At Heart, I'm Just a Gossip Girl by Katherine

Katherine Longshore 4 Tuesday, September 07, 2010
History.  You either love it, or you hate it, right? 

Who doesn’t remember sitting in 8th grade history of civilization class, listening to the teacher drone on and on about Aristotle or the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution?  My class never quite reached the 20th Century before the school year ended and suddenly a new batch of high school students was unleashed on the world, knowing nothing of World War I or II, and little more about Western Civ because no one had actually listened or cared.  Not even me.

But today, I can tell you more about Henry VIII and his social reforms and international policies than I can about the current government of my own country.  I can gossip about his family and courtiers as if I watched “The Real Housewives of the Tudor Court” on Bravo every week.


Write what you know.  When I decided to kick-start my writing career, I figured this was pretty good advice.  At the time, I was a preschool teacher, surrounded by picture books, much like Donna (though I don’t have an insurance rider on my collection).  And I figured what the world needed was some really good, interesting picture books about the Tudors.


I can’t write picture books.  I learned that in about fifteen minutes.  And I view picture book writers with utter respect and something akin to awe because they can.  So I wrote a middle-grade time-travel adventure (see previous post on the Nevada SCBWI mentorship program).  And while I was working on that, I attended a workshop on voice at a conference.  We did a writing exercise and shared our work, and at the end of it, Sydney Salter, author of My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, came up to me and said, “You know, you have a really good YA voice.  Have you ever considered writing it?”  And that’s all it took.

So I write historical fiction for young adults.  I love to imagine these historical figures as real people.  I like to look at the way history has viewed them and ask the big question:  “What if?”  What if Richard III wasn’t really the ambitious megalomaniacal killer Shakespeare portrayed him to be?  What if Catherine Howard wasn’t ignorant, airheaded and promiscuous? What if Henry VIII really was just looking for love in all the wrong places?

Because I think most readers of YA novels can understand being misunderstood. 

And, ultimately, it gives me a chance to let out some really juicy gossip.  It’s just 450 years old.


Digging it! We have been reading aloud some books but I think we're just a few years short of YA. We're reading "The Frog Princess" right now and just finished the Emily Windsnap/Phillipa Fisher series. Can't wait to read yours we get signed copies by the author when you publish?!

Molly, I'll sign a copy for you anytime!

I still remember the first time I read Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels. I didn't have very high hopes and I knew absolutely nothing about the American Civil War. Actually, it kinda worked to my advantage though as the book is about the Battle of Gettysburg and, in my ignorance, the book was a real page turner as I had no idea who was going to win the battle. LOL! But at the heart of book were the characters. I remember reading it and thinking, why don't they teach history like this? It's so dang exciting! History is not about dates. It's about people! Now, all these years later, I know more about the American Civil War than most teachers. And that one book lead to a love affair with historical fiction authors such as Harold Lamb, Stephen Ambrose, and my favorite Rafael Sabatini. (*floaty hearts*) I look forward to adding your name to your name to the list.

Um, sign me up for The Real Housewives of the Tudor Court. That is freaking genius. You're going to give Andy Cohen a run for his money. Have I mentioned we're DYING to read your book? No? We are DYING to read your book!

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