$7 Amazon E-Gift Card to one lucky reader who leaves their email address in a comment on this post by midnight PST on Monday, May 21st. I will only use your email addie to contact the winner. Will not keep addies.

05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Summer Releases: Henry VIII—Way before Anne Boleyn…

As authors, we all get our inspiration from different places. For me, one common prompt comes from my travels to Europe. In 2010, my husband and I took a tour of northern Spain which started in Madrid and ended in Barcelona.

In Barcelona, we visited the medieval Barcelona Cathedral (not to be confused with Gaudi’s 20th-century Sagrada de Familia Cathedral, a work still in progress) and I was surprised to find that the seats in the choir were painted with various knights’ coats of arms instead of saints. This was because the “Order of the Golden Fleece” met there in 1519.

The Order was an elite fellowship of sovereigns and noblemen who forged alliances and solved disputes between their principalities. I came home and did a little research, and discovered that the king of Norway and Denmark was a member. That was all I needed to know to send my Nordic knight to Barcelona as his representative—because we all know that no king ever abandoned his throne for months on end, to travel so far, and sit in a musky Cathedral for weeks.

The next fun fact: Henry Tudor, a.k.a. Henry the Eighth, was also a member.

Clearly, my Nordic knight needed to spend some time in Henry’s court in London, on his way from Copenhagen to Barcelona. I rolled up my virtual sleeves, and began to research Henry in 1518 – at age 27: eight years before meeting Anne Boleyn and begging her to become his mistress, and fifteen years before he married her. At this point, Henry was still in love with his wife, Catherine of Aragon. He only had one documented extramarital affair thus far, with Jane Popincourt in 1514.

The bad news for my research: history pretty much ignored Henry before he attempted to divorce Catherine over a decade later.

The good news for my research: history pretty much ignored Henry before he attempted to divorce Catherine over a decade later.

As I tried to do my due diligence in researching Henry, I ran into blank after blank. For example: how many residences did he have? “This list is incomplete…” and started in 1527. I did, however, find out what his tennis balls were made out of: putty and human hair. What is putty made from? Linseed oil and chalk.

I’m hoping that by including the things I did find – like his early original poetry – purists will forgive any omissions. The truth is, if I couldn’t find it, I doubt they can find it either. On with the story!

Now we jump to the serendipitous part of this tale: I attended Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City in 2013, and ran across a videographer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He had a distinctly Nordic look, so I asked if he wanted to be on a book cover. He said yes!

Jump again to 2014, and the long-distance photography session. Funny thing about the pictures—my videographer looked a lot like a young Henry. So being an author and creator of plots, I wrote that similarity into the story.

In “A Nordic Knight in Henry’s Court,” Jakob Hansen visits Henry in 1518. Catherine is currently pregnant for the sixth (and final) time. And because she miscarried four years earlier after finding out about Miss Poppincourt, Henry is desperate to keep his new mistress, Bessie Blount, a secret from the queen. So he presses Jakob into service as a diverting body-double, to disguise his actions.

Furthermore, he makes Bessie a promise: if no one finds out about the ruse, then Henry will claim any male bastard she bears. What happens? I’m not telling.

“A Nordic Knight in Henry’s Court” (May) and the second part, “A Nordic Knight of the Golden Fleece” (June) will take the reader to times and places not commonly visited. I hope you will come along, and explore with me.


Brenda Whiteside said...

Enjoyed your research story and how you got to where you were going with your ms. And the resemblance is freaky!

Anna Questerly said...

Have to wonder if your model is a Tudor. Great research!

Judith Ashley said...

I'm amazed, Kris. When I first saw the pictures I thought they were both of Henry VIII!

Amazing tale of what you do to put a story together! "A Nordic Knight ..." look like great reads!