The ‘Le Temps Viendra’ Book Tour
Inside the mind of Anne Boleyn: a portrait of a murdered Queen.
My name is Sarah Morris and I recently published my first historical fiction novel; Volume I of ‘Le Temps Viendra: a novel of Anne Boleyn’.
I would like to thank Natalie for hosting the first day of this virtual book tour in which I hope to take you behind-the-scenes of LTV, to learn more about the making of this novel, the ideas developed within it, and a little about my own personal writing journey.
So let’s kick off by starting at the beginning. How did LTV come about and what were my aims in writing this novel?
I have a confession to make; I never intended to write LTV. Yes, it is true that I have been passionate about books, reading and writing since I was a child. Over the years, I have written plays, poetry, articles and other short stories, and I can confess that I have long harboured a desire to pen a book of some description. However, decades passed, and the idea which I hoped would sweep me off my feet, stubbornly never came. That was until August 2010. I had been waiting nearly 30 years.
It amuses me now to think that I looked so hard for subject and a story which had been right under my nose for almost as long as I can remember. From time to time, I would search here and there, metaphorically scratching my head and generally getting frustrated that time seemed to be slipping by and I was no closer to fulfilling my dream. It is also true, is it not, that sometimes our moments of greatest creativity arise when we get out of the way and stop trying so hard to find them? This is exactly what happened on a gloriously hot, sunny August day when I visited Hever Castle with my friends.
Over the centuries people have talked, and written, about Anne Boleyn largely from one of two perspectives; as a force of nature, her character and story usually incites strong feelings of admiration and loyalty, or distain and dislike. Indeed, I always describe Anne as the Marmite of the sixteenth century. You either love her or you hate her! I think it was true of Anne’s contemporaries 500 years ago, and probably remains true today. It is no surprise to anyone who has been following my Facebook page to learn that I have been a true and loyal servant of Anne Boleyn for almost as long as I can remember; her beguiling and hypnotic presence compelling me to live her story over and over as I grew up from being a child to an adult.
Thus, on that fateful day in August 2010, I was delighted to be making yet another pilgrimage to the site of Anne’s childhood home. However, I could never have guessed that as I drove away from Hever that day my life would be changed irrevocably, and in ways that I could never have anticipated.
In so many ways, my experience paralleled that of the modern-day heroine that we meet at the very beginning of the novel. The day portended to be an entirely pleasant one, but otherwise unremarkable. I remember being entranced by the beauty of the place. History is etched into the very fabric of Hever Castle, and it was easy for me to hear the walls whispering their secrets from every nook and cranny. I imagined Anne moving about the Boleyn family home, heard her voice and her laughter. I found myself, not for the first time, longing to know her and what it would be like to walk in her shoes.
Afterwards, my friends and I enjoyed a picnic on the grass overlooking the moated drawbridge of the Castle. We talked of many things, all entirely unrelated to Anne; for at the time, my life was very much taken up with running my business as a leadership development coach. Yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept turning over this tenacious desire to find myself drawn back in time and to know Anne afresh; to be in her body and witness one of England’s most controversial Queens shape her destiny and to know first-hand the impact of the momentous events which crashed through her life.
As my subconscious casually played with these ideas, I can see now how an avalanche of creativity was unleashed; it would be the moment of conception for ‘Le Temps Viendra’.
What followed was quite remarkable. I felt an immediate and overwhelming compunction to tell Anne’s story. As I sat down to write, the words and ideas tumbled forth, almost faster than I was able to capture them on paper. On several occasions, I found Anne’s presence coming to me in my dreams and showing me what needed to happen next in the story. It was as if she was guiding my hand and revealing to me how it had been – how events had unfolded. I would wake up the next day and rush to my computer and note pad, frantically capturing all that I had seen in my sleep.
Finally, I had swept myself off my feet. I remember writing as if I were desperate to know myself what would happen next, each chapter emerging one after the other, often taking me quite by surprise. It was if the book was demanding to be written and I had no choice in the matter. Quite early on, one thing became very clear to me. Aside from the sheer pleasure of indulging in a topic which I had long found fascinating, and which I was now learning about with a new vibrant intimacy, I realised that I had a purpose in writing LTV. Others have, and will continue to write about, and tell, Anne’s story. Regardless of all this, I felt compelled to do my bit to speak of her innocence.
Thus, at its heart, LTV tells the very human story of how an extraordinary woman found herself to be the Queen of England, and of how ultimately she was betrayed and destroyed as an innocent traitor and adulteress.
Telling Anne’s story through the eyes of the modern day heroine, and over a period of two years, brought me to a whole new level of understanding of her psychology and of the historic, and often dramatic, events which she shaped and which defined her. My aim was to step inside the mind of the murdered Queen, to live her life vicariously by placing considerable onus on exploring the sights, the sounds and smells of Tudor England and court life. I hoped that the readers of LTV will come close to Anne in a way that they have never done before and that as the story unfolds they will see that she was, as Natalie dormer once said, “just a woman who found herself in extraordinarily trying circumstances.” I want readers to ‘touch’ Anne, as a complex, 3-dimensional character that in so many ways, we can all relate to. Anne Boleyn was no saint, but neither was she a sinner. She was flawed as we all are, but ultimately she was innocent of all the charges brought against her….if I can help spread that message to the world then this particular labour of love will have all been worthwhile.
Tomorrow, I will share my take on the process of how the characters were created and look into how I tried to bring the Tudor court to life.
To be continued…
The virtual book tour continues tomorrow over at ‘The Secret Writer’: http://thesecretwriterblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/inside-mind-of-anne-boleyn-portrait-of.html
‘Le Temps Viendra: a novel of Anne Boleyn’ is currently downloadable on e-version here: http://spartan-publishing.com/books/historical-fiction/le-temps-viendra-anne-boleyn/