Thursday, March 03, 2011

Guest Post by C W Gortner author of The Tudor Secret + Giveaway

Interweaving Fact with Fiction: On Writing THE TUDOR SECRET
In my latest novel, THE TUDOR SECRET, Book One in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, I set myself to a challenge that proved more daunting than I originally thought. Despite its shorter length, compared to my other novels THE LAST QUEEN and THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI, THE TUDOR SECRET is deceptively complex, interweaving three storylines—a factual one; a “What if?” one; and a fictionalized one. This was also the first time I decided to work with fictional characters interacting with historical ones, and these interactions were both unexpected and exciting.

Edward VI

My first storyline is factual, based on the tumultuous events surrounding John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his familial conspiracy to replace Princess Mary Tudor in the succession following the untimely death of Mary’s brother, Edward VI. Though this event, known as the Succession Crisis of 1553, has often gotten short thrift in both biographical accounts of the lead players and in other Tudor-themed novels, I’ve always found it fascinating— a dramatic coup d’état staged by a powerful courtier, aimed at the Catholic heir to the throne, who was herself an embattled survivor of her father’s rupture with Rome. Northumberland had risen through the ranks to the pinnacle of success. In control of the realm after the execution of Edward’s uncle, he was resolved to protect his interests at any cost. Northumberland’s frantic race against time to secure the throne offers riveting contrast to Mary’s emergence from the shadows as the stalwart granddaughter of the famed warrior-queen, Isabella of Castile. Though many initially thought her cause hopeless, history proved differently.

My second storyline focuses on: “What if?” Though it’s established that Mary did in fact visit court to see her ailing brother several months before his demise, less is known about their sister, Elizabeth. Many believe Northumberland refused Elizabeth the same privilege, thus relegating her to her country manor, isolated from the events about to unfold. But my imagination was stirred by the idea of what if she’d ignored Northumberland’s refusal. Hindsight is everything when reconstructing historical events; we now know what Northumberland planned, yet what if Elizabeth, unaware of the extent of the duke’s plot, arrived unannounced in London, determined to see her brother? Rumors of Edward’s demise ran rampant and Elizabeth was known for being both headstrong and fiercely protective of Edward. The possibilities that opened before me as I envisioned this bold nineteen year-old princess descending upon Northumberland and his clan proved irresistible.

Mary entering London with Elizabeth

The last storyline is fictional. The idea for this series was to explore the birth of the grand era of Elizabethan espionage. I also wanted to envision this world through the eyes of an ordinary man, a foundling (as many were) who is brought to court to act as a squire. My lead character, Brendan, only seeks to persevere in his new post, perhaps even gain his freedom from servitude. Disdained by the noble family with whom he has spent his life, still mourning the death of the woman who cared for him, but also keen and observant, if ignorant of the treachery of the court, Brendan is the perfect vehicle for my story: a seemingly every-day youth who, unbeknownst to him, carries a secret that could overturn everything he believes in. His fateful meeting with Elizabeth as she seeks an answer to her brother’s disappearance throws these two characters into a labyrinth of deceit that will test their mettle and forge a lifelong alliance.

Lastly, THE TUDOR SECRET pays humble homage to my lifelong admiration of the spirited historical adventures of Alexander Dumas and Rafael Sabatini. I hope you enjoy this foray into the underworld of the Tudors— a place where dukes battle princesses, betrayal is rife, and one man fights to save a future queen from destruction while unraveling the secret of his own mysterious past.

Thank you so much for spending this time with me. To learn more about me and my books, as well as access special features, please visit me at: Happy reading!

Thanks Christopher for your interesting guest post. I loved The Tudor Secret if you need further convincing check out my review here.

I am thrilled to be able to offer readers a chance to win a copy of The Tudor Secret thanks to the generosity of C.W. Gortner.


*Competition is only open to followers of my blog (so if you're not a follower & you'd like to enter just click on the follow button on the right hand side of my blog - easy peasy)

*Leave a comment telling us your favourite Tudor person. Don't forget to include an email address.


+ 2 comment on my review of The Tudor Secret.

+2 post about this give-away on twitter or your blog & leave a link

Competition is open to US, Canada, Australia & New Zealand.  Ends March 26th and the winner will be announced on this blog. Good luck everyone!

PS just wanted to let audio lovers know that The Tudor Secret is available from Blackstone Audiobooks. - love this cover


  1. Hmm, favorite Tudor character...Of course the major players are of great interest, but I really like Anne of Cleves, Mary Tudor Brandon, Lady Jane Grey. Also, I am intrigued by novels in which a fictional character carries the plot by interacting with the real people. This book sounds great!
    And, I commented on your review.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I love the Tudors! I would love to win this. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  3. I've always found the scandalous wives of Henry VIII (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) very interesting, but my favorite Tudor person is Bess of Hardwick.
    rlawrence110 at yahoo dot com

  4. I tweeted!/rlawrence110/status/43358104565465088
    rlawrence110 at yahoo dot com

  5. I've heard such great things about Gortner's books and this guest post only confirms it! Thanks for the giveaway -- it's hard to choose but I think my favorite might be Mary Tudor, Henry's sister.

    unabridgedchick at

  6. Elizabeth I because she was so strong and independent.

    I commented on your review.

    I tweeted. My Twitter name is Carolee888 Giveaway of 'The Tudor Secret'


  7. This was a really interesting post. I love to have an understanding of why an authors makes the decisions they do, especially when it comes to historicals. Can't wait for the next one!

  8. My favorite is Lady Jane Grey.
    +2 commented on review

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  9. This guest post is a perfect example as to why I want to read a book penned by C.W. Gortner. I enjoy each and every guest post that I have read by him - fantastic writing within a blog post that pulls me into the history, and excites me. Thanks Mr. Gortner. If this is an example of how your writing is in your books, then I really need to get moving and start reading them.

    I said, Sheree, in your review of this book that I am not much interested in Tudor history at the moment. I take that back, reading this guest post has greatly renewed said interest.

    Because I am not well versed on Tudor history; I cannot name a favorite Tudor.

    I left a comment on your review.

    I tweeted about the giveaway.!/ibeeeg/status/43886536688799744

    I follow your blog. :)

    ibeeeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  10. My favorite Tudor era characters are the sisters themselves. Both went through hell and back their entire lives, and despite their father's best efforts, became queens. ha-ha.

    thanks for the contest.
    I commented on your fab review, and of course I am already a follower :)

  11. Favourite would be Lady Jane Grey. Thanks for the opportunity to win!


  12. I find it all interesting but if I had to name a favorite I guess it would have to be Lady Jane Grey. Thanks for the chance to win!


  13. Can never get enough of Lizzy I

    Cheli's Shelves

  14. glad to see in your review that this is #1 in the series - love to get in at the beginning.

    Cheli's Shelves

  15. I have enjoyed many books around Henry the VIII and loved the fire of Anne Boleyn - does she count?

  16. My fave Tudor? Why Gloriana herself...Queen Elizabeth I, of course!

    +2 commented on your review

    +2 tweeted:

    Thanks for the giveaway!


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