My first novel, GILT, will be published in the UK and Commonwealth on the 28th of February, and I'm celebrating this week with my love of Britain and British history. And on Thursday, I'll be hosting a little blog party and giveaway (including chances to win the British paperback of GILT and an ARC of TARNISH!)
But today, I have to tell you why I'm such a history geek (though the reasons are countless, I've managed to nail down a few...)
10. Blackadder. History and quirky, irreverent British humor all rolled up into a sneering anti-hero, written by some of the funniest writers working today (Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton) and Britain’s best comedic actors (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and the fabulous Tony Robinson of Time Team). I have a cunning plan to write a book starring Elizabeth I, just so I can have her say, “Who’s Queen?”
9. Errol Flynn. I know he’s Australian. But my first introduction to history was through Robin Hood and Captain Blood and for years I expected history to be populated by handsome rogues.
8. Castles. Crenellated walls, stone towers, clammy dungeons. From motte and bailey structures of Norman England to the pretty, showy palaces of the Tudors. I especially love the ruins—like Corfe Castle, destroyed by Parliament during the English Civil War. There’s real history in those walls, my friends.
7. British television costume dramas. Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Vanity Fair, Call the Midwife…I could to on and on and on. But that will have to be a blog post of its own.
6. Archaeology. After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist (but ended up studying cultural anthropology instead). I totally dig Time Team. And the recent discovery of Richard III’s bones in a Leicester car park? Made. My. Year.
5. Costumes. I spent part of my college career studying costume design for the theater. I love those flat Renaissance bodices, 1920’s dropped-waist dresses, the elegant lines of Edwardian fashions (think Mary in Downton Abbey), Marie Antoinette’s hair, Joan of Arc’s armor…
4. Shakespeare. Richard III is my favorite history play, though old Will put a lot of fiction into his historical fiction.
3. Murder and mayhem. Why does this entice us so? The Gunpowder Plot. The execution of Anne Boleyn and all of the men accused of treason with her. The Blitz. I think it’s because in the midst of all the violence and injustice, we see who we really are and what side we’d take.
2. Romance. Not necessarily in the Romeo and Juliet, boy-meets-girl sense, though I love that, too. But in the chivalry of King Arthur, the beauty and humanism of the Renaissance, the way Windsor Castle looks from the far end of the Great Park. Blake’s vision of romance.
1. Characters. Kings and queens and commoners. Matilda, Henry V, Francis Drake, T. E. Lawrence, Emmeline Pankhurst, Oliver Cromwell, and, of course, Anne Boleyn. Fascinating people who lived in fascinating times. I love to find the story in history, and story is all about the characters.