In A Queen from the North (self-published), York and Lancaster remain at odds into the 21st century, but a royal wedding may end their feud.
What kind of research went into creating this alternate timeline of Britain?
EM: The idea of using the conflict between York and Lancaster as a focal point came out of a trip I took to York with my father a few years ago. I fell in love with the city, and the first research I did was to soak up the places and views. Then, once I got home, I did a deep dive into all the Tudor and pre-Tudor history I could get my hands on. I’m good with research, and Racheline is fantastic at pattern recognition. I would send Racheline emails full of facts that I found interesting, and she would come back to me with “Okay, so here’s what that all means for our world.”
What’s your cowriting process like?
RM: We like telling each other stories, so our books usually start as us daydreaming at each other in emails. Eventually, Erin will make that into an organized process. We don’t divide things up by chapters or characters, though. Whoever feels like they can add, adds. Whoever feels like they can edit, edits. The story is the most important thing. We use Google Docs and write over each other’s material constantly and with very little apology.
Did you draw inspiration from any real-world royal couples?
EM: We tried to steer away from Charles and Diana’s narrative as much as possible. We did, however, look at how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge handle their public relationship. The everyday logistical questions that arise when someone marries into the British royal line fascinated us. How was the engagement announced? Who was involved in the wedding planning? What happened to Catherine’s last name? How did she get her title? Those can seem like small questions amid the glamour of a royal wedding, but they’re really questions about how one identity is erased and another is created.
While writing, how did you balance the political and romantic tension?
RM: This was the main thing we found ourselves working on in our later drafts. We wanted to make sure that the personal and the political were always in conversation. If we didn’t understand why a character was doing something, we looked for a political pressure. If a political pressure didn’t seem clear, we looked for a way one of the characters could address it personally. Having a large cast of characters really helped, so it wasn’t just about “how does this impact the couple in the love story,” but “how does this impact schoolchildren in York or a secretary from Cardiff?” We felt that the book had to feel like it could have been about absolutely anyone in it who was being buffeted by these events.