On the weekend, a friend gently teased me about caring where King Richard III is reburied. He said Richard was past caring. Pragmatism. Yes, of course it’s true that Richard is beyond caring. But I’m able to do what I do, bringing the late middle ages to life, because I care, I care about the people of the times as if they were my contemporaries. I cried when writing the death scene of John Thoresby, Archbishop of York, in A Vigil of Spies, a scene I had avoided writing, suggesting to my editor that Thoresby could die in between books. She disagreed, and of course she was right, the entire book led up to that scene. But this man who had begun the series as a villain had become a dear friend by the 10th book.
I’ve written before that I believed Richard III should be buried in York. But that doesn’t dim my deep satisfaction in the respect given him by the ceremonies in Leicester. And I am glad that York is celebrating his reburial this week: http://bbc.in/1GZQroG
I know my friend was merely teasing me, as many do about my fascination with the late middle ages. Fifteen, going on sixteen books set in that time? When are you going to write something contemporary? I did. A short story, “Karma”. And then I dove back into the period I enjoy exploring. It’s my passion. I write what excites me, what engages me.
At the moment I’m following on my deep research into Joan of Kent with a foray into the beginning of the 15th century, beginning in 1399, the months leading up to the deposition of her son, King Richard II, and then the uneasy reign of his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who crowned himself King Henry IV. What caused Richard’s downfall? How is it that his subjects were so willing to crown his Lancastrian cousin? And what was the effect of this political upheaval on the citizens of York? If you know this history, you know that I have a wealth of material to work with, and a new archbishop, Richard Scrope. Yet another unfortunate Richard.