Friday, March 4, 2011

Guest Post w/ Diane Haeger: Is the Subject of Tudor England Being Over-Done?

In light of Diane Haeger's new book The Queen's Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII, Diane is here to discuss whether or not the subject of Tudor England is being over-done. In just finishing Diane's newest novel I found it beautifully written, very difficult to put down and a definite must read!

Is the subject of Tudor England being over-done? 
As the author of the just-released third in a series, In the Court of Henry VIII, The Queen’s Rival, and as I am currently writing a fourth, I frequently ask myself that very question. It seems every character who ever did a turn through one of Henry’s famous knot gardens--- or one of his equally famous bedchambers for that matter, has been fictionalized. Some of them several times over. Will readers eventually grow weary of that? As many times as I ask myself that question, the resounding answer I hear in my own head is, “no”. For me at least, as an avid reader of historical fiction, as much as a writer of the genre, I believe Tudor England will never truly be over-done. Perhaps, as an area of such focus, as it has been for a while now, it will wane a bit--- replaced as it has been from time to time by vampires or guillotines, but there is something indescribably delicious about the Renaissance world (at least the glittering, royal side that most often finds its way into fiction, my own included) of banquets and jousting matches, rivalries and sweeping love affairs cloaked in all of that wonderful velvet, silk and jewelry.
The answer could be wishful thinking on my part, since I am not exactly unbiased. There is still nothing I love so much in my down time, for going on twenty years now as a published author, as turning on a Renaissance Music CD, opening up a novel, and immersing myself through literature in some element of the grand courts at Greenwich , Hampton Court or Hever Castle . For me, it just never gets old, letting those great bawdy and complex characters wrap me up and spirit me away is a taste of heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vampire and werewolf battle as much as the next reader, and I am mad for some of the wonderful books that have brought Renaissance or pre-revolutionary France to life. I even managed to fall in love with the very complicated, and often misunderstood, Regency king, George IV in his struggle to be saved by his compassionate and headstrong Maria, as I was researching my novel, The Secret Wife of King George IV. And my heart was briefly stolen again by the turbulent and intense world of the Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael, when I was trying to bring his love for Margherita Luti to life in The Ruby Ring. But who can beat a great meaty tome about a complicated man who found his way to six wives and countless fascinating mistresses, and on his way to forever changing the religion of an entire country? Henry VIII just seems to me to hold the trump card for enthralling clashes, as well as grand love affairs--- occasionally both at the same time.
My own passionate fascination with the Tudor time period only grows with each particular new world into which I step there--- and then completely delve, whether as a reader or a writer. When I began my career, it was with the wonderful, sweeping French Renaissance love affair between Diane de Poitiers and Henri II, which became my first published novel, Courtesan. So from there, it was so easy and wonderful to step across “The Narrow Sea”, back to Tudor England where my own love affair with history began.
It may have been in France , in the great halls of the stone chateaux, where Diane and Henri’s footsteps linger still, as they do upon my heart, that I found my great “Labor of Love” with Courtesan. But Tudor England is definitely where I re-discovered my “First Love”, which the classic PBS mini-series The Six Wives of Henry VIII Henry long ago had kindled when I was only an adolescent. For each of the six weeks of that original broadcast, a new wife was masterfully revealed to viewers then focused on; her complexities, weaknesses, and her ultimate end. As a teenager, I sat on the living room floor in rapt attention at the actors who became for me, Henry and his six wives. The wonderful actor, Keith Michell, was Henry VIII to me, and I was in heaven. Looking back, each of those segments were nearly as good, and as anticipated, as a weekly  episode of Bobby Sherman in Here Come The Brides. Certainly ample competition for this literature-loving teen. But I digress.
So far, I have written about Henry VIII’s wonderfully stubborn sister, Mary, next about his ill-fated fifth queen, Catherine Howard, and now in The Queen’s Rival, about Bess Blount, the mother of his only ever acknowledged natural child. Yet I am always left still wanting more. I want to know more about them all, and I want to, and do, read about them through the incredibly skilled eyes of other authors who I greatly admire, like Hilary Mantel, Philippa Gregory, Suzannah Dunn and Kate Emerson, to name a few of my favorites. If only I could learn how to live on even a little less sleep I am quite sure I would make some real headway in the huge to-be-read stack of wonderful Tudor novels beside my bed written by my very talented colleagues. Is the subject of Tudor England over-done? I for one, truly hope not.


Thanks so much Diane for visiting All Things Historical Fiction. Diane has a new book out called The Queen's Rival and she is kindly giving away 1 copy of her book to a lucky winner! To sign up to win The Queen's Rival click here: Contest ends March 12th and it's only open to US residents.


  1. I'm new to your blog, but I can't resist commenting. I have a great appreciation for this particular era, particularly when it is fictionalized. Of course there are always facts that can't be changed, but there is also endless possibility for how things really happened. I love how the author's imagination can construct the events. Nice blog!

  2. @ Jessica

    Thanks for the lovely comment. I agree. I love seeing where an author's imagination takes them and reading their interpretation of historical facts.


  3. Unfortunately, I do think that there was a saturation point reached a couple of years ago and this was reflected in my own reading last year when I didn't read any Tudor novels. For me, I will be interested in a Tudor novel now if I hear that it is particularly well written, but there is plenty of average novels around that are muddying the waters so to speak.