Interview with Author Isolde Martyn

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Interview with

 


♛ Isolde Martyn ♛


 
 
Our interview partner today is well known here on the KRA-website, as Ms Martyn already represented Australia and the research association The Plantagenet Society of Australiy here in this interview.
 
Today, we want to present Ms Isolde Martyn with her excellent knowledge about King Richard III, his family, background and the time of the Wars of the Roses in general, together with her wonderful book publications.
 
I am currently reading Ms Martyn’s book “The Devil in Ermine“, which will come out shortly (Yes, I have a pre-verion ;o)
And I can tell you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I am in total awe of this well researched and gripping depiction of the decisive year 1483 in King Richard III’s life seen and told from the perspective of his cousin, the Duke of Buckingham.
The revolt by Buckingham, the reasons, the background are so well told that I really feel for the characters described in the book and see all the motives so well coming together and building the story. The book really has gripped me.
(I will let you know as soon as the book becomes available. – I know I am cruel here, stoking your curiosity, while I am already reading it ;o)
 
 
But now I let Ms Martyn tell you more about her connections and research about King Richard III and her new just published book “Mistress to the Crown” about Jane Shore:
 
Why do you choose the period of the late Middle Ages? It was a time of hardships, especially for women, of fierce fights and wars man against man, of romantic knights, …
What is so very special about this time period in England that it can especially grip the interest of modern time readers?

The seesawing of fortune during the Wars of the Roses. One moment you have a man who is King of England, next day he is a penniless refugee at the court of Burgundy. Life could change in an instant. This means that a novelist can put a lot of pressure on a historical character. How will he or she react to being charged with treason? Can they regain their lands?

 

What did especially trigger your interest in the Plantagenets and specifically King Richard III?

I read Josephine Tey’s book, The Daughter of Time when I was 14 and I watched Shakespeare’s history plays.
Apart from Richard III, the person that fascinated me most in that era was the lady spy who passed through Calais. I was determined one day to write a novel about her. To do that well, I needed to go to a university that specialised in the Wars of the Roses and study the Yorkist era properly. Fortunately, I was able to go to the University of Exeter. Yes, and my novel about the woman spy–THE MAIDEN AND THE UNICORN–eventually won major awards in America and Australia.

 

The research about King Richard III shows that sciences did develop greatly and allow deeper insights, though the time gap between our time and the researched time period becomes greater.
Some things are documented quite well, others are lacking and gaps in our knowledge about the time partially are still great.
How do you cope with those holes in historical documentation for your writing?

You are right, there are few facts. We have to be open-minded about historical sources. For example, how informed were the chroniclers? Where did their ‘facts’ come from? Were they–or their sources–politically biased?
Yes, this lack of information makes it wonderful for the novelist. However, as a historian, I try to adhere to what is known. If Richard was at Middleham on a certain day, I would not have him somewhere else for the sake of the story-plot. I think an author needs to make it clear what is fact and what is fiction in a novel’s History Note and List of Characters. That is why Shakespeare’s wicked Richard III has had such impact. When people see something enacted, they are more likely to accept it as true. There is rarely a note at the beginning of a film saying ‘this screenplay was written for drama and entertainment, and some of it may not be true’.

 

How do you see the relevance of the current archaeological research about the human remains of King Richard III in Leicester? – For your writing, for the available knowledge about the time, for the interpretation of King Richard III, for Leicester, …

As the skeleton is Richard’s, knowing how tall he was, what he might have looked like or eaten before the battle is marvellous. For historians, comparing the physical evidence with the historical sources and legend raises some interesting issues. For example, the evidence of scoliosis. This means that the Tudor slurs about Richard’s appearance did have an element of truth. The portraits of Richard, where changes have been made to show one shoulder higher than the other, may have to be assessed differently now.
 
I should like to know from medical experts whether the scoliosis could be due to a heel wound at Barnet or Tewekesbury or from combat practice? Or would he have had the condition when he was a child?
 
As regards Leicester, if Richard is reinterred in the cathedral, I think Leicester City Council will have to take much greater care of the historical areas of the city, especially those beyond the ring road. These seemed very neglected last time I was there.

 

What do you do to prepare yourself to get into the mood of the late Middle Ages to write about the time and such realistic characters as you create in your books?

It’s hard to sum this up for you.
I read literature from that era, e.g. Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, and I pick out imagery and phrases that could be used in dialogue.
How would a man have felt at that moment in his life, given the occasion, the weather, what he was wearing, what was at stake for him, who he was dealing with, his health, what he ate for breakfast? It can be the small details that can make a character seem real. When Warwick the Kingmaker knelt so long for forgiveness in front of Margaret d’Anjou in 1470, did his legs go numb (do you say ‘pins and needles’ in German? [Comment CDoart: We say the limbs ‘fall asleep’]) Did he have to be helped to his feet?

 

What started your interest in the setting and the characters of your new books?

I was going to write a novel about Margaret Beaufort (as a villain) but Buckingham was like a little boy waving his hand in a classroom, ‘What about me, Miss? Write the book about me!’ So my novel THE DEVIL IN ERMINE is the events of 1483 from Buckingham’s point of view. I hope to have it up as an e-book very soon but there have been some hitches in getting the format right.
MISTRESS TO THE CROWN came out in Australian shops in February and will be available soon in Germany and the U.K. I wanted to write about a woman who was at the heart of events in Yorkist England. Mistress Shore, King Edward’s lover, was perfect. No one had written a novel yet about the real Mistress Shore. Her name was Elizabeth Lambard and she was the daughter of a wealthy alderman, who was Sheriff of London and a supporter of the house of York.

 
 


 
 
More details about Ms Martyn’s latest book publication “Mistress to the Crown“:
 
Mistress to the Crown by Isolde Martyn
Mistress to the Crown

About Jane Shore, mistress to King Edward IV’s and involved in an intrigue against King Richard III, and her struggle for freedom.
 

 
 

Isolde Martyn online:

 
www.isoldemartyn.com
 
Amazon.com-Author’s page
 
 


 
 
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