Monday, November 6, 2017

Q&A with Tony Morgan, Author of Remember, Remember the 6th of November and 1617

Please join me in welcoming Tony Morgan to Let Them Read Books! Tony is celebrating the release of his new novel, 1617, follow-up to his debut, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, both centering on the infamous Gunpowder Plot and its repercussions--both real and imagined. I'm pleased to have him here today answering questions about his books and sharing his fascination with the Gunpowder Plot and this period in England's history.

From the back cover of Remember, Remember the 6th of November:

England in 1605… a country of religious tensions, concerns about terrorism, Europe and increasing government surveillance. A small group of conspirators led by charismatic Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes plan regime change.

Remember, Remember the 6th of November is a thrilling retelling of the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot – perfect for lovers of the books of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris.

Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Goodreads

Each year on November 5th the skies over the United Kingdom are lit up by a million dancing fireworks. As smoke rises from thousands of bonfires, groups of children toss an effigy of a man they call “the Guy” onto the top. But why?

These annual festivities celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up Parliament and kill the Protestant king James I. The fact is the man placed onto the fire is no ordinary “Guy”. His name was Guy Fawkes. He was in a band of tightly-knit Catholic conspirators. Led by charismatic Robert Catesby, they planned for regime change in England.

These infamous events are the inspiration for a new BBC TV mini-series, Gunpowder, featuring Game of Thrones star Kit Harington as Robert Catesby. They also form the background for two historical novels written by UK author Tony Morgan, who lives near Guy Fawkes’s birthplace in Yorkshire in northern England.

Hi Tony! Thanks so much for visiting today!

There are lots of novels about the Tudors, what sparked your interest in their cousins and successors the Stuarts?

I almost stumbled into it by accident. I wanted to find out more about why we celebrate November 5th. The more I read, the more hooked I became. Terrorists, religious unrest, government surveillance, women attempting to make their way in a man’s world, there was so much to write about.

Your first book is called Remember, Remember the 6th of November; the obvious question is why the 6th and not the 5th?

I have to be careful here. I’m on spoiler alert! The story is set in the tense first week of November 1605. It focuses on King James, Queen Anne and the government on one side and the Gunpowder Plotters on the other. Catesby, Fawkes and their co-conspirators are finalizing their plans to blow up Parliament and kill the king. They also intend to start a popular uprising, kidnap the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth, convert her to Catholicism and place her on the throne.

The main action runs past the 5th of November and into the 6th, hence the date of the title. The reason becomes clear in the final chapters.

There have been a few murmurings about the new Gunpowder series not sticking too closely to the historical facts. Did you take a similar approach?

For the majority of Remember, Remember the 6th of November the plot sticks closer to the facts than the TV series but of course both are works of fiction inspired by real events. Like the TV series I want people to understand the Plotters’ motives, even if we don’t necessarily agree with what they did.  

Near the end of the book, I began to deliberately divert the story from the truth. A key sub-plot focuses on an anonymous letter which warned Catholic Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament. This was real and it was used to alert the authorities, but who sent it? Was it one of the Plotters or perhaps a government fit-up? There are lots of theories, but to this day nobody really knows, so I invented my own version. Based upon the request of a book club, the book includes a handy “what really happened” guide to clarify questions on the blurring between fact and fiction.

So the first book retells the tale of the Gunpowder Plot; what is the second one about? Is it a sequel?

Good question! I’d describe it an indirect sequel. 1617 is set twelve years later and takes more of an alternate history approach. The basic premise is that the Gunpowder Plotters partially succeed. Parliament was blown up. The king and princes were killed. Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II, but not in the way Fawkes and Catesby had intended. She retains her Protestant faith.

Many people think if the Gunpowder Plotters had succeeded, England would have descended into a bloody religious war. Is that what you’ve written about?

No, in the story the young queen’s advisors avoided this. Queen Elizabeth is determined to learn from her father’s mistakes She paves the way for a land based upon religious tolerance.

What does she do?

Elizabeth decides she needs to get her own house in order, starting with Ireland. She needs an envoy to begin the peace process, but the man she selects has a secret past. His name was Sir Everard Digby.

Hang on, wasn’t he one of the Gunpowder Plotters?

Yes, he was. In fact, he was the man Catesby had instructed to kidnap Elizabeth twelve years before. In the story, he pulled out of that operation when he realized the extent of Catesby’s plans, but the queen doesn’t know any of this. Will she find out? I can’t say or we’d need another spoiler alert. 

The plot splits into parallel streams, to include the queen’s troubles in England and Digby’s epic journey across Ireland, pursued by a Puritan assassin.

One last question. You mention Elizabeth, is she the only major female character?

Not at all. There are strong female characters in both books. From the Countess of Suffolk and Isabella Fawkes in Remember, Remember the 6th of November to Queen Elizabeth, the French spy Linda Blanchet and Edith Catesby (nee Percy) in 1617

It was a challenging world for women, and I really enjoyed ensuring they had major parts. Many of the reviews I’ve had have been by female readers, and I’m pleased they’ve enjoyed what they’ve read.

From the Back cover of 1617:

Queen Elizabeth has transformed England into a centre for religious tolerance,but conflict is brewing across Europe and there are continued troubles in Ireland. A peace envoy is needed. Sir Everard Digby appears the perfect choice, but he’s a man with a secret past which the Queen must never discover…

1617 is a thrilling alternate history filled with secrets, treachery and intrigue – perfect for lovers of the books of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris.

About the Author:

Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place of Guy Fawkes. His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

His debut novel, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, is a new look at the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. The sequel, 1617, is a thrilling alternate history filled with secrets, treachery and intrigue. Find out more by exploring Tony's website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!