Resurrect the Past by JP Robinson

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JP Robinson and I connected when I saw the cover for his new novel In the Shadow of Your Wings. As most of you know, I love war stories and JP’s cover is enticing. I’m delighted to welcome JP today with his take on creating the past for readers.

Resurrect the past by JP Robinson

One of the best parts about being a historical author, is the power to recreate or, as I like to say, resurrect the past. I have conducted workshops on this topic and have a “how to” book called Write History releasing in January of 2019.

Some think that history is dead. They couldn’t be more wrong. Historical authors have the power to bend time itself to our will. With a few well-chosen words, we can have our readers join a swirling mass of colorful dancers, as I did in my novel Bride TreeOr we can spark a rush of adrenaline as they charge with our characters across no-man’s land, as I did in the epic first installment of my upcoming trilogy, In the Shadow of Your WingsNo matter what the era, our words should be the time machine that conveys an authentic, convincing picture of the past.

This is not an easy job. It takes effort, focus, time and practice. Imagination is not enough. It must be married to thorough research in order to do justice to those whose lives have shaped history.

Every aspect of what I write has been vetted to the best of my ability. For example, I typically take about two days to research names that were popular in the era I’m writing about before naming my characters. Clothing styles, weapons, even family genealogies all come into play as I seek to recreate a world that once existed.

This is what made Bride Tree—an allegorical novel set during the French Revolution—such a fun piece to write. One of my favorite chapters opened up with a detailed description of the Palace of Versailles during a lavish ball. In order to do the scene justice, I employed Google Maps, pored over historical documents about the importance of dance and watched several YouTube clips on current Versailles galas.

But I didn’t stop there. Tracking down Maximilien Robespierre’s family history, and what his relatives had to say about him as a child, enabled me to get a better perspective of the man that unleashed the Reign of Terror.

Beyond developing a character’s personality, historical authors can better resurrect the past by recreating the atmosphere of the given era. Let me explain. My next novel, In the Shadow of Your Wings, is set in England, France and Germany during World War 1. Getting the social atmosphere is critical because it’s going to determine the outlook of the people (my characters) which will, in turn, affect the twists and turns of my plot.

Before starting our research, and also during the first draft process, we authors need to ask ourselves questions that only research can answer. When penning this novel, some key considerations were things like: how did Zeppelin attacks affect Londoners? What was spy mania like in London? Was there, in fact, a credible threat of German espionage?

My job as a historical author, is to convey the feelings that characterized the English and German people not just the facts. Again, imagination is not enough here. I need to read documents, visit websites and read old newspapers to capture the feelings of a generation that lived 100 years ago. So when my protagonist, Leila Durand, confesses to her British father-in-law that she’s actually a German spy, I know what his reaction is going to be.

Beyond online research, personal travel also helps me convey a real world to my readers. As a French teacher, I’ve been to France, so I can write convincingly about its architecture, language and history. Video footage of the trenches let me throw the reader into the heart of it all.

Another tool I use are the details. I love to transport readers by sprinkling in details—some of which I uncover while researching other things. Instead of saying a “rifle”, I’ll use the type of rifle British soldiers commonly employed during the war (a Lee Enfield).

The names of popular songs, pieces of art that perhaps still are recognizable are tidbits that help me take you, the reader, on an unforgettable ride. Couple that all with a powerful, inspirational plot and the result is an enthralling book that I can be proud of writing.

That’s not to say, however, that historical authors can’t bend some aspects of history, especially when writing historical fiction. But in those instances, it’s best to let the reader know that this is alternative history or key in the facts in the Author’s note.

So as you’re biting your nails, turning page after page of one of my historical fiction novels, I hope you’ll be able to pull yourself away from the dialogue, romance and action to appreciate the subtler elements that make the story a “JP Robinson”.

Keep an eye out for all three books in the Northshire Heritage series: In the Shadow of Your Wings (Fall 2018), In the Midst of the Flames (Spring 2019) and In the Dead of the Night (Fall 2019).

In the Shadow of Your Wings by JP RobinsonWhen the world goes to war, is there really any safe place?

The shadow of the Great War looms over Europe, affecting everyone in its path.
Leila Durand, an elite German spy charged with infiltrating the home of British icon Thomas Steele, sees the war as a chance to move beyond the pain of her shattered past. But everything changes when she falls in love with Thomas’s son, Malcolm. Is there a way to reconcile her love for Germany and her love for the enemy?

Thomas Steele sees the war as an opportunity for his profligate son, Malcolm, to find a purpose greater than himself. But when Malcolm rebels, it falls to Thomas to make tough decisions.

The war’s reach extends to the heart. Eleanor Thompson finds her faith is pushed to the breaking point when her husband disappears on the battlefront and her daughter is killed in a German air raid. Where is God in the midst of her pain? In the Shadow of Your Wings presents inescapable truth that resonates across the past century. Then as now, the struggle for faith is real. Then as now, there is a refuge for all who will come beneath the shadow of God’s wings.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Transported in Time and Place by Christine Davis Merriman

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Christine Davis Merriman completed an MFA forty years ago but, as with many of us, life intervened with her writing plans. Christine’s novel At the Far End of Nowhere has recently released – a novel that begins with this proposition: Imagine being raised by a father who is easily old enough to be your grandfather. This sets up an intriguing story proposition with the experiences and memories of father and daughter so far apart.

Transported in Time and Place by Christine Davis Merriman

Although I grew up in mid-twentieth century America, my father came from a much earlier time and place. Born in 1878, he was 72 years old when I came along in 1950. I inhabited a curious space, neither fully here nor there, transported daily between a rapidly modernizing United States and my father’s remembered nineteenth-century world where horses plowed the fields, steam powered the engines, and time moved more slowly. This experience inspired me to write my first novel, At the Far End of Nowhere.

After capturing the reader’s attention with a dramatic event that occurred in the near-present—the 2015 Baltimore riots that erupted after the death of Freddie Gray—a flashback carries readers swiftly back, sixty years—from a defaced West Baltimore row house to that same address in 1955. Later, a scene depicting the 1968 riots in Baltimore, following the Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination, echoes the opening 2015 riot scene.

A first-person narrator, Lissa Power, a young girl of the 1950s, uses present tense to maintain a continuous sense of immediacy as she guides readers on her journey through recent history. Lissa draws us in close, telling her own story of growing up in Baltimore and Baltimore County, from age four to twenty-two, 1955 to 1972. As indigenous witness and participant, she walks us through events as they immediately unfold, presenting her personal perspective of firsthand experiences. As she grows up and moves through the years, Lissa’s language and perspective mature, enhancing the sense of time passing.

Local icons and landmarks, along with contemporary radio and TV programs, immerse the reader in local colorFor example, a Natty Boh sign (the face of National Bohemian Beer, originally brewed in Baltimore) blinks his one eye from a corner bar as he watches over Lissa’s West Baltimore neighborhood. The Oriole Bird (symbol of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team) appears on an orange balloon at the downtown Oriole cafeteria.

A mechanized shoemaker in the front window of a neighborhood shoe store advertises a locally branded no-slip heel (originally manufactured in 1904 Baltimore by the Cat’s Paw Rubber Company). The precise actions of this miniature mechanical man capture young Lissa’s attention.

…the shoemaker, Mr. Gambini, …shuts down the mechanical man who works all day in his shop window. Over and over, the little shoemaker is taking a nail from between his pinched lips, jerking his head to one side, hammering the nail, and fastening a Cat’s Paw heel onto the bottom of a tiny shoe held upside down on what my daddy calls a shoemaker’s last. “Goodnight, little shoemaker,” I whisper.

In tribute to the waning mechanical age, Lissa’s daddy hoists her onto his shoulders to see the clock he once repaired in the Bromo-Seltzer Tower.

One day, my daddy takes me downtown to see the big clock on the Bromo-Seltzer Tower. He lifts me up and puts me on his shoulders so I can see above all the grownups. “Lissa, hold on tight, so you won’t fall.” He holds my legs steady, and I grab onto his ears. He wears his gray hat. He always wears a dressy hat when he goes downtown. In the summer, he wears a straw hat.

He points at the top of the tower. “I fixed that clock many years ago, and she’s been running ever since. After I die, I reckon all the clocks are going to stop running.”

Lissa and her father listen to radio programs. He tunes in to Gabriel Heatter, a popular news broadcaster. At age four, Lissa hears former President Truman speaking on the radio.

I like to sit on my daddy’s lap and listen to radio shows with him: Amos ’n’ Andy, Gunsmoke. My daddy likes to listen to the news on the radio. Gabriel Heatter is his favorite. Daddy says, “he tells us the good news, and we need to hear more of that.” I hear another man’s voice speaking. “Do you know who that is, Lissa? That’s President Truman. He was our president when you were born.”

A tool as simple and unobtrusive as a child’s hand-drawn map introduces a new local landscape. When the family moves from the city to a farm in northern Baltimore County, Lissa’s older brother, Spence, orients his sister, and readers, to the “lay of the land” in rural Maryland at that time, by drawing a map of the local farming community to show Lissa how to find her way around the neighborhood.

Our first year living on the farm, Spence gets a compass for his birthday, and Daddy teaches him how to read it. Spence goes on long hikes around the neighborhood and uses the compass to draw up a map on a big sheet of Daddy’s mechanical drawing paper. When he’s done, Spence shows me his map. “Look, Liss, if you don’t want to get lost out here, you need to learn the lay of the land. See? I wrote the four directions along the edges of this map—north (left), south (right), east (top), and west (bottom). You need to know the four directions so you can read a compass. I put different size rectangles with labels to show where buildings are. This is us,” he says, “Our property.” Spence and me are sitting cross-legged next to each other on the front-porch floor, and he has the map spread out in front of us. He points to our twelve acres. Our place is nested right in the middle of the map—farmhouse, grape arbor, Daddy’s woodshop, three vegetable gardens, barn and corn crib, three chicken houses, and two big fields that run all the way over to the east and south woods at the top and right edges of the map. At the top-right corner of the map, an arrow pointing beyond the east and south woods says To Grangerville Crossroads.

The old father’s storytelling threads through the novel, carrying daughter and readers back to a much earlier time in America. Stouten, born in 1878, recounts childhood memories of growing up on a Southern Maryland tobacco farm and spins nineteenth-century tall tales. In one of Stouten’s tales, the voice of a former slave recounts his mythical encounter with Johns Wilkes Booth (a myth consistent with local lore), as Lincoln’s assassin attempts his escape through treacherous local swampland.

“Once upon a very long time ago, I knew an old, old black man, a former slave by the name of Moses Queen. Some folks said he must be older than Methuselah. Said he was a young man in Civil War times….

 “Moses picked up a stick of wood, began to whittle it, and embarked on his story about the fine white gentleman who had crossed his path. ‘You know, boy,’ says Moses, ‘it was just about this time of day, just before sunset, when I was making my way home through Fallen Angel Swamp. And what should I spy but a horse come galloping along like a bat out of Hades, carrying a handsome young gentleman, riding alongside another white man. Now, this gentleman in all his finery looked right bad, pale as a ghost and tormented-like. He pulled up sharp in front of me, leaned toward me from his saddle, and said in the most graceful of tones, “Boy, could you help me out. I’m lost in this godforsaken bog.”

“‘I looked him up and down, and well, his leg looked like it was busted and had been patched up, and his face looked so pitiful and twisted, like his soul was in the deepest of turmoil.

“‘Well, you know, the pathways through that swamp is laid out like a puzzle with false leads and cutoffs and undergrowth that blocks your way. Course, I know Fallen Angel like the back of my old black hand. So, I guided him and his companion, used my homemade machete to bushwhack through them laurel and rhododendron thickets. Guided him and his friend safe and sound through that swamp, and delivered him to a Confederate safe house he knew of, just outside the swamp…. Well, it turned out to be a right funny situation, after all. Come to find out, by and by, I had played a bit part in the chronicles of time. The newspapers was reporting different stories about where this man was, and who it was helping him. And there was talk about how a black man—some said a former slave, some said a half-breed or a We-Sort, you know, we-sorts-of people (mixed black, Piscataway, white)—came to the aid of an actor named John Wilkes Booth who broke his leg escaping from the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C., after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. Seems this Mr. Booth was making his escape through our own Fallen Angel Swamp here in Charles County….’”

A back story, drawn from old letters and diary entries written by Lissa’s mother, Jimmie, as a young nurse, provide insight into life during World War IIFound letters chronicle Jimmie’s courtship with a man old enough to be her father and fill in the blanks about Jimmie’s unspoken love affair with a man her own age, training to become a World War II pilot at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

…airmail missives soar past each other on parallel flight paths between Havre de Grace and Pensacola, as plans are made.

Characters’ speech and actions convey contemporary social norms and widely held cultural values. For example, when police officers see a teenaged Lissa, wearing makeup and form-fitting clothing, they dismiss her account of a man’s unwanted sexual advances in his pickup truck.

When I come into the kitchen, one of the police officers, who looks pretty young, is sitting at the kitchen table, writing up a report. The other officer looks older. He’s overweight and balding, and stands facing Daddy. As I enter the room, the older policeman looks me over. I realize I’m still wearing my school clothes. I can feel his gaze sweep over me, top to bottom, bottom to top. It makes me self-conscious. I feel the makeup on my face exhibiting to him something unintentionally provocative. I feel betrayed by the tightness of my form-fitting dress as it follows the contours of my body, by the sheer hosiery clinging to my legs. I am ashamed of my appearance. “Pete,” he calls out to his partner and tilts his head sideways in my direction. The partner responds to the signal, takes a long look at me, snaps closed the notebook he’s been writing in, stuffs it in his uniform pocket, and scrapes his chair back from the kitchen table.

 “Not much we can do without a license plate number,” says the senior partner. “Lots of men in pickup trucks around here.” With that, both officers leave abruptly.

When Lissa withdraws from college to care for her old father, the dean of students tells her that college is where young women come to find a husband.

On Monday, I go to the registrar’s office and say I want to withdraw from college…. The dean is a black-suited, middle-aged man. He sits behind a formal desk in an old office with high ceilings and ancient radiators that ping as he gestures for me to take a seat….

 “So, Lissa. Why do you want to drop out of college?”…

“You realize, Lissa, that most women meet their future husbands in college.” His statement takes me by surprise. It makes no sense to me. The last thing I want to do right now is find a husband. That’s not why I came to college.

Popular music stimulates aural memory and evokes period-specific mood. With the Vietnam War in full swing, Lissa falls in love with a soldier at the Baltimore USO, while dancing to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Closing words from the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, provide spiritual solace for Lissa’s elderly father as his health declines.

A backdrop of historic events that occurred during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s adds credibility to time and setting. Lissa’s lens exposes readers to the impact of living through the Cold War, space race, multiple political assassinations, Vietnam War, peace protests, and the women’s liberation movement. As Lissa and her father take the number eight bus downtown in the aftermath of the Baltimore’s 1968 riots, a detailed itinerary of the bus route recreates the layout of Baltimore’s streets, records characters’ real-time reactions to current events, and recreates what it was actually like be there, live through, and experience that particular moment in history.

In researching historic events to provide temporal context for the story, I discovered that these past events were precursors and portents of our present moment in time. Issues that Lissa and fellow baby boomers grew up with have echoed forward to influence ongoing political and cultural movements, events, and issues that contemporary readers face today. For example, #MeToo picks up where women’s liberation left off. The struggles of the civil rights movement continue to fester and mutate into new tensions that persist among races and ethnic groups. Fears of Soviet influence, generated by the space race and Cuban missile crisis, are resurging as apprehensions of Russian cyber warfare, election meddling, and political manipulation. The fact that history recycles—evolving, progressing, digressing, repeating—underscores the appeal of mid-twentieth century historical fiction.

Many thanks for sharing your perspective, Christine. Best wishes for your novel.

At the Far End of Nowhere by Christine Davis Merriman — In this hauntingly unconventional novel, young Lissa Power challenges the imagination and captures the heart as she struggles to grow up under the guidance of her father, Stouten―a watchmaker, inventor, and mechanical wizard―who is easily old enough to be her grandfather.

When Lissa is twelve, her mother dies from breast cancer, and the reclusive old watchmaker, now 84 years old, must oversee his daughter’s coming of age. Faced with the loneliness of celibacy, the vulnerability of old age, and the responsibility of supporting two young children, Stouten remains determined to protect his beloved daughter from all harm. As Lissa matures, Stouten’s authority becomes increasingly restrictive.

Against a backdrop of tumultuous events in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s―the Cold War, political assassinations, the Vietnam War, peace protests, the Civil Rights movement, the moon landing, and the women’s liberation movement―Stouten uses storytelling to transport Lissa back with him to the time of his childhood―when horses and oxen plowed the fields and folks moved more slowly, with the rhythm of nature. Here At the Far End of Nowhere, father and daughter weave fact with fiction and merge reality with fantasy to reveal a broader truth.

Readers can connect with Christine on Facebook, Twitter – @farendofnowhere, Instagram – merrimanchristine or on her website.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

What is it about these Tudors? by Derek Wilson

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Historian Derek Wilson’s new book, ‘The Queen and the Heretic, is a lively account of political intrigue, determination, faith and the flouting of social expectations. It focuses on two remarkable women – Catherine Parr and Anne Askew. Derek is here today talking about our fascination with the Tudors.

What is it about these Tudors? by Derek Wilson

Writing about the brief English (or Welsh!) royal dynasty established by Henry VII is such a thriving cottage industry that it needs explaining (and defending?). What is it about our sixteenth-century rulers and their era that makes them so endlessly fascinating? Do they really merit such overexposure? Are we in danger of letting Tudormania get out of control, thus failing in our duty as historians to record the past objectively and accurately for the benefit of the present? It seems to me that our literary approaches to the sixteenth century (both novelistic and non-fictional) can be divided into two broad categories, the superficial and the significant. Anyway, that’s the analytical pitch I’m going to adopt in this exercise.

Starting with the superficial treatment of the Tudor age I suppose takes us back to our schooldays. History lessons in the early years tended to focus on events and personalities declared by the syllabus-setters to be ‘memorable’, to use the term wickedly parodied by Sellers and Yeatman (and the same humorous treatment has more recently been employed in the Horrible Histories series). Focussing young minds on the more dramatic or intriguing aspects of what must seem to children to be otherwise a long and tedious narrative is one way of equipping them with an essential chronological ground plan. But, as with all other subjects, education needs to move from the basics to the profounder issues of providing our girls and boys with life skills. If they abandon History before they have moved on from the fundamental stage, as many of them do, they will fail to grasp the importance of the subject in forming those intellectual skills and value judgements that will help them to understand the modern world. As Robert Crowley recently remarked (History Today, September 2018), ‘The past is not a foolproof guide to the present or future – it is simply the only guide we have.’

Now, savvy writers seeking to make an honest buck from historical material, by producing fictional or non-fictional books and TV programmes, have grasped the truth that many people like to be told about what they think they already know about. That means that there’s plenty of room on such bandwagons as ‘Richard III’, ‘Anne Boleyn’, ‘Elizabeth’s sea-dogs’, and the like. In other words, there remains a lively market for historical ‘romance’, in the widest sense of that word. It matters not that there really isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about the Princes in the Tower, or Elizabeth and Dudley or the King’s Great Matter. There are enough fans out there to snap up the latest offerings. If we use the word romance in its more restricted sense, the same truth also holds good. Novels purportedly giving readers the keys to Tudor bedchambers will always enjoy a good fan base.

Does it matter when history is treated as a lucky dip of memorable personalities and events from which writers can pluck items for our entertainment? Is it important that our potential punters are not being told any more than they already knew in Year 7? Should we be concerned that demand for celebs and scandals is being met by writers in search of easy pickings from sensational stories based on little or no serious original research? Can we defend making observations about our ancestors that would involve us in libel litigation if we dared to write the same things about our own contemporaries? Do all historical writers have a responsibility to bring to life, as accurately as we can, that ‘foreign country’ to which L.P. Hartley referred? The answers to those questions will depend on what we consider to be ‘significant’ about Tudor life and times. To that I’ll return momentarily.

First of all we must acknowledge our debt to the visual arts because it was the painters and sculptors of the sixteenth century that held up for us a magnifying class enabling us to ‘see’ for the first time since second and third century Rome some of the key players of the age. When Pietro Torrigiano arrived from Florence, c.1510, to make the superb figures for Henry VII’s tomb and, particularly, when Hans Holbein the Younger began work for his patron, Thomas More, in 1526, they brought Renaissance realism to England. The iconographic style of portraiture was out. Courtiers who queued to have their portraits made by the man who went on to become the king’s painter were amazed at the likenesses achieved by the man hailed as the ‘Appeles of our time’, so named after the famous artist of fourth century B.C. Greece. And the images have, of course, survived (or most of them). We do not need the aid of imagination to people Henry VIII and his court. Where the great Swiss painter led, others followed as English lords, ladies and merchants hastened to buy into the new fashions. The Flemish female portraitist, Levina Teerlinck, took over as Henry’s court painter and, by the middle of the century London had become a northern centre of the arts where an English school of portrait painting developed (Hilliard, Oliver, Gheeraerts, etc.). Does this matter? Manifestly, yes. It is not altogether clear why this should be so but the fact that we recognize the major players in the drama who would, otherwise, be just names gives us the impression that we know these people. They draw us closer to the events they were involved in. And it matters not that this impression is, to some extent, illusory. By the time we reach Nicholas Hilliard and the great miniaturists we confront, not just facial likenesses but statements – emotional, poetic, philosophical, political. Tokens of status and moral probity, expressed by flowers, gems, and a host of other accoutrements, abound; all of them symbols packed with meaning.

And this leads us, seamlessly, to the issue of significance. One reason why artists turned from religious painting (originally their biggest source of income) to portraiture and other genres was the Reformation. It was not only that churches were stripped of ‘idolatrous’ images by a new breed of churchmen whose theology was expressed more in words than pictures; anti-papal convictions were expressed in satirical and polemical propaganda images emanating from printshops and designed for a mass audience. Word and image went together in shaping public opinion. When William Tyndale’s New Testament began selling in 1526 it was an event far more important than Henry VIII’s contemporary decision to reject Catherine of Aragon. Tyndale’s ambition was that every ploughboy should learn to read the word of God. That, in turn, implied universal education and could only mean that ordinary men and women received licence to think about issues that, hitherto, even most clergy had lacked the intellectual skill to grapple with. All this underscored a new individualism. Of course, the Reformation did not invent individualism but it gave it a considerable boost. The majority of Elizabeth’s subjects were still content to leave religious thinking to their priests but, by the end of the reign, divisions into rival Protestant groupings were well underway that would ultimately consign to the dustbin the idea of the state church.

Many other significant events occurred during the reigns of the five Tudor monarchs – significant, that is, in the long-term history of the island race: the extension of government by statute; the emergence of London as a major centre of international commerce (Gresham’s Royal Exchange, the Virginia Company); the disappearance of monasticism, leading directly to the emergence of a large ‘middle class’ of landed gentry commanding impressive estates. And peace. Apart from Henry VIII’s hankering after military adventure and the conflict with Spain which broke out in Elizabeth’s latter years England avoided the continental warfare in which the kingdom had been intermittently embroiled for more than four centuries.

But peace, like religion and trade and educational development and constitutional change, is not sexy. This is why the professional historian and the general reader tend to look for – and discover – different things in the Tudor century. That, I know, is an over-simplification but it is not wholly without merit, because it does take us some way towards answering the question with which we began. For, whatever we seek in our sixteenth-century history, we stand a good chance of finding it. The reader who turns to biography or fiction for escapist adventure in the company of larger-than-life men and women has an ever-growing library at his/her disposal. The historian who recognizes in this period many of the more important developments in the emergence of England as a nation with an international destiny does not lack for archival material to flesh out what we already know and to provoke new lines of enquiry.

I hope I may be forgiven for ending with a quote from my own book on the English Reformation.

The Reformation did not inaugurate an age of faith. What it did establish was a national Christianity that could define its own doctrines, invent its own liturgy and regulate its own public morality without dependence on a foreign spiritual superpower. Since church and state were inextricably entwined, this freedom found expression in the government’s internal and external relations. England assumed a leadership role in Protestant Europe. In the fullness of time, thanks to its commercial and colonial expansion, it would take its culture and its reformed heritage to the ends of the earth.

Many thanks, Derek. You’ve certainly intrigued my interest! Derek describes himself as a historian of fact, faith, fiction and fantasy. He has written many well-received fiction and non-fiction books.

Derek Wilson’s latest foray into the life of the Tudors is The Queen and the Heretic – How two women changed the religion of England, published by Lion Books. For further information visit his website – http://www.derekwilson.com. Derek has been on the blog before as D.K. Wilson writing about The Devil’s Chalice.

The Queen and the Heretic by Derek Wilson – The dual biography of two remarkable women – Catherine Parr and Anne Askew. One was the last queen of a powerful monarch, the second a countrywoman from Lincolnshire. But they were joined together in their love for the new learning – and their adherence to Protestantism threatened both their lives. Both women wrote about their faith, and their writings are still with us. Powerful men at court sought to bring Catherine down, and used Anne Askew’s notoriety as a weapon in that battle. Queen Catherine Parr survived, while Anne Askew, the only woman to be racked, was burned to death. This book explores their lives, and the way of life for women from various social strata in Tudor England.