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Interview with Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl

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Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance and soon to be released novel The Other Queen, will be hosting a live web event on Sunday, September 16th. While she will be speaking in front of a live audience in London, the event will be open to fans worldwide. The one-and-a-half-hour long event will allow readers to ask Gregory questions about her novels, her writing career and the upcoming major motion picture based on The Other Boleyn Girl.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Gregory:

I know fans around the globe are looking forward to the live web event. What prompted you to put this event together?

I was very keen to find a way to connect to the millions of readers who have loved The Other Boleyn Girl and the other Tudor novels. I wanted to find something like a world-wide readers group where we could all talk together, and I hope this technology will give us a sense of a seminar – albeit one which goes all around the world.

What will you be discussing at the live web event?

I am prepared to answer any questions that come up! But I know that we will be talking about the current novel The Boleyn Inheritance, and about the next novel; The Other Queen. I will also talk about the process of research, of writing and of inspiration.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the webcast? How do you hope they’ll be involved?

For me, the event will have been a success if readers come away with a sense of connection. When I do a live event in a bookstore or library we often feel that we have genuinely exchanged opinions and connected, sometimes the readers have questions for me that they really want an honest answer. I like to feel that since we all love the history and the stories we can share information.

In your last novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, you depict the life of King Henry VIII and his court through the eyes of three very different characters. Why did you choose to narrate this story through multiple voices and why these three women in particular?

I have a great liking for the first person narrative because I think it gets the reader into the head of the character; it’s a very immediate style. I realized that I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the three women who were so intimately involved in the perils of being Queen of England at this time. Anne of Cleves, the wife that Henry chooses and rejects, Katherine Howard the girl he adores but who is too young to keep herself safe, and the woman who advises them both to their great danger: Lady Rochford, Jane Boleyn.

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?

I am so excited about this new book, The Other Queen. I tell the story of Mary Queen of Scots in a period of her life when most authors have finished their story-telling. I tell her story from the time she arrives in England and becomes the guest-prisoner of the Talbots, the greatest family in northern England. She spent longer living with them than she did in any other place, this is an important period of her life. And her presence in England gave rise to a rebellion against Elizabeth which was a greater threat to the Tudor reign than anything else in Elizabeth’s lifetime. The Northern Rebellion for Mary and the restoration of the Catholic religion was the last great rebellion against Protestantism, the dominance of the South over the North, and the centralised state. It could have gone either way – it is one of the great chances of history and I loved writing it “in the moment” as it could have gone either way. Mary herself is a wonderful character to imagine and create, and she was in the household of George Talbot’s wife, Bess of Hardwick who was herself, a most indomitable powerful and fascinating woman. It is the story of a love triangle: George who married Bess for love, then found himself besotted with this most romantic Queen. But it is the story of a love triangle for England: the virgin Queen and protestantism, against the richness and beauty of the Catholic tragic Mary.

Thank you so much for your time and I am looking forward to the web event!

Discover the full story of King Henry VIII’s forgotten Queens in the New York Times bestselling historical novel The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. To sign up for Gregory’s live global web event, visit www.PhilippaGregoryLIVE.com.

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  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!