As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago, Jaime Arnold over at Two Chicks on Books announced that Book 2 will be titled TARNISH and will be narrated by a young Anne Boleyn. Jaime asks fabulous questions, so if you're interested in knowing a little more, please see the whole interview here.
One thing Jaime didn't ask was why? Why Anne Boleyn? If anything, I'm treading over already well-trodden ground with this character. The number of biographies (by such greats as Eric Ives and Alison Weir) and historical novels (The Other Boleyn Girl, anyone? Not to mention the amazing Hilary Mantel) are daunting. Plus innumerable extensive chapters in every history of Tudor times, from Starkey's Six Wives to books solely about Anne's daughter Elizabeth. We know all of this already, don't we?
The decision was a daunting one. Anne is iconic. She fascinates - her charisma transcends 450 years. It's not just the tragedy of her story that captures the imagination - not like Romeo and Juliet. I believe it's her strength. She was an opinionated, outspoken woman in a time when women were meant to be seen and not heard. In a time when even queens (including Mary I) believed they should be ruled by their husbands, Anne Boleyn believed in telling her husband exactly what she thought - and sometimes disagreed with him when he did the same. So not only would I be fictionalizing the life of a beloved figure, I had to be true to her spirit. (kind of like Michelle Williams playing Marilyn Monroe or Katie Holmes playing Jackie Kennedy).
I have to admit, I was afraid. I never intended to write a book about Anne. But on a long drive one day, a voice came to me. Not a Joan of Arc, "the saints are speaking to me" kind of voice. But a fictional voice. A strong, opinionated, snarky, emotional, teenaged voice. The voice of a girl who speaks without thinking - often ending in regrets. A girl who can love, but is afraid of it. A girl who doesn't fit in, who isn't well-liked, but is, ultimately, likable. Even lovable. And once I started thinking in that voice, it wouldn't let me go.
I wanted to write a book about a girl who could become the tragic, iconic, lovable-hatable figure history has handed us. And in the process, I, too, fell under her spell.
I'm still afraid. I hope I do Anne's character justice. I hope the other Anne Boleyn fans out there agree with my portrayal. I hope, above all things, that I get it right. Because I think she deserves it.