When I began writing The Dark Thorn, I had been working on it for three months.
How can that be, you might ask? The Dark Thorn takes place in our contemporary world and draws from several different histories. I had to do heavy research before I wrote even one word.
When it comes to inserting history into fantasy novels, a writer must be careful. For it to work, the history presented in the book that affects the characters and overall narrative has to remain mostly consistent with what we know to be true. Change it too much, and it loses the weight of that history, becoming something other. In my opinion, it is better to weave a story that could have happened—may have happened—to make people think.
Author Laura Andersen has done just that. She has woven the history of the Boleyn an Tudor families into The Boleyn King, a novel that asks a simple question: What if Anne Boleyn had born Henry VIII a son?
Here is a bit more about The Boleyn King:
Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors, The Boleyn King is the first book in an enthralling trilogy that dares to imagine: What if Anne Boleyn had actually given Henry VIII a son who grew up to be king?
Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother, Anne Boleyn.
Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king’s desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever.
I asked Laura a few questions about her new book! Here is that Q&A:
NEW RELEASE INTERVIEW: THE BOLEYN KING BY LAURA ANDERSEN
Shawn Speakman: The Boleyn King publishes today! Tell Suvudu readers about your debut novel and how you arrived at writing it?
While reading a biography of Anne Boleyn, I was struck by the sadness and irony of her miscarriage of a boy in January 1536, on the very day of Catherine of Aragon’s funeral. Just four months later, Anne was executed and Henry VIII had moved on to Jane Seymour in his search for a living son. What if, I wondered, Anne had not miscarried? How much history hinged on one woman’s pregnancy? That question tickled at me for a year until my second visit to London. While visiting Hampton Court and the Tower of London, I was seized upon by several characters who wound their way into my previous idle wonderings and made the story their own.
Speakman: What drove you to envision a different story for Anne Boleyn?
Andersen: Like many, I’ve long been entranced by Anne’s story and admired her as a woman of spirit and intelligence. She did not get a happy ending in life; in a way this story was my offering to her memory, to envision a world where she achieved the happiest ending possible for her.
Speakman: The world of the Tudors has long held the fascination of readers and movie goers alike. What are some of the most unusual things you discovered while researching The Boleyn King?
Beaulieu Palace was one of Mary Tudor’s principal places of residence in the years before she became queen. Once known as Newhall, Henry VIII renamed it Beaulieu when he bought it in 1516 from Thomas Boleyn. The same Thomas Boleyn whose daughter, Anne, would thoroughly upset Mary’s world more than a decade later.
Also, Robert Dudley was considered slightly suspect because he liked to eat salads.
Speakman: Weaving historical fact into fiction can be a daunting task. I discovered this while writing about the Plantagenet family in my novel, The Dark Thorn. What challenges were you met with in trying to keep the story as close to what we know to be true? When was it okay to deviate?
Andersen: Writing an alternate timeline version freed me considerably from the angst of precise dates or specific conversations or any of the miriad of details that must be dealt with in historical fiction. For me, trying to keep as close as possible to the truth entailed honoring the real people and trying to envision how, say, the Duke of Norfolk would behave if he hadn’t lost two great-nieces to the headsman. Most tellingly, Anne Boleyn is a presence in this book, at an age she never lived to be. My goal is authenticity–for readers to feel slightly startled to realize that none of this ever happened because Anne’s son was never born.
Speakman: The Boleyn King is the first book of three. What can readers expect in the next two books? Care to share anything?
Anderson: That writing the second book was hard, and writing the third book has been harder still! There will be more secrets in The Boleyn Deceit. And more kissing. And betrayal on several fronts, and a glimpse of how Elizabeth Tudor begins to think of her future and the possibilities of life being different than she’s ever imagined. John Dee makes an appearance in the first chapter of The Boleyn Deceit, in a scene involving star charts that I particularly like.
There you have it. From the author! If you are looking for something new and like this particular time period in history—with a twist—The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen is for you!
In bookstores today!
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”
He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.
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