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My Writer's Journal

Behind the Books: Mary, Bloody Mary

The Tudors: Mary, Bloody Mary
"I'm sure you get messages like this all the time," Kristen A. writes, "but I just wanted to thank you, with all my heart, for the impact your books (especially your Tudor series) have had on my life. I discovered your work when I was eight years old, and I can honestly say that it changed my life....Now, I'm a European History major in college, and I cannot overstate the amount to which that is due to you...."

Well, I do get messages like this--not all the time, certainly, but often enough to make me grateful and keep me energized. The "Tudor series" began in 1999 with MARY, BLOODY MARY, the story of Mary Tudor, the suggestion of my editor. "I know you're interested in history--why don't you think about doing something on British royalty?"

I protested that I knew next to nothing about British history, and royalty hadn't ever attracted my interest. Then I discovered King Henry VIII, a character you couldn't possibly invent, and I was hooked. All those fascinating women in his life! I decided to start with his daughter Mary. (Mary Tudor is often confused with her cousin, Mary Stuart, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots.)

That was fifteen years ago. The world of Tudor England was new to me, although I'd been to England a few times. Why was she called Bloody Mary? Did it have anything to do with the scary game? (Googling "scary game bloody mary" scares up 1,590,000 results; I'd never heard of it, let alone played it.) But the biggest question was this: What must it have been like to be the daughter of a larger-than-life man like Henry VIII?

I had no idea when I began my research that Mary, Bloody Mary would be the first in a series, called "The Young Royals." Or that fifteen years later, I'd still be looking for the next big idea.

Thank you, Kristen.
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