Welcome to Jennifer C Wilson, who has just published her debut novel with Crooked Cat Publishing – Kindred Spirits: Tower of London. She’s someone who knows her history as well as her spirits – so have a read then head on over to Amazon to grab the book. That’s Halloween reading sorted! Take it away, Jennifer…
I think most of us, despite what we believe, are a little bit obsessed by ghosts, be it the spirit of a beloved relative that we want to feel close to after they’ve left us, or that of a historical ‘celebrity’, one of the great movers or shakers of their day. Every one of them has their tale to tell: of love lost, a tragic end, or a miscarriage of justice. And this makes them incredibly interesting characters to set a story around.
I am largely a coward, but have always been intrigued by the tales which focus around our major historical sites and buildings. So many castles have their grey or blue ladies, often the poor young women of the household, forbidden to follow their hearts, or the focuses of their affections, cut down by angry fathers, brothers or would-be husbands. And if anywhere has more than its fair share of spirits hanging around, it has to be the Tower of London.
Despite being at the heart of English, and subsequently British, history since the earliest days of the Conquest, the Tower had never truly captured my imagination, but at some point, several years ago now, Richard III cropped up in a book I was reading, and I became fascinated by him and his life. It occurred to me that he and Anne Boleyn would probably have enough in common for their ghosts to be friends, and that the most sensible place for those ghosts to ‘live’ was probably the Tower of London.
After writing a truly awful poem for a competition, the idea kept nagging away at me, and eventually became my project for NaNoWriMo 2013. A lot has changed in the editing process, but the opening lines are still broadly the same…
Anne sighed. “We’ve been through this before, Richard. It wasn’t funny then, and it isn’t funny now.”
“Well, it’s this lot. All these years, and I could swear they’re getting worse.” He leaned back against the cool brick, and shaded his eyes as he scanned a group of already-bored teenagers being herded by an increasingly frustrated tour guide.
“Perhaps we are simply getting jaded. Come on, I know you love your school trips.”
She gave him no choice, pulling him away from the wall. He sighed. Anne was right; he did enjoy independent tours like this one, although he would enjoy them so much more if they got their facts right. He watched her as she wandered around the back of the group, looking for targets.
“Shall we give them the full works?” she called over to him.
I loved reading so much material about the Tower, before finally getting to explore it for real. My main problem was being selective about which ghosts to pick – even now, I read a new book and find somebody else who could have been there!
Throughout the writing of the novel, I wanted to portray the camaraderie which I’d hope would exist, as well as the obvious conflicts which might arise between the ‘residents’ of the Tower. Mainly though, I wanted to capture a sense of fun, because I certainly had fun writing it, and hope people have fun reading it too.
Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…
A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult edication workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.
Jennifer blogs at https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/ and can be found on Twitter as @inkjunkie1984.