and Amazon Australia
A tale of mothers and daughters, power, intrigue, death, love, and redemption. In the end, Falling Pomegranate Seeds
sings a song of friendship and life.
I started writing Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters not long after the publication of my first novel, Dear Heart, How Like You This? That novel depicted my imagined reconstruction of Anne Boleyn’s life as seen through the eyes of a man always loving her. Like my character, Sir Thomas Wyatt, I believe with all my heart that Anne Boleyn’s death was unjust, and an act of deadly Tudor politics. I see her death as murder, and one of the many things Henry VIII has to answer for. Researching Dear Heart also made me aware of his appalling and heartless treatment of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon and their daughter Mary. By the time I had completed my first novel, I found myself so drawn to Katherine’s story that I decided it had to be my next major work.
Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters focuses on Catalina’s childhood and early teenage years in Castile. My first attempt to write this work was from the point of view of Maria de Salinas. But I had to rethink that when I realised my efforts to give voice to a child and young girl, who was recounting what really was an adult story, just didn’t hit the bullseye. Despite the encouragement of receiving a short listing in the HarperCollins Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development, it was a different story when my agent sent my work to publishers. Their feedback forced me to face the fact that I needed to dismantle years of work and retell my story through one of my adult characters.
Deciding on that character was easy. Constructing and peopling Catalina’s world had made me grow to love Beatriz Galindo. Beatriz Galindo – a respected scholar who lectured at the University of Salamacha and became a tutor to Queen Isabel, before tutoring her children - aroused in me those very important ‘what if’ questions essential for a writer of fiction. She was also a person I felt deserved to be brought to life on the page.
What was not easy was tackling a rewrite. A new main character meant rebuilding my novel through the story of that character. Grieving about putting aside my first vision for this work, I decided it was easier to turn my attention to another project inspired by Dear Heart; revisiting the last days of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of her niece, Kate Carey, in The Light in the Labyrinth. I always planned to return to Falling Pomegranate Seeds. I believed in the work and I had done all the research needed to achieve the first version of the first part of Katherine of Aragon’s story. I had even gone to Spain to walk in Catalina’s footsteps.
The Light in the Labyrinth was published in 2014, and I started researching another book project. I told myself I was waiting for the right time to get back to Falling Pomegranate Seeds. That day came last year when I contacted Tim Ridgway of MadeGlobal Publishing about an entirely different matter. We exchanged a flurry of emails and Tim – likely trying to distract me in the kindest possible way from pursuing my original question – finally asked me if I had any other projects that may interest him. I told him about my planned novels about the life of Katherine of Aragon and how I had the rough draft of the first book, a work focusing on Catalina in her formative years.
“You are writing about Katherine of Aragon’s childhood?” he asked. “ That would interest me. How long would it take you to get it to me?”
I gulped, and my mind quickly calculated the time I needed to rewrite a whole novel. “Four months,” I lied. Knowing I had a publisher interested in my work, I then had to work out strategies to turn that lie into truth. I booked myself into a writing retreat for two weeks in February 2016 and then worked towards that booking like a crazy woman…well, like a writer who knew they had an important, once in a lifetime deadline to meet. Tim received my manuscript on April 4th 2016, five months after our first email, and I received his offer to publish my work on the same day. Now that is a true moment for a writer to treasure – to get an acceptance for their work just hours after submitting it to a publisher.
Wendy J. Dunn
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About the Author
Want to win a copy of Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters, by Wendy J. Dunn? To enter the prize draw, simply leave a comment below this post saying what historical figure you’d like to see Wendy write about next. Leave your comment by midnight on Saturday 17th December 2016. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted for their details.