- Falling completely in love with my characters
I fell so completely in love with Katherine and Beau that at one point I was worried I was blurring fact and fiction. For me they were living and breathing people not just words on a page and I was even dreaming about them in my sleep. They were a joy to write and I found myself willing my work day to end so that I could get home and immerse myself into their lives for a couple of hours before bed. My poor husband got nothing intelligent out of me for months until I finished the final draft.
- Visiting the places where events took place
I am lucky that I lived in North Yorkshire from the ages of eleven until I was twenty-five and Middleham Castle was one of my favourite places to visit. I love nothing more than sitting in the ruins of the great hall and imagining what it was like when my characters were alive. I can almost see it and certainly feel it. I have toured most of the places that feature in the book and taken in the atmosphere and the sheer history of each place – it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it.
- Doing the Research
I am such a history geek that it was sheer bliss to immerse myself in libraries and research through documents such as the court rolls for the time so that I could make sure my character was where I said they would be. I was lucky that very little is known about Edmund Beaufort so I could place him pretty much where I liked but the others were well recorded and I tried as much as possible to make sure they were where I said they were.
- Watching the story unfold
Obviously, I made a plan for the general direction of the book, the key figures and the central storyline but for me the story really unfolds as it is written. I am not sure how others write but I tend to write some key scenes initially and then work around those and fit them all together and it is here where the story really takes shape and the characters come to life. The formation of each character’s personality comes through this process and I love watching them take shape; I really had no idea when I started that Jack Beaufort would be such a cheerful, good natured young man or that Warwick would be in any way likeable and I enjoyed watching that happen.
- Being able to say it was finished
Even though finishing the book was bittersweet the sense of accomplishment was immense. It was sad because it was like saying a final goodbye to an old friend but it was thrilling because I had finally finished it to my own satisfaction. This was a novel twenty eight years in the making, started when my older daughter was a baby and often put to one side as life and family came first. I always knew, though, that I would one day finish it and to have finally done that was amazing.