In The Boleyn Inheritance you reintroduce Mary Boleyn and her daughter to the plot. Can you tell us what ultimately happened to them?
These are the Boleyn heirs who really break the curse. Mary Boleyn died of natural causes, an Essex landowner, wife and mother. Her daughter Catherine was a close friend of her cousin (or half-sister) Elizabeth, and went into exile with her protestant husband Francis Knollys during the years of Queen Mary. Catherine and her husband and beautiful daughter Laetitia returned to court in triumph when Elizabeth 1 came to the throne. I describe the scene in The Virgin’s Lover. One of the descendants of Mary Carey, the Other Boleyn Girl, is coming to the webcast event, so readers can see Mary’s children in the present day. His research into his family history is posted on my webpage.
The Other Boleyn Girl is being made into a film. What is it like as an author to have the words you wrote on a piece of paper translated into scenes on a cinema screen? What part do you play in the process of adapting your novel into a film?
I have been employed as consultant on the film and so I have been closely in touch with the development of the script. Making a film is such a different process from writing a novel that I have learned to leave it to the film-makers. When I first saw the actors on location there was a haunting moment when it almost seemed as if they were real, really in Tudor England, and we in modern clothes were the illusion. It is extraordinary to see something that I have imagined suddenly become solid and real. To see them in costume, performing a scene, in an ancient setting is almost more powerful than to see them filmed on the screen. It is a magical moment.
What inspires you to write historical fiction?
I love history. In almost any circumstances I always ask ‘but how did it get like this? How did it start?’ These are questions which come naturally and automatically to an historian and that is what, by instinct and training, I am. The more I write, the more deeply interested I become in the time and in the process of recreating it.
Can you give us just a brief glimpse of your next book, The Other Queen?