Brook hopes you'll make yourself at home and read through her scrolls to learn more about her work as an author, her research, travels, thoughts, and adventures!"
One of the things that makes being an author such a joy is meeting and getting to know other authors and their works. When it comes to all things Wars of the Roses, one expert stands out... Anne Easter Smith. I read her excellent work on Richard III this past year, and found her usage of his burial's excavation account within her text as pure genius. I'd like to welcome Anne to my blog. You're sure to enjoy her words this week.
Thanks so much for having me join your blog today, Brook. You told me I could write about anything I liked, so I have!
“Write what you know” was often advised when I plunged into the murky waters of literary endeavor and found myself floundering about in that terrifying first foray. So I did.
What I “knew” centered on a king who died 528 years ago on a boggy field outside of Leicester, smack in the middle of England. A history nut from adolescence, I came upon a book in my early twenties by English mystery writer Josephine Tey called DAUGHTER OF TIME that repudiated everything I had learned at school about one of our “Bad” kings, Richard III. When I had turned the last page, I became a Ricardian fanatic.
What they didn’t tell me about writing was that, along with your knowledge of a subject, a strong dose of passion would lift your book above the ordinary. I learned this when an editor recognized it in my first effort at a novel, “A Rose for the Crown.” She told me my passion for righting the wrong done to Richard shone through every page.
For more than 40 years I devoured everything I could find about Shakespeare’s crookback protagonist, the much-maligned King Richard. Boy, oh boy, must Richard have flipped over in his grave as Will penned his play. (Now that we have found Richard’s bones under a car park in Leicester and know he was squashed, without even a shroud, into a shallow, makeshift spot under the nave of the one-time Greyfriars church, the poor man couldn’t have done much more than wiggle a toe much less turn over.) For 40 years, I would rave passionately about how erroneously Shakespeare and the other Tudor propagandists had chronicled Richard’s story.
But pontificating (read, being a bore) at parties didn’t fulfill my manic obsession to tell the world how wrong the history books were. Mercifully, I found I was not alone. There is actually a Richard III Society, begun in the 1920s, to attempt to redress his reputation. Today there are several thousand of us all over the world.
To write that first book, I became a self-styled expert on all things Wars of the Roses. My library of reference books on the period has grown to fill a bookcase and three drawers of a filing cabinet! After writing five books at the behest of Simon & Schuster, I became a victim of the current downturn in the industry. “Historical fiction readers want strong female protagonists,” my agent was told by most of the editors to whom we pitched THIS SON OF YORK. “They don’t want to read about men. Also, unfortunately for you, the medieval period is now OUT. Why don’t you write me a book about World War II? And besides the book is far too long for today’s busy readers.” (Hilary Mantel, take note!)
So three strikes, and I was out of the running to have my “passion project” traditionally published. Thankfully, I hooked up with a small independent publisher in my home state of Massachusetts, Bellastoria Press, and I believe they have done a wonderful job producing the book, with the help of cover artist Sanford Farrier, so it blends in with my other books on the shelf. I hope you will agree. This is the book I should have written first but was too chicken to get into Richard’s head! After writing around him for the first five, I think I have the measure of him now, and he spoke quite easily through me during the writing of his story.
Again, a huge thanks to Anne for taking time to be my guest blogger for April. Below are links to all of her books, so for those of you with a thirst for reads taking place in the late Middle Ages, have at it!
Everyone stay well and be sure to drop me a line if there's something you'd like me to blog about!