Today I’m delighted to welcome back fellow historical fiction writer Jennifer Wilson, on the first anniversary of her attendance at the funeral of Richard III. In honour of this, her novel about Richard’s ghost, Kindred Spirits, is reduced to 99p/99c! Hello again, Jen!
Hi Tim, and thanks for hosting me on your blog today.
A year ago, on 26th March 2015, the mortal remains of perhaps England’s most controversial monarch were laid to rest. For the second time. There aren’t too many kings or queens you can say that about (although, oddly, it is also semi-true of my second favourite ruler, Mary, Queen of Scots). I suspect there are even fewer writers who are lucky enough to say they attended part of the funeral services for their novel’s leading man…
To my amazement, in January 2015, I got the letter confirming I had been successful in the public ballot for attendance, and I was off to Compline on the 22nd March. I didn’t even know what Compline was, but right then, I genuinely did not care. I was going to Leicester!
I still don’t know exactly how or when my obsession with Richard III started, but by the time news of plans to dig in that now-famous car-park was released, I was hooked. Yet however hard I tried, the words somehow never flowed. Even whilst sat beside the beautifully-presented original grave site, nothing. Until NaNoWriMo 2013 dragged 50,000 words kicking and screaming out of my head. The idea of Richard’s ghost, having returned to the Tower of London, his own Royal Palace during his reign, and the location of one of the most infamous mysteries in British history – what did happen to those nephews of his? And I simply couldn’t resist bringing Richard and Anne Boleyn together, with, I presumed, their mutual dislike of a certain pair of Henry Tudors…
Attending Compline in March 2015 was the final shove I needed. In the end, the weekend felt like an odd combination of mini-break and study leave – there were lectures, themed tours of the city and, of course, the public unveiling of the coffin. As we all filed in behind the hearse, it all just felt, well, ridiculous. Brilliant, but ridiculous.
Happily, the ridiculousness all put me in just the right frame of mind to get my act together and get editing. After all, what would Richard’s ghost be thinking, now he had had a much grander funeral than the first time around? How would he feel about the changing public perception of him? And would it have changed the relationships he had with the other ghosts of the Tower of London?
I’ve never been very good at the editing process, always preferring the initial flow of words, but throughout spring 2015, it was almost enjoyable, rediscovering what had been written in a bit of a blur eighteen months earlier.
Now we’re at the anniversary of the funeral week, it’s very strange to think about how much has happened in the last year, but all in all, it’s been a good one, and there aren’t many funerals which are cause for celebration, after all!
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III, clearly!). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice,reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.
International Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A
Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/586365