* In your latest novel, THE KING'S GRACE, you tell the story of Grace Plantagenet, who thus far has only been a footnote in history. What compelled you to tell her story?
Grace Plantagenet's name jumped out at me after reading about Queen Elizabeth Woodville's death while researching "A Rose for the Crown." She was mentioned in a contemporary chronicle as one of two gentlewomen who accompanied the queen's body on the funeral barge from London to Windsor, where Elizabeth was buried with her husband, King Edward IV. The actual verbiage is: "Grace, bastard daughter of King Edward, ..." and I wondered why a bastard of her dead husband would have been anywhere near Elizabeth, let alone have the singular honor of being one of the mourners on the barge. It sparked an interest in exploring a possible relationship between the two. That is all we know about Grace--that one fact, so I had to make up her backstory, her age, and what happened to her. It was fun. I also was looking for the perfect narrator at the court who could tell the compelling, mysterious tale of Perkin Warbeck. As "A Rose for the Crown" told the story of King Richard III through Kate Haute's eyes, "The Kings Grace" is really about Perkin Warbeck, although Grace herself is a lovely young woman who readers will care about.
* Tell us something surprising about life as a woman in 15th century England.
Women were obviously second class citizens, dependent upon a man for everything economic, but they were also given lots of responsibilities when their men were away fighting or elevating themselves at court. Most noble women ran the households at those times and men under them did their bidding. It was only when England stopped going to war so much, in later Tudor times and on, that women started becoming more subservient. Some medieval women even donned armor and fought alongside their men in defending their castles. I liked that about them. They were less namby pamby than in later periods.
* How much of your novel is based on fact, and how much on fiction?
I think I explained above how much of Grace's story is fiction, BUT every event that happens around Grace as with every character who is not fictional has been thoroughly researched and is authentic. From the time Perkin is caught and brought to Henry VII's court, I am faithful to history as it deals with him.
* How did you go about researching THE KING'S GRACE? Thank you Anne! And feel free to visit Anne Easter Smith online for more information about her latest novel The King's Grace.
The same way any historical novelist does it! Read, read, read, go and look, look, look and gather as much information as will fit in your filing cabinet or on your bookshelves! It's a lot of work to get the history right, the people right, the clothes right, the food right, the lifestyle right, the weather right, the flora and fauna right, etc. etc. It makes me tired just thinking about it!
* What are you working on next?
Since I finished "The King's Grace" in May and in between editing that book through September, I have been researching the life of Cecily of York, wife of Richard, duke of York, who were the parents of Edward IV, Richard III and Margaret of Burgundy. The manuscript is due in January 2010.