1. How did you come up with the idea of writing about Mary Shelton, a ward of Queen Elizabeth?
Years ago, my grandmother told me we were related to Queen Anne Boleyn and she gave me a book all about the Shelton family and showed me how we were connected to them. I was fascinated. I started gathering all the info I could about them and discovered that both Mary and Margaret Shelton (cousins, not sisters, though Margaret did have a sister named Mary) had little nuggets of stories in their histories. I started imagining more and ended up writing two novels, one about Margaret, the other about Mary!
2. Why do you think we are still so fascinated by Queen Elizabeth I?
Elizabeth was a larger-than-life character—she was brilliant, politically savvy, kind yet she could be cruel—just a complex, compelling woman who gave England years of peace. She made conditions right for the flowering of the English Renaissance. She had to do it in a man’s world—I think most women can relate to that, even today.
3. What was the most interesting/ strangest thing that you found in your research for this book?
I sometimes write first and then do the research to see how close I am to the facts. I wrote Mary as an orphan because it suited my story. Then, I discovered she was, indeed, an orphan. This has happened to me a lot. I don’t know what it means but somehow, I seem to know things that I really couldn’t know. Hmmm, makes me less skeptical about reincarnation!
4. You've written a few books now. Has your writing process changed at all? Has it gotten easier or harder?
I don’t think writing every gets easier—I wish it did. It’s like a verbal jigsaw puzzle—you have to figure out how the parts best fit together and then write it. For me, it’s always a challenge, which is part of what I love about writing.
5. If you could bring three fictional characters or historical figures to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
I’d bring Shakespeare so he could tell me stories and then act them out! I’d bring Elizabeth for conversation and debate. And I’d bring Errol Flynn for, well, just to look at!
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