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Happy Book Birthday: Katherine – Tudor Duchess

Tony Riches’ new book, Katherine – Tudor Duchess releases today! Tony has a talent for bringing readers back to Tudor England and reputation for spot-on history. I loved his book, The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, and bet this will be as beautifully written. Congrats to Tony and I encourage you to check out at least one of his books!

Synopsis

Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England.

When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape. 

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US

(Audiobook edition coming in 2020)


Author Bio

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

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Guest Post: Historical Fiction vs. Historical Novels

I’m thrilled to host historical fiction author, Margaret Skea, who is kicking off a discussion about the difference between “historical fiction” and “historical novels”. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

And without further ado…


By Margaret Skea

Last weekend I had the huge pleasure of appearing at an historical fiction festival in a little town in the Highlands of Scotland, organised by probably the most enthusiastic bookshop owner in Britain – a small lady (who makes me feel tall) with a huge heart, named Marjory Marshall.  It will be a big loss to Scotland’s literary scene if she ever retires.

The format was interesting and a little different. It was a whole day event, though folk could choose to come to the morning or afternoon sessions or both. 

Each of the authors had a chance to introduce their book and give a short reading, followed in both sessions by a panel discussion, with the audience also participating.

I was chairing the morning panel discussion, focusing on four historical periods – the Reformation, Mary Queen of Scots’ lifetime, the Covenanters, and the Cromwellian era. We covered issues including the influence and important of religious belief to characters and to plot; writing about conflict; handling the interaction between historical and fictional characters; conveying a sense of place; and the pros and cons of different tenses and viewpoint.

All good stuff, particularly the varied perspectives and approaches to writing which were revealed, and it was clearly of interest to the very responsive audience.

The controversy, though, came in the afternoon session, which divided us authors into two distinct camps. It began with a seemingly innocuous question about balancing fact and fiction and finished with Marjory suggesting a way of defining and dividing historicals into ‘historical fiction’ and ‘historical novel’.

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as an historical novelist, and it seems by Marjory’s definition, I may be right. Two authors were ranged alongside me, with the remaining two on the other side of the debate.

Of course my novels are works of fiction – they certainly don’t purport to be non-fiction – but two aspects are really important to me – creating as authentic a picture of the period as I can, based on solid research and, crucially, when I am dealing with an historic character, trying to present as close a reflection of the real person as is possible, given the historical evidence available.  I finish my ‘Authors note’ in my Katharina books with the statement:

‘This book is a work of fiction, and although based on extensive research, the Katharina depicted here is my own interpretation. I hope I have done her justice.’

It is that final sentence which really matters to me, and it is in this area of a ‘moral responsibility’ to historical characters, however long dead, where the division of opinion emerged. All five of us believe absolutely in the essential nature of good research to underpin our writing, but those who opposed my view, did so on the basis that the needs of story are paramount and trump the evidence.

Now, I don’t have a problem with tweaking minor points of history if the story demands it, though it’s unlikely to be controversial, and I will always confess any deviation from attested history in my author’s note; but what I won’t do is to ‘bad mouth’ an historical character, without good evidence. And this was the crux of the debate. One author was happy to make her main (historical) character have an affair because she felt it added to the impact of the story, despite the lack of any evidence. ‘This is fiction’ she said, ‘If the story demands it, do it.’

There are several counter arguments to this view – amongst them a responsibility to living descendants of the character in question, the realistic or otherwise depiction of the person concerned and, importantly, the fact that, like it or not, many people learn their history from fiction. That being the case, as well as a moral responsibility to the character, I also feel a responsibility to readers, not to mislead them. The opposing authors felt equally strongly that any misinterpretation of history remains the reader’s own responsibility.

And so to Marjory’s distinction between an ‘historical novel’, in which the author seeks to remain true to the history that underpins it, and ‘historical fiction’ in which, while the background is of importance, the story is king. Interestingly, one of the novelists who shared my view had written a novel in which all of the key characters were fictional, yet she still felt it was important to ensure she remained within the bounds of known history, for the sake of readers.  

Lest you think blood was shed, we all parted friends, but the vigorous argument indicated clearly that there are two distinct schools of thought in this respect and it’s a debate that’s likely to run and run…

What do you think?



Margaret Skea is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. Short story credits include Neil GunnFish, the Historical Novel Society, and Mslexia. Her debut novel, Turn of the Tide, the first book in a Scottish trilogy – including A House Divided and By Sword and Storm, gained her the Beryl Bainbridge Award for ‘Best First-Time Novelist 2014’. She is now a hybrid author publishing both through a mainstream publisher, Corazon, and under her own imprint, Sanderling Books.

Katharina: Deliverance, a fictionalized biography based on the life of the reformer Martin Luther’s wife, was placed 2nd in the Historical Novel Society new Novel Award 2018. The sequel, Katharina Fortitude, was released in July 2019.

She is particularly interested in the challenge of bringing relatively unknown historical characters out of the shadows. In an attempt to embrace the digital age she now has her own website at www.margaretskea.com and you can also follow her on Twitter , Facebook or Amazon.

Apricots and Wolfsbane, Shadows of Hemlock

Cover Reveal: Shadows of Hemlock

Grab your mortar and pestle and cover your mead before following this poison assassin back to Tudor England. The sequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane, Shadows of Hemlock, is now available for pre-order and will be released Nov 19. Stay tuned for more info and an soon-to-be-released FREE prequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane.

Synopsis:

Regret is a bitter poison.

In a desperate grasp for prestige, Aselin Gavrell betrayed her master to the execution block for the advantage of the onyx pendant now around her neck. Shelter from her master’s crimes comes with an unwanted allegiance and a list of innocents to murder. But the Guild of poison assassins will not be so easily pacified and charge Aselin to develop an antidote as retribution for her betrayal.

Unprepared for the independence she craved, Aselin is forced to seek aid from a fickle contact who wants only one means of payment: a ruby ring with a mare’s head. To save herself from her master’s fate, Aselin must navigate a growing list of debtors eager to toss her aside and confront her guilt in this fast-paced tale of growth and redemption in Tudor England.

Pre-order now and/or add Shadows of Hemlock to your GoodRead’s shelf: http://bit.ly/SOHemlock


Haven’t Read Apricots and Wolfsbane yet?

No worries! Catch up at the links below. This book has a book club discussion guide in the back so grab a friend too!


Shadows of Hemlock Pre-Release Reviews

“K.M. Pohlkamp follows Apricots and Wolfsbane with another entertaining story of a female assassin that we can’t help but root for. Living by her own peculiar code of conduct, Aselin strives for independence, recognition and respect in a world that grants them to few women. With uncanny parallels to our times, it leaves us wondering how much has – and hasn’t – changed, no matter our profession.” — P.K. Adams, author of Silent Water, a Jagiellon Mystery


“This is the sequel to the superb ‘Apricots and Wolfsbane’ and Ms. Pohlkamp has lost none of her ability to produce magical prose.” — Richard Tearle, Discovering Diamond Historical Fiction Reviews


“More toxic than ever before. K.M. Pohlkamp returns with the sequel to her award-winning story Apricots and Wolfsbane. Be ready to be transported to time where all work and suffer for the rich and the law protects those who control the purse strings. The historical detail dumps you into the dungeons and lifts you to the splendor of the 16th century nobility. Just don’t drink the wine!”– Dave Wickenden, Author of Author of In Defense of Innocence – A Laura Amour Thriller


“It was hard to put this book down.” — Melissa MacDonald, founder of A Tudor Writing Circle


“Picking up right where Apricots and Wolfsbane left off, Shadows of Hemlock transports readers back to a time when life was cheap and independence was dangerous. Aselin Gavrell understands these simple truths better than most but even she is not prepared for the dangers that come with charting her own path as an assassin. Hounded by powerful lords and agents of the law, Aselin must draw upon all her smarts to triumph over her foes. Where the book really shines, however, is Pohlkamp’s depiction of Aselin’s mental state. Rather than becoming more ruthless or more deranged as she advances in her career, Aselin’s character becomes more introspective and her character arc benefits from it greatly. Long after readers finish this book, they will be pondering heady questions related to ambition and sacrifice that will surely inspire heated discussion amongst fans. Anyone looking for an adventure novel filled with exciting twists and turns and engaging characters should look no further: Shadows of Hemlock is the book for you.”  — Edward Rickford, Author of The Serpent and the Eagle


“These two books are a pleasure to read. It’s an interesting trip into a secret life in Tudor England, a trip well worth taking.” — Phyllis H. Moore, author of Opal’s Story


About the Author

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, proud mother of two young children, and a Mission Control flight controller. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her debut novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, was published October 2017 and was designated an Editors’ Choice Selection by the Historical Novel Society, among other accolades. She can be found at www.kmpohlkamp.com or @KMPohlkamp


Book Review

Book Review: Graceling

Synopsis (From Amazon)

Graceling [by Kristin Cashhore] tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart and beautiful and lives in the Seven Kingdoms where selected people are born with a Grace, a special talent that can be anything at all. Katsa’s Grace is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his brutal enforcer. Until the day she meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, and Katsa’s life begins to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts

A female assassin in a fantasy setting? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book but unfortunately it did not meet my expectation. The premise is incredible: some people are born with eyes of different color which indicate they are graced with an unnatural ability. The main character, Katsa, is graced with the skill to kill. Her uncle, the King, uses her to enforce his will in vicious ways but to make amends, Katsa runs a secret “Council” that fights the evil rule prevalent throughout the seven kingdoms.

For such a fantastic concept, the book has no plot to support it. The Council never really plays a part; there is not a significant challenge or puzzle Katsa must overcome. She meets a prince who obviously is more than he seems, falls for him, predictably eventually stands up to her Uncle, and then rescues a young princess. That’s about it. None of the major plot points really thread together well and I predicted all of the “twists” except for the last one.

Along with premise, I do give the author credit for staying true to her characters. It would have been so easy and perhaps expected to have the characters end in a different way. Instead, Kristin Cashore stays true to Katsa’s character and gives her the nontraditional, though fitting conclusion. Brava to Kristin for taking the brave path.

Graceling was a fine read but it’s not one I see myself ever going back to again.