A Novel of the Tudor Court
Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels, best grows up with in the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.
1. Did or do you like to read comic books/grapic novels? Which ones?
I read comic books as a kid, but that was it for a long time. I’m 55, so graphic novels weren’t a thing once I “grew out of” comics. Like so many others, though, I was lured back in by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stories. I still prefer my words without pictures, but my husband loves comics and graphic novels, so I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of them through him. I think it’s a perfectly valid form of storytelling, just not my first choice.
- Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
My mom. She was a huge reader, and one of my earliest childhood memories is trying to to talk to her while she was reading and having her hold up a hand and say, “Unless you’re bleeding, let me finish this chapter.” It made me want to know what was going on inside books, and I learned to read young because I wanted to find out.
My dad didn’t have much of an education (he left school in 6th grade) but he wanted more for me. He would tell me stories before bed when I was little, but as soon as I learned to read, he turned it around and had me read to him, both as practice for me and (I think) because he was proud that I’d gotten that far.
- When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
It has been known to happen. Not as frequently now–since I’m no longer working in an office, I don’t have as long a list of potential “victims,” but I do have a long memory.
- How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Since I write historical, I start with names that were popular during the time period I’m writing. I try to stay accurate to the period, which can be difficult (in Tudor times, it seemed everyone was named Henry, Elizabeth, Thomas, or Anne!).
- Do write other things beside books (and shoppinglists 😉 )?
I’ve had a blog since 2007, which started out as a sewing blog to share projects and keep up with far-flung sewing friends, but it’s transitioned over the years into a rambling whole-life blog (with lots about writing), and now it’s on my website, www.karenheenan.com
- If your movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
I would try VERY HARD to be satisfied with “based on.” It might depend on how much they paid me for the rights, honestly. And no one, no matter how talented, no matter how perfect the cast, is going to be able to see exactly what I saw in my head. Also, TV/film are very different mediums, and sometimes the best parts of books don’t translate well. I would push for historical accuracy, though–it really bothers me when that gets thrown out the window for the sake of entertainment.
- Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Ooh, how far back can I go? For historical figures, right now I’m really fascinated by Thomas Cromwell. Henry VIII is less likeable the more you know about him, but he really attracted some fascinating people, and Cromwell, during his time in power, knew everyone and everything that was going on.
In writer terms, I would have liked to talk to Dorothy Dunnettt. She’s my all-time favorite historical novelist, both for her amazing, intricate plots, depth of world-building, and an unbelievable variety of characters. I’d love to find out how she plotted such long series and scattered clues throughout so they all made sense in the end.
- Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
It depends on the project. For my current Tudor project, I emailed with a librarian at Magdalen College, Oxford, because there were certain things about the college library during Tudor times that I couldn’t find in books or online. (She had exactly what I needed. Always trust a librarian).
For another project, which got put aside for the second Tudor book, but which is calling my name, I sat down with several female friends because I needed to know, in as much detail as they were willing to share, what childbirth felt like.
- Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
My husband is the mostly-willing victim of my plot discussions. He gives me the male perspective, and also a view from someone who doesn’t read a lot of my genre, which is helpful. He’s also been helpful with naming minor characters. I have another friend who is my first reader, and she’s very good when I need to discuss the “why would someone…” type of ideas.
- What is more important to you : a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
Stars are good (if there are a lot of them) for Amazon’s purposes, but the world doesn’t revolve around them. I really love reading reviews that tell me what the reader got from my story. Sometimes they describe things I hadn’t even taken into consideration, and I look at my book with fresh eyes. I get excited every time I check Amazon and there’s a new review posted. I’m sure this will wear off, but I hope it doesn’t.
Thank you, Karen Heenan and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.
She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.