Thank you so much, Pam, for inviting me to the Library. I’d like to start off by telling you a little about myself.
Born between historic Winchester and Southampton in the UK, I have been passionate about the Tudors for as long as I can remember. This led to a degree in Medieval History at university, and the growing desire to write a novel.
However, life took over somewhat and only after stays, short and long, in six countries I called home did I finally settle down to finish my novel.
Words have always played an important part in my life, whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English, or just picking up a good book.
Seeing A Phoenix Rising, the first book in the series The House of the Red Duke in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for me. I hope anyone reading it will enjoy the end result as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Having three sons came in very handy when I had to write about squabbles between the male characters in my novel. Not so handy when I took my boys to Hampton Court and one of them got lost in the maze!
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I think that has to be Anya Seton. I started off reading Jean Plaidy novels but then discovered Anya’s Katherine and was in awe of her attention to detail and the way she sweeps the reader along, pulling them back into another time and place. What is all the more remarkable was that she was writing long before the days of finding all the facts at your fingertips. My favourite is Green Darkness, a tale of reincarnation that spans the centuries.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
That’s a very interesting question, Pam. Writing about the Tudors obviously took me to castles and stately homes all over England. I was lucky enough to do some of the research in the British Library in London. However, I’ve lived in the South of France for twenty years now so I did a lot of research here too for the ‘French’ part of my book. The series I’m writing has several points of view and the action takes place in four European courts: England, Scotland, France, and what was the Burgundian Netherlands. I feel very fortunate to open my front door onto history in a village that was founded in 1519 by François I.
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
Just write. Write every day, no matter what it is. If you do that, you get into a habit of writing that becomes second nature.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
No. I think I’m quite lucky in that I can write at any time day or night. I’m a bit of a night owl so that suits me.
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
It has to be the early Tudor court of Henry VIII. I would love to go back to the 1520 Field of Cloth of Gold that took place just outside Calais, the one remaining piece of English territory in France. Six thousand members of the English court travelled across the Narrow Sea to meet up with an equal number from the French one. It was the most exciting event of the sixteenth century and even now, the entertainment sounds almost beyond the realms of the imagination. It was three weeks of feasting, jousting, dancing, listening to music, competing at sports and an all round excuse to show off right royally. I would want to rock up to witness the wrestling match between Henry and François, on which the English records are strangely silent, probably because François expertly threw the proud English king to the ground with a move that came from Breton wrestlers. Let’s just say Henry was not amused, especially when François refused a re-match.
Please tell us about your published work.
The second book in the series comes out on Saint Valentine’s Day which seemed very apt as one of the characters is called Valentine. Book One: A Phoenix Rising centres on Thomas Howard (grandfather of two of Henry’s queens), a remarkable man who lived to the ripe old age of eighty. As the charismatic head of the powerful Howards, he managed to weather the reigns of six kings. In the first book, we discover that the Howards made a disastrous tactical mistake by supporting King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
In the novel, Thomas travels to Cornwall, Scotland and France where we meet four young people who are linked to one another like the threads of a tapestry.
Beware the Lizard Lurking continues the story and is again about power, ambition and love. Thomas is a keeper of secrets but there are no secrets that time does not reveal …
🇺🇸 https://amzn.to/2NGjWKV US
🇬🇧 https://amzn.to/36e86xN UK