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Action and Adventure In Tudor England

By Jonathan Posner
March 28, 2023

I have always been fascinated with the Tudor period, especially after reading Legacy – Susan Kay’s excellent fictionalised biography of Elizabeth, when I was a teenager. But it was only when I was writing the book and lyrics for a stage musical in the early 1990s that I decided to set a story of my own in Tudor England. The result was Spirit of History, a time-travel musical that was performed by a community theatre at the time. Fast forward a couple of decades to the 2010s, and I decided to bring the same idea to a wider audience as a historical fiction novel.

The Witchfinder’s Well was published at the end of 2015. It’s the story of Justine, a hopeless romantic who has long been obsessed with the Tudor period. Working in a magnificent stately home that once belonged to the dashing adventurer Sir William de Beauvais, she often daydreams about the lavish banquets and grandeur of Tudor life. But when a freak electrical storm suddenly catapults her back to 1565, she discovers the harsh reality of Tudor England – a time of perilous accusations, ruthless witch-hunts and deadly punishments. Not only is she soon accused of witchcraft and finds herself being hunted by a sinister witchfinder, she also falls in love with the real Sir William – and realises that history says he is due to die the very next day! So she has to try and save her love, while also saving herself from the clutches of the witchfinder.

The Witchfinder’s Well got a good reception on Amazon, so I was fired up to write the sequel The Alchemist’s Arms,  then the final part of the story, The Sovereign’s Secret. I now had a complete trilogy, but it was clear to me that my genre was not purely historical fiction. Historical, yes – but what I was really creating were ‘action adventure’ stories set in Tudor England, with fast-paced narratives, plenty of tension, and enough danger to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The Tudor setting not only gave me a fascinating backdrop to my stories, but also the opportunity to create a whole cast of colourful secondary characters. 

So there I was – a writer with a trilogy of historical action/adventure novels, and a burning desire to keep writing. I had already started a spin-off series featuring a ‘kick-ass’ Tudor heroine called Mary Fox. The first book, The Broken Sword, was published in 2020, so I began writing the next book in her series.

Meanwhile I wanted to produce a short story as a giveaway, so I looked around for a subject – and hit on the idea of writing the ‘origin’ story of one of the secondary Tudor characters from the trilogy, Robert Wychwoode, a wily old lawyer and spy-master. I thought it would be fun to see what had happened in his youth to make him into the cunning lawyer and servant of the state he later becomes. And, of course, I’d give him an adventure or two along the way!

It was always meant to be a quick read, so I put the new Mary Fox draft to one side and started writing the (short) story of Robert as a young man, setting out on his career in the law and espionage. I even gave him a girlfriend, a feisty girl called Ophelia.

But if I had thought Robert and Ophelia would let me dash off their story as a short piece, I was sadly mistaken. They were having none of it. Not only did Robert keep demanding more and more adventures, but Ophelia became so feisty, that she had to have some adventures of her own. In fact, it soon became clear that she was now pretty much the lead character – and although it is still Robert’s origin story, it is Ophelia who steals the show! 

The result is The Lawyer’s Legacy, a full-length novel for readers of all ages, which opens with Ophelia in mortal danger, before Robert brings his burgeoning legal skills to her assistance. He and Ophelia then find themselves caught up in a traitorous plot to overthrow King Henry VIII. As an idealist, young Robert promises himself he will always be honest and truthful, but he soon realises that if he and Ophelia are to survive he is going to have to compromise on these principles – the first step on the road to becoming the man we see in the later stories.

Now, where was I with that new Mary Fox book?

The Lawyer’s Legacy is available to download on Amazon from 31st March 2023. 

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Jonathan Posner

Written by Jonathan Posner

Jonathan writes action and adventure novels set in Tudor England, with fiesty female heroines. He has a trilogy that starts with a modern-day girl time-travelling back to the 16th century, as well as a spin-off series (one book so far, with the next due in 2023), and also a prequel.

View Jonathan’s PLW Profile

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