence against Anne and her husband, George, she later retracted it in February 1542 before she herself faced execution for her involvement with Katherine Howard’s downfall.

While Anne was imprisoned in the Tower, Henry had his marriage to her annulled on the grounds of his former relationship with Anne’s sister, Mary. This made their daughter Elizabeth illegitimate. In truth, this should also have made the charge of adultery invalid, but this was Tudor England when justice was anything but just.

So, those are the bare facts. We can assume Anne was dark, and had attractive eyes and an oval face. We know she was intelligent and witty; even her detractors credit her with that. We know she was pious and refused to be Henry’s mistress, holding out until he promised marriage. That could make her a schemer, but equally it could make her chaste. During her marriage to Henry she tried and failed to produce a son, suffering several miscarriages and providing the king with just one daughter, later to become the greatest queen that has ever lived, Elizabeth. We also know that Anne worked in tandem with Cromwell and others toward church reform, and we also know that at a later stage there was a disagreement between them, and Anne’s downfall followed swiftly after.



Most novels of Anne I have read (but I confess I haven’t read them all) hold Henry alone to blame for Anne’s downfall. They show him as falling out of love with Anne, and place Jane Seymour as the sinister ‘other woman’ whose presence at court and her influence over the fickle king makes Anne’s fall inevitable. There is little evidence to suggest this and perhaps there were other reasons; perhaps another agenda came into play. Perhaps it was politics and not passion that killed her.

In writing The Kiss of the Concubine I have worked closely with the writing of Eric Ives and other prominent Tudor historians to come up with a less clichéd reason as to why Anne Boleyn had to die on that bright May morning in 1536.

The Kiss of the Concubine is now published with Sharpe Books and is available on Kindle and Audible or you can read FREE with Kindle Unlimited. mybook.to/tkoc2

Further reading

Lispcombe, Susannah, 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, 2009.
Fraser, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 1992.
Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.
Weir, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 2007.
Weir, A. Mary Boleyn, 2011.
Weir, A. The Lady in the Tower,2009.
Fox, J. Jane Boleyn, 2007.
Denny, J. Anne Boleyn, 2007.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Author interview with Walter Gunn


Walter Gunn is the author of the Billy Ruffian's Courier naval espionage series.

Hi Walter, thank you for agreeing to come on my blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

For one reason or another, I missed much of my earlier education. Things didn't get much better at the Secondary Modern I attended: it was pretty dire - its only claim to fame was two of its ex pupils discovered a waterless lake in Australia - I kid you not.

I've had my revenge though, in my 'Billy Ruffian's Courier' series, I wrote in some pretty horrible deaths for those teachers I found particularly obnoxious. I saved till last, and most awful, that of the headmaster - this gave much pleasure and, I must say, lasting satisfaction... he should never have caned me!




Which writers inspire you?

There are so many. I live in awe of those past authors who wrote their mss long-hand. But, first and foremost they have to be capable of telling a good story. Names that quickly come to mind are; Dickens, Andy Weir (The Martian), Gabriel Garcia Marquez - A Hundred Years of Solitude and 'Chronical of a Death Foretold', Garrison Keeler for pure entertainment - 'Lake Woebegon Days'. My list could not be complete without Hilary Mantel -'Fludd', 'Every Day is Mother's Day' and of course 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring up the Bodies'.  Apsley Cherry Garrard's 'Worst Journey in the World' made me feel chilled - now, I find I can only dip into it in the summertime. Then there're Lauried Lee, HE Bates, the list could go on and on... Good God, did I really miss out Jane Austen?

  




Would you tell us about your latest book?

'No Angels in San Chuan.'

Many years ago before I dreamt of moving to Aragon, we were at a dinner with a hang-gliding friend of ours and she told us of landing high up in the mountains where an old man tottered out of an even older stone barn and thought she was an angel - that charming seed lay dormant for many years.  Later I moved to the Pyrenees and met old men in their mountain huts who could have been him; the seed started to germinate.

  
Where can we buy or see it?

Buy it on Amazon worldwide - print or Kindle - mybook.to/NoAngelsinSanChuan.  And, when I sell the film rights, see it at a cinema near you.

  




What draws you to a genre?

My fancy at the time. 'Billy Ruffian's Courier' and 'No Angels in San Chuan' are completely different genres. They were both written from a lot of background knowledge and affection. Then there are 'The Snail Cookbook' and 'A Slice of the Pyrenees', again written from experience and affection - I live in a gastronomic area, I cook, and I love food. 'The Hoopoe' is a collection of my short stories. Most of these were ideas I didn't think would stand the strain of being fleshed out as full novels. Though, I am beginning to have second thoughts about this decision - I am being pressured to extend three of them in particular; 'Reverend Selby's Heresy', 'Hawksett & Burroughs' and 'Lucid'.

  
How much research do you do?

Not much really. I check a few dates and facts about the main characters and that's about all.

 When did you decide to become a writer?

I never made the decision, the occupation grew steadily - it crept up on me stealthily. I looked round one day and found I was a writer.  I suppose it really started when I wrote a few articles for international sporting magazines that went down well. I also wrote for corporate newsletters - this was good practice; accountancy firms, aircraft instrument manufacturers, medical equipment design and office furniture. The variety of clients meant swapping genre hats on a daily basis - all good practice for writing the novels I'm now involved with.





Do you write full-time or part-time?

I'm retired so you could say full time - things take so much longer at my age.

 Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

Between 1800 and 2000 every evening - the rest of the time I'm either cooking or thinking about what I'm going to write that evening.
  
Where do your ideas come from?

A good question, and one I've asked myself often. "Where the hell did that come from?" a common outburst when I'm writing. It's a lovely process.

  




What is the hardest thing about writing?

Trying to get a literary agent and publisher. It's mystifying how I can get completely unsolicited reviews, posts and communcations from people who've read my books, yet agents are just not interested - I guess many 'indi' writers are in a similar position. What is particularly galling is that some of the books that do make it to the market are complete rubbish.
   
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

I didn't find it difficult at all. I simply sat there and it poured out. 'No Angels in San Chuan' takes place in an area I know well. While living there in Spanish Pyrenees in Aragon, I made many friends, heard many tales and fell in love with the mountain people and their way of life. It really wasn't hard.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Writing from experience and watching what comes out from the end of the pen... I love the way characters will sometimes barge their way into the story and make it easy for me. In'Billy Ruffian's Courier', I introduced a girl called Joss. She was only intended to be a foil for one particular conversation. Post chat. she just refused to leave and is now part of the complete trilogy.
  
Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Only when confronted with Income Tax forms.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Definitely paperback; there is something special about looking at a book on the shelf and knowing if I open it there is a complete and different world inside: this gives me the sense of other dimensions - other worlds that are real and existing between two covers.

From a commercial point of view, print books are better for marketing. When being read in public - trains, buses ect. people can witness them. This is not possible with ebooks - the author, contents and cover remain anonymous.
  
What book/s are you reading at present?

At the moment I'm not reading anything. I'm involved with writing another in the 'Billy Ruffian's Courier' series - I rarely read other works when I'm head first in my own work. I find it too damn distracting.
  

Thank you Walter Gunn for talking to us today. I hope you will come back soon.
  
Author Profile Walter Gunn

Walter Gunn is the author of the Billy Ruffian’s Courier naval espionage series. During the period the series is set, the author was, like the hero, a Royal Naval marksman, fast launch pilot and sailor.  The backdrop and substance of these books are thus based on his first hand experience.
  
On leaving the Royal Navy, he became a motor racing engineer and constructor; hang glider designer and test pilot - he competed in the 1st World Hang Gliding Championships.
   
Walter was the managing director of a leading edge sports aviation company.  His creation of the extreme sport ‘Speed Gliding’  can be viewed as a natural corollary of his passion for speed and excitement.

He has written for specialist magazines and co-written, designed, researched and produced quality corporate newsletters.  He is a capable photographer - his images have been published by national and international magazines, and his sporting video footage by television.

Walter Gunn has travelled the world extensively both as sailor and as vice president of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Speed Gliding World Series.  He has lived for more than twelve years in the Pyrenees.  Walter speaks enough French and Spanish to get by.

He has written and published four Novels:  No Angels in San Chuan, Billy Ruffian’s Courier - Part one: Rites of Passage;  Billy Ruffian’s Courier - Part two: Hawkshaw; Billy Ruffian’s Courier - Part three: Baltic Exchange.
  
There is also his book of short stories: The Hoopoe.

His cookery books include: A Slice of the Pyrenees; The Well Thumbed Cookbook and The Snail Cookbook.

He is currently writing Billy Ruffian’s Courier - Part Four: Baltic Exchange.
  
Books by Walter Gunn

The Hoopoe.

No Angels in San Chuan.

Billy Ruffian's Courier - Part one - Rites of Passage.

Billy Ruffian's Courier - Part two - Hawkshaw.

Billy Ruffian's Courier - Part three - Baltic Exchange.

A Slice of the Pyrenees

The Snail Cookbook
  
All titles on Amazon
  


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Interview with Edward Seymour





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As part of the Historical Writer's Forum Interview my Character Blog Hop I have the honour of interviewing Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, brother of  Queen Jane and uncle to Edward VI. and Protector of the Realm.  Edward is the main character in Janet Wertman's book - The Path to Somerset. Welcome my lord, please take a seat ...



Tell us about your sister Jane, what was she like? Did she set out to snare Henry?  Do you think the king really loved her best?

Sigh. Jane did not set out to snare Henry. She was a quiet, pale, plain young lady and she was as shocked as we all were that the King fell in love with her. But once his interest was piqued, she had only one choice.
And yes, of course Henry loved her best: she brought out the best in him, she gave him the son he needed – and she died before he could tire of her. The perfect woman.

       Image result for jane seymour tudor

I suppose you would say that about your sister, you were a close-knit family. There are rumours that your first wife, Catherine Filliol, had a relationship with your father. Do you believe that to be the case, are your two eldest sons actually your brothers?

The world has never stopped snickering at me over that one, or defining my life by that shame. Yes, it happened. Yes, I had to disinherit the boys I had thought of as sons.
Yet while this was the cross I had to bear in life (until my Calvary on Tower Hill), the Lord in His mercy softened the blow: those living symbols of betrayal atoned for the sin of their origin with total loyalty. They accompanied me to the Tower and almost perished with me. They were better brothers to me than Tom ever was and I loved them for it. 

It must have been dreadful in the Tower yet many ambitious men end up there. What were the problems between you and the Duke of Norfolk?

What weren’t the problems between me and Norfolk? He was Catholic while I was Protestant. He was old while I was young. He was old blood while I was a new man. And yet, as you say nowadays, all that was “just business.” We actually got along well enough and could easily have persisted forever as advisors to Henry – but we both knew that after Henry died, there would be room for only one of us.

                                     Image result for edward seymour

King Henry’s death coincided with a huge shift in power. Was this a carefully planned manoeuvre or spur of the moment? What was your part in it?

Each of Henry’s wives after Jane represented a giant political opportunity - or liability. Anne of Cleves was to have turned Henry Protestant for one and for all, but then Catherine Howard came along and pulled the King back to Catholicism. That young girl’s disgrace and bad judgment were our great good luck as they allowed us to swing the pendulum back to another Protestant, Katherine Parr. Of course, that move came close to backfiring when Gardiner attacked her. If Gardiner had succeeded, the King would surely have taken a Catholic bride (they were proposing his own son’s widow, Mary Howard, for goodness sakes).
But as much as I was part of the fight, it was the Lord’s intervention that won it for us. Only that could explain the stupidity of the conservatives who dealt themselves two death blows on the very same day. First, Surrey actually quartered the arms of Edward the Confessor on his shield, clearly asserting his claim to the throne. Then Gardiner refused to exchange lands with Henry (the same sin that had sent Nicholas Carew to the block). From that day forward, Surrey and Norfolk were imprisoned and Gardiner was banished, leaving no one to restrain me and the reformers.

I see. The imprisonment of Surrey and Norfolk gave you a clear run at taking control of the boy king. Did you and your cohorts manipulate King Henry to change his will in your favour?

Why do you call it manipulation? Henry had originally drawn up his will when Norfolk and Gardiner were in high favour; the document needed to be changed once they had shown their true colors. Admittedly, there were rich gifts in the final version, but that was to assure the personal power and loyalty of myself and the other men who would be guiding the young Edward VI and keeping him safe.

                                        

So you were motivated by family loyalty rather than riches. The king’s will did not appoint a Protector but within a very short time you were ‘elected’ as such. Do you have anything to say regarding this?

Don’t be naïve: look at society. You cannot keep power dispersed power among twelve men: one of them will come to dominate. That one ruler needed to be me in order to ensure that Edward VI would inherit his throne when he came of age.
The Council knew that when they elected me – and were reminded of it after they kicked me out in that first coup. After trying for three months to rule as a group, they realized they did need a leader after all and elected Warwick – he was not yet Northumberland then – President of the Council. Bah.

Thomas’ marriage to the Dowager Queen, Katheryn Parr, must have angered you. Was this the beginning of ill feeling between you or had you always been at odds with him?

My younger brother Tom always overrated his own abilities; he was rash instead of calculating, vain instead of humble. But we never failed to get along – until he married Katherine Parr.
The marriage made him look bad. It made her look bad. It made me look bad. It made all of England look bad. Yes I was angry he’d done it. Especially since he seemed to think it should warrant him more power than he deserved – and worked against me to seize it.

Some say that Thomas was simply attempting to speak to his nephew, the incident with the dog a regrettable accident - an accident that took him to the Tower. How did it feel to condemn your brother to death?

It was torture. Signing his death warrant was the hardest thing I’d ever done. But a signature was needed – either mine or my nine-year old nephew’s. I shouldered the burden rather than saddling the boy with it.

                                                 The Path to Somerset (The Seymour Saga Book 2) by [Wertman, Janet]

That was noble of you. When you were waiting execution in the tower did you think of the men who’d died by your order? Did you think of your brother?

How could I not think of my brother? How could I not remember his claims that he was unjustly accused? How could I not wonder what he went through?
But your question is not entirely fair.  Tom was guilty: he broke into the palace to kidnap the King - and actually killed his dog in a desperate attempt to hide his treason. I was innocent, the victim of Northumberland’s jealousy and lies. It was that innocence that sustained me, that confidence in Heaven’s certain reception.

Thank goodness for your faith. Is that what drove you? Religion? Or was it power?

It feels like you believe I was driven by power. I can’t fault you for that: most people did believe I was overly proud. And yet, I only ever sought to do God’s work...and that was my downfall.
I tried to adopt policies that would benefit the common man – but my peers were angry at the threat to their excessive wealth. I also tried to be tolerant of Mary and the others who believed differently than I did, but this allowed Warwick to call me faithless and discredit me to the King. In the end, I accepted my martyrdom and calmed the people who would have risen up to save me. As a result, I met my Maker cloaked in righteousness, and confident that He would judge me far less harshly than posterity.

I am sure posterity will be kind to you, my lord. Time has a way of tempering a man's actions. Thank you for gracing us with your presence this day. It has been an honour.

                          Janet Wertman

 If you'd like to learn more about Edward Seymour and his sister, Jane, the third wife of Henry VIII Janet Wertman's books Jane the Quene and The Path to Somerset are available on Kindle and Paperback. Click on the links below for more information.

And there’s a giveaway! Janet has kindly offered a paperback copy or a kindle copy of The Path to Somerset  to a winner in the US of A, or an ebook to a winner elsewhere in the world. To enter, simply leave a comment below. The draw will be made on 23rd June.



                                          


Next in the blog hop is on Saturday 22 June Derek Birks https://dodgingarrows.wordpress.com/ interviews the courageously defiant, Nicholaa de Haye, of Sharon Connolly’s Medieval Heroines

Monday, 10 June 2019

Interview with the lovely author Pam Lecky!




Pam is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era and early 20th century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion; was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made 'Editor's Choice' by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.
  Pam is represented by Therese Coen at the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency, London.
  In April 2018, she published a collection of all her short stories, entitled Past Imperfect. With settings as diverse as WW1 era Dublin and a lonely haunted lighthouse, romance, mystery and the supernatural await you.
 June 2019, will see the release of No Stone Unturned, the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, set in the late Victorian era. Pam is looking forward to sharing Lucy's many adventures with her readers.



Hi, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi Judith, and thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog. I am an Irish historical fiction author, writing mystery, crime and romantic suspense. I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Married with three children, I work part-time and have a lot to juggle, which isn’t ideal for my writing. Last year, I signed with the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London - a huge step forward in my writing career - and I’m currently working on a new project for them.

What were you like at school?

I didn’t particularly enjoy school as I was an only child and tended to be quite shy. My confidence grew during secondary school, and I started to explore writing. It was mainly poetry in those days and it was pretty awful stuff, though I did win a couple of prizes. However, it will never see the light of day again!

Which writers inspire you?

My father bought me the complete works of Jane Austen when I was eleven. My love of historical fiction was ignited by her words. As I grew older, I discovered other authors, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Maria Edgeworth, Wilkie Collins and Thackeray, all cementing my love for historical fiction. For those familiar with the 19thcentury world, I think I actually became a bluestocking! I munched my way through classics, dined on crime (modern and historical - Dorothy L. Sayers and P.D. James my absolute favourites – what fantastically twisty minds those women had), and supped at the feet of Georgette Heyer’s heroes and heroines.

Would you tell us about your latest book?

No Stone Unturned is the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery Series which is set in the late Victorian era.

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

Lucy Lawrence is trapped in an unhappy marriage and ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic private investigator, Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, Lucy’s life begins to fall apart. When her husband’s dirty secrets continue to spill from the grave, and Lucy’s life is threatened, she must find the strength to rise to the challenges she must face. But who can Lucy trust, and how is she to evade the murderous clutches of London’s most notorious crime gang?

The sequel, Footprints in the Sand, will be published later this year.

Where can we buy or see it?

No Stone Unturned is now live for pre-order on Amazon with the paperback to follow very shortly. Buy Link:




What genre are your books?

I have written a few contemporary short stories, but the majority of my work is historical mystery or romantic suspense.

What draws you to this genre?

There were a lot of influences in my childhood and the earliest one I can remember was television. Historical dramas in particular caught my attention, even though at that young age I didn’t really understand the stories. Ah but the costumes, the architecture and the way people behaved – something clicked. The 19th century was a time of rapid change and I am fascinating by the effect that had on people and society in general. The industrial revolution, the rapid growth of cities and all the inherent problems that generated, make this era interesting to me and the perfect backdrop for my tales.

How much research do you do?

Like all historical fiction authors I suspect I do far too much, but the problem is I love doing it. I often have to drag myself away from it to actually write. For me, research is essential - how else am I to get inside the heads of my characters and tell their stories in an authentic way? Research often throws up great ideas or sub-plots too.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I started to write seriously about sixteen years ago, but I only wrote to prove to myself I could do it - I never intended to publish. My debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was published when I was 50, so you could consider me a late starter.

Buy Link

Do you write full-time or part-time?

As I work part-time I can only write in my free time.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

As my time is fairly limited, I write when I can, but it is usually on my days off and over the weekend.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere and anywhere - sometimes through research or just plain daydreaming. Some of my best ideas pop into my head just as I wake or drift off to sleep.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Besides not having enough time to devote to it, I find the marketing the most difficult part. If there were book launch and marketing fairies, I’d use them!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Luckily for me, this was an easy book to write. However, as my female protagonist, who was originally supposed to be a supporting character, started to get louder and more demanding in my head, I had to make the difficult but right decision to rewrite the entire book from her point of view.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

I don’t think there is an easy aspect to it, but I have been lucky in that my daytime job involves editing and proofreading, which has been a considerable asset.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes, but not too often. It’s usually when the plot hits a wall and I need to come up with a solution (and I love a good twist). For me, relaxing is key. I walk away from the manuscript and listen to music. That usually gets the juices flowing again.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I love my Kindle, so most of my reading material is on it. It also means I can hide my enormous TBR pile from my husband! For research, I always buy paper or hardback.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I am currently reading The Healer by Sharon Thompson, set in 1950s rural Ireland. A great read so far.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I do hang-out online on various platforms and love to interact with readers and other writers. You can find me at the following:



Thank you so much for joining us Pam, I am off to pre-order my copy right now!