Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with Katherine Longshore

Today I have the lovely Katherine Longshore stopping by for an interview. We discuss her new book, Anne Boleyn, and wanting to change history.

Huge thank you to Katherine for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my review of Tarnish.
1 Anne has been written about, and studied in depth. While doing your own research was there anything you discovered that surprised you about her or her life?

Two things, really.  One was that she inspires such strong—and often diametrically opposed—opinions.  Of course, I knew this already, but in trying to form my own ideas and in trying to build my own version of her character, it was sometimes difficult to get past the emotional language often used to describe her and her life.

The other thing that struck me was how much time she spent away from England as a young person.  Anne’s birthdate was unmarked, so it’s debatable how old she was when her father sent her to live with Margaret of Austria in the Low Countries (now the Netherlands).  Because I chose a later possible birthdate to work with, she would have been seven when she left home.  And she was gone for almost eight years.  How can that not affect a little girl?

2 The voice you've given the character is so distinct. It defines the character and allows her to leap off the page. How did you come up with the tone and voice for Anne's character?

It may sound a bit mad, but the voice just came to me.  I was only playing with the idea of writing a young Anne Boleyn—in the very early stages of creation.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write about her—as you mentioned, so much has already been said, and so well.  But I was brainstorming, doing a little research, wondering how and where to set the stage.  I had a long car journey over one Thanksgiving and as I was driving, my mind started writing.  Broken paragraphs, ideas, images.  Judgments on the differences between the French and English courts.  This voice was brash and opinionated, but also vulnerable and genuine.  And it was so strong, and so wonderful to work with, I couldn’t deny it.  So really, I didn’t come up with the voice, it came up with me.

3 Your Anne is different than most people might expect. What do you think will surprise people the most about your version of this iconic character?

It’s very difficult for me to say.  Some may be surprised by her compassion, others by her occasional lack of it.  Certain readers might wonder why I gave her strong feelings for the men in her life and others might question who she has them for.  And perhaps some will be surprised by her youth.  At fifteen, Anne would have been considered an “adult” by Tudor standards, but I think that doesn’t make a difference.  She was still a teenager, and emotionally, psychologically and physically would have been going through very similar experiences to those of teenagers today.

4 Henry made monumental changes in order to be with Anne. What do you think it was that drew him to her, and made him so intent on making her his wife?

Henry had a passion for things that were new and different.  He collected maps and studied the stars, took interest in reading and science and ethics and alchemy.  Anne was different.  She had her own opinions and wasn’t afraid to voice them.  She was vivacious and graceful and unusual and probably quite brilliant.  She wouldn’t give him exactly what he wanted when he wanted it—and he wasn’t used to that.  He had to work for it, which made her even more enticing.

5 Anne is a well known historical figure. Did you have any concerns or fears when giving her a voice as a result?

Constantly! Not only are there many people out there who know much more about Anne Boleyn than I do, there are almost as many opinions about her as there are readers.  I think most people would agree that she had a strong personality and strong opinions and wasn’t shy about vocalizing them.  So I tried to create a character who has all these traits, but also sensitivity and warmth.  And I discovered that the longer I wrote, and the harder I tried to find a voice that was real, the more I wanted to do her justice.  My concerns became less about what others would think of my interpretation and more about getting it right.

6.Historically Anne married Henry before Catherine Howard did. However, you wrote about Catherine first. If Catherine could have provided any advice to Anne what do you think she might have said to her?

I hate to say it, but I think my version of Cat Howard would have sat by and smirked without saying a word.  But Kitty Tylney—by the end of GILT—knew enough not to stand by while someone ruined her life, and would have warned Anne of the man Henry was to become.  I’m just not sure if Anne would have listened.

7 We sadly know Anne's fate, and yet this story focuses on an earlier time in her life. What drew you to this moment of her life to write about? 

Hope and possibility.  We are so lucky that we can’t see where exactly our lives are leading.  We don’t know what tragedy or lucky strike will be around the next corner.  Neither could Anne.  I didn’t want to write the story of a doomed queen.  I wanted to write the story of a confident, hopeful girl who couldn’t help but become the woman Henry would marry and then cease to love.

8 Are you able to tease anything that you are working on that is upcoming? Any new projects in the works?

I’m working on a third book about Henry’s court.  It’s set during the years in between TARNISH and GILT and is quite possibly the hardest book I’ve ever had to write.  It’s difficult to keep the world-building fresh and bring new characters to life while mourning the loss of others.  But I also love the characters I’m working with—a group of girls and boys who believe in love and dreams and independence.

I’m also writing a story set in a completely different time period with completely fictional characters—so I’m branching out and having fun with it!

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