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My Writer's Journal

Behind the Books: Beware, Princess Elizabeth

The Tudors: Princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth is probably England's best-known queen. We call her Elizabeth I, to distinguish her from England's present queen, although of course she didn't think of herself as "the First" because she had no way of knowing if and when there would be another with the same name.

Writing a novel about Elizabeth was a no-brainer for me, once I had written about her half-sister, Mary. Both were the daughters of King Henry VIII, and if ever there was a sibling rivalry, it was this one. When Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, failed to produce a male heir, Henry decided he needed a new wife. Anne Boleyn got the job as Wife #2, but she too failed in her royal duty; Elizabeth was her only child.

Mary was seventeen when Elizabeth was born. To say that the two step-sisters were never close is putting it mildly. Each was a threat to the other. The challenge for me as a writer was to switch sides and to take my reader's sympathies with me. In MARY, BLOODY MARY, little Elizabeth is the rival. In BEWARE, PRINCESS ELIZABETH, those roles are reversed. That led quite naturally to that determined seductress, Anne Boleyn, who gets her own story told in the next Young Royal, DOOMED QUEEN ANNE.

The common thread through the four Tudor books is King Henry himself--tall, handsome, athletic (great tennis player), charming, talented (played several instruments well), brilliant, and very very rich (just don't cross him, or you'll find yourself without your head). There was no lack of material available about Henry, no shortage of wonderful places in England to visit to imagine what life in his court must have been like.

And that's always the question I have in mind when I first begin to feel my way into the story: "What must it have been like to be the daughter of such a man?" Then I do my best to give the reader a believable answer to that question.
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