Spotlight on Tony Riches’ new novel ‘Katherine – Tudor Duchess’


Katherine - Tudor DuchessAttractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England. When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform.

Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US Also on Goodreads 


About Tony
Tony Riches is a full-tiTony Riches Authorme UK author of best-selling historical fiction.
He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors.
Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: The Tudor Trilogy: Owen – Book One,  Jasper – Book Two , Henry – Book Three, Mary – Tudor Princess and Brandon – Tudor Knight.

For more information about Tony’s books visit his website and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Twitter @tonyriches

Blog Reviews

Carol McGrath’s ‘The Woman in the Shadows’ – Review

34379160Carol McGrath’s new novel is a wonderful insight into the world of the Tudor merchant class.

Elizabeth Williams, a widow who has inherited her husband’s cloth business, meets Thomas Cromwell, at her late husband’s funeral. She remembers him as a childhood friend, and from there a sturdy marriage alliance is begun. Like most marriages of the time, it is based on sound business sense as well as affection.

‘Lizzy, Master Cromwell is my new cloth middle-man. He would like you to show him your bombazine cloth. He has admired your mourning gown.’

We get a picture of an ambitious and somewhat closed man, one with latent power, who will later rise in society to be a great player at the court of Henry VIII. But all this is to come, and The Woman in the Shadows is a book that shows us another side of Thomas Cromwell, that of husband and provider. Through Elizabeth Cromwell’s eyes the author provides us with fly-on-the-wall detail of Tudor living, and the minutiae of the common rituals associated with birth, marriage and death, all within a living context. We are privy to everything about Elizabeth’s cloth business from monastic sheep breeding  to garment, including the sumptuary laws against certain classes wearing certain colours, and the difficulties that a woman at this time faces in trade.

‘Mother and I decorously arranged our skirts over the wherry bench. Mother’s green and gold gown complimented my pink kirtle with its new embroidered sleeves.’

The book is laced with subtle tension. Elizabeth fights off dangers from rivals in the business, unfaithful servants, an unwanted suitor and an arson attack, and she almost buckles under the discovery of her husband’s affair. However, the portrait we are left with, is one of a strong and capable woman, able to deal maturely with life’s trials. At no time does Elizabeth Cromwell seem like a modern woman in Tudor clothing – she retains her religion, and her position is always subordinate to her husband. Her life is one where she does not question her husband’s authority.

McGrath shows us the world of women and their servants. After one disaster, her mother urges Elizabeth to come home, but Elizabeth is quite clear that to do that would be to abandon her duty. As well as tender observations of female domestic life, there are also wonderful descriptions of gardens, churches, and the Augustinian Friary of Austin Friars where the Cromwells lived.

Some afternoons, as I listen to them play, I wish that time would stand still for us all. I wish we were a moment captured in a painting and that the moment will last forever.’

Carol McGrath has succeeded in doing exactly that. Through her words, the life of Elizabeth Cromwell has truly been brought out of the shadows.

Carol McGrath is a reviewer for HNS, 2016 HNS conference organiser and the best-selling author of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy published by Accent Press. Find her on her website here.

The Woman in the Shadows BUY UK   BUY US

Blog Cabinet of Curiosities Seventeenth Century Life

Cabinet of Curio-stories – Shoes from the Mary Rose

Mary Rose A-row-of-leather-shoes-The Mary Rose, warship of  King Henry VIII, lay undiscovered beneath the waves for almost 300 years until one day, a fisherman’s line got tangled in the wreckage and her whereabouts became known. That was in 1836, but the salvage wasn’t attempted until the 1980’s when about 60 million people around the world switched on their TVs to watch the salvaged hull rise to the surface.

The ship is now on permanent display at the Mary Rose Museum. Approximately 19,000 artifacts were discovered in the wreckage, ­including domestic items such as leather shoes and a velvet hat, alongside militaria such as weapons and the paraphernalia of war.

Very little is known about the clothing worn by everyday people in Tudor times, because most paintings depict royalty or rich people in court dress. The Mary Rose gives us a unique insight into what the average man wore in 1545. Preserved in the silt all that time, leather shoes survived well, as did garments made from wool or silk. Linen degrades in the damp, so few undergarments have been found as these would have been made from linen.

There is a collection of over 500 shoes. Doesn’t it make you shiver to look at them? Weirdly, my husband has a pair of leather loafers almost identical to these, and just as old-looking! More than  a hundred and thirty longbows and several thousand arrows were among the finds, so I guess these shoes may have belonged to English archers.

More about the Mary Rose on Wikipedia – (actually a rather well-compiled article)

Lovely unusual words for Tudor and Stuart footwear:

Buskins –  calf length boots, often open at the toe or worn as overboots. The word buskin, first recorded in English in 1503 means “half boot”, and is of unknown origin, perhaps from Old French brousequin

Gamaches – high boots

Chopines – sometimes called Chapineys, were slip-on over-shoes made of wood and covered with leather

Galoches – or Galage, was a protective overshoe – we get the more modern word ‘galoshes’ from this. It originally meant clog, in french.

Pantofles – soft slippers for indoors

Pinsons – or pincnets, delicate indoor shoes (see below)



The Mary Rose Museum

The BBC website

The Guardian

The Elizabethan Era

In my Cabinet of Curio-stories you might also like: An Apostle Spoon , Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn Entwined

Blog Seventeenth Century Life

Research Find of the Week – ‘Tudor Wimbledon’

Tudor Wimbledon I bought this from a charity shop in Kendal for £1.29.  As Wimbledon was a village so close to London (then 10 miles distant), it does include a few anecdotes about famous London personages, such as Catherine Parr, and Henry VIII. The King visited Wimbledon in his last days, when he was ill and could not travel from Nonsuch palace to Whitehall without breaking the journey. The booklet has a map of his journey, and records of what remedies were sent for.

It includes a few colourful snippets such as;  in 1564/5 the Thames froze solid and the villagers played football on the ice, and a description of the Wimbledon Militia who seem to have been the Tudor equivalent of ‘Dad’s Army’ with archery butts constantly ‘in need of repair.’

The book is mostly a record of written sources on this period, and so provides an interesting if patchy account. It also includes a chapter on the Puritan Walter family, and also on the Cecil family, who were visited by both Elizabeth I and James I at their manor house in Wimbledon. A short pamphlet of 120 pages, it was been written by a historian local to the area.

This, by the same author, also might be of interest:

Wimbledon in the English Civil War

Blog Seventeenth Century Life

From Queen to Queen, the fate of A Tudor Rectory

Picture taken in 1952 The Old Rectory formerly known as The Parsonage

The Old Rectory, Wimbledon’s s oldest surviving residence, was originally known as the Parsonage House. Once a moated Manor, it was built in the early 16th century, close to St Mary’s Church.

Catherine Parr

In 1536, after the dissolution of the monasteries, Parsonage House was handed to Thomas Cromwell by the King. However, after Cromwell’s death in 1540, the house was taken back, and three years later Henry gave it as a gift to Catherine Parr. In the months prior to his death, during a tour of his Surrey estates, the king was too ill to continue, so he stayed at the house for three days. Henry died in January 1547, and ownership of The Old Rectory was then transferred to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, who let out the house to successive lords of the manor. In 1550, the house became the country retreat of Sir William Cecil, later 1st Lord Burghley, senior adviser to Queen Elizabeth I.

A survey done in 1649 gives us a snapshot of its size. It had a dining hall, withdrawing room, parlour and private study, 10 chambers and five closets, five garrets (for servants), a kitchen, pantry, larder, meat room, buttery, beer and wine cellars, two dairy rooms, a brewhouse, bakehouse, washhouse, stables for 14 horses and a coal house. (info via The Independent.)

The Ruins of the Old Rectory c. 1860 by Charles Mileham

In 1550, the house became home to Sir William Cecil. Records show that by 1720, it was known as The Old Laundry House, presumably used for laundry for the new Cecil house, which was built next door in 1588.

It appears it remained uninhabited because by 1861, the house was a near ruin. Fortunately for us, it was rescued when it was sold as part of Wimbledon Park by Earl Spencer, to the developer, John Beaumont. Beaumont brought it back to life by repairing the exterior, refurbishing the rooms in Elizabethan style, and replanting the garden.  He also planted a famous fig tree walk.


Interior Old Rectory
Interior of Dining Hall today

Subsequent owners have all added their own touches. In 1909 the house was purchased by marine engineer Matthias Jacobs, whose brother was an architect. Between them they added a billiard room, and a study extension to mask the chapel. In 1923, Thomas Lethaby purchased the house and he concentrated on embellishing the interior. The drawing room was re-fitted with oak paneling salvaged from the Chantry House, Newark.  The elaborate plaster ceiling and grand fireplace were based on one at Knole House.

Brian May, guitarist from Queen

The house underwent several more changes of owner until it was bought by an Iraqi entrepreneur and philanthropist, Basil Faidhi. In 1992 Faidhi commissioned Wimbledon historian Richard Milward to write a history of the building entitled The Rectory – Wimbledon’s Oldest House.

Interior Wimbledon
The drawing room today

In 1994, Brian May, the astrophysicist, and lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, bought it.

Since then it has been sold again, reputedly for more than £26 million.

Links: Country Life

Tudor Wimbledon by R J Milward

Blog Seventeenth Century Life

17th Century Research Find of the Week

My local bookshop has 100,000 second hand books. It’s a five minute drive, or a brisk half hour walk along country lanes. I always think I must have exhausted their supply oDSCN0739f Tudor and Stuart gems, but they keep getting more stock, and this week I was lucky.

Here is my find – ‘Rude Forefathers’ by F H West. The title doesn’t give much away, but the subtitle , ‘the story of an English Village 1600-1666’ made it well worth my £2.50. Since then, I’ve looked, and the book is also available on various online sites such as Abebooks.

First published in 1949, its chapters are focused mainly on the Churchwarden and the Constable and their role in village society, as gleaned from account books of the time. The study was undertaken by Francis West, the Archdeacon of Newark who collated the information from the Churchwarden’s book which dates from 1601-42, and from the Constable’s book from 1642-1666.

Nearby, Newark was under siege during the English Civil Wars for much of that time, so these records of one of the outlying villages make for great reading. ‘Rude Forefathers’ also has chapters on the English Civil War and the Plague. Although this is a slim volume, (90 pages) and somewhat knackered, it was a great find, and will be of interest to anyone who studies the late Elizabethan, Jacobean or Stuart period.

And talking of the Plague, which I am researching right now – I recommend Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of The Plague Year. Written only sixty years after the event, it is full of facts and figures of the weekly death toll, as well as being a wonderful (if gruesome) description of events.

More reading? A controversial Historical Fiction article that might be of interest is here.




Blog Seventeenth Century Life

Fascinating old words for the historical novelist: ‘posnet’.

Whilst investigating something else entirely, I came upon an article in our local paper about the ‘Carnforth Posnet’. This apparently was a rare bronze vessel dating from medieval times. Amazing what sidetracks I end up on, when I get to our local library’s archives. (Side plea – save our local libraries!)

Carnforth Posnet

This particular object was found when a local woman was metal-detecting in a field close to Carnforth. Imagine that – digging up something so large and interesting, instead of the usual bottle tops and ring pulls. (Anyone watched The Detectorists?)

So what is a posnet? The word is first recorded in 1327 and derives from the old french ‘poçonet’ which means pot or vase. It is a cooking vessel with legs to stand over a fire, and a long handle, supported by a smaller hand grip. Ceramic versions of the same design become more common from the 14th century, and the word continued in use until the 16th century, disappearing by the Victorian era. So – early medieval until late Tudor.

The vessel is made from cast copper alloy and appears to have few signs of wear, so was probably buried new. (Why, one asks?) Apparently this is the second find of a metal cooking vessel from this area, as another metal cauldron was found in Skelton, Cumbria in 1999.

More information and original article here

The subject I was actually researching was about how the “Old Army” of the Commonwealth proved to be a sensitive issue even after King Charles II had been restored, and where demobilised veterans, injured and disabled soldiers and war widows (both Royalist and Parliamentarian) had  become a huge source of economic and cultural tension. My post on this will be later in the month on English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Meanwhile, you might like this:

The English Cavalier and His Stomach (food in the English Civil War)

Medieval Life in Pictures


The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau – historical fiction highlight

Occasionally I will highlight books that I think readers of Royalty Free Fiction might enjoy. Nancy Bilyeau’s tudor series with the nun, Joanna Stafford fits my criteria well.

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

Paperback Publication Date: February 13, 2014
Orion Publishing
Paperback; 432p
ISBN-13: 978-1409135807

Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two

Genre: Historical Mystery

A curse to kill a king, a fight to save a nation. Follow young Joanna Stafford right into the dark heart of King Henry VIII’s court in this stunning Tudor thriller.

England, 1538. The nation is reeling after the ruthless dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

Cast out of Dartford Priory, Joanna Stafford – feisty, courageous, but scarred by her recent encounter with rebellion at court – is trying to live a quiet life with her five-year-old charge, Arthur. But family connections draw her dangerously close to a treasonous plot and, repelled by violence and the whispered conspiracies around her, Joanna seeks a life with a man who loves her. But, no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny. She must make a choice between those she cares for most, and taking her part in a mysterious prophecy foretold by three compelling seers.

Joanna embarks upon a testing journey, and, as she deciphers the meaning at the core of the prophecy, she learns that the fate of a king and the freedom of a nation rest in her hands.

Praise for The Chalice

“Expect treason, treachery, martyrs and more.” — Choice magazine

“A time in which no one at all can be trusted and everyday life is laced with horror. Bilyeau paints this picture very, very well.” — Reviewing the Evidence

“Bilyeau creates the atmosphere of 1530s London superbly.” — Catholic Herald

“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna Stafford’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page. — Historical Novel Society

“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” — S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’

“Second in this compelling and highly readable Tudor thriller series following the 16th century adventures of (now cast out) nun Joanna Stafford. Treason, conspiracies and a dangerous prophecy draw Joanna back from the quiet life she had made for herself after being cast out of Dartford Priory – but she isn’t prepared for the gravity of the situation she finds herself in or the responsibility she now holds. Nancy Bilyeau has followed up her impressive debut with an accomplished historical thriller perfect for fans of C. J. Sansom, Philippa Gregory and S. J. Parris.” — Lovereading UK

“Sharply observed, cleverly paced and sympathetically written, this book more than fulfils the promise of THE CROWN, itself named as last year’s most impressive debut novel by the CWA Ellis Peters judges. If Joanna Stafford is to return to see out the final years of Henry’s tempestuous reign and the accession of his Catholic daughter Mary, I am sure I will not be alone in waiting eagerly for her.” —

“A stunning debut. One of the best historical novels I have ever read — ALISON WEIR

THE CHALICE offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England’s most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don’t let you go even after the last exciting page” — KAREN HARPER, bestselling author of MISTRESS OF MOURNING

“Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII’s reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed.” — C.W. GORTNER, author of THE QUEEN’S VOW

“Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010).” — BOOKLIST

“As in The Crown, Bilyeau’s writing style means that the story reads almost flawlessly. The narrative really makes the reader throw themselves into the story, and makes it so the book is really difficult to put down. I was really very impressed with Bilyeau’s writing (As I was in The Crown), and honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.” — LOYALTY BINDS ME

“THE CHALICE is a compelling and pacey time machine to the 16th Century. And when you’re returned to the present, you’ll have enjoyed an adventure and gained a new perspective on a past you’d wrongly thought to be a done deal.” — Andrew Pyper, author of THE DEMONOLOGIST

“The Chalice is a gripping, tightly-plotted mystery, with a beguiling heroine at its heart, that vividly conjures up the complex dangers of Reformation England. Bilyeau’s deftness of touch and complete control over her complex material make for a truly exciting and compelling read.”— ELIZABETH FREMANTLE author of QUEEN’S GAMBIT

“THE CHALICE is brimming with sinister portents, twisted allegiances, religious superstition and political intrigue. It’s a darkly fascinating Tudor brew that leaves you thirsting for more.” — PATRICIA BRACEWELL, author of SHADOW ON THE CROWN

Watch the Book Trailer:

Buy the Book Amazon UK  Book Depository Orion Publishing Waterstones

About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Author Links Website Blog Facebook Twitter Pinterest Goodreads

Sign up for Nancy Bilyeau’s Newsletter.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, February 17
Mari Reads
The Lit Bitch
Book Drunkard
Closed the Cover
Historical Tapestry
Royalty Free Fiction
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, February 18
Princess of Eboli
Words and Peace
Big Book, Little Book
Curling Up By the Fire
Peeking Between the Pages
Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, February 19
Broken Teepee
Kincavel Korner
A Bookish Affair
CelticLady’s Reviews
The True Book Addict
Teresa’s Reading Corner
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, February 20
Drey’s Library
Booktalk & More
Must Read Faster
Reading the Ages
The Maiden’s Court
Historical Fiction Connection
Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Friday, February 21
HF Book Muse-News
On the Tudor Trail
Flashlight Commentary
Ageless Pages Reviews
Muse in the Fog Book Reviews
Confessions of an Avid Reader


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Life with Anne Boleyn – Interview with Judith Arnopp

I am delighted to welcome Judith Arnopp who has just released her Tudor novel about Anne Boleyn – The Kiss of the Concubine. I was interested to find out from Judith about the endless appeal of the Tudors, and about how she has welcomed them them into her writing life.


Q What is a typical writing day for you?

My writing day usually starts before I get out of bed. I check my email, scroll through Facebook, sharing links to other writer’s blogs and special offers. Then I let the dog out, have breakfast, look at the mess on the carpet and the dust, and decide I really don’t have time to sort it out. Sometimes I promise myself I will just work for an hour and then clean the house or garden in the afternoon but usually I get so involved with what I am doing that I don’t realise the time until my other half comes home from work. Often, especially if I am writing, I sit at the computer for so long that my bottom is totally numb when I get up. A day of research is more leisurely because it doesn’t take hold of me like the creative process of writing does and I don’t come away from it exhausted. Depending on the season, I usually decamp to the sofa or the garden and make copious notes to be transcribed onto the computer the next morning.

Q. To develop your writing style did you do any courses or read any books on writing? How has your writing style developed and what has influenced it most? Does it vary for different books?

I have a degree in English and Creative writing so much of my style developed at university but I have been writing privately for so long that my ‘voice’ was pretty much established before I began to write seriously. I have been to a few writing courses but to be honest I am not very sociable and like to be in bed by 10pm. I find all that chatting in the evenings to be quite tiring and then I don’t write well the next day.

Reading plays a big part in learning to write, I think. A writer subconsciously adopts a favourite style. I’d say my biggest influences are classical writers. My old mates Shakespeare and Chaucer certainly helped with the shaping of Joanie Toogood and her sisters in The Winchester Goose. I don’t think my style varies in different books but I hope my voice does. I think my skills have developed by never being satisfied that my writing is quite good enough and striving to improve it. I will never stop doing that. I will never be good enough.

Q. Your books involve massive amounts of research. How do you structure your research and what sort of resources do you use?

I use the university library at Lampeter and Aberystwyth which have a wonderful array of books and research material. Aberystwyth has the national library which can acquire just about everything I need.

I read around the subject as widely as I can, taking on board all the varying opinions and theories and then I find my own way. History is not so much a matter of ‘fact’ but of ‘opinion’ and I always bear that in mind. I have data bases on my pc of all the historic characters but since I’ve studied it so long I now rely on my instincts for the ‘world’ in which I write.

I write in the first person and my husband was intrigued at how well I grasped the voice of the 16th century whore, Joanie Toogood in The Winchester Goose. I just hope I can pull off the voice of Anne Boleyn so well in The Kiss of the Concubine which is out now. J

Q. You made the decision to publish your books yourself, and they have done well. What are the advantages of going it alone, and what is the hardest part about self-publishing?

I have no regrets at all about ‘going it alone.’ I can work at my own pace, make my own decisions, choose my own title and book cover, and I don’t have to share the royalties. I am not great at marketing and may not sell as many as those authors with a mainstream publisher but neither do I have the associated hassles. I make a modest living, have a lovely team of people; proof readers, a splendid editor and a cover designer who seems to understand that all I require is simplicity.

The hardest thing about self-publishing is overcoming the stigma and putting up with prejudice from people who refuse to even open the cover of a self-published book. My books have mostly 4-5 star reviews, as do many other independent authors that I know, but there are still people who refuse to accept that self-published authors are worth reading. Of course, there are those that are not so good but these aren’t exclusive to the world of self-publishing and there are many traditionally published books riddled with typos but sadly, these books are not subjected to the same disdain.

On my journey I have discovered that Indie authors have to stick together and I’ve met some fabulous writers from many different genres, all of whom have the talent, the dedication and the work ethic required to produce excellent books. People who avoid self-published authors are missing out, read one of mine and see.

Q. Although you are a medieval history expert, you also seem to have a bit of a thing for the Tudor period. What excites you personally about this era?

I’m not sure ‘expert’ is the right word. I have a Master’s degree in medieval studies which covered the Tudor period. I try to ensure that I produce an even weave of authentic history and fiction. When I began to write seriously I thought there were too many Tudor novels out there and people were getting tired of them and so my first novels were set much earlier.

Peaceweaver is set the years surrounding The Battle of Hastings, and The Forest Dwellers just after covering the period from 1068 -1100. My third novel The Song of Heledd is set even further back in the 7th century. Quite early on in my career I published a pamphlet of short stories called Dear Henry: The Confessions of the Queens which isn’t a serious historical story at all but rather a consideration of the experience of being married to Henry VIII. The response was startling.

It was a bit like marmite. Some people loved it, others hated it but I had so many emails asking if I’d written any full length Tudor novels that I obliged with The Winchester Goose. And since that went down so well with readers I followed up with The Kiss of the Concubine.

And I’ve discovered that I really feel at home there. There is no denying that the Tudors are endlessly fascinating. I love the intrigue, the romance, the clothes, the politics. With each book I research I discover something new, some new twist in the tale. Because I write in the first person I am able to imagine the workings of their inner minds and provide possible explanations as to why they behaved in a certain way.

For instance, when you study Anne Boleyn solely through historic channels she comes across as proud and cruel but it is important to remember that the chronicles concerning her were written by her enemies. It is only when you add human sentiment and some rationality to the story that a possible explanation for her actions emerges.

We all do bad things and, when we do, we always rationalise our behaviour to ourselves. In The Kiss of the Concubine Anne is genuinely in love with Henry, very insecure as queen and desperate to keep both him and her position. To give the illusion of confidence before the court she dons her pride like armour but all her enemies see is arrogance. Desperately afraid of Catherine of Aragon and Mary she treats them badly but I think there are many second-wives out there who have treated their husband’s ex negatively.

Anne is human and she tells her own story honestly and while she doesn’t come across as purer than snow, her impatience and sharp tongue are given context. Good lord, if I were ever judged on my sharp tongue alone I’m sure I’d not come out very well at all.

Judith on US Amazon

Judith on UK Amazon

Find out more on Judith’s Blog

Many thanks Judith for such frank and interesting answers and best of luck with your new release! Deborah