I’m so excited today to be kicking-off our exclusive three-part interview with Brazen author Katherine Longshore. Thanks to Katherine for stopping by today, and to the folks at Penguin for helping arrange this interview!
I kind of fell backwards into my love of Tudor history. I started with Richard III, after seeing Ian McKellen in the film adaptation of the Shakespeare play. I thought, no one could really be that bad and set out to find the truth. It seemed a natural progression from Richard to Henry VIII. It’s the characters who keep drawing me back (and preventing me from moving chronologically forward on my historical quest). The chimeric king, his highly individual wives, the courtiers—ambitious, brutal, backstabbing, poetic, artistic, loyal, craven, adulterous, victimized or just plain in the wrong place at the wrong time. All human life is here.
During my research for TARNISH, I came across a little-known historical artifact called the Devonshire Manuscript. It is believed that it was passed around the court during the 1530s and 40s, and that many hands contributed to the collection of poems, notes and cryptic messages enclosed within. The initials stamped on the cover are MF—Mary FitzRoy—and two of the primary contributors are Margaret Douglas and Madge Shelton. I fell in love with the idea of a 16th Century literary brat pack and imagined Mary—the owner of the book—at the center.
What are some of the biggest creative licenses you took when writing BRAZEN?
The very biggest was placing Mary within the court during the three years the action takes place. There is no concrete evidence that she was there or that she served Anne Boleyn as queen during that time. There are hints—she participated in Anne’s first mass as queen and in Elizabeth’s christening, and one chronicler mentions her as one of Anne’s greatest supporters. I took that mention as license to build a friendship between the two women.
The second biggest license was the relationship between Mary and her husband, Henry FitzRoy. Nowhere does the historical record relate that they even saw each other after their marriage, much less got to know each other. But for me, Fitz (like Anne) had to be an integral part of Mary’s story. And just because something isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, right?
Thanks again, Katherine! Tune in for part 2 of our Q&A on Wednesday!