Getting Real With History in Novels

I love the idea of sharing a blog with you, Emma. Now to see how the reality feels.

First, an update on my appearance at Bouchercon in San Francisco this coming week–my panel is at 3:00 pm Friday:

Writing historical crime fiction. How accurate do you have to be?
Oline Cogdill (M), Rebecca Cantrell, Candace Robb, Roger Hudson, Caroline Todd,
Charles Todd
Room: Seacliff C

Neither I nor anyone else on the panel understands the title, but we hope you’ll engage us in some great discussion.

And if you’re in the Bay area this week but not going to Bouchercon (well, even if you are)–come see Emma read from The King’s Mistress and talk about Alice Perrers at A Great Good Place for Books, in Oakland, on Wednesday evening (13 Oct) at 7:00 pm.

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I had intended to play with some of the ideas Emma and I came up with while brainstorming the Sarum Seminar talk: On Second Thought: Reconsidering the Reputations of Alice Perrers and Joan of Kent , but suddenly the talk’s just a few days away and I’m tidying up loose ends.

And, by the way, here’s another chance to see Emma and me–at Stanford University this coming Tuesday, the 12th (busy week):

For now, I wanted to post a comment on one of Emma’s earlier posts and my response–not everyone reads comments. I’ll expand on this later.

A reader (Mary Beth) wrote:

Your new blog is a timely find for me, as I just finished reading “The King’s Bishop ” and found your portrayal of Alice in this book quite fascinating.

How was the experience of writing/researching “The King’s Mistress” compared to Alice of the Owen Archer series?  Do you feel that she is a different woman from the character of your earlier series?  Or was the new book a chance to indulge in a desire to dig deeper and deeper into someone who just intrigued you and deserved a new understanding?

I mean, do you recognize the Alice of your earlier books as the same Alice in your new book?  (Which I just now found out about by reading this blog- great!  I’ll have to get it!)

I replied in the comments:

I remember with what fun I used Alice Perrers in The Lady Chapel, but by the time I wrote The King’s Bishop I was taking her more seriously. It’s been a while since I reread that book, but I do know I was already feeling far more empathy for her than I had in TLC—she was no longer just Thoresby’s nemesis. It was during a long tour for the book in the UK that I began to question the standard story of her life—it seemed more and more implausible to me as I explained it to audiences. So, yes, in The King’s Mistress I present a very different Alice, brought to life through years of pondering and presenting papers at academic conferences to entice fellow historians to share the snippets they’d collected. It’s been a fascinating and rewarding journey, leading to a new set of books in which I’m reconsidering reputations.

Emma and I both have much more to say about this. Stay tuned!


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