We’ve seen lots of retellings of famous/classic stories in YA literature, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen a retelling of a true story! What made you want to bring this famous doomed romance of King Henry and Anne Boleyn to the 21st century?
ANNE & HENRY began as a development project initiated by literary super agents Mandy Hubbard (D4E0) and Bree Ogden (Red Sofa Literary). Both were on my “most desired agent” list, and so when Mandy put out the “audition call” I leapt at the chance, not knowing at the time that the super secret project would be a reimagining of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII as a high school romance. How lucky!
I have a soft spot for historical love stories—and the saga of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is perhaps one of the most infamous of them all. It’s also close to my heart because my stepdad is utterly obsessed with Anne Boleyn. He often told my sister and I stories about her, perhaps in his way, trying to dispel some of the myths about her. As I started writing ANNE & HENRY and learning more about her, I really began to understand his infatuation. She was quite formidable!
I love a challenge—in fact, I thrive on them. Bringing this amazing story to the 21st century—as a young adult novel—was hard, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s a book I’m truly proud of.
Ha! There were a few, actually.
Regardless of what version of truth you believe about the REAL Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, Henry always comes out looking like a cad (he did, after all, behead Anne)—which meant I couldn’t make Henry a swoon-worthy book boyfriend if I intended to stay somewhat true to history.
There’s also the issue of insta-love. Believe me, I’m not a fan of it either, but again, even though Henry courted Anne for years in real life, their attraction was about as close to “love at first sight” as you can get. I really wanted to capture that.
Anne and Henry’s relationship had a tremendous impact on history—which is impossible to recreate in a high school setting without coming off as a bit trivial. Striking a balance was hard, and I’m not 100% sure I nailed it, but I had a lot of fun trying!
How did you go about choosing the setting for ANNE & HENRY?
The book had to be set in an affluent community—small, but exclusive. Not only does Bill Gates live in Medina, WA, there is a security camera at the entrance that records your license plate. That felt pretty exclusive to me! As I researched the area, I realized just how perfectly it worked within the context of the story.