Her story reads today like something out of a book-publishing fairytale. Yet it’s all true:
In 2004, at the age of sixty, without having had much writing training or any novel-writing experience, Anne Easter Smith decided to write a novel inspired by the life of her favorite British historical character, Richard III. So she went ahead and wrote it. Then, high on hope, she secured an agent, who found a publisher for her, in what seemed like record time.
“Imagine my astonishment,” Anne told me recently, “when my agent called to say that my debut novel was being acquired by Trish Todd at Simon & Schuster – and this after having had no other writing credential than being a features editor at a small newspaper in upstate New York! And Trish not only wanted my first book, A Rose for the Crown, but she wanted a second book from me – and then, later, three more.”
Now, fifteen years on, Anne’s sixth historical novel set in 15th century England during the Wars of the Roses, This Son of York, will soon be published by Bellastoria Press of western Massachusetts. This new book is a testament to Anne’s sustained passion for Richard III.
Anne admits she’s had “a bit of a Richard III obsession” since her twenties, when she read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. “I finally translated that obsession into my first novel that had Richard’s story peppered into his mistress’s – my protagonist’s – fictional tale,” she told me.
“I was too timid to write from a male perspective back then. But after five books about his family – all with female protagonists – and after Richard’s grave was discovered in a car park in Leicester, England in 2012, I’m finally telling Richard’s story.”
I asked Anne what had kept her going as a writer. She told me It was her passion for this one English king and her love of reading historical novels throughout her life that made her, as she put it, “slog on” with her own books.
I met Anne – a native of England who spent her early years in England, Germany, and Egypt, but has lived in the U.S. for more than fifty years — four years ago at the San Miguel Writers Conference when I took her invaluable workshop, “Researching Historical Fiction,” while I was still working on my own historical novel, Jamie’s Muse. She and I have stayed in touch ever since, and she was kind enough to write a back-cover blurb for Jamie’s Muse, which was published last year.
When I asked Anne, now 75, what she’d like her legacy to be, she said, “As far as authoring is concerned, if I turn one reader on to the joys of history and historical research, I will die a happy writer! And, I’m hoping that my new book, This Son of York, will in some way help right the wrongs done to Richard III by Shakespeare and his Tudor-historian sources over the centuries and the faux news they circulated about him, which has lasted all these centuries.”
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For more about Anne and her award-winning books, please visit her website: www.anneeastersmith.com, and to preorder Anne’s new book (due out November 10th), click on: