King Henry stood for a moment to let us all gaze on his glory. His jewels flashed in the candlelight, his golden clothes shimmered as if they were made of the sun. He was the tallest man in the room, the biggest, proudest, fiercest man in Europe.
And I was there, standing in his court.
Will Montague is a page to little Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII, thanks to his ambitious uncle, Lord Carew. But he has an enemy, Percy Howard, whose own uncle is one of the most powerful men in court. Percy schemes to have Will’s father thrown into prison. Will himself is in terrible danger now. Helped by a poor boy, Nick Drew, Will braves death and imprisonment in a brave quest to save his father’s life.
I have always been fascinated by the Tudor period, especially during the reign of Henry VIII, who is himself one of the most fascinating kings in the history of England. England was scarcely out of the dark ages, yet on the brink of major exploration and discovery. When I first started to write the book I was most interested in my character Nick Drew, the boy who helps Will. He is a poor child who lives in a hovel, and his great ambition is to sail round the world. “I want to have adventures! I want to see everything there is to see: the monsters in the sea and the giants on the land.”
I started to write about him, but as I researched the period I became deeply interested in that other life, the wealthy life of the court, and the man at the helm of that tight ship who had so much power that he dared to defy the Pope – the infamous Henry VIII. So Treason takes us from one world to another, and at the centre of them both, a boy in danger.
Writing about another time is like writing about another country – visually everything is different, and my job as a novelist is to recreate that time so the reader can walk through the stinking streets and the gorgeous halls of the Tudor period and feel at home there. I had to do a great deal of research. I visited many mansions, including the Palace of Hampton Court, where the boy prince Edward lived. I talked to many people who knew a great deal more than I did about the way rich and poor people lived in the early fifteen hundreds, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, the daily life.