Q&A With Alison Weir

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Q&A With Alison Weir 

I was so delighted when Sunday Times and New York Times Bestselling author of historical fiction and biographies Alison Weir replied back to my email agreeing to do a Q&A with me. For those of you who’ve followed my blog for the past few years I’ve reviewed several of her novels. Some of Alison’s many novels include The Tudor Queen Series, Captive Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine A Life, Mary Queen of Scotts and the Murder of Lord Darnley, Innocent Traitor, The Lost Tudor Princess, Elizabeth of York The Last White Rose, and coming in May of 2023 The Kings Pleasure. 


Q: Alison what fascinates you about writing historical fiction and biographies about famous monarchs? 

A: I’ve always been interested in the ritualized lives of royalty and how human beings behave when exalted above ordinary mortals. I’m chiefly interested in the queens, and in retrieving women’s histories. When I first started researching in the 1960s, some of the women I’ve written about – notably Katherine Swynford and Mary Boleyn – were relegated to mere footnotes, and the political importance of Anne Boleyn was not fully understood. So much has changed since then, and in recent years there has been much new research done. I’m glad to have made my contribution.

Q: Alison when in your life did you realize that being an author was your calling in life?

A: When I was fourteen and conceived a passion for history, I started writing books almost at once. At fifteen, I wrote a biography of Anne Boleyn and then a 3-volume history of the Tudors, among other subjects. You can see some of my early efforts on the Miscellany page of my website – if you want a laugh! At eighteen, I read Antonia Fraser’s ground-breaking biography of Mary, Queen of Scots, and from that was born my ambition to become a professional historian and writer.

Q: What is your advice to anyone wanting to write historical fiction and writing non-fiction biographies about famous monarchs? What would you tell anyone struggling with writers block? 

A: My advice would be to research as extensively as you can, never give up, and take on board feedback from agents and publishers. For fiction, the mantra is ‘show, rather than tell’. As for so-called ‘writer’s block’, writing is not only creative, it’s also a discipline, so you just have to get down to it. Try any way in, and you’ll soon be motoring. You can always revise the text later.  

Q: I know the Eleanor of Aquatine and Isabella the She Wolf of France television shows are going to happen on Starz. Are they going to start filming the shows soon? Who would you cast to play Eleanor and Isabella?

A: I’m not sure when this will happen. The shows were put back because of the pandemic, but I do know that Starz has engaged a new screenwriter, and hope to hear something soon. 

Q: Does Starz have the rights to the rest of your novels? 


A: No. That would have to be negotiated separately.

Q: I saw somewhere that you replied to a comment about wanting to write a historical fiction novel about Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor. Is writing about Mary Tudor going to be your next project after the book about Henry’s daughter Mary comes out next year? Or is there another book you plan on writing?


A: I’ve suggested six subjects for my next non-fiction books, and one of them is Mary Tudor. I’m keeping the others under wraps! 

Q:  For new authors, what is your advice to them on how to deal with negative feedback whether it’s from online trolls, negative reviews, and from unsupportive friends and family members?


A: I’m very protective of my online presence, and the comfort of others who visit my social media pages. I immediately unfriend anyone who posts anything unkind about me or someone else. Fortunately, this is rare. I never read online reviews or look myself up online; in fact, I don’t have a smartphone and rarely engage on social media on a personal, rather than a professional, basis. My mantra is, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I’m lucky to have a wonderfully supportive family, and amazing friends, many of whom are fellow historians and writers, but if I didn’t, I’d be asking myself if I needed a toxic presence in my life.  

Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, who would it be with and why?


A: I’ve collaborated with several. I co-wrote a book on royal weddings with Tracy Borman, Sarah Gristwood and Kate Williams, and jointly authored A Tudor Christmas with Siobhan Clarke. I’ve done many joint events, mostly with the authors above, and hope to do more. It’s great to share ideas, stage debates (apart from when Sarah Gristwood brought a toy dagger to one on Richard III) and engage in repartee.

Q: Do you prefer writing historical fiction, or non-fiction more? 


A: I love doing research for both, and now enjoy writing them equally.