QAB Interview with Alison Weir: Release Day — SIX TUDOR QUEENS — “Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen”!

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Alison Weir front page
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Today is a very exciting day at Queenanneboleyn.com. Alison Weir joins us here at the website! Alison’s highly anticipated ‘Six Tudor Queens’ novel series begins with the release of Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen this morning in the United Kingdom, and she is here to talk about itAre you in the United States? If so, don’t worry, your wait will not be long. Pre-order your copy now, and it will be on its way May 31, 2016.
 
After watching Alison’s short video introduction to the ‘Six Tudor Queens’, enjoy QAB’s recent online interview with Britain’s most beloved and popular English History writer and novelist. Welcome back to QAB, Alison!
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Katherine of Aragon Artist: Lucas Horenbout
Katherine of Aragon
Artist: Lucas Horenbout
1. Alison, there is a huge amount of “buzz” on the internet from your fans. Here at Queenanneboleyn.com (QAB), members and browsers are very excited about the release of the first book of your ‘Six Tudor Queens’ novel series Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen. With such high expectations from fans around the world, as well as the huge undertaking composing six historical fiction novels entails, did you find yourself at all anxious when composing this first work? After all, the success of te entire series rides on te coattails of the first novel released. How did you manage the huge amount of research and plot development involved?
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Looking back, if there was any anxiety, it was about the enormous challenge of doing justice to Katherine. I knew that she was often overshadowed by interest in Anne Boleyn, and that there was a general perception of her as an ageing, sad, pious and perhaps misguided, even bigoted, woman. In fact, she had great strengths, as became the daughter of Isabella of Castile, and great abilities, as well as powerful relations. She was feared by the Boleyn faction and even by Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII himself. And yet, what stands out is her love for Henry, her loyalty and her integrity. One can only admire her determination to stand up for what she believed to be right.

I came to this project armed with decades of research behind me and some new research too. The plan is to write each book entirely from its subject’s viewpoint, which affords a unique perspective, and creates another challenge, because one will always wonder how much Katherine knew. But I loved that aspect. I could not wait to get started, and once I had begun writing, the story flowed – and flowed. It afforded me great insights into Katherine’s character and the world in which she lived, and it also allowed a new view of Henry VIII and the ‘Divorce’.

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Catalina de Aragon Artist: Lucas Horenbout
Catalina de Aragon
Artist: Lucas Horenbout
2. Of all of your novels I’ve had the pleasure to read, Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen stays incredibly close to known historical events. Is this a conscious decision on your part?
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Yes. She was a real person and we know so much about her, so it’s essential to get it right. My task was to make sense of the sources – and the gaps – and to make my fictional portrayal credible within the context of the evidence. Where that exists, I have used it, and I have used my imagination and judgement to write the rest. I do so hope that my portrayal chimes with readers’ perceptions of Katherine.

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Catalina de Aragón Artist: Michael Sittow
Catalina de Aragón
Artist: Michael Sittow

3. Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen is composed with a 3rd person limited narration. We only see what Queen Katherine sees and only experience what she experiences. This can be quite challenging for an author, as finding the voice of the character is so critical. It is also difficult to ensure the writing does stray from the main character’s limited view of events. How did you find Queen Katherine’s voice? To follow that up, how did you envision and then craft her maturity from child to woman and from princess to queen?

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Once again, I was closely following the evidence. We are fortunate in that so many of Katherine’s letters survive, and that they record her feelings, her hopes and her fears. These are crucial tools for creating a fictional reading of her. They allow us to ‘know’ her in a way we can never know Anne Boleyn, for example, because hardly any really personal letters of Anne’s survive, and we are reliant on other records. Other records survive for Katherine too, and they are rich. So it was not difficult to show her maturing over 35 years. 

I like the single-person viewpoint. It works well for this series of six novels. What one queen doesn’t know, another might. For example, Anne Boleyn must have been very much in the dark about what was going on at the time of her fall, yet Jane Seymour will know much more about it. So each book affords a different perspective, and the related e-shorts, which will be published at intervals, will provide back stories. You don’t need to read them, but they may enhance your enjoyment of the series.

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4. Without giving the plot away, you answered the question of whether the marriage of Katherine of Aragon and Author Tudor, Prince of Wales, was or was not consummated. Is this a guess or based on research?
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It is based on new research – all outlined in the Author’s Note at the back of the book. And that research, of course, gives us a new perspective on the validity of Katherine’s marriage to Henry VIII.

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This portrait by an unknown artist was formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. Now art historians are not so sure.
This portrait by an unknown artist was formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. Now art historians are not so sure.

5. One lovely aspect of this novel is the exploration of the close relationships between Katherine of Aragon and her closest friends. Just how critical were people like Maria de Salinas and Margaret Pole to Queen Katherine’s personal well-being? To follow-up, can you share with browsers what impresses you most about Maria de Salinas and Margaret Pole?

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Both ladies were strong characters with firm personal convictions, and I admire them for that, but I have chosen to portray Maria as the more forceful, based on her braving the security at Kimbolton Castle to be with Katherine. Katherine was loved and esteemed by those who served her, and she was close to her ladies, with whom she had shared interests in common. I felt that it was essential to explore those friendships, not least because these ladies could offer views that were at variance with Katherine’s and give an alternative perspective on events.

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Mary Tudor, Queen of England Artist: Master John
Mary Tudor, Queen of England
Artist: Master John
6. Many people judge Katherine of Aragon to be stubborn and selfish, particularly in how her decisions to fight King Henry VIII’s desire to annul their marriage may have negatively impacted the safety and comfort of her daughter Princess Mary Tudor. What are your thoughts on this?
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That’s a rather modern view, which takes no account of sixteenth-century convictions about morality, sin and faith.The Pope had sanctioned Katherine’s marriage; she had every reason to oppose Henry, and one can only admire her standing up – and suffering in consequence – for the rights of her daughter. That’s not being selfish. Had Katherine made a pragmatic decision to bow to Henry’s wishes, Mary would have ranked after any sons born of the King’s second marriage. That was unthinkable to Katherine. She believed that it was her bounden duty to protect Mary’s rights. In the context of expectations of royal motherhood, it was her priority. It was Henry VIII who treated his daughter selfishly and cruelly.

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King Henry VIII (1509) Artist: Unknown
King Henry VIII (1509)
Artist: Unknown
7. Do you actually believe that King Henry VIII was ever truly in love with Queen Katherine or was this simply a marriage of nations?
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There can be little doubt that he loved her at the time of their marriage and in the early years. We will never know if he was truly in love with her, or whether his feelings were a manifestation of courtly love – no doubt he saw himself as a chivalrous St George rescuing the princess in distress. And Katherine was a great prize in the European marriage market, for which he clearly valued her. Her reference to ‘all the love that hath been between us’, made in 1529, suggests a warm marital relationship, but there is no evidence that Henry’s feelings for Katherine were as passionate and obsessive as they were for Anne Boleyn. 

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Queen Isabela of Castile Artist: Luis de Madrazo
Queen Isabela of Castile
Artist: Luis de Madrazo

8. From the death of Prince Arthur, Prince of Wales until the death of King Henry VII, as so powerfully crafted in your novel, Katherine of Aragon lived a highly isolated life of increasing deprivation. How much do you suspect the death of Queen Isabella of Castile impacted how poorly Queen Katherine was treated? What other issues were at play?

I think that Isabella’s death had a big impact, because it immediately devalued Katherine’s worth. No longer was she a princess of a united, strong Spain, but merely a princess of Aragon, and therefore not so desirable a bride for the heir to England. But Henry VII wanted her dowry, which was why he would not send her back to Spain. I think he was waiting to see if he could find a better match for his son, but keeping his options open.

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Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Anne Boleyn
9. Obviously, I have to ask this question. Your second Six Tudor Queens novel about Queen Anne Boleyn has already been drafted. Can you give us any intriguing hints of what to expect? Will this novel also be written from Queen Anne’s point-of-view?
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It will be, and as I was writing it I realised that it was going to be very different from other novels about Anne Boleyn because a lot of it is written from the European cultural perspective, and that enables us to understand so much more about Anne and what shaped her. I have built on three other theories in this book, which may help to explain certain inconsistencies in her story. 

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Queen Anne Boleyn????
Queen Anne Boleyn????
10. Okay, I was going to stay away from this question, but so many members and browsers are “chomping at the bit” to know, my email box is filling quickly. Is the “print in the news so hotly debated” Anne Boleyn, Queen of England; Joanna Fitzalan, Lady Bergavenny; or perhaps someone else altogether? In all honesty, I am clueless.
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Scroll down this page to read my article on the print, which I wrote for my website: http://alisonweir.org.uk/books/bookpages/more-lady-in-the-tower.asp. It’s important to remember that the clues are in a Victorian lithograph – a few have drawn subjective conclusions based on that, but I suspect that the original portrait looked rather different. If we could see and analyse it, we would perhaps be able to say with more certainty that this is Anne Boleyn. All we can say now is that the evidence we have suggests that it is.

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11. Although you certainly are quite busy enough, are there any hot new projects on the horizon that you would like to tell QAB members and browsers about?
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Yes, I’m working on the first in a series of four non-fiction books right now, but I’m not allowed to say what it’s about. The series will be announced later this year.

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QUEENANNEBOLEYN.COM’S TRIBUTE TO ALISON WEIR’S SIX TUDOR QUEEN’S NOVEL: KATHERINE OF ARAGON, THE TRUE QUEEN!!

YouTube Credit: QAB’s own Mercy Rivera  (piratesse4)

Mercy owns none of the content.

Video Credits: Isabel (La 1 TVE HD), The Tudors (Showtime) 

Music Credit: Lara Fabian (Quédate –Stay)

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Katherine of Aragon The True Queen
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TO PURCHASE Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen
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Beth von Staats

is the owner and administrator of QueenAnneBoleyn.com. The author of "Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell", Beth specializes in writing magazine articles, online historical articles, short stories, and flash fiction.

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