I’m so thrilled to have today’s guest author on the blog. She’s Sandra Worth, and she writes wonderful historical fiction. Sandra is the author of five acclaimed novels that chronicle the demise of the ruling Plantagenet dynasty in England. Each one of her book has received multiple awards, including first place in the New Century Writers Awards sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola, three Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews, and a national “Best Book” pick from USABookNews.com.
Those are mighty impressive writing creds, wouldn’t you say? Sandra has garnered all that acclaim because she writes corking good stories about historical figures. So history lovers and historical romance lovers, pull up a chair. Sandra is interviewing with us today, so let’s get to it!
Sandra, your books take place during the War of the Roses, and chronicle the demise of the Plantagenet Dynasty. Why this particular period of history, and what sort of personal perspective did you want to bring to your books? What interests you about the Plantagenets?
Richard III wouldn’t leave me alone after I read Josephine’s Tey’s Daughter of Time <g>. I came to really agonize over the injustice done to his memory and wanted to do something about it. The Rose of York trilogy was my way of dealing with history’s miscarriage of justice. The fact that he’s the king who gave us the presumption of innocence on which our great democracy is based is a terrific irony and makes it that much worse.
The Plantagenets are a fascinating, colorful bunch – not as ruthless as the Tudors, and far more likeable. But they had their share of scandals, so we writers have plenty of storylines to choose from!
Your books contain romantic elements or are full-on love stories, which readers really enjoy. How do you interweave facts and fiction to shape that particular element in your books, particularly since your heroes and heroines had lives that were fraught with danger?
I think love is very important in life and in a story. It’s our greatest emotion, and even history- which some people find dull (believe it or not!) – can be fascinating when it’s wrapped in a love story.
For me, the mechanics are to start with reading. Once I have a general understanding of the history, I make a research trip or two. Seeing the places connected to my heroes and heroines never fails to bring them alive to me. Often I draft scenes while I’m actually there looking at the view they once saw from a balcony, a window, a cliff. When I get back, I plunge myself into more research, and somehow, at some point, it all sorts itself out and I have a book.
As far as weaving the love story into the events of history, often these historical figures have left us some indication of their feelings, and either it’s hinted at in the historical record, or if we’re lucky, there’s a full-fledged account (as with Perkin Warbeck and his Scottish princess). Going back to The Rose of York, for example, Richard found Anne hidden away toiling as a scullery maid in someone’s kitchen.
Was she trying to hide from him, or was he playing Prince Charming? Interpretation is everything with history. I took into account the fact that Anne was his brother’s ward at the time, and that his brother had fought Richard over money and titles. I came to the decision that this was a power-play on his brother Clarence’s part, and that Clarence hid Anne away so Richard wouldn’t be able to marry her. Once I knew my direction, everything else fell into place – Richard and Anne’s relationship as children (they were raised together by her father), her forced marriage to Prince Edward of Lancaster, and Richard’s devastation at her death that led to his suicidal charge behind enemy lines at Bosworth.
Your latest book is Pale Rose of England, which sounds wonderful. Tell us a little about it. As an author, what do you like most about this book?
Thanks, Vanessa – love to talk about Prince Richard and Lady Catherine Gordon! Thanks to the Tudors, this Richard- who many contemporaries believed was the younger prince in the Tower, and who is portrayed as such in this book – is known to history not as Prince Richard, Duke of York, but as “Perkin Warbeck,” a boatman’s son. He fought Henry VII for the throne, and lost. Henry fell in love with Richard’s wife, the beautiful Scottish princess Lady Catherine Gordon, and held her child hostage as he courted her and executed her husband. The story of Pale Rose of England is Catherine’s story of survival and ultimate triumph.
This is a love triangle too, but in a totally different sense from my Roman book, because Catherine loathes Henry VII. Yet she can’t offend him because her child’s life is in his hands.
What’s next for you?
I just this morning sent off my new manuscript to my agent – so I’m very excited!! I’ve left the Wars of the Roses in England and moved to the Eastern Roman Empire. Very little has survived about my heroine and I had much more work to do piecing together a credible story. Throw in a love triangle as a complication, well, that’s why it’s taken me two years to write!!
Thanks so much for this interview, Vanessa, and for the great questions.
Sandra, I can’t wait for you next series. It’s sounds fantastic! Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today.
Readers, Sandra has graciously donated The Rose of York for a giveaway. Just tell us what your favorite period of history is, for a chance to win. And be sure to visit Sandra’s beautiful website to read excerpts, watch her book trailer, and find out about her latest contest.