Friday, 18 November 2011

The Influence of Mary

I wanted to take an opportunity to say something about some of the ideas that influence me.. I always get questions, as most creative people do, that are along the lines of 'where do you get your ideas', so I thought I'd take some time out now to discuss how a particular idea blossomed.
I, as many other people, am an insane lover of historical fiction. Through that, I discovered the Tudor period.
When I'm reading I immediately gravitate to strong female characters - especially those who have survived in a 'man's world' and turned it on their head. So when I started reading about the Tudor period Anne Boleyn was one of my favorites from the beginning, The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory one of the books that nurtured that affection. But as I continued to read on, I learned about the other women of the period that defied order, and a well opened up.
With women like Marguerite of Angoulême, Mary Queen of Scots, Jane Bolyen, and Johanna the Mad, how could a reader not fall in love? It took me some time, and after learning about all these other women I stumbled upon the two Mary's, as I call them.
First, Mary Rose Tudor, Henry VIII sister. Married to the aged King of France and when he died she defied everyone and married her brother's best friend and favorite, Charles Brandon, for love. It's a story for the ages, I must say. The fact that she would even consider pissing off Henry VIII says a LOT about her personality.
Second, and most of all, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.
Those of us girls who grew up in a broken home can really identify with Mary - cast aside by a father she adored for his new woman, I know it's something that I experienced. When I first heard her story I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit, and even though I might not agree with many of the things she did as Queen there are aspects of her personality I understand. The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory was what started the love, I Am Mary Tudor by Hilda Lewis continued to nurture it.
And so, with Mary in mind, I went out looking for bastard female children of royalty - I wanted to know what happened to them, if they were able to overcome such a label and what went on in their lives. At first, I thought I might write about Mary, and I still might, but that wasn't the story I was meant to write at the time.

Then I stumbled on the myth, legend, whatever you may call it, that Elizabeth Bathory, famed Blood Countess and first female serial killer, had a daughter out of wedlock before she was married.
And, there it was. There was my story. This unnamed, unconfirmed girl was the child of one of the most infamous ladies in history, and she may have never known it.
But, in my mind, she found it in way that most would not expect.

Suggested Historical Fiction, about the Women I named earlier:
Mademoiselle Boleyn By Robin Maxwell
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn By Robin Maxwell
The Boleyn Inherritance By Philippa Gregory
The Other Queen By Philippa Gregory
The Last Queen By C.W Gortner
I, Elizabeth By Rosalind Miles
Mary, Queen of France by Jean Plaidy

I know a lot of people have things to say about Philippa Gregory. I am a fan of hers, so I would appreciate if you choose to comment on this post that you not comment on your feelings about her. Thank you very much.
And, Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn were excellent in The Tudors.

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