Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Author Interview - The Tudor Secret's C.W. Gortner

The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and above all, spies.

Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the King’s brilliant, enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil—who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.

A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth's quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing C.W. Gortner, the author of the stellar new book "The Tudor Secret"

Welcome to One Book Shy of a Full Shelf.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was raised in southern Spain, near a ruined castle that had once been the summer palace of Isabella and Ferdinand; growing up, there was history was all around me and the past seemed as natural to me to explore as the modern world. Much later on, after my return to the US, I got an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. I've worked as a fashion marketer, vintage clothing specialist, and grant writer; I love animals and am dedicated to championing animal rights, as well as environmental issues. I’m also an amateur oil painter.

How would you describe “The Tudor Secret” in 15 words or less?

A squire turns spy to save Elizabeth Tudor from a plot – and uncover his past.

What inspired you to write this story?

Years ago, I was researching the Tudor era in preparation for a possible novel when I came across some information about the espionage system that was developed to protect Elizabeth I from her enemies. It sparked something in me; though I’d read a lot of different stories featuring the Tudors, I’d not read anything about a spy. I started to think: What if an ordinary man with an extraordinary secret becomes Elizabeth Tudor’s intimate spy, creating a lethal rivalry with her favorite, Robert Dudley, even as he in turn must protect the queen from foes both inside and outside her court? And what if he first met Elizabeth in the years before she became queen?

So what is the easiest part of the writing process for you? The hardest?

The easiest part is the brainstorming for me, when the research starts yielding inspiration that turns into story. I love developing the characters, building the plot, envisioning the novel’s progression. The hardest part is working through the stale moments, the awful first drafts, and the insecurity that I lack the skill to tell this particular story.

Which character did you relate to or enjoy writing the most?

Interesting question! I love all my characters for different reasons, but I must admit, I enjoyed writing Brendan of THE TUDOR SECRET the most. Maybe because he’s fictional and I was able to work with him more freely; with my other characters, certain personality traits, good or bad, are ingrained, as they’re based on historical people.

Do you have any favorite lines or scenes from the story?

I love the moment in the book when Brendan first meets Elizabeth and thinks she has the eyes of a lion. It came spontaneously in the writing and through numerous revisions, edits, and changes, that one scene never altered. It shows in an instant the incredible allure she exerts over others, and his attraction toward her.

That is one of my favorite moments in the story too.  So what kind of books do you read for pleasure?

Historical novels, of course! And I like thrillers, historical, supernatural, and contemporary.

If you could invite 3 authors (living or not) to dinner, who would you choose & why?

Of those who have departed, I’d love to invite Alexander Dumas because I adore his sense of grandeur; Daphne DuMaurier because she brewed suspense like no one else; and Judith Merkle Riley, because I miss her.

Can you tell us what we can look forward to next from C.W. Gortner and The Spymaster Chronicles?

 I just finished a stand-alone novel about Isabella of Castile, which is currently with my editor at Ballantine Books. I’m now writing the second book in the Spymaster series, which takes Brendan back to court, this time in the months before Mary Tudor’s marriage to Philip II, and embroils him in another deadly plot against Elizabeth. This time, however, Brendan is savvier and believes he knows what he’s up against. He’s in for some very troubling surprises.

Anything else you'd like your fans to know?

Thank you so much for spending this time with me, and thank you, Jules, for inviting me. I love interacting with readers and hope you enjoy my books. You can always find out more about me and my work at: www.cwgortner.com. I’ll also be on a blog tour for The Tudor Secret and you can catch up with me during the tour by following my stops on my own blog at: http://historicalboys.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much for stopping in to answer some questions about yourself and your fantastic new novel.  I absolutely loved The Tudor Secret and I can't wait for Brendan's next adventure.

C.W. Gortner is the author of the acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Half-Spanish by birth, he divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.
The Last Queen: A Novel  The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel  The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)

Readers be sure to come back tomorrow as I will post my raving review of this story and we'll have a sneak peek of that favorite moment that C.W. mentions above  And did I mention there will be a GIVEAWAY? 
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~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.


  1. Thaks for hosting Christopher today. I hope your readers check out The Tudor Secret. I've read it, and it is superb. I look forward to your review.

    Christopher, keep up the great work. You keep writing stories that I love to read.

    All my best,


  2. Thank you for hosting me on my big tour. I look forward to your review and hope your readers enjoy THE TUDOR SECRET. Best of luck to all with the giveaway!

  3. Thank you both for stopping in today and for giving me the opportunity to review and feature this book.

    I also hope everyone will check out this book, it is one that is not to be missed.


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