Behind The Book With Alison Weir

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Behind The Book With Alison Weir


Last year I did a Q&A with New York Times Bestselling Author of historical fiction and historical nonfiction Alison Weir. I was so delighted when she and her editor Susanna Porter mailed me an early copy of The Passionate Tudor: A Novel Of Queen Mary I for me to read and review. In this edition of Behind The Book, we will be discussing The Passionate Tudor which will be published on May 28th!

Q: Alison what made you want to write a historical fiction novel about Mary I who the world knows best by her nick name Bloody Mary?

A: I had written about her in my history books, and I’ve received a lot of requests for a novel over the years, so when it came to choosing subjects for my Tudor Rose series of novels, Mary I fitted in perfectly. It’s a series that spans the generations, telling the stories of Elizabeth of York, her son Henry VIII, and his daughter Mary I. 
I was glad to have the chance to write a novel about Mary because I had become aware of a shift in opinion among historians, and wanted to portray her authentically. Do I agree with the new views? You’ll have to read the novel to find out!


Q: You always do an excellent job of researching and writing all your books. How long did it take you to do the research & writing for Mary I?

A: Thank you! I researched Mary over many decades, for several books, notably The Children of Henry VIII (1996), but, having been aware of new research on her in recent years, I looked at that before deciding how I would portray her in fiction. It took me about six months to write the novel. Basically, I fictionalized a historical text.

Q: Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most and why?

A: I enjoyed writing the scenes between Mary and her husband Philip of Spain because it was intriguing to imagine the interactions between them. There is a lot of contemporary source material for their relationship, but I have long wondered what went on behind closed doors. And a novelist, of course, has the freedom to open those doors – although I feel strongly that what you invent should be in context with what we know about the subject.


Q: I love your portrayal of Mary that while you didn’t make excuses for her actions as Queen, you also didn’t portray her as a total monster either. What new lessons do you hope readers fascinated with royal history, learn after reading this book?

A: I hope that they will arrive at a balanced view and understand why Mary acted as she did. I was concerned to hear that schools in the UK are teaching the new revisionist view of her, when there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. Yes, it is important to stress her achievements, but we must take heed of what the historical sources are telling us. 
Q: I know Starz has the rights to your books about Eleanor of Aquitaine & Isabella the She Wolf of France. In your opinion do you think a show about Mary I would make an interesting show if Starz were to get the rights to it? We already have so many shows & movies about the Tudor Queens & Elizabeth it would be nice to have different shows and movies about other monarchs.
A: I think Mary would be a great subject for a TV series. There already is a powerful film, The Twisted Tale of Bloody Mary (2008), and it’s an excellent portrayal, but it’s not widely known. I highly recommend it.