5 September 2018

Special Guest Interview with Historian Nicola Tallis, Author of Elizabeth’s Rival


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The first biography of Lettice Knollys, one of the 
most prominent women of the Elizabethan era


I'm pleased to welcome historian and author Nicola Tallis to the Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book
Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester was released in November 2017, and I have to say I had a brilliant time writing it! For me it was kind of like the follow on from my first book, and though the link isn’t immediately obvious it’s very much there. It was also quite a challenge, as although I work in the Tudor period, the Elizabethans are slightly later than what I’m used to – so it was actually really exciting to be able to work on something completely new, and research a person who’s never had a full-scale biography before.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I’d like to say Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, but most writers will agree that it never turns out that way! I normally start writing at around 7.30am – sometimes earlier, and I can finish any time from around 6pm to 2am. It really depends on how entrenched you are in your writing – or how close your deadline is! Recently I’ve been writing seven days a week, but ideally I’d cut that down to five. My problem is that I just can’t leave it alone – writing becomes very addictive!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First of all choose a subject that inspires you and that you are passionate about – you can be working on one book for a number of years, so if it’s not about a topic that interests you then it’s pointless. Also, don’t give up – one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be determined and be able to roll with the punches – unless you’re extremely fortunate you’re bound to experience some. Being able to learn from feedback is crucial, and will make you a better writer in the long term.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Social media is obviously a huge platform, but my favourite thing ever is events – I really love having the opportunity to speak to people about my books, and nothing beats that face to face contact. I’ve been very fortunate to have done some events at some wonderful venues, and I’ve also got lots coming up – I think that when an audience can see how passionate you are about your subject it sparks their interest, too. And that, after all, is the whole point.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Well, for starters I was amazed that nobody had fully written about Lettice before – it’s such a dramatic story, and I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to tell it. But I was really surprised about how my view of Elizabeth I changed throughout the course of my research – I definitely saw her in a very different light.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The execution of Lettice’s son, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Even though I didn’t have much empathy for him personally, and we have no record as to Lettice’s feelings, I really felt her loss – the numerous surviving letters she wrote to him convey the strength of her maternal feelings towards him, and to lose him in such violent circumstances must have been utterly heartbreaking. Essex was the last of Lettice’s son’s, and I really feel like with him died all of her hopes – from then on she led a very quiet life in the country.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my PhD – All the Queen’s Jewels – and I’ve also been working on another book for the past year. But as to the subject, for the time being it’s a closely guarded secret – all will soon be revealed!

Nicola Tallis

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About the Author


British Historian Nicola Tallis graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class BA Hons. degree in History in 2011, and from Royal Holloway College, University of London in 2013 with an MA in Public History. Since 2013 she has been studying for her PhD at the University of Winchester, where she teaches History. Nicola also worked as a historical researcher, most notably for Sir Ranulph Fiennes whilst he was working on his 2014 book, Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France. and is the resident historian for Alison Weir Tours. Find out more at Nicola's website http://nicolatallis.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @MissNicolaTal

1 comment:

  1. I'm halfway through this book and I'm enjoying it very much. I didn't know much about Lettice other than she secretly married Robert Dudley,angering Elizabeth I. This book fills in details I would never have known.

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