Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
1. Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen are all set during King Henry VIII’s reign in the Tudor period, what is it that drew you to that specific time period and cast of characters?
There is so much raw material to work with! Fascinating characters—not just kings and queens, but strong, opinionated women and men with dodgy pasts and poetic hearts. Situations that verge on the fantastical—secret marriages, half-planned coups, executions based on trumped-up charges. Beautiful clothes, rich fabrics, thriving arts and sciences, chivalry, jousting, falcons, dancing…
I love the characters because there are so many that we think we already know—Henry VIII with his jowls and his vicious temper, Anne Boleyn with her machinations. I love being able to explore alternate possibilities and ask the big what ifs?
2. If you had to write in a historical time period, other than Tudor, what would it be and why?
I would love to find out more about the English Civil Wars. They are partly responsible for the founding fathers’ exodus to America and they mirror America’s Civil War, but we know so little about them. Again, there are some fascinating characters involved—Charles I’s consort, Queen Henrietta Maria comes immediately to mind, as does the diabolical Oliver Cromwell—and situations that rival even the most active imaginations.
3. A lot of your characters come from actual history. Can you talk about fictionalizing their stories and writing their love interests?
Most of what we know about history is “just the facts” or the opinions of those who were around at the time. We all know that what my friend says about me is going to be very different from what my enemy says, and neither one may be completely accurate, so how can we trust the bulk of those accounts? What I love about fictionalizing these characters is being able to take the essence of these accounts and trying to spin it in a way that seems believable. Anne Boleyn was described as mouthy and shrill, but what if she just wanted the opportunity to speak her mind? I also find it fascinating to look at “just the facts” and try to figure out the motivations behind them. It’s like being author, psychiatrist and police detective all at once.
4. If you had to pick a favorite British monarchy, which would you choose?
I’m quite fond of the Windsors, actually. They showed great courage and solidarity during the bombings of London in World War II, great humanity and humility during the abdication of Edward VIII, struggled visibly with the divorces of the 80s and Diana’s death in 1997 and have embraced modernity through Harry, William and Kate. They’re part of the great, lingering appeal of England—not just the history, but the continuation of tradition.
5. Out of all of Henry VIII’s wives, which do you think had the most interesting backstory/ tragic tale?
Poor Catherine of Aragon! A Spanish princess, raised during her parents’ (Ferdinand and Isabella—the very same who sent Columbus to discover America) turbulent reign, she left her homeland to marry Prince Arthur (Henry’s older brother) and moved to this dreary and insular little island. But her husband died young and her father and her father-in-law argued incessantly over her dowry, so she had to wait years before her fate was decided by Henry upon his father’s death. Then, after twenty years of marriage, Henry threw her over for a much younger maid-in-waiting. I have a lot of respect for Catherine—she was intelligent, passionate, steadfast and devout—and I think Henry (and his father) treated her abominably.
6. Now that you’ve completed this trilogy, do you find that you favor one of the romantic couples over the others? And if you have to pick one of the love interests for yourself, which would you choose?
I love Fitz and Mary. In BRAZEN, they have the time and the opportunity to discover love the way I hope we all do—patiently and truly and passionately. And I enjoyed writing them and their relationship because for them, everything was new and wonderful.
But if I were to pick one love interest for myself, I’d choose Thomas Wyatt. He can be a bit selfish and arrogant, but he’s so amorous. And the poetry just makes me swoon.
7. If you could be transported back to any time period (Tudor or otherwise), which era would it be?
I’d have to be assured that I could come back to the modern day, because I can think of no historical era I’d want to stay in forever! I’d love to visit the 1920s, because I adore the fashions. Dropped waists, skirts cut on the bias, lots of fringe and movement and fun. I also love it because it was a time that women were just beginning to come into their own. Most had the vote, they were shedding their corsets, asserting their rights, believing that there was more to life than kitchens and babies and that they were smart enough and good enough for anything. How exciting is that?
Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more interviews and to learn about Katherine Longshore’s favorite historical hotties!
Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:
Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine
Thursday, July 10 –Perpetual Page Turner
Tuesday, July 15 –Alice Marvels
Thursday, July 17 – Confessions of a Book Addict
Tuesday, July 22 – Novel Sounds
Thursday, July 24 – Starry-Eyed Revue
Tuesday, July 29 – The Midnight Garden
Thursday, July 31 – Novel Thoughts
Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog.
Buy COURTED (paperback compilation of Gilt and Tarnish)