Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Why Trastamara Chronicles?

Late fifteenth century Spain has a special place in my heart. When I was twelve, newly moved to Australia and desperately missing the familiar things of home, I discovered Jean Plaidy's historical novels. I started with The Young Elizabeth and enjoyed it, but the story that irrevocably hooked me, that drew me towards history in general and these characters in particular, was Daughters of Spain. I'm a geek. The family of Isabella and Ferdinand, notably Catherine of Aragon, became my first true obsession - and obviously it never left! I will admit it lay dormant as I discovered other enthusiasms and interests, both historical and otherwise.

Then in May 2012 I went to Barcelona, and a switch was flipped. The old obsession revived, but this time it came with the desire, the urge, to write. As we cruised around the Med I began to make notes on my iPad; when we returned home I started my research in earnest, hampered by the fact that The Invisible Infanta is set in Spain; inevitably, most primary sources are in Spanish ...which I don't read! As a trained historian this makes me distinctly uncomfortable and I intend to remedy it sooner rather than later.
However, it was not the disadvantage it might have been. My main character is almost invisible to history - English speaking history, at least - which left me a good deal of wriggle room. Yet the wriggling takes place within a framework established from extensive reading of the available monographs and biographies of Isabella of Castile and her two best known daughters, Juana of Castile and Catherine of Aragon. I've also dipped a few toes into the biographies of Christopher Columbus. My search for research materials continues; my nirvana is to find English translations of the main contemporary chroniclers of the Catholic Kings - notably Pulgar and Peter Martyr d'Anghiera … and the British Library has papers that I may be able to use. 

The Trastamara Chronicles is conceived as a non-sequential series of possibly three or four novels, each with a different angle or slant on this particular branch of the Trastamaras. I'm aware that this period is a favourite of historical novelists, but I dare to hope that I can offer something a little different. I'll try, at any rate.

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