Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post by Steven Veerapen, Author of 'Of Blood Descended'

7 May 2022

Special Guest Post by Steven Veerapen, Author of 'Of Blood Descended'

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Summer, 1522. In a wave of pomp, Henry VIII’s court welcomes the Imperial emperor, Charles V. Anthony Blanke, the son of the king’s late ‘black trumpet’, John Blanke, is called to Hampton Court by his former employer, Cardinal Wolsey. The cardinal is preparing a gift for King Henry: a masque of King Arthur and the Black Knight. Anthony is to take centre stage.

The Tudor era is one we all know well. It is virtually synonymous with blood, sex, and glamour. Yet it is only relatively recently that students of the period have come to appreciate its ethnic diversity.

The first Black figure recognised as inhabiting Tudor London is John Blanke, who can be glimpsed on the sidelines in the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll. John’s life intrigued me, as it has intrigued many (for whom the excellent, ongoing John Blanke Project will be of interest).

Here, I thought, was an opportunity to explore a historical period through people that have, largely, been excluded from the familiar narrative of Henry and his wives. Yet I was keenly aware that I couldn’t tell John’s story, fictionally or otherwise; I hadn’t experienced a life like his.

This is why I created for him a mixed-race son. As the child of a Scot and a Mauritian, this was a character I knew and understood: a character who inhabits an in-between status in a world fixated on hierarchy. As fate would have it, the historical record on John Blanke was incomplete enough to allow for the possibility of a son (we know, for example, that he had at least one wife, who was almost certainly white). Thus, Anthony Blanke was born.

However, a murder mystery set in Tudor England needs more than a protagonist with an eye for clues. It needs murder and it needs some recognisable faces. I thus had the pleasure of constructing Cardinal Wolsey’s opulent shadow-court (to which Anthony is summoned) and concocting a series of gruesome murders set during the 1522 visit of Emperor Charles V.

The result is Of Blood Descended, available at all good book stores. I hope you enjoy this step back in time as much as I did.

Steven Veerapen

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About the Author

Steven Veerapen is a writer of fiction and nonfiction and a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde who specialises in sixteenth-century literature. His first novel was The Queen’s Consort, which focused on Mary Queen of Scots’ infamous husband, Lord Darnley. Steven’s other books include the Simon Danforth trilogy, the Queen’s Spies trilogy, and three non-fiction works: Blood FeudElizabeth and Essex, and Slander and Sedition in Elizabethan Law, Speech, and Writing. You can find Steven on Instagram @steven.veerapen.3 and on Goodreads and Twitter @ScrutinEye

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