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Hastings author visits England for book inspiration

Davidson is pictured at Hampton Court Palace next to a large hedge cut in the shape of Henry VIII. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Davidson went to the Italian Garden at Hever Castle. Hever Castle was home to Anne Boleyn’s family for two generations. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Local author Mary Janice Davidson spent a couple weeks of September in the United Kingdom doing research for her upcoming book titled “A Contemporary Smartass at the Court of Henry VIII.”

The book is about a girl who travels in time to the period of the Tudors. Davidson drew lots of inspiration from her trip and is currently in the middle of writing the historical fiction novel.

The New York Times and USA Today best-selling author is more well-known for her The Undead Series, but this new book is what she calls a passion project.

Davidson said she has been a “Tudorphile for forever.” After reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory, she started digging into more and more books about the Tudors, and films, and TV shows, basically anything Tudor-related. Even if it infuriates her that some of the portrayals are historically inaccurate, she’ll still watch.

“So for 20 years, I’ve been reading up on them and I finally figured out a way to turn that useless trivia in to (something),” Davidson said.

During her time spent researching in England, Davidson visited many hotspots for Tudor history including Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, Hever Castle, Hampton Court Palace and even Henry VIII’s grave.

She found the Tower of London to be quite interesting for a couple of reasons.

“It was so thrilling to be where Anne Boleyn had gone for her coronation and then when she went again to be beheaded,” Davidson said, “I mean, I was geeking out.”

Other than her excitement over being in the place Anne Boleyn had once walked, she said there were giant ravens that were literally fed blood-soaked biscuits. The local butchers provide the blood. This ensures that the ravens do not leave the Tower of London. Charles II insisted the resident ravens remain at the property because he foresaw the kingdom and the Tower would fall if they departed.

“These ravens are the size of German shepherds, they’re sleek, they’re fat, they’re fearless,” Davidson said.

She revealed that the ravens will make an appearance in her upcoming novel. Her heroine will not be quiet about the ravens insisting on eating blood.

Davidson said the trip has allowed her to add a lot of descriptive material into the location of the book. She said her books are typically heavy on dialogue and weak on description, but going to see the places for herself has helped her incorporate more description into this novel.

Her heroine travels in time to the period of Henry VIII’s reign where she inadvertently changes history when she does the Heimlich on Henry VIII, Davidson said. The heroine ends up meeting all six of Henry VIII’s wives and has to try to keep the historical timeline on track.

Davidson said the trip made history a lot more real for her. She felt a lot closer to her characters. She said she has always been separated from the stories of the Tudors by time and place, but by being in England she was a little bit closer.

“When you’re in Hampton Court Palace you’re only separated by time,” Davidson said, “you’re literally walking where these people walked, where these legends of history walked.”

Davidson plans to have her book completed by January 2017 with the hopes of it being launched next fall or winter. Who knows, if the book does well, Davidson said she might have a sequel in mind that would include Stirling Castle in Edinburgh.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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