To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author'
today we have Susan Appleyard and royalty! Let's meet
King Richard III
King Richard III
Hello, I’m Helen the host of Discovering Diamonds Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Susan Appleyard’s novel entitled Queen of Trial and Sorrow. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?
A: A cup of wine would be most pleasing. I am King Richard the Third, and although many books have been written about me, in this book, alas, I am merely a supporting character.
Q: What is the novel about?
A: Queen of Trial and Sorrow is about Queen Elizabeth Woodville, she who bewitched my royal brother and plotted to deprive me of my rights as Protector of the Realm – a thousand curses on her.
Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: Well, my right beloved interlocutor, some regard me as a candidate for sainthood – God cherish them – while others would wish me frying on Satan’s griddle for all eternity. As for me, I can only say I did what I thought was right – mostly.
Q: Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Elizabeth was my arch-enemy, always plotting against me even when Edward was alive, always trying to turn him against me. But when he passed to his heavenly reward, then the witch showed her true colours, first trying to get the young king into her possession so she and her pernicious family could wield the power through him that was meant to be mine. I knew then that they would never stop plotting, and the young king, Edward’s son, was also a Woodville and would support his mother’s family against me. My life was like to be as long as the young king’s minority. Do you see? I had no choice but to do what I did.
Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: No series, but I did appear in the author’s book titled This Son of York. That one was mostly about Edward. I don’t know why she has never made me a central character. Perhaps she doesn’t like me.
Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: The Tower when I condemned Hastings to death. I loved him. I truly did. But when he conspired with the Woodvilles, he became my mortal enemy. I had to protect myself and my power.
Q: And your favourite scene?
A: I confess I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the ceremony creating young Edward Prince of Wales, when my brother of Clarence showed the king the bruises on his neck where he claimed I had tried to strangle him. Edward tried his best to be stern, but I knew he was trying to quell his amusement. We both laughed about it afterwards.
Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A: Oh, yes, many. Ten and still counting, I believe. None are as interesting as the ones I appear in, of course.
Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Something about a period long before my time and a people called the Cathars. I believe they were heretics who opposed Rome. Foolish of them.
Q: How do you think authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups?
A: More of your people must leave reviews. If I still had the power, I would pass a law. My author is frustrated by the number of friends she requests a review from who tell her that they don’t know how.
Thank you, Your Highness, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt?
And while she is doing that… chatting is thirsty work, would you like a refill of that drink?
Some hours later, while my daughters slept in the same chamber, I gave a final roaring grunt and expelled from the cozy nest of my womb…
“A boy,” Lady Scrope murmured, clearly vexed.
“A boy!” Anne shrieked, loud enough to disturb Bessie, who mumbled something and turned over away from us.
“Here, let me see.” My mother took the child from Lady Scrope’s hands at once and I watched a proud, grandmotherly smile spread across her features. “A fine lad. And long. Look how long he is, Anne. Isn’t he his father’s boy?”
Anne peered over her shoulder. “Oh, he’s beautiful, Your Grace. Beautiful,” she said, furtively wiping away a tear.
He wasn’t really, not at that moment. He tumbled from the womb a greyish lump and went from purple to red in moments, but after he had been washed, dried, swaddled, cooed over some more, and after my nightgown and sheets had been changed, my face and body bathed, he was placed in my arms, and I saw that he was beautiful. He had a lovely pink and white complexion, tiny puckered mouth, always mobile, eyes dark and unfocussed but nicely shaped and spaced. At last! My son. My beautiful boy.
“His name,” I said, “shall be Edward.”
I found myself glancing toward the door, as though expecting at any moment to see him burst through with a wide happy grin on his face, to kiss me on the mouth and pluck our son from my arms. It was a moment lost in the great maw of time past, a moment of triumph and joy that we would never be able to share, and I mourned its passing.
“How sad,” Lady Scrope said, courteously vicious. “Had he been born just a little earlier, there would have been bonfires in the streets and the bells would be rung in thanksgiving. As it is –” she lifted her shoulders with a sigh “– there will be little rejoicing for this birth.”
My mother, who had more than a little vinegar in her nature, said sharply: “There you are wrong, my lady. All over England those who love his Grace the King will raise their cups to drink to the health of this sweet prince. His birth will be celebrated quietly but with great joy.”
Connect with Susan:
2nd June Annie Whitehead and her character, King Penda
3rd June JJ Toner and his character, Ruth
4th June Richard Dee and his character, Andora Pett
5th June Richard Tearle and his character, Ulfus
6th June Anna Belfrage and her character, Jason
7th June Cryssa Bazos and her character, Iain Johnstone
8th June Susan Appleyard and her character, King Richard III
9th June Alison Morton and her character Conradus Mitelus