I seem to be in a reading rather than a writing mood right now, as evidenced by my growing Amazon wish list and the significant lack of pages in my outline. It's going, I'm outlining and thinking about it, but it hasn't really taken shape and taken a hold of me yet and gone into full-blown imagination. *Okay, since I wrote this part of this post last night, I have thought of a few ideas--such as themes--that may make writing this outline a little less painful.*
BUT--I do have new books. I finished (read: devoured) one by Elizabeth Chadwick called For The King's Favor. This is my fourth Chadwick.
I've read one book of hers called The Conquest, which was about the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, told from the point of view of a Saxon woman and later, the half-Norman daughter she has with a Norman lord.
Then I've read her William Marshal books--The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. These are fictionalized biographies, as in, William Marshal existed and lived and breathed. He was a knight, he fought for and advised Henry II's heir before going on Crusade, then returned to serve Henry II, served Richard I, married an heiress, became co-justiciar of England in Richard's absence, served King John, remained loyal to him, and was one of the architects of the Magna Carta. Oh, and after John died, he became a co-regent of England. And he was Earl of Pembroke. And he and his wife had ten kids. And he was taken as a hostage at age 5 by King Stephen, as assurance of his father's behavior. When William Marshal died in 1219, his son commissioned a poem be written about his life, which is why his life is so well-documented.
FTKF is about a guy called Roger Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, who has to work his way up royal favor to regain his lands and his title after his father rebelled against Henry II. Roger is a quieter personality than William Marshal, but the men were contemporaries and knew each other--William's oldest daughter married Roger's heir (the subject of another Chadwick book that I'm resisting the urge to buy right now b/c it hasn't come down enough in price).
Roger marries Ida de Tosny, who was a teenaged mistress of Henry II and gave birth to a royal bastard. I suppose my historical reading has gone from the Tudor era back to medieval times, which is highly ironic as the outline I'm trying to piece together takes place in the early Tudor era--from 1510 to 1540, ending as Henry VIII forms the Church of England and has Cromwell take away all of the church's lands, resulting in this: The Pilgrimage of Grace, the greatest rebellion Henry VIII faced during his time on the throne.
Of course, the good thing is, the Tudor era is so well-documented that research won't be terribly hard. But I want to try to emulate Chadwick's writing style; she's so descriptive and her characters are so well-rounded and real, plus she has a great grasp of the time period. I first learned about her from Word Wenches; she was interviewed on the blog. I love her admission that she kept thinking someone would write a William Marshal novel and when it didn't happen, she figured she'd be the one to do it.