C.W. Gortner Interview
January 26, 2011
the author of The Tudor Secret
It was a pleasure to have C.W. Gortner visit the blog on January 26, 2011 to talk about his adventure novel The Tudor Secret.
The Tudor Secret is written in quite a different style from your other two novels, which are biographical novels. Which did you most enjoy writing?
I enjoy both, for different reasons. The biographical novels allow me to explore through a different perspective the lives of historical people who fascinate me. The research is rigorous and I must align myself with what is known about the personality, for better or worst. With The Tudor Secret, I had a chance to play more freely with story; while the novel is based on historical events, featuring historical people, much of the plot is a product of my imagination, which was liberating.
Historical novelists often struggle to portray Queen Elizabeth's favorite Robert Dudley as a romantic character. What made you decide to portray him as someone who can be cruel and treacherous?
I believe the romantic moulding of Robert Dudley stems in great part from our collective need to provide Elizabeth with a companion. A queen known as a virgin, who sacrificed her heart for her realm - it’s so appealing to think she had this lover in her life. I believe it was love, but I also think Robert was motivated, at least in his initial years, by ambition. He was a Dudley, son of a powerful family known for its rapacity; like many noblemen, he wasn’t inclined to be gracious to his inferiors or sacrifice his sense of entitlement. In The Tudor Secret, Robert is still quite young, privileged, and hell-bent in his resolve to succeed. I think this most likely is who he was, until fate brought down his family.
Though Brendan is a completely fictional character, his story is woven around factual events surrounding Jane Grey's brief rule as queen. Where do you feel your novel comes closest to portraying a historical person as he or she might really have been?
I strived to stay as true as possible to what is known about the historical personalities in the novel. With some, I had mere sketches to work from; with others, like Jane Grey, much is assumed about who she was. However, I think I came closest with Mary Tudor - embattled and neglected for much of her adult life, she displayed astonishing courage when faced with the fight for her throne. I revelled in portraying this oft-hidden side of the queen who later became known as Bloody Mary.
Review of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner
See listing for The Tudor Secret at Powell's Books
See listing for The Tudor Secret at Amazon.com
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