Previously on this blog:
My life-long attempts to become a better writer.
Rejection and more rejection.
I win a competition.
Still more rejection.
The dark cloud of my accident and my discovery of a silver lining.
E-books and self-publishing.
I’m a writer – at last.
Early in April 2013 I sat at the computer wondering what to write. I had just finished the first draft of ‘Blood of Ironside’ and put it away for a rest before I started on the second draft. I thought I might write a short story. I put my fingers on the keyboard and wrote this:
To be a servant at the court of King Henry is to live with your heart in your mouth. This is so whether you are young or old, male or female. I am young and I am female. So the danger to me is considerable. The danger is the more acute because I am pretty and the Queen is in the last month of her confinement.
Henry has divorced one wife and executed the second. But that is far from the whole story. A string of shattered hearts lies strewn across the land like pearls from a necklace broken in rage. Aye, it’s true that complicit fathers, brothers, uncles and even husbands have got rich by leading their women like heifers to the courtly market. It is the women who give the most and suffer the most grievously.
Unless of course, they are clever.
It does not do to be too clever. Anne Boleyn taught us this. For make no mistake, King Henry is more clever than any man in the kingdom now that Thomas Wolsey is dead. And he is as subtle and wily as even the most cunning of women. Anne’s head rolling from the block is testimony to that.
The trick is to show your cleverness to just such a degree that Henry is intrigued by it but not threatened. The second trick is to intimate that your cleverness is at his disposal even more than your own. And the third trick? Ah, the third trick is to be willing to bed the great beast of appetites and to know when to do it.
My name is Alice Petherton and I am seventeen years of age. I came to court as a simple servant but I caught the eye of Anne Boleyn when she was newly crowned. I was good at singing, could dance like an elf and made her laugh and think. She took me as one of her maids of honour and my slow approach to the furnace began.
Alice’s voice took hold of me. For the next year, apart from an interlude when I revised Blood of Ironside, I have lived with Alice Petherton. My wife is very tolerant.
I did not know much about the Tudor period, since hearing too much from a History teacher who was obsessed by Henry VIII. So I had to research as I wrote. I usually do some research as I write but I had to do far more as I went along for this novel.
I learned about maids of honour, about food, feasts and fasts, about births, christenings and funerals. And that was just the start.
I had to learn about:
Royal Palaces and their layout and furniture, palace servants, the old and new nobility, courtiers and their intrigues, religious changes, Tudor clothing, musical instruments and how they sounded, the Royal Menagerie and the animals housed there, modes of transport, roads and the upholstery of a coach, popular dances and how to dance them, Tudor names and modes of address, Tudor poetry and poets, the streets and alleys of London, crime and punishment, Tudor pastimes, Tudor gardens and flowers, a Tudor farm and farming, attitudes to women and children, diplomacy and marriage negotiations and the physical and mental health of the King.
It’s been quite a journey.
I published A Love Most Dangerous on 6 March 2014 and I watched in astonishment as my sales increased. Within weeks it was selling more copies in a day than all my other books sold in a month.
Could things get any better?
Yes, they could.
On 4th July I got an unknown email which I almost dumped in the spam box. But I changed my mind, and took a look. It was from a Senior Editor at Lake Union Publishing in Seattle.
Lake Union want to publish A Love Most Dangerous.
I scream in delight.
I wonder, should I accept or stay as an Indie?
I decide to become a hybrid.
The inside story of working with Lake Union Publishing. Part 1……