Thursday, November 03, 2016

Why I Embrace the Witch Thing When I Write About Anne Boleyn

My books about the Tudors are Six of One, about Henry VIII’s six wives, and my newest release, Seven Will Out, which is about the latter-generation Tudors and Shakespeare.  Both were written with one thing particularly in mind–to do something completely different with the Tudor story.

We’d all seen the tragic Anne Boleyn depicted in countless novels, not to mention in the arts–the tragic Anne goes as far back as 1830 in opera, 1877 on canvas, and 1933 in film.

Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Edouard Cibot (1799–1877)

A more defiant Anne emerged in the 1948 play and 1969 film, Anne of the Thousand Days, by Maxwell Anderson, in which Anne delivers the following salvo to Henry:

 "I've heard what your courtiers say and I've seen what you are. You're spoiled and vengeful and bloody. Your poetry is sour and your music is worse. You make love as you eat with a good deal of noise and no subtlety."

Genevieve Bujold in the film version of Anne of the Thousand Days

I’m told that a sexy Anne was revealed, in more ways than one, in her Showtime Tudors incarnation.  Since I did not watch the series myself, this is strictly hearsay on my part, but the photos do seem to bear it out.

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn in Showtime’s Tudors series

So what is a gal with a yen to do something different to do about Anne Boleyn?
Well, first she turns to comedy.  That being said, what humorous slant could there possibly be to Anne Boleyn’s sad and melodramatic story?

I decided that to pull this off, I had to embrace Anne, metaphorically speaking, warts and all.  Most historians and historical fictionistas go purple in the face when people talk about Anne Boleyn being accused of being a witch.  I decided to embrace this bit of historical speculation when I wrote my first novel, Six of One.

Some people love this idea, and some hate it.  I have been accused of hating Anne Boleyn, which I categorically deny.  I think she is awesome.

In fact, even though my newest book, Seven Will Out, is about the second generation of Tudors–Elizabeth I, Bloody Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, and so on­–I could not resist bringing Anne into the book for a cameo appearance.  Who she appears arm-in-arm with, and what stunning news from the modern world is revealed to this bewitching woman in Seven Will Out, is for the reader to discover.

Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Revel
JoAnn Spears

Genre:  Historical fiction, satire, women's fiction,
chick lit, alternative history, historical fantasy

Print Length: 402 pages

Publication Date: November 9, 2015


Book Description:

If you thought Six of One: A Tudor Riff was the most fun you could have with your nightdress on, wait until you see what Seven Will Out:  A Renaissance Revel has in store.  Get ready for one 'ruff' night!

Tudorphile Dolly thought that the night she spent on an astral plane with Henry VIII's six wives, learning their heretofore unknown secrets, was a one-time thing.  Not so!  In Seven Will Out, Dolly finds herself back in the ether with the women of later Tudor times:  Elizabeth I, ‘Bloody’ Mary, Bess of Hardwick, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, to name a few.  They too have secrets that will turn history on its head, and comic sass that will keep you laughing.

You've read all of the traditional, serious and romantic takes on the legendary Tudors.  Why not try your Tudors with a new and different twist?

Excerpt from Seven Will Out:  Chapter Fourteen, Menagerie and Query

My two welcoming companions were not, as on my last visit, those two medieval beauties, Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth of York, grandmother and mother of Henry VIII.
On my last stay here, I had learned that this was a strictly ladies-only domicile. That is why I rapidly concluded that my companions, who were a couple of dogs, were likely also a couple of bitches. This is not as rancorous a statement as you may think.
You see, my stirring about had agitated two toy-size dogs that had been lying at the foot of the bed, setting them to romping and frolicking around. I settled them down a bit and then zeroed in for a closer look at my strange bedfellows.
One of them I had met before. I had not gotten its name, but I knew it to be the terrier that had belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, at the time of her death. Said pup had attended Mary’s execution, hidden under her skirts; it barked piteously as it emerged, bloodstained, unable to decide whether to stay with the decapitated queen’s body or with her head. Eventually it mourned itself to death. My understanding had been that, after my last visit here, the Tudor denizens of this celestial way station would have vacated the premises for good. But if this dog—and another to boot— were present here, then likely the queen of Scots was again, or perhaps still, in residence. And heaven knew who else.
I looked a little closer at the other dog to try to figure out what, or at least, whose, it was. It appeared to be a sweet little bichon frise, and it looked back at me with head atilt and tail wagging.
“Por quoi!” a female voice called from without the room, and the little bichon perked up its ears.
“Por quoi to you too!” I sang out, playing for time as I tried to recall some of my high school French. As I did, I realized that I had just unintentionally given someone “what for.” I hoped this wouldn’t mean that my stay here this time was going to start off with me giving a bad impression. Wanting to take no chances, I got out of bed and began to smooth, as best I could, the wrinkles from my nightdress. As I did so, the person outside my room, getting closer by the sound of her voice, riposted my comment.
“Your French accent is execrable, Dolly!”
I wondered fleetingly if Marie Antoinette was in residence, but this was not the case. The lady who eventually rounded the doorway and entered my room was someone I had met before. She sported the Renaissance equivalent of a hippie-chick outfit that had seen better days. A parrot was circling above her in a holding pattern, and she was trailed by several feline friends whose orange calico markings resembled her own ginger coloring.
I knew whose tragic and fascinating presence I was in.

About the Author:

JoAnn Spears couldn’t decide whether to major in English or History in college. Life stepped in, and she wound up with a Master’s Degree in Nursing instead. A twenty-five year nursing career didn’t extinguish that early interest in books and history-especially Tudor history. It did, however, stoke a decidedly gallows sense of humor.

Eventually, JoAnn read just about every spin there was on the stories of Henry VIII and the extended Tudor family. Every spin, that is, except the one with the gallows humor. The Tudors certainly qualified for it, but it just wasn’t out there. JoAnn decided that with gallows humor to spare, she would do her best to remedy the Tudor comedy gap. A little inspiration from the classic “Wizard of Oz” showed her the way to go, and “Six of One”, a new kind of Tudor novel, was born.

JoAnn thought “Six of One”, her story about Henry VIII’s six wives, would be an only literary child. Then, two years after its birth, she was caught by surprise with the idea for a sequel. In October, 2015, “Seven Will Out” made its debut and bought the latter-day Tudors into the comedy mix.

JoAnn enjoys writing but maintains her nursing license because a) you never stop being a nurse and b) her son thinks she should be sensible and not quit her day job. She also enjoys life in the beautiful mountains of northeast Tennessee, where she gardens, embroiders antique reproduction samplers, and teaches yoga in her Methodist church basement. JoAnn shares her home with three cats and the works of Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Louisa May Alcott, and of course, Alison Weir.

Author Twitter address:  @JoAnnSpearsRn


joann spears said...

Thanks for hosting this blog tour stop, Roxanne!