Thank you so much for inviting me onto your Tudor Roses blog. I am on your face book page almost every day to read the interesting articles and things posted there. The Tudor period is vastly fascinating and, far more years ago than I care to remember, I cut my historical teeth on them. There is something about the era, the combined tragedies of Henry and his wives that has universal appeal.
Once I had read all I could on the subject I travelled backwards in time and became involved with Richard III and all things Plantagenet. Years later, as a mature university student, I studied the role of medieval women and read extensively on many eras, but the fifteenth and sixteenth century remains the place where I feel most at home.
Strangely enough, my first published novel, Peaceweaver, is set in the 11th century, leading up to and encompassing the Battle of Hastings. My second novel, The Forest Dwellers, takes place just after that in the early years of Norman rule and the events in my third book, The Song of Heledd, occur in the 7th century.
It is almost as if I was avoiding the Tudor period – side stepping it, and then a friend persuaded me to publish a pamphlet of un-researched stories I’d written at a writer’s workshop called Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens. It is very short and, rather like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. It was never intended as a serious piece, more as a consideration of how it ‘felt’ to be discarded by the king. Since it is not historically accurate it has taken some harsh criticism from purists but I had so many positive emails and letters asking if I had written anything else ‘Tudor’ that I began to think maybe I should.
Sometimes, I believe, an author can make the mistake of thinking they ‘know’ a period but there is no truth in history, there is only supposition and inference. But, you must always be aware that your reader will, in most cases, have very clear ideas about an era and will be easily alienated. At first, I worried that I would not be objective enough and win myself more enemies than friends but, in the end, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. The story had formed in my mind and was demanding to be written.
It was important to me that The Winchester Goose wouldn’t be labelled just another ‘Tudor’ novel and so, to avoid the old clichés and to cover all perspectives, I decided to approach it from a rather unorthodox angle. The Winchester Goose has four narrators all from different walks of life, some very close to the king, and others seeing the events that surround him only from a distance.
My books are conceived in my head, and nurtured in my heart. I think, or at least I hope, that makes them fairly unique. I break literary rules (shock horror). I sometimes write in the first person, present tense and my protagonists are often described as ‘not very nice.’ This is because the reader has access to all those nasty insincere thoughts that we never give voice to, so the character is laid bare, warts and all.
Several of the characters in The Winchester Goose are seriously flawed. Francis Wareham is a serial womaniser who remains unrepentant to the end. He can’t help himself, he finds women irresistible. I think most of us know (or have known) somebody like that. Francis is thoroughly charismatic but incurably disloyal and I haven’t attempted to hide his flaws.
I haven’t hidden Joanie’s either but that doesn’t stop her from being the most likeable character in the book. Joanie Toogood is a prostitute from Southwark who, along with her betters, falls for Wareham’s charismatic charm. Like a rather saucy Florence Nightingale she nurtures everyone around her and, as a result, her business flourishes and she is popular with both commoner and noble alike.
Although she sins, her humanity is very close to the surface and it is Joanie’s uneducated observations on the carryings on at the royal court that link all four narratives. No matter what happens, Joanie makes us smile.
Isabella and Evelyn Bourne are ladies in waiting to Henry VIII’s two middle queens, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. When Eve ignores her sister’s warnings and becomes embroiled in the intrigues of Francis Wareham, their fate become impossibly entwined with that of Joanie Toogood.
The Winchester Goose isn’t just about whores and sex, or even just about women. It is more about social class, drawing parallels between the events at the royal court and those across the river at Southwark. As the dark days of Henry’s reign reach their zenith social divisions become blurred, and everyone, rich and poor, fall beneath the shadow of the executioner’s axe.
Now that I have entered the world of the Tudors, I find myself reluctant to leave and I have since embarked upon another book, The Kiss of the Concubine, a story of Anne Boleyn, which should be available by the beginning of 2014.
For more information about my novels please visit my website: www.juditharnopp.com
Blurb for The Winchester Goose
Tudor London: 1540. Each night, after dark, men flock to Bankside seeking girls of easy virtue; prostitutes known as The Winchester Geese. Joanie Toogood has worked the streets of Southwark since childhood but her path is changed forever by an encounter with Francis Wareham, a spy for the King’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell.
Meanwhile, across the River, at the glittering court of Henry VIII, Wareham also sets his cap at Evelyn and Isabella Bourne, members of the Queen’s household and the girls, along with Joanie, are drawn into intrigue and the shadow of the executioner’s blade.
Set against the turmoil of Henry VIII’s middle years, The Winchester Goose provides a brand new perspective of the happenings at the royal court, offering a frank and often uncomfortable observation of life at both ends of the social spectrum.
You can buy a copy by clicking here for US link: The Winchester Goose
Or here for the UK link: The Winchester Goose
Other books include:
Peaceweaver ISBN: 9781849234771
The Forest Dwellers ISBN: 9781908603630
The Song of Heledd ISBN: 9781781761557
Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens ISBN: 9781781763261
The Winchester Goose ISBN: 9781782990192
ALL AVAILABLE ON KINDLE
Coming soon. The Kiss of the Concubine: the story of Anne Boleyn
Thank you Judith so much for a great blog and we are glad you love our page so much. We can't wait to read your next book.