Editor’s Note: Queenanneboleyn.com is pleased to introduce our browsers to new and emerging writers. Today, we are pleased to introduce you to Natalia Richard’s, author of her first novel, Falcon’s Rise.
By Natalia Richards
I’m so delighted to be invited to write a post for the Queenanneboleyn.com page and to tell you all about my first novel Falcon’s Rise.
Falcon’s Rise begins with Anne the day before her execution, remembering her happy years as a child: ‘When Hell was just a word to frighten little girls…and the gillyflowers were blooming… We read about her growing up at Blickling Manor in Norfolk, Rochford Manor in Essex, Hever in Kent, and Thornbury in Gloucestershire. We see her relationship with her parents, her siblings, the loss of her brothers, and come to understand more about her ambitious Howard family. As we read about the politics of the time, feel the court intrigue and the desperation of King Henry to have a son, Anne begins to blossom. At only 13 years old, she uses her own wits to secure a place with Margaret of Austria but comes to realise how a woman had to be strong to survive in the treacherous world of men.
I have been mad about the Tudors since I was about 12 years old, and I always read the historical novels that my mother brought home from the library every week. Brief, Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes was a favourite, and gradually I became engrossed with the story of Anne Boleyn. However, it was in 1970 watching the BBC television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII that really started my passion with Anne. I went on to discover early music, dance and costume and studied them all with delight. I even began to sing in an early music group and attended various Tudor dance courses.
By the late 1980’s I had tried to write romantic fiction myself about Anne Boleyn but it wasn’t very good. Overly romantic from years of reading such books I needed to get down to some serious research. I even began a book on Mary Boleyn, but never finished it as I did not have the discipline to continue. How I wish I had! Plus, in full time work as a museum curator, life was hectic. Basically, I kept making excuses. Still, I travelled down from Derbyshire where I lived, to London, to the British Library, to Hever Castle, to anywhere connected with Anne, compiling my notes.
And so the years past, with my library growing until about ten years ago when my partner bought me a laptop and told me to get writing. The obvious choice was to write about the love affair between King Henry VIII and Anne, a truly romantic story. But I had a problem. Dozens of books had been written about this. What could I offer that was original? Then I started to look at Anne before she met Henry, and found that very little information was available. This was my chance! Now I could really write something different, and my research began in earnest, starting just before Anne’s birth. I read Agnes Strickland, J Round and other such writers, sifting through endless archives, using some, discarding others, studying State Papers and compiling huge folders of notes. By now, boxes and boxes filled my then tiny, London flat.
When it came to Anne’s time at the Court of Margaret of Austria, I realised I had to go to Mechelen to see the city and palace for myself. I contacted the tourist office there and asked if there were any city guides who could help me with my research. I was immediately put in touch with several people, and what was only to be an hour or two’s assistance, turned into a week. I was thrilled to be allowed to go into the palace of Margaret of Austria, into rooms not normally open to the public, since it is now the Law Courts. I took endless photographs and then went on to the Department of Archives to see old maps of the city. It is a truly lovely place.
Working evenings and week-ends, I finally succeeded in writing Falcon’s Rise. I used this title since Anne later used the falcon as her badge, and this, in a sense, is about Anne’s rise. Her beginning. This is where it all began…
Finally, I want to reassure readers that I have kept to the facts as much as possible in this work. I am fanatical about learning from books, even novels, so it is important to me to try and get things right. All names, places and events are accurate, but as this is a novel, I have had to put forward some imagined scenarios to aid the story.
Book two, which I am half way through, is called Falcon’s Flight and covers Anne’s time at the French court, from the age of fifteen to about twenty-one. Here she is a young woman trying out her wings. Book Two was a great excuse to visit the many chateaus and spend weeks in the French archives. I’ll keep you all posted!
Natalia Richards was born in Derbyshire, and gained a degree in graphic design and illustration at Leicester. She free-lanced on leaving college before changing career and becoming a museum curator, thus fulfilling a passion for all things historical. She worked at the National Trust property Sudbury Hall, the Derby City Museum and Art Gallery, Royal Crown Derby, and finally left to go to London. Becoming a senior curator, Nat worked on exhibitions, collections and finally with the community in Outreach. She delivered lectures regularly, wrote articles, and appeared in TV interviews.
Natalia has recently retired, and spends time between Derbyshire and Chelsea, in London, writing and researching for her second book. She is passionate about visiting country houses and churches, walking, photography and of course everything to do with the Tudors. Getting the facts right (as far as possible) is central to Natalia’s writing, and she has spent many years researching Anne Boleyn. You can visit her Facebook page to see more about Anne’s early years, as Natalia Richards Falcon’s Rise.