Friday 11 June 2021

Character Interview: A Wider World (The Tudor Court, Book 2)By Karen Heenan @karen_heenan

 A Wider World 
(The Tudor Court, Book 2)
By Karen Heenan

Publication Date: 25th April 2021
Publisher: Authors 4 Authors Publishing Cooperative
Page Length: 349 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Memories are all he has…

Now they could save his life.

Returning to England after almost five years in exile, Robin Lewis is arrested and charged with heresy by the dying Queen Mary. As he is escorted to the Tower of London, Robin spins a tale for his captor, revisiting his life under three Tudor monarchs and wondering how he will be judged—not just by the queen, but by the God he stopped serving long ago.

When every moment counts, will his stories last long enough for him to be saved by Mary's heir, the young Queen Elizabeth?

Mary Anne: Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Robin Lewis: My name is Robin Lewis. My origins are of no interest to anyone – even myself – but if you must know, I was born in Yorkshire sometime in the final years of the reign of Henry VII. The people who raised me did not bother to notice the date, but I believe I entered upon this world’s stage in 1506.

My early upbringing was negligible; I came to myself at Hatton Priory, where I was educated and also taught to sing. This talent brought me to the attention of Cardinal Wolsey, and later King Henry. After I lost my voice due to the inevitability of growing up, I attended Oxford and traveled for a time before returning to serve the cardinal and later Thomas Cromwell in the position of secretary. I left Cromwell’s service in 1539, during the later stages of the dissolution of the monasteries. 

If you must know personal information: I have very few personal friends, perhaps as a result of having none as a child. I have a house in Yorkshire, where I keep my books – which I admit to loving more than any living being. I have, in recent years, acquired a wife, but I do not wish to speak of her at this point. 

During the reign of Queen Mary, I removed myself from England to the continent because I was a well-known Protestant and I logically feared for my life during an abrupt return to Catholicism. Those four years in Europe changed my life more than all my previous life together, and I returned to England a changed man, and was arrested for heresy.

Mary Anne:  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

Robin Lewis: Anywhere where there is peace and a good library. I have had too much of unsettled times, and I have been away from my books for far too long. I spent three years in Venice with a friend, with access to books and living in possibly the most beautiful city on earth, but Venice is damp, and I missed England.

I would like to live at Winterset, my house in Yorkshire, and I would like the rest of the world to be incapable of seeing the path to my door.
Mary Anne: What would you consider to be your greatest strength?

Robin Lewis: I am a survivor. I always have been. It does not make me proud to say that I will do what it takes to save my own skin, as no one has ever done it for me, nor will anyone likely take up that charge in my later years. 
Mary Anne: What is your biggest regret?

Robin Lewis: This is an impertinent, personal question, but I did agree to an interview, so I suppose I am obliged to answer. My biggest regret, as you call it, is not speaking up sooner to Cromwell regarding the plan to dissolve the monasteries of England. It was not entirely his plan – the king certainly benefited from all the money and property the dissolution put into his lap – but Cromwell bore the brunt of the blame, and he was my direct employer. 

I was raised in a monastery, and though I have since become a believer in the new religion – every religion needs reform after centuries of being left to its own devices – I still saw much good in the old system, and there were no new systems put in place to care for the people of England once the safety net of the monasteries was taken from them.

That I was sent to Hatton Priory – my childhood home – to effect their final closure is something I do not wish to discuss in further detail. It is beyond regret; it is something for which I do penance to this day.

Mary Anne: What makes you angry?

Robin Lewis: Power, used badly. Much of the reason I wish to retreat to my isolated Yorkshire home and hide away with my books is because I have been at the mercy of the powerful for far too much of my life, and those in power had very little care about those beneath them. I point no fingers, and I truthfully do not know if I would be any better, put in their position. Power is corrupting and is better avoided.

Monday, November 10, 1558
 Winterset, Yorkshire

“They said I would not end well.”

“And so you have not.” The young man has an air of self-importance, something he should have outgrown by now—but perhaps not. He has, after all, arrested me; mayhap he should feel arrogant.

I walk toward the fire, smiling as he moves out of my way. “I did not begin well, I will grant you that. And my middle was…middling.” The heat warms my face, masking any flush of anger. “But my end is not yet accomplished.”

He speaks again, his confidence recovered. “For your nefarious history with Thomas Cromwell, for your role in the destruction of the monasteries, and your attempts to dismantle the one true church, for promoting Luther and the English Bible, Her Majesty charges you with heresy.”

I ignore him. “You, who have interrupted my supper with your warrants and demands, who are here to see me to that end—you have no idea of my beginnings.”

Mongrel, they called me. Bastard. Unloved, I should have withered. I did not. I forced myself to flourish, to prove the world wrong.

“The world did not, early on, consider me of enough importance to care whether I lived or died. Now, I have achieved importance in the eyes of some—though only some see my true value. Whether you come to see it remains to be seen.”

The young man—William Hawkins—snorts. A laugh? A sound of disbelief? He drops into my empty chair, his black boots stretched toward the blaze.

I watch him in the small convex mirror, which stands on the cupboard, a memento of my Venetian travels, just unpacked. “You were told I was clever, to beware my words. I do not appear dangerous, do I?” A man of fifty-odd, dressed in clerical black. Thin to the point of gauntness, though seemingly healthy. A man with few attachments in this life, and those well concealed. “I can see you are interested.”

Hawkins demurs, but his eye stretches at my words, and I continue, “The storm will not abate before morning. It is not solely in my own interests that I suggest you ask your men to stand down.”

Hawkins is unwilling but sees sense in the end. I try not to listen as he speaks to his men. Nine of them—as if I require an army to be brought to justice. They shed their wet cloaks and settle themselves in the hall. I’ll have ale brought out; their goodwill will be more easily won than my captor’s.

I look at him again. He gives the impression of wearing armor, but in truth, he has nothing more than layers of damp wool, like the rest of us, with a well-cut doublet on top to show his status. “We may as well pass the evening in conversation.”

As an only child, Karen Heenan learned early that boredom was the enemy. Shortly after she discovered perpetual motion, and has rarely been seen holding still since.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, just outside Philadelphia, where she grows much of her own food and makes her own clothes. She is accompanied on her quest for self-sufficiency by a very patient husband and an ever-changing number of cats.

One constant: she is always writing her next book.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx