Doña Constanza Enríquez de Castilla may be the daughter of a claimant to the throne, but she will never be a princess. The product of her father's dalliance with a young French girl, she has never been welcome in the eyes of his wife and legitimate heirs, who see her as a threat to the safety of their inheritance and a thief of their father's love. In the royal court, the games of Fate mean anyone can rise or fall
at the royal will; does Constanza really want to play,
or is she content to simply remain LA BASTARDA?
Writing was a hobby I gave up years ago after being told that it would be stupid to “waste” myself on something that would never be a viable way to earn a living. I only decided to take it up again when I found myself a stay-at-home mom, unable to do much else.
The original idea behind LA BASTARDA came when I was researching medieval Spain. Ever since I first read The Other Boleyn Girl, I was fascinated by this country, the realization that a large part of my identity as a Chicana (or Mexican-American, if you’re unfamiliar with the term) was shaped by these people. I spoke Spanish, I grew up with an unshakeable belief in the Catholic faith, and in my wallet I still carry a medallion of an Marian aspect, Our Lady of Guadalupe, even though I am very much a non-believer.
Much of the historical fiction I read, however, cast “Spain” as the Big Bad Enemy, the stereotypical villain twirling his moustache as he watches the metaphorical train come barrelling towards the helpless Damsel (played by tiny England or war-ravaged France). Me? I was interested in the ruling family that started out as a king’s bastard son holding on to his throne by a thread, and ended with some of the most memorable European rulers - queens, no less! - who would oust ancient civilizations from the lands where they had ruled for hundreds of years, who would stand up to desperate tyrants for the sakes of their marriages, who would be so passionate that her contemporaries would claim she was driven “insane” by love.
I wanted to write about the Trastámara, the dynasty whose members would give birth to Kings and Queens of Spain, Navarre, and Naples, and whose own blood would help to furnish the Habsburg dynasty as well as give rise to Mary Tudor, the vehemently Catholic monarch of Spain in the midst of the Reformation.
But where to begin? I found my main character while I was researching her royal half-sister, Leonor, Queen of Navarre. Her life fascinated me, especially the chronicles I could find of her return to Castile after her marriage (because, for all intents and purposes, her marriage was not a happy one). It was during research of Leonor’s father, Enrique II, that I stumbled across the list of bastards in his will. Out of all of them, only one was listed without her mother, and she had been betrothed to a pretender to the Portuguese throne.
A cursory glance into the girl’s background (to see if anyone had ever discovered her name) allowed me to learn that the girl was not only without a mother (possibly implying the death of the girl’s mother, possibly in childbirth) but that her fiancé had married her half-sister by another mistress - and that she had married the recently widowed elder brother a few years later.
I was intrigued by this illegitimate daughter, this Constanza of Castile. And each of those things gave rise to what I know today as “LA BASTARDA”. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it, and I look forward to releasing my second book (and the second book in the series!) in late 2016.
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About the Author
K.M. Guerin is a wife, stay-at-home mom. In regards to reading historical fiction, she is definitely a medieval/early Renaissance anglophile, though her debut novel, LA BASTARDA (available now on Amazon), is set in 14th century Spain. When not writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family, and figuring out how to work the latest in social media. Find out more at kmguerin.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @KM_Guerin.