Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tudor Fiction or Tudor Fact?

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers.  First before we start this instalment of Red Ned’s Tudor blog I would like you to take a moment to think of the survivors of the Japanese Tsunami and the still- still on going Nuclear disaster.  As we should have realised when we chose the nuclear option, when something inevitably goes dramatically wrong it is difficult and dangerous to fix.  If it is possible for you please donate or support a local/international charity of your choice for those in the Antipodes I suggest this site .

This appears to be a year of dramatic events the recent spate of destructive tornadoes that has hit part of the United States, and many people there are also in need of assistance.  Once more I ask you to do what you can.  
Now on to the latest Red Ned news!  The Liberties of London has passed the first stage of its publishing on Smashwords and is slowly winding its way through to the premium catalogue.  As they say the first time you do anything is when the most mistakes happen, well I blush to admit that in all our preparation, organisation and fixing formatting errors we forgot to press the re submit button.  Oh dear how embarrassing!  Anyway if you’re interested check this address.

This week will also see the novella uploaded on Amazon Kindle, so if all the editing goes aright it will be available right across the ebook universe.  Yeehaw!

Now on to the issue of the day.  Originally it was going to be the next instalment on the not so reputable acts of Sir Thomas More, concentrating on his part in the infamous Richard Hunne case of 1517.  One link to original documents is here-

However with the rush for final editing and re-editing and re-re-reediting for the next couple of Red Ned novels, that plan fell by the wayside.  Instead, in the effort to finish off my marketing research for novels set in the Tudor period, I perused the current offerings and looked further into the ebook surge.  What I found out was not so much surprising, as disturbing.  I strongly suggest that any potential or practicing writers check out the following two blogs.  Kristina Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith  Considering my long experience in dealing with the myths, problems and fabrications of modern business, I really shouldn’t have been stunned by the insider revelations of massive and chronic dysfunction of the publishing industry by these two writers.  I’m afraid to admit that their information managed to shock even my deeply ingrained cynicism of the contemporary corporation and MBA management styles.  Unfortunately it also pointed out in bold glowing letters that this little bunny was NEVER going to get published via the traditional route.  Unless of course I took up one of the hundreds if not thousands of instant Self Publish offers.  Now for those of you considering that path may I point out a simple fact not all of them are scams, but a very large number are.  So DO YOUR RESEARCH.  
Finally my dear friends and devoted followers we get to the Tudor aspect of this post.

Tudor fiction or Tudor fact? 

Where stands the state of Tudor fiction today.  Interested parties want to know.  Especially me!  All my life I have been passionate about history and the stories that it inspires.  Some years ago three authors in particular pushed me towards the Tudors;
Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Series and Farrington’s The Killing of Richard III were the first, while PF Chisholm’s Sir Robert Cary novels and Patricia Finney’s Firedrakes Eye (the same author actually) consolidated my enjoyment of this era.  They are all well written, dramatic, complex and have great story lines.  Best of all they don’t assume the reader is an idiot and want you to think about the period its characters and their challenges.  To be honest these are the writers that inspire me and that I am seeking to, after a fashion emulate, and to be honest all other novels of this period that I read are automatically put up in comparison.  So how stands the field?

Tudor Romantic Fiction

For some reason the Tudor age is packed to the gunwales with a broad selection of romantically inclined fiction both extremely mass market with handsome and aloof lords and sighing conflicted ladies.  Now this really isn’t my thing, not even the lure of proper Tudor descriptions and events can get me in.  Sorry, the best I could manage was a few Jean Plaidy’s, a trifle dated now but she was a superb storyteller and made an effort, even then, at historical accuracy.  I believe Phillipa Gregory now holds sway in this field with her current batch of novels like the Other Boleyn Girl, not really my style so I cannot give a fair opinion.  I have seen some of her work and I do understand she is writing specifically for a market and as I’ve seen very successfully.  However I feel that she’s stretched some theories pretty far to create plot lines, but this is fiction and thus the story is subservient to fact.

Tudor Historical

This area appears a tad lean though it does have some excellent authors like Susan Higginbotham moving in.  A quick visit to her blog will easily show you her efforts at research and experience in storytelling.  I follow her and would readily suggest the same to any Tudor devotee.
I doubt if I need to mention much about Hilary Mantle and her novel about Thomas Cromwell -Wolf Hall or the literary award she received for it.  Since the digital ether is packed with reviews and opinions on this work I’ll leave it there.
Alison Weir is making a push from popular history to fiction with a number of stories.  Now I do have a few issues with her as a historian, but as a storyteller she displays skill. 

Tudor Mystery

This is a far more impressive showing. we have as I said above, the splendid novels by PF Chisholm/Patricia Finney as well as the dark and intense stories of CJ Sansom’s crippled hero, Shardlake.  Sansom has proved without a doubt that Tudor characters and settings can be as versitile and moody as any contemporary mystery thriller.  I wish I'd found him earlier.  Pushing into this respected field are also CW Gortner with his Tudor Secrets and Rory Clement’s Revenger and Martyr.  I’ve had a brief chance to check the samples of their books and both impress me with the quality of their writing and their obvious effort to as accurately as possible, portray the people, the time and their society.  I can recommend these to any historical fiction reader or lover of mystery fiction.

Tudor Vampires, Werewolves and Paranormals

Well, since the overwhelming success of Twilight it had to happen.  That’s not to say that Stephanie Meyers didn’t deserve the success she received.  Her work is finely crafted and well done.  As in many areas of fiction, vampires and such have moved in and bred like bats filling any available niche in a very evolutionary fashion.  In some they have done well and proliferated, especially as even the dimmest publishing executive could see there was a dollar to be made thanks to Buffy, Blade and True Blood et al. 
However the open field that is the Tudor Age has proved disappointing.  There are three of four books in this mixed genre and having looked at them, I’m afraid I’m less than impressed. 
I had been hoping for something like the stellar work of Kim Newman, with his dark classic Anno Dracula, or maybe even the amazingly violent and sexually explicit Laurel K Hamilton’s Anita Blake books and I certainly don’t see any Don Sebastian Villanueva.  Unfortunately what we have falls far short of even Anne Rice’s earliest work.  I find this particularly disappointing, since some years ago I put aside several stories of a medieval and Tudor series concerning vampires, since I’d been told it’d be difficult to get to get a look in with agents.  Ahem, in light of this recent development I have since revised my decision, check this blog before the end of the year for further developments. 
Okay I’ve probably missed a lot of novels of this period that no doubt you, the viewer have seen around.  Now a moment of true honesty.  Either I haven’t had a chance to read them, or I have and I’ve been extremely unimpressed.  Take your pick.  I may also note that if a book was really, really pathetic I do mention it, like my review of The Last Legion on my second blog Prognistications and Pouting.

Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

After that very brief review, where do my Red Ned novels stand in the general Tudor genre?  I’m afraid not romance fiction, though it does have the rough and abrasive relationship between Ned with Meg Black and who knows, Ned may finally get his much sought for rumpy-pumpy.  Though knowing Lady Fortuna probably not how he was expecting.  Politics and treachery abound in the Tudor period, so there’s the thriller component.  As for mystery, Ned, if he had a vote, would like easier murders to solve, possibly not involving factional or religious entanglements nor dangerous rivals.  When we come to adventure it seems that some rogue or lord is always ready to either pull him into a scam or off load a ticklish problem.  Over all I hope that no matter which patch of the genre they fit in, the stories are entertaining, amusing possibly dramatic and who knows, maybe even a good way to view Tudor history.
Check out the Liberties of London at Smashwords, download a sample or splurge 99c for a Tudor Frolic.  Enjoy and if you can leave me some feedback or comments 

Regards Greg

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your take on Philippa Gregory's work - she has stretch the facts somewhat, which disappointed me. I'll check out Susan Higginbotham's work. Thanks for the recommendation.