In May of 2007, a couple of weeks before I got married, I received a call from my agent: would I be interested in writing nonfiction for NAL-the house that had been publishing my historical fiction? They had come up with a premise and a title; all they needed to do was “cast” the author and my editor thought I was the right woman for the job.
But they needed to be absolutely certain, so I had to “audition” nonetheless. As I juggled seating arrangements and final fittings, researched affordable (hah!) New York hotel rooms for out-of-town relatives and wrangled with the caterer, I wrote up a proposed table of contents, and a forward and sample entry for Royal Affairs. The initial selection of scandalous royal affairs spotlighted something like 135 couples, so my editor wisely suggested that we narrow the field to Great Britain. And even so, in many cases there was such a wealth of juicy information that it was difficult to decide what to leave on the cutting room floor. In the end I chose to highlight the royal affairs that had a lasting impact on British history, or on the monarchy itself.
Once the table of contents was approved and the tone of the writing adjusted to the voice my editor was seeking, I was given just five months to research and write the manuscript because NAL had timed its release to coincide with Showtime’s second season of The Tudors. To date, it was the most challenging task of my life, but also one of the most rewarding because I discovered things about myself as well as about the subjects I profiled, some of whom I thought I knew pretty well until I really began to delve into their lives, and some of whom I got to know well for the first time.
Here’s where the challenge came in. I’m neither an historian nor an academic, and had to rely on secondary sources to write Royal Affairs. When even renowned scholars widely disagreed on their analysis of a given situation, or even on a point of fact, I had to make a decision as to who (if either) source was correct. Occasionally, in order to arrive at my conclusions, I utilized my background as an actress, psychoanalyzing the players to some extent, given what I had learned of their personal histories.
I dedicated the book to my oh-so-patient husband Scott, for putting up with my spending the first half-year of our marriage writing a book on adultery. It was the least I could do!