I am so excited today to bring to you an interview with Sandra Worth, author of several historical fiction novels. I read and then reviewed her recent book in the Rose of York Series, The King's Daughter on my New Year's Day post. Sandra has also written Lady of the Roses the first book of thes series and the Rose of York Trilogy. She has received countless awards and frequently lectures on the Wars of the Roses. Please visit her stunning websitethat will take you into her world of English Royalty.
Thank you so much for being here today to discuss your book, The King’s Daughter. I know the blog readers will love to read this interview about Elizabeth of York, Queen of England. (wife of King Henry VII).
Wisteria, thank you so much for having me!
1) You obviously love writing about this period in England’s history. What is the allure that creates such passion compelling you to write about this time?I first became interested in medieval England through a novel I read as a child. The story picked up where my fairytales left off, and I was fascinated because it was true history about girls in long dresses, and handsome men in shining armor. I never did let go of that book, and when the time came to write my own stories, I set them in medieval England. However, it quickly became apparent to me even as a child that the lives of real princes and princesses were complicated and usually didn’t end well. Anya Seton, my favorite author, had managed to find the one and only love story set in that time period that had a happy ending! That was KATHERINE, re-printed a few years ago and still claiming readers’ hearts.
2) Why did you decide to write about Elizabeth of York?
I first became acquainted with Elizabeth of York through her involvement with King Richard III, who she loved. After his death, she married his enemy Henry Tudor, the man who had killed him. I wondered how her life had turned out, and as I researched, I realized that here was yet another great drama.
3) Through your extensive research you must have come to know Elizabeth very well. What is your personal opinion of her. Do you like her?
I do like her very much, and I admire her for the hardships and griefs that she endured with such dignity and grace. It may seem odd to say this, but if she lived today, I think we’d be friends! Hers was not a happy lot, but she dedicated her life to good works, and went without in order to find money to help others.
4)The Queens of England have had various roles and influence during their reigns. What do you feel was Elizabeth’s greatest achievement? What was her greatest weakness?
Her greatest achievement was winning the hearts of her people and of those around her, especially her husband, Henry VII, one of the most unloveable of English kings. Her greatest weakness was her inability to assert herself. She was unable to take control of events, and was submissive to the will of others. Of course, once married to Henry VII, her situation precluded her from insisting on her way, and if she had done so (like her mother) Henry VII would have most likely done away with her, quietly, but effectively. This knowledge made her tread warily, and she—very wisely—chose her battles.
It is possible that Elizabeth’s mother had a great deal to do with this passivity. Elizabeth seems to have made a determined effort to prove herself the opposite of her angry, overbearing, domineering mother. For example, she chose as her motto “Humble and Reverent.” I see this as Elizabeth making a statement. Her mother was known for her arrogance, and piety was not regarded as one of her virtues, since she was thought to dabble in the Black Arts. Also, Elizabeth’s passivity (mentioned above) marks her as taking an opposite path through life from her mother. Elizabeth was a “healer” rather than a destroyer like her mother, Elizabeth Woodville.
5) As a young princess, Elizabeth had a loving relationship with her father, King Edward. One day after he executed his brother and Elizabeth was consoling him, she questioned his decision. Her father told her , “Sometimes a king must do what he knows is wrong, what is hateful to him. For the peace of the land.”
How do you think this defined Elizabeth? How does she cope with the strong women around her,--mother and mother-in-law?
To answer the first part of the question, it made her more accepting of Henry VII’s actions. As princess, she had witnessed the harsh realities of kingship and the sometimes cruel decisions that her father had to make. As Henry VII’s queen, she was forced to watch her husband murder her relatives, one by one. But even if she accepted that this had to be the way it was, how could she bear it as a woman of goodness and conscience? It is known that all through her married life the gift she commonly gave to others was a psalter. Perhaps here lies a clue. Helpless to alter the flow of events, she turned to prayer for sustenance.
As regards Elizabeth’s mother and mother-in-law, they seem to have been two peas in a pod. They both thirsted for power, and once they obtained it, they abused it heartily-- indulging their greed, their egos, and their paranoia. These two insufferable bullies dominated gentle Elizabeth of York while clashing violently with one another. Since power can only be met by power, eventually one of these women destroyed the other. Elizabeth of York, however, picked her battles. According to Francis Bacon, Bess Woodville is quoted as saying that her daughter was “demeaned”, in other words, not a true queen and kept low. Powerless to intervene, Elizabeth seems to have stayed out of their quarrels.
Elizabeth must have chafed under her domineering mother-in-law, but modern options such as divorce or leaving her husband were out of the question in those days. Only her husband could check her mother-in-law, but he didn’t love Elizabeth, and had no fear of her. No foreign army stood ready to march against him on her behalf, and he owed his mother his crown. So Elizabeth endured as courageously as she could.
6)How would you describe Elizabeth’s legacy?
It is a notable achievement. She healed a nation, and by sacrificing her heart and not fleeing after Bosworth, she united her country. She had no power, no money, and was of little consequence to her family. She couldn’t help those she loved, yet she won the hearts of her people and of all who knew her. When she died, her husband locked himself up to weep out the heart no one had guessed he had, and a nation plunged into mourning. She is known to history as Elizabeth the Good, and for good reason. She was truly “the people’s Queen.”
7)What would you like the readers to know most about The First Tudor Queen?
That she might be a forgotten queen, but she deserves to be remembered for the kind, gentle, beautiful, and loving person she was.
8)When writing historical fiction, I know the research is arduous and time consuming. What part of your research is the most difficult?
To capture the essence of the person you’re writing about in the absence of any surviving personal information. It’s like arranging a puzzle with way too many holes. You have to fill in the gaps, and the picture that emerges has to “fit” the known facts. So it takes a great deal of thought and imagination to see what might really have been, and to come up with a person of depth and credibility.
9) Can you tell us a little bit about your next novel and targeted release date?
Thanks, Wisteria, I’d be happy to—if I knew myself! There are two in the offing, both on the Wars of the Roses, but I don’t know which will “hit” first. I suspect one will be released close to the end of this year or early next winter, but I don’t have a release date for it yet.
This has been a great inside look from your perspective that readers don’t often have. I want to thank you Sandra for your time and the opportunity to share your thoughts about your fabulous book, The King’s Daughter. I will be one of those waiting somewhat impatiently for your next book.