New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry says that the primary goal of his novels is to entertain. In this interview, Berry discusses his latest book, “The King’s Deception.” Tomorrow, the interview will continue as Berry talks about how he became a writer and puts some perspective on the thriller genre.
“Thrillers are, by definition, escapism,” said Berry. “This has to be reflected in the plot, the characters, and the overall pace of the novel.” In addition to writing, Berry is also passionate about history and likes to bring that passion into his novels. He said, “If, along the way, a reader can learn about some new things—aspects of history they may not know much about but want to explore further—then so much the better. ‘The King’s Deception deals’ with a fascinating premise—that the young princess Elizabeth died at age 13 and was replaced by a boy, who went on to rule England for 40 years. I didn’t make that up. It’s a real legend.”
“The King’s Deception” is, however, a thriller in the Cotton Malone series and Berry added, “The novel is also a father/son story for Cotton Malone, as he deals with Gary, his sixteen-year-old son, and secrets from his past.”
Berry described how the idea for the book came to him. “Three years ago, my wife Elizabeth and I were north of London doing some publicity work for my British publisher when our guide told us that, in the nearby village of Bisley, for many centuries on a day certain, the locals would dress a young boy in female Elizabethan costume and parade him through the streets. What an odd custom. I then discovered that Bram Stoker (the man who wrote Dracula), in the early part of the 20th century also heard the tale and wrote about it in a book called ‘Famous Imposters,’ which I read. I then began to read about Elizabeth I and learned of the many questionable things associated with her. Elizabeth wore wigs all of her life. Heavy face paint all of her life. Clothes that did not flatter her body. She refused to allow doctors to examine her. When she died she left orders that there was to be no autopsy. Her number one duty as queen was to have an heir, yet she refused to marry, refused to have a child, and proclaimed herself the Virgin Queen. And then the strangest of all—when she dies they bury her with her sister, Mary, in the same grave so that their bones would mingle together (it actually says that on the tomb). All of that certainly raises questions about Elizabeth I.
“The Bisley Boy legend itself says that the young princess Elizabeth died at age thirteen and was buried in the village of Bisley. Her governess was so afraid of Henry VIII’s wrath that she substituted a young boy in her place. The ruse worked and, once done, it could not be undone. Twelve years later the imposter became Queen of England and ruled 40 years. Sounds incredible. Maybe not. Especially considering all of the peculiarities associated with Elizabeth. There’s also an easy way to put all of the questions to rest. Open the grave of Elizabeth I and do some comparative anatomy and DNA testing. But here’s an interesting fact. Elizabeth’s grave has never been breached. It’s one of the few royal tombs never opened. It has remained sealed for over 400 years. So, in ‘The King’s Deception,’ I send Cotton Malone, my recurring hero from previous novels, to solve the mystery.”
Link to read the second half of this interview.
Steve Berry was a trial lawyer for 30 years, is a founding member of International Thriller Writers, and created History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation, with his wife Elizabeth. Learn more about him on his website at steveberry.org. Learn how History Matters might be able to help your community’s efforts to preserve history at history-matters.org.