24 February 2021

Special Guest Post by Paul Walker, Author of State of Treason

Audiobook on Amazon UK and Amazon US

London 1578 - a cauldron of conspiracy, intrigue and torture. The might of Spain and the growing influence of the Catholic League in France all threaten the stability of Queen Elizabeth and her state. 

Writing Historical Fiction - Inspiration and Planning

Inspiration seems so much more creative and worthy than the structured and methodical act of planning, and it’s tempting to emphasise the former in any success as a writer I might enjoy. But looking back, there is no doubt that writing the William Constable historical thrillers was more the result of planning over years than a sudden whoosh of inspiration.

My mother was an early influence on my reading. She was a member of the Richard III Society and devoured all fiction (and some non-fiction) that covered Medieval Britain, especially the Plantagenets. She later expanded this to include Tudor and Victorian periods. Following her encouragement, I started reading historical fiction as a teenager. Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time and T H White’s Once and Future King were memorable early reads.

In common with many others, reading for pleasure took a back seat while I worked my way up the greasy pole of career advancement, made a home and raised a family. It was later in my working life, commuting into London, that I rediscovered the joy of reading fiction again. My taste was eclectic. I read widely, quickly and, during this period, discovered what remains my favourite series of books – Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels of the English Navy in the early nineteenth century. 

I was entranced by his depiction of life aboard a man-of-war, the ambience he created and, above all, his writing style and use of language, which conjured an acute sense of period. It was my admiration of O’Brian that planted the seed of an ambition to write historical fiction.

In mid-2016, some 15 years after my first encounter with O’Brian, I retired from full-time work. Within a month I had enrolled on two creative writing workshops. I had done plenty of academic and business writing, but had never made a serious attempt to write fiction. I found support and momentum in the company of other aspiring writers in the workshops and within three months had started to write a novel. Very little research was involved, with the plot of a contemporary thriller unfolding as I wrote. It was finished in four or five months, I had enjoyed the writing and, although it wasn’t very good, I had the experience of storytelling spread over roughly 100,000 words.

One of the best decisions I made was to get a professional critique. No matter how hard they try to be objective and critical, friends and family just can’t do it. I learned a lot from the critique and there was enough encouragement in there to suggest if I reworked and edited thoroughly, it may be taken up by a publisher. But I didn’t want to go down that road. I put my first attempt at a novel to one side as an apprentice piece. Despite my inexperience, I had the audacity to imagine I was now ready to tackle what I really wanted to write – historical fiction.

I had already decided it was to be set in sixteenth century England, even though I was advised the Tudors had been overdone and interest in the period was waning. I’m not a historian, but the Tudor period was the one I was most familiar with, so the research would be easier. Also, I wasn’t convinced that the market was saturated. Surely, the fabulous books by Mantel, Sansom and others had strengthened interest in a period full of intrigue, peril and opportunities to fire an author’s imagination. My protagonist would be fictional with the plot woven around real events and characters. An interest in Doctor Dee led to the choice of my hero as a scholar, rather than a swashbuckling adventurer.

So far, so planned with little in the way of ‘light bulb’ inspiration. I also knew I had to research and structure this book in meticulous detail. I couldn’t write flying by the seat of my pants. Errors would be pounced on and reported, damaging reputation and branding. Of course, I underestimated the time it would take to do the research and with my first book, State of Treason, the research took twice as long as the writing. But, for the most part, I enjoyed the preparation, consoling myself that it would be worthwhile if book one turned out to be the first of a series.

The most difficult part of writing the book was finding a style of writing to suit the period, the main characters and the pace of the plot. State of Treason is a spy thriller, so maintaining a good pace was essential. But I also wanted the reader to feel immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Elizabethan London. I had to experiment with the balance between readability and authenticity in language before I settled on what I thought might work. Writing historical fiction in the present tense has its critics and I dithered before taking the plunge and choosing to write that way. The book is also written in the first person, from William Constable’s viewpoint, as it felt the most natural way to write the story.

I’ve taken a long and winding route to describe how writing the William Constable historical thrillers series was the result of inspiration from reading Patrick O’Brian and the somewhat uneven process of planning in the 15 or so years that followed. I was fortunate to find a publisher and enough readers who liked the book to consider producing an audio version – something I never envisaged when I started writing. And how was it creating an audio version of State of Treason? That’s a whole different story.

Paul Walker

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About the Author

Paul Walker is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. Having worked in a number of universities and run his own business, he now divides his time between non-executive work for an educational trust and writing fiction. His writing is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.  State of Treason is the first in a planned series of Elizabethan spy thrillers. The plot is based around real characters and events in London of the 1570’s. The hero, William Constable, is an astrologer, mathematician, physician and inventor of a navigational aid for ships. The second book in the series will be published in October 2019. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PWalkerauthor

23 February 2021

Book Review ~ The Forgotten Pioneer: A family story set in East Africa

Available on Amazon UK  and Amazon US

I was a child in Kenya when the country gained independence, so was fascinated to read this very personal account by Anthea Ramsay. Drawing from her grandparents’ diaries and photographs, as well as her own memories as a child, this sometimes harrowing book describes what it was like to live in East Africa for the first white settlers.  We then follow the adventures of Anthea’s family right through to the present day.

Taking real dangers in their stride, from wild animals to lawless Mau Mau rebels, this family lived through an era that could easily be forgotten.  There was the constant threat of malaria or the dreaded black water fever, with only the most basic medical care. It is recalled as a happy time, however, with amazing extremes of wealth and poverty.

The Forgotten Pioneer is a very readable book and shines a light on a period of history which is often overlooked.  Thanks to Anthea Ramsay at least the men and women who helped to make Kenya what it is today will no longer be forgotten.

Tomy Riches

21 February 2021

Special Guest Interview with Emma Makarova, Author of Unearthed

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US,

Scotland, 1849: Midwinter on the remote island of North Uist and twelve-year-old Morag has a terrifying encounter in the dark. Is it a beast or is there a more sinister threat which stalks the island? As the villagers turn to folklore to protect themselves, Maria, the wife of the landowner, arrives on North Uist longing to escape her past. But Maria’s past is catching up with her and time is running out – both for her and for the islanders.

I'm pleased to welcome author Emma Makarova to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Unearthed is a historical fiction set on the Outer Hebrides in Scotland in 1849. It is set during the Highland Clearances when thousands of people were forced off the land by English landowners. The novel is based on the Battle of Sollas in July 1849 and the attempted eviction of the community which is still commemorated on the island of North Uist today. 

The novel weaves fiction, history and folklore together to tell the story of two young women caught up in the events on the island, but also caught up in the societal pressures of the time. The story is told by two first person narrators: Morag, a girl whose family has lived on the island for generations; and Maria, the young English wife of the new owner of the island. Although they come from very different backgrounds, both Morag and Maria have a thirst for learning and knowledge which sets them apart from their contemporaries and which ultimately puts them both in danger. Their stories become more and more intertwined as the novel reaches its climax.

What is your preferred writing routine?

When I have a new idea for a novel or short story I try and carve out as much time wherever I can to get the first draft down on paper. This means I reschedule things, get up early, go to sleep late, whatever it takes to get that energy into words. When I am re-drafting or editing I tend to work in the mornings for just an hour or two at a time. Any more than that and I can't see the woods for the trees and I go round in circles editing the same paragraph over and over again.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Don't forget the first draft is only the start. My novel, Unearthed, took about 5 drafts before I thought it was even nearly ready. Also don't show anyone your work too soon, that can be really off-putting if your work is still in embryonic form. When you are ready, find someone that you really trust to read your work. I am so lucky to have my sister who has this amazing knack of telling me if something doesn't work in the nicest possible way.

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

Word of mouth was really useful in the beginning. Friends and family recommended it to their circles and it spread from there to book clubs and beyond. Twitter is also useful, especially for running giveaways and promoting discounted e-books, but the platform can seem very crowded with so many people promoting their books that it can seem daunting.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The use of pelvic massage and vibrators to treat hysteria in women was a very ordinary practice in Victorian times!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I'm not sure about the hardest scene, but writing and re-writing the first chapter was hard work. You have so much you want to tell the reader it's difficult not to overload them with information.

What are you planning to write next?

I am co-writing a YA fantasy novel at the moment and I have plans for a romantic comedy based on my experiences of moving to France.

Emma Makarova

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About the Author

Emma Makarova was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in the Cotswolds, England. After studying Ancient History and Archaeology at The University of Birmingham she taught English in Hungary and then in Russia where she met her husband. In 2017, she gained a Masters with Distinction in Creative Writing for the manuscript of her novel. Two years ago she and her family decided to move to France for a new adventure, an experience she wrote about in her blog Femme Française. When she is not writing or teaching English, she can be found climbing a mountain or eating a lot of French cheese. Unearthed is her first novel. Find out more at Emmas website https://emmamakarova.fr/ and find her on Twitter @emmamakarova2

19 February 2021

Guest Interview with Michael Stolle, Author of The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

It’s 1646 and infant King Louis XIV reigns over France; wily Cardinal Mazarin holds the reins of power - but he needs money, desperately. Armand de Saint Paul, the younger son of a great and rich noble house, is leading a carefree life in Paris, dedicating his time to such pleasures as gambling, hunting and amorous pursuits. Unexpectedly, Armand has to defend the honour of his house in a duel that transpires to be a deadly trap, set up by a mighty foe of the house of Saint Paul.

I'm pleased to welcome author Michael Stolle to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

My latest book ‘The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg’ is set in the 17th century, like the other books of the ‘French Orphan’ series. It starts in Paris from there the reader will travel to the East ( Alsace) and further on to the Germanic Empire straight to the imperial city Vienna. It’s a simple story of adventure, deception, love - combined with a crime plot to give it more zest. The major protagonist is a very likable young man, born into one of the great noble families of France, who’s taken love as a pleasant game so far. As he’s entangled more and more in a web of deadly intrigues, he suddenly realizes that love is a precious gift… and that life can be cruel.  

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I need to walk, I have difficulties to look at a blank screen and start writing. While I’m walking I develop the plot and rehearse scenes until I like them. What then happens invariably is that my plot will change, characters that seemed less important at the beginning suddenly become major protagonists. It never goes to plan, that’s probably the weirdest thing.

What advice do you have for new writers? 

I can only judge from my own weakness, I tend to explain too much, I had to learn to leave space for the reader to develop his/her own imagination. I think my last books are better in this respect. Otherwise my advice: if you like what you write, believe in it, just go on, don’t give up.  And be careful, there’s a whole industry out there to cash in on writer hopefuls.

Get a good and helpful copy editor. I battle constantly with mine as I like to change the point of view (head hopping)  in a chapter, but somehow we always find a compromise.

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

First a confession: I’m not good in social media, really not good at all. I should be, I know - but I simply don’t like to upload constantly pictures of my dog or a cat to get a ‘like’ or show an artistically arranged picture of my self-cooked dinner. That leaves bloggers (an there are really good and nice ones out there), Amazon ads and reader reviews as the only lever to draw attention to my books, which I admit, can be tedious. Conclusion: if it’s in your DNA, better play the social media card and make a selfie with your cat – and your cake…

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

I thought that I knew pretty well the period, I had made extensive visits to museums and as I travelled a lot, I have seen most premises mentioned in my books myself. I was surprised though to find out how much the sister of Louis XIII who’d become Queen of England by marrying King Charles, meddled with politics and in how far the King of France and later the First Ministers were prepared to drop a close relative as weakening England was in the major interest of any French monarch. Nothing has really changed over the centuries, has it? 😉

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

I’m battling constantly with sex scenes and describing scenery. It’s a true challenge. It’s a tightrope walk between kitsch and evoking genuine emotions, very, very difficult for me to get it right. I love action and dialogue, that’s my thing.

What are you planning to write next? 

Good question, no idea. I guess one day I’ll be walking and suddenly a new plot starts forming in my head and my tormented readers will have to endure another book.

Michael Stolle

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About the Author

Born and educated and living in Europe, Michael Stolle has been publishing since 2013. He’s always been intrigued by the historical setting and the fact that what makes us human was as true in the 17th century as it is now. He has been reading and writing about history for longer than he cares to recall...  Follow Michael on Goodreads and find him on Twitter @MichaelStolle16

18 February 2021

Guest Interview with Josephine Greenland, Author of Embers

Available for pre-order from

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret.  17-year old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company?  Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami. When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime 
and the siblings’ own past.

I'm pleased to welcome author Josephine Greenland to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Embers is a YA Mystery and crime novel set in the fictional mining town of Svartjokk in northern Sweden. It can be described as a Scandi Noir version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. It tells the story of 17-year-old Ellen Blind, who travels to Svartjokk with her brother Simon, a 14-year-old with Aspergers. They’re on a holiday arranged by their parents, who claim that the siblings should bond, visit the birthplace of their late grandfather, Lars-Erik, and discover their Sami roots. Ellen, though, knows that her parents also want them out of the way so they can sort out their marital problems. 

The holiday turns upside down when the siblings discover reindeer heads in the forest. Simon’s findings at the scene suggest the reindeer have been poisoned, and he suspects people in the town. Frustrated with the police’s lack of interest, he is determined to solve the case himself. The siblings’ investigation takes them to the local Sami village and the owner of the dead reindeer, Per-Anders Thomasson. It turns out that Per-Anders knows far more about Lars-Erik’s past than the siblings did. The more they learn, the more Ellen suspects that the reindeer killing is somehow connected to their grandfather and the reason he left his home-town and the Sami community behind. As Ellen and Simon are to discover, embers of the past rarely burn out.

What is your preferred writing routine

My writing routine follows more or less the same pattern regardless of whether I’m writing a short story or novel. I always prefer writing in the mornings, roughly between 10 am – 2 pm. Normally, I’ve typed up the first draft on the computer, but recently I’ve gone back to writing by hand (even for my current WIP, my second novel!), before redrafting/editing it on a computer. I find writing by hand in a beautiful notebook is a safe space for trying out my ideas, before typing them up in a more formal, “polished” version on my laptop.

I tend to have a rough outline of the plot, which I will tweak and amend as I go along, but with certain key stages /turning points (including the ending), clearly identified. I normally have a reasonably detailed mind map for all of my characters, including appearance, body language, generic info like their favourite food and drink, hobbies etc, so that they feel like a real person I know in real life.

When it comes to drafting, I feel like I take the long route. The first two drafts of a WIP are always complete rewrites, particularly for novels. Not until the third draft do I have what feels like the true version of the story. Only by the fourth draft do I get to the true micro-editing stage.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

It is never too early to share your work with other writers/readers. Perfection does not exist, and striving for it before you’re willing to share your story can kill the heart of the work. Throw yourself into whatever opportunities come your way, and actively seek out for opportunities, in equal amount. Writing is about perseverance, but in order to persevere, you need to be fearless.

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

Social media. I love the Twitter community for writers, it’s an incredibly supportive space and a very efficient to grow your network. If not for twitter, I wouldn’t have encountered Tony and be invited to write this guest post! Twitter is also a great way of discovering new magazines, publishers and agents to submit to.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The crime in the book is actually based on a real reindeer killing, in which a circle of mutilated reindeer bodies had been discovered by two teenage girls in the forest. The location wasn’t far from the town where I’d stayed with my brother when we were travelling in northern Sweden. The culprit was never found. This opened my eyes to the hate crime that is committed against the Sami and their reindeer. The more I researched, the more atrocities, each one stranger and more gruesome than the next. All of them could be linked to the long-term contempt and discrimination against the Sami that has taken place through history with forced assimilation, racial biology studies and exploiting ancient grazing lands for iron ore mining and forest industry. All of these underlying issues have been described in the novel.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

It’s difficult to describe this without giving away the plot! What I will say though, is that the confession building up to the climax near the end of the novel was quite challenging emotion-wise: every single word was loaded and had to perfectly selected. There was a very delicate balance between raining the emotion in and maintaining a tangible tension, and going overboard resulting in more cliched dialogue.

What are you planning to write next?

I am currently finishing the third draft of my second novel, a crime novel for adults. Like Embers it is set in Sweden, but closer to home, describing the hunting community and small-town life, and the secrets and conspiracies that can take place within a family. It is also loosely based on a real incident that happened in the area, about wolf hybrids roaming the countryside and passing through towns, which had to be tracked down and shot.

Josephine Greenland
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About the Author

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish-English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden, currently living in Edinburgh, where she works as a secondary English teacher. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. Embers is her first novel, and was her dissertation project for her MA. She was a finalist in the 2020 Literary Taxidermy Competition by Regulus Press, the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, and winner of the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in fourteen different magazines online and in print. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking. Find out more at https://www.josephinegreenland.com/ and follow Josephine on Facebook and Twitter @greenland_jm

15 February 2021

Torn Between Two Queens, a special guest post by Wendy J. Dunn

There’s a chorus of an old song that I’m sure most people have heard at least once in their life:

Torn between two lovers,
feelin' like a fool,
Lovin' both of you,
is breakin' all the rules.

I’m not torn between two lovers, but I have to admit to feeling torn between Tudor queens. Yes – I have my fair share of Anne Boleyn replica jewellery, an Anne Boleyn Iphone case, Anne Boleyn note paper and even devoted years of my life to give voice to Anne Boleyn in my fiction, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I feel just as devoted to Katherine of Aragon. I have even my Falling Pomegranate Seeds series (my two novels about Katherine of Aragon) to prove it.

So many people think of Katherine of Aragon as a Spanish princess, but she wouldn’t have described herself in that way – not really. It was the marriage of her father and mother, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castilla, two monarchs who ruled over different parts of what is now known as Spain, that resulted in the gradual union of their two countries that became one of the most powerful dominions in Christendom.

As a daughter of King Ferdinand, Katherine was a princess of Aragon. Her mother – the Queen of Castilla, a far more powerful country than Aragon – could have made it very difficult for her husband, but her great ability in diplomacy was apparent even on the home front. She chose to wield her power in such a way that always included her husband. Her immense gifts as a ruling monarch makes me wonder if this was the reason history renamed her Isabella – a name, it is believed, the English brought into being when they wanted to belittle the grandmother of Mary I, as well as in response to the Spanish Armada (Liss 2002).

Born on the sixteenth day of December in 1485, Katherine of Aragon, or Catalina as she was known at her mother’s court, was the fifth and last child of these two monarchs. At three, Katherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur, the first-born son of a new royal English dynasty: the Tudors.

Extremely intelligent, pious and educated by the best tutors her mother could find, Katherine was also trained – like her three older sisters – by her mother to be a devoted and obedient wife who was able to be a good helpmeet for their husband. Katherine was not only able to care well for her husband’s stomach, but also was an excellent embroiderer and maker of manly shirts. She would one day anger Anne Boleyn when she refused to stop making shirts for Henry VIII. As his wife, it was her duty to make them (Fraser 1998).

There are many stories from the pages of history about Katherine I can visualise as a fiction writer. One story I especially love - when Wolsey visited Katherine during the time of "The King's Great Matter". Busy sewing with her women, Katherine doesn’t invite him into her chamber, but speaks to him at the door, with skeins of threads over her shoulder and I suspect a needle in her hand. 

Like Anne, Katherine did not like Wolsey, especially in this time when she was being pressured to step aside as Henry’s Queen. Did she feel tempted to accidently brush against Wolsey and prick him with her needle? Make him bleed, because she saw him as one of the reasons her husband now rejected her, making her own heart bleed.

Katherine arrived in England just before her sixteenth birthday, after a long and perilous journey from her mother's kingdom of Castile. The sea journey was even more dangerous, with her ships being driven back once by terrible storms before venturing out to sea again. A chronicle of the period said:

It is reported that this lady Katherine thought and feared such an unhappy chance might come, (the death of her husband, Prince Arthur) for when she had embraced her father and taken leave of her noble and prudent mother, and sailed towards England, she was continually so tossed and tumbled hither and thither with boisterous winds that what with the raging of the water and the contrary winds her ship was prevented many times from approaching the shore and landing (2014 Primary Sources, online).

Katherine met her future husband and his father at the Bishop’s palace at Dogmersfield in Hampshire. At this palace – against all Castilian custom, a custom historically influenced by the Moors – Henry VII insisted on lifting the veil of his son’s bride. He saw a pretty girl with grey eyes. Her skin colour appeared to be what is still described of as the English rose, which she inherited from her English ancestors. 

Katherine’s grandmother was Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt (Fraser 1998). Katherine’s greatest beauty was her thick red/gold hair, hair that cascaded past her waist. When she first met Henry VII and Prince Arthur, her hair would have flowed free – as a symbol of her virginity. Sigh. I always feel somewhat cross when I see Katherine of Aragon recreated in movies or television shows as a woman with black-hair. She wasn’t. Thomas More said of her: ‘There is nothing wanting in her that the most beautiful girl should have’ (2014 Historic Royal Palaces, Online source).

Arthur Prince of Wales

The King and Prince Arthur expressed themselves fully pleased with Katherine. Arthur wrote later about his joy at first seeing ‘the sweet face of his bride’ (Fraser 1998, p. 24). But Arthur’s happiness was short-lived. Within only a few months of marriage, the fifteen-year-old prince was dead and Katherine fighting for her own life. They had both been stricken with one of those sudden deadly illnesses of the period – probably the English sweat - that struck fast and hard.

Katherine was pious and honest. After Arthur’s death, Katherine said, over and over, that their marriage had never been consummated. Her father wrote, in 1503, ‘It is well known that the princess is still a virgin’. But he was also a wily politician. In arranging Katherine’s betrothal to Prince Henry, her husband’s younger brother, her father asked the Pope to write up the dispensation in a way that made the question of her virginity unimportant and would safeguard Katherine’s later marriage. Henry VII also protected his own child and son, not forgetting his political back – the marriage would only go forward when Henry the younger was old enough to agree to the match.

Katherine endured seven dreadful years after Arthur’s death. A political pawn – in the hand of a father-in-law who often acted towards her like an utter miser – she was kept short of funds, as well as powerful friends. I agree with Antonia Fraser that these years of deprivation shaped her in such a way that made it impossible for her to bend when Henry VIII later sought to take a new wife (Fraser 1998). In that future time, Katherine probably remembered her time of triumph after seven years of hell while a widow. It is possible that she thought that all she needed to do was to keep faith and God would answer her prayers again.

I also find myself wondering if this time of deprivation impacted upon her health. Katherine spent many hours praying and days fasting during these bleak years. Perhaps this led to some kind of physical damage that caused complications during her pregnancies, making it difficult for her to bear living children. Alison Weir also suggests this in Henry VIII, King and Court, that Katherine’s deep piety and habit of fasting – behaviours reinforced during her widowhood – may have caused reproduction problems (Weir 2001).

Just before Henry VII died, a desperate Katherine contemplated taking the veil. She was saved from this destiny for another destiny when the King died in 1509 and she married – just weeks later – his son, Henry VIII.

During the early years of Katherine's marriage to the young Henry Tudor, the English court had a reputation for learning as well as piety. I have no doubt that Katherine influenced and encouraged her husband's better traits. Greatly respected for her intelligence, Katherine acted as her father’s ambassador during the early years of her marriage to Henry. Henry VIII also had no hesitation in entrusting his Kingdom to his wife whenever he decided to ride off to war with France, his country's traditional enemy.

Katherine did her very best to provide Henry with a royal heir. She believed she had done her duty by giving her husband their daughter, Mary, the only child of their union to survive infancy and live to adulthood. Perhaps if the fates had been kinder – if her husband hadn’t convinced himself that their marriage was accursed, and indeed was no marriage after his hopes for a son had been dashed time after time by the birth of yet another dead or soon to be dead baby – Mary could have been a valid answer to the English succession.

18 Year Old Henry in 1509

Katherine took her responsibilities as Queen very seriously. She gave money to the poor, was a patron of scholars and poets, and enriched religious orders not only with her presence, but also with her wealth. As the events of the Evil May Day, in 1517, proved when she begged for four hundred lives of those who had rioted in London, protesting against foreigners making their livelihoods in London, she was willing to stand up to her husband for those deprived of power. Her actions on during that terrible May were long remembered in a ballad:

What if (she said) by Spanish blood,
have London's stately streets being wet,
Yet will I seek this country’s good
And pardons for their children get;
Or else, the world will speak to me,
And say, “Queen Catherine was unkind,”
And judge me still the cause to be,
These young men did misfortune find.
And so disrobed of rich attire,
With hair unbound she sadly hies,
And of her gracious lord required,
A boon, which hardly he denies…
For which, kind Queen, with joyful heart,
She heard their mothers’ thanks and praise;
And so from them did gently part,
And lived beloved all her days… 
(Luke 1971, p.195).

Henry VIII may have rejected her as his wife, but England never rejected her as one of their most beloved Queens. To this day, also like Anne Boleyn, flowers are placed on her tomb.

Sometimes, I find myself imagining Katherine and Anne, alone together, in a heavenly, Tudor garden. The sun shines brightly as they sit close together, heads bent, their hands busy at completing exquisite embroideries. They murmur and laugh together, and I hear the often-repeated name of Henry: a man they both loved until their last living breath. I think, in Heaven, free of life’s sorrows and the battles to live and to love, Anne and Katherine would at last discover their common ground and find an eternal friendship.

Wendy J. Dunn


Fraser, A, 1998, The six wives of Henry VIII, Arrow Books, London

Weir, A, 2001, Henry VIII, King and court, Ballantine Books, New York

Luke, M. L 1971, Catherine, the Queen, Paperback Library, New York

Liss, P. K 2002, “Isabel, Myth and History”, in Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: Critical Essays, David A. Boruchoff (Editor), 2002, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

2014. Primary Sources: The death of Prince Arthur Tudor, 1502. [ONLINE] Available at: http://englishhistory.net/tudor/darthur.html. [Accessed 17 September 2014].

2014 Historic Royal Palaces: Hampton Palace, viewed 17 September 2014,

The original version was first published on 19/09/2014 at English History Fiction Authors. 

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About the Author

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally. Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program. Find out more at her website http://www.wendyjdunn.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyjdunn

Available for pre-order: Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick, by Nathen Amin

Available for pre-order from Amazon UK

On 22 August 1485, Henry Tudor emerged from the Battle of Bosworth victorious. His disparate army vanquished the forces of Richard III and, according to Shakespeare over a century later, brought ‘smooth-faced peace, with smiling aplenty and fair prosperous days’ back to England. Yet, all was not well early in the Tudor reign. 

Despite later attempts to portray Henry VII as single-handedly uniting a war-torn England after three decades of conflict, the kingdom was anything but settled. Nor could it be after a tumultuous two-year period that had witnessed the untimely death of one king, the mysterious disappearance of another, and the brutal slaughter of a third on the battlefield. 

For the first time in one compelling and comprehensive account, Nathen Amin looks at the myriad of shadowy conspiracies and murky plots which sought to depose the Tudor usurper early in his reign, with particular emphasis on the three pretenders whose causes were fervently advanced by Yorkist dissidents ‒ Lambert Simnel, Perkin Warbeck, and Edward, Earl of Warwick. 

Just how close did the Tudors come to overthrow long before the myth of their greatness had taken hold on our public consciousness?

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About the Author

Nathen Amin grew up in the heart of Carmarthenshire, West Wales, and has long had an interest in Welsh history, the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor period. His first book Tudor Wales was released in 2014 and was well-received, followed by a second book called York Pubs in 2016. His third book is a full-length biography of the Beaufort family. He is the founder of the Henry Tudor Society and has featured discussing the Tudors on BBC radio and television, as well as in print and online media across the UK. He has a degree in Business and Journalism and now lives in York, where he works as a Technical Writer. Find him on Twitter @NathenAmin.