I am often asked why I choose to write about the women in my books. In the case of Elizabeth Woodville, protagonist of Once a Queen, I felt the need to tell her side of the story. You see, in the first book in my Plantagenet Embers series, Elizabeth comes across just as harsh and scheming as many expect her to be. It is difficult to shine in comparison to her daughter, Elizabeth of York. After finishing the trilogy, I felt like it was time to return to the beginning and give voice to a few secondary characters, including Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville, and Reginald Pole.
In Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, the reader has the opportunity to experience the birth of the Tudor dynasty from Elizabeth of York’s point-of-view. She does not initially support her mother’s plan for her to marry Henry Tudor, and she does not believe that her uncle murdered her brothers. We see her cope with Richard’s defeat and her own marriage, bolstered by her faith and quiet strength. Elizabeth Woodville clashes with her eldest daughter on more than one occasion and is eventually sent to Bermondsey.
What was Elizabeth Woodville thinking in these scenes with her daughter? Was there more to her than Bess perceived? These questions were the basis for Once a Queen, and some of the scenes are mirror images of those in the earlier novel. This time, the reader has a taste of Elizabeth’s anguish and doubt. She is a former queen with no king beside her. She is the mother of children who may be dead. She is a woman in a man’s world with daughters to secure a place for. Her position is impossible and her decisions heart-wrenching.
Instead of seeing a haughty queen knocked off her pedestal, I want readers to see a woman who loves her children. Yes, she is an ambitious woman and one who is not always admirable, but she can also touch our heart and gain our sympathy. What I hope to establish with each person I write about is that nothing is black and white, no one is a hero or a villain. This is certainly true about Elizabeth Woodville, a woman who rose to be queen only to see her world come crashing down around her.