Q & A with CW Gortner, Author of THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY

Friday, July 26th, 2013 | Uncategorized

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It is CW Gortner week on my blog!  Today I have the joy of talking with him about his latest novel, and all things Elizabethan. As a huge fan of both Elizabeth I and CW, this is bliss.



Thank you for joining us. As a fan of the great queen, I have to ask, when did you become obsessed with Elizabeth I?

I remember it was when I first saw “Elizabeth R” with Glenda Jackson on television. My family had just moved to Spain at the time and the series was broadcast via the BBC; it mesmerized me. Then I saw the movie “Mary, Queen of Scots” at the cinema, on the big screen, with Glenda Jackson reprising her role as Elizabeth and a luminous Vanessa Redgrave as the ill-fated Mary, and I was utterly hooked on Elizabeth, and the Tudors, for life. I read as many novels and biographies as I could find, and in time grew to study Elizabeth as part of my university thesis on powerful women of the Renaissance. Elizabeth is so iconic and alluring that practically every generation has re-defined her for their particular age. From Bette Davis to Flora Robson to Glenda Jackson, Cate Blanchett, and Vanessa Redgrave most recently, the fiery red-headed queen has truly found her immortality.


Your beautiful historical novels THE QUEEN’S VOW, THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI, and THE LAST QUEEN are all told from the feminine POV. In your Tudor spy series, though, your protagonist is a man. Do you enjoy writing from a masculine POV more?


I like both POVs equally. It would be easier— certainly, simpler— to relegate the complex women I write about to clichés. However, I find their complexity much more interesting. All of the women I write about were fallible, extraordinary, flesh-and-blood human beings. Their motivations aren’t simply defined; the challenge for me, the inspiration that spurs my writing, is the desire to get underneath their skins and try to discover the actual person they may have been. What I enjoy about my lead character Brendan, in turn,  is that he’s an ordinary man who must become more than he wants to be because he has a secret that could destroy him; he offers me freedom as a novelist to move beyond history and into a realm of imagination. Brendan has very different concerns than my queens and finds himself in situations they never would. He uses weapons, chases assassins, gets trapped in burning manors and flooding dungeons. He lives quite an exciting, if perilous, life. That said, every character I write becomes my favorite when I’m writing him or her. Gender has never felt like an obstacle to me.


In THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY, even though it is a spy thriller, your research is readily apparent. How much research goes into writing these thrillers, as opposed to the research you have done for your straight historical fiction novels?


Oh, I do just as much research; in some instances, even more. I undertake massive research whenever I first prepare to write a novel; I read extant documentation of the era, as well as biographies, social histories, specialized books on fashion, furniture, weaponry, etc. The research for these particular novels also takes me into unexpected places. For THETUDOR CONSPIRACY, I had to learn different styles of sword play. I also ended up doing research on the ways crime was regulated in Tudor London and dug around for information on whether Southwark had male brothels. I looked up architectural plans for Whitehall Palace and found out how paupers were buried. I researched how noble prisoners like the Dudleys lived in the Tower; if they engaged in illicit correspondence, and if so, how that correspondence could be conveyed in and out of the Tower walls. For the historical-based plot, I had to read everything I could about the revolt planned against Mary in order to devise an alternative version that would involve my characters. It’s not easy; it’s like a complex puzzle box, in which I must find and fit imaginary pieces into the historical framework.


Fantastic! Thank you again for joining us, CW. Lovely readers, hit this link to learn more about this fabulous novel.


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3 Comments to Q & A with CW Gortner, Author of THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY

C.W. Gortner
July 26, 2013

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Christy. Always a delight to be here. I hope your readers enjoy THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY.

July 26, 2013

I love hosting you Christopher! What a fabulous book 🙂

Julia Holloway
July 26, 2013

I love the Tudors – will add to my list.

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