I’m delighted to introduce a new novel by Natalia Richards, ‘Falcon’s Rise’ which tells the story of young Anne Boleyn. Here is what Natalia has to say about it:
The day before her death, Anne Boleyn remembers a journey that changed her life. She recalls how, as a young girl, she used her wits to secure a place at the prestigious Court of Margaret of Austria, where she soon realised that a woman had to be strong to survive the treachery of Court politics. And she came to understand that she must shape her own destiny if she was to be happy. It is here that she met the young man who would one day make her his Queen. However, loathing his hateful boasting, this girl had plans of her own, and she was determined to impress her ambitious family.
Eight years in the writing, with meticulous research, Falcon’s Rise shows how the young Anne Boleyn grew into the woman who captured the heart of a King.
But how did this novel come about? Natalia continues:
My interest in the Tudors began as a child, reading the Jean Plaidy historical novels that my mother brought home from the library every week. I can still see those romantic book covers, depicting women with red lipstick and blue eye shadow! However, it was in 1970 watching the BBC television series ‘The Six Wives of Henry V111’ that started my fascination with Anne Boleyn and her times. Tudor costume, early music and dance – I studied them all with a passion. In the late 1980’s I began to scribble pages of romantic fiction myself about Anne Boleyn but it wasn’t very good. In fact, it was quite dreadful! I needed facts.
But what did I know of Anne’s early life anyway? Years ago, whilst a great deal was known about her later years as Queen of England, very little had been written about her childhood and youth. I wanted to understand more about those times, and so I began to collect as much information as I could. I would travel down on the bus from Derby, where I lived, to the British library, and spend hours poring over books. I read everything I could get my hands on and as I delved further, I realised that Anne had been born into momentous times. The old medieval order of life was changing, and the seeds of new religious ideas just beginning to take root. As Anne grew up in the beginnings of this new world, I realised that she was set on a course that was to shape her mind, her ideas, and her personality. A course that resulted in her winning a crown and being instrumental in changing the face of English History.
I spent days at Hever, Blickling, Rochford and Thornbury and so was able to get a very good feel for the places that Anne herself would have known. But I wanted to do more. I wanted to know about Mechelen, to see what Anne saw there, for myself.
So, not expecting a reply, I wrote to the tourist office there and asked if there were any city guides I could book time with to help me with my research. I was immediately put in touch with several people, and on a crisp October day started my journey by train to Brussels, and on to Mechelen. My guides met me at the tourist office and what was only to be an hour or two’s assistance, turned into a week. At the palace of Margaret of Austria, I was even allowed to go into rooms not normally open to the public, and in the Department of Archives see old maps of the city. It is a truly lovely city, worth a visit by anyone interested in Anne’s story.
I have kept to the facts as much as possible in this book. All names, places and events are accurate, but as this is a novel, I have had to put forward some imagined scenarios and names for lesser characters, to aid the story. I hope my thoughts are still feasible. The date of Anne’s birth was a complex problem, but having consulted every available source, I decided to place her birth earlier, in 1501, rather than later in 1507. But what month in 1501? After hours of studying astrology, looking at charts and different personality traits – and changing my mind a dozen times – I finally chose the month of May since, according to one source, she was executed on 19th May 1536, shortly before her thirty-sixth birthday. The more I read, the more I felt the choice of a Gemini suited her witty, lively personality and complex character. She also had a temper, although my Gemini friends might disagree with this trait!
I do hope you enjoy the book. Book two, which I am half way through, is called ‘Falcon’s Flight’ and covers Anne’s time at the French court. I loved visiting the chateau for my research and I hope you like the finished book.
Originally from Derbyshire, Nat trained as a graphic designer and illustrator, before becoming a museum curator, and fulfilling a passion for all things historical. Working with collections ranging from toys and military objects, to Royal Crown Derby China she now lives and works in London as a museum curator.
In her spare time Nat likes to walk in the Derbyshire countryside, research the Tudors, and travel abroad.