Cara/Andrea here, Today I'm delighted to welcome back my dear friend Amanda McCabe, a favorite with many of our readers for her scintillating Regency romances for both Signet and Harlequin. But today she's wearing her Tudor velvets and jewels as she tells us a little about her historical mystery series, written as Amanda Carmack, set in the court of Queen Elizabeth. (Those of you who haven't read them are in for a treat!) Amanda loves historical detail as much as we do, so without further ado, I shall let her fill you in on some of the fun details behind Murder In The Queen's Garden, her latest release.
Amanda here, Kate Haywood and her adventures are, of course, a work of imagination (even though she often feels like a real friend to me, after I've been lucky enough to follow her through three books!). But one of the fun “perks” of writing, I've always found, is the research. The chance to jump into a time hundreds of years in the past, discover the people and places and events, and try to make it feel “real” again—I love all of that.
Ever since I did a history report on Anne Boleyn in elementary school (complete with costume and a lute made of cardboard!), the Tudor era has held a special fascination for me. It was an exciting time of enormous social and political change, as well as amazing artistic achievement (especially in poetry and the theater) at a level beyond anything before or since. Bawdy, colorful, fast-paced, and populated by so many fascinating characters, what's not to love??
I also discover new things every time I happily dive into my research library. For Murder in the Queen's Garden, I loved exploring the worlds of the Elizabethan fascination with astrology and the occult; the intriguing figure of Dr. John Dee; and the gorgeous (and now sadly vanished) Nonsuch Palace.
The building of Nonsuch Palace, in Surrey, started on April 22, 1538, about six months after Prince Edward was born, but it took several years to complete. In fact, it was still incomplete when Henry VIII died in 1547. It was meant to compete with the glorious chateaus of France, and cost over 24,000 pounds to construct (almost 104 million today!). Though it was a simple layout, built around two inner courtyards, with a fortified gatehouse and several outer courtyards, it was gorgeously decorated with elaborate ornamental, stucco panels depicting classical gods and goddesses, and tall octagonal towers at every corner that gave it a “fairy tale” look. The gardens were said to be some of the most beautiful in England.
After Henry's death, the palace lay neglected for some time, until Queen Mary sold it to Lord Arundel, one of the richest noblemen in England, in 1556. Queen Elizabeth managed to buy it back in the 1580s, but it met a sad fate. Charles II gave it to his favorite mistress, Barbara Castlemaine, who tore it down to pay some gambling debts in 1682. It was excavated in 1959, and there is a lovely scale model of it that I used for much research. (I am not sure King Henry actually brought Catherine Howard there in 1541, but they did go on a long progress. Wouldn't he have wanted to show it off to her?? Queen Elizabeth did visit in the summer of 1559, where Lord Arundel hoped to persuade her to marry him. It was always a vain hope, poor man…)
I hope you enjoy exploring Nonsuch Palace with Kate as much as I did! For more “behind the book” info, visit my website, http://amandacarmack.com. I'm also on Facebook, and (way too often) on Pinterest.
If you could visit any site in history, what would it be? Amanda will be giving away a copy of her new book to one reader, chosen at random, who leaves a comment here between now and Wednesday at midnight.