Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hilary Mantel

From a Q & A with Hilary Mantel about her novel, Wolf Hall:

Wolf Hall is the retelling of Thomas Cromwell's life - the blacksmith boy who became Henry VIII's right-hand man. Was he someone you had wanted to base a novel around for some time?

I've wanted to write this novel for many years. It was one of my earliest projects, but I never got beyond thinking about it. As a result of my novel A Place of Greater Safety, about the French Revolution, and my novel The Giant, O'Brien, set in London during the 1780s, my imagination became embedded in the eighteenth century. I had to wait until I thought I had the mental freedom and energy to tackle a new era, and learn it from scratch. I'm not a historian by background, so it was a challenge, and needed time. I had to clear a space for it.

The Tudors seem to offer novelists and scriptwriters a never-ending source of material. What is it about this era that makes it so alluring to writers?

Almost all the stories you might want to tell are lurking behind the arras. You have to nerve yourself to tackle it, because so many have gone before - not just on the page, but in the theatre and and on film. My particular focus, Thomas Cromwell, was vital to me. There's no one else at Henry's court I'd have wanted to write about, no one else's eyes I was tempted to look through. And if you look through Cromwell's eyes, you see these frequently-rehearsed events...[read on]
Learn about the book Mantel wishes she had written.

Wolf Hall made Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009 and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue