The Elizabethan age has been a (nearly!) lifelong obsession for me! It started one weekend when I was about seven or eight. I was staying with my grandma, who loved old movies, and Anne of the Thousand Days came on TV. I was totally fascinated by the fiery, take-no-crap Anne (and her great clothes!), and I cried bitterly at the end when her little red-haired daughter was left motherless. I was amazed that the tiny girl grew up to be Queen Elizabeth I, a figure I only knew vaguely as a stiff mannequin in old paintings. I didn’t know much about her then, but I thought she must have been pretty boring compared to my then-current heroines—Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew.
After watching Anne, I ran to my favorite place, the library, to read whatever I could find about Anne and Elizabeth and their time period. A helpful librarian loaded my book bag with tottering stacks of history stories. As I made my way through them, I found out Elizabeth was anything but dull! Not only did she have fabulous clothes (always a consideration for me!), she presided over one of the most exciting moments in English history.
The late 16th century was a time of huge change and movement, an explosion of the arts (especially theater and literature—think of the 3 S’s, as one of my professors called them! Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney), exploration and discovery, architecture, astrology and mysticism, social movement. It was colorful, bawdy, passionate, full of larger-than-life characters. None larger than the tempermental, vain, brilliant queen. My Elizabeth won’t be someone else’s, maybe, much like somebody might not like Cate Blanchett’s or Helen Mirren’s Elizabeth, but that’s the great thing about her. There is an Elizabeth for everyone. What better time period for mysteries???
Having the chance to “live” in the Elizabethan period, at least during the weeks of writing a book, is a dream come true! I love immersing myself in a different world, one of dashing courtiers, intrigue, royal plots, beautiful castles, mysterious gardens. I love seeing it through the eyes of my character, the court musician and amateur sleuth Kate Haywood. I love finding out tidbits of history to use, and making things up once in a while…
Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite time period? What aspects do you like best in reading history or historical novels? If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?? One commenter will win a signed copy of Murder at Hatfield House!