Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Guest Stefanie Sloane: Regency Spies, and the Elizabethan Inspiration
Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Stefanie Sloane and the three books in her Regency Rogues series: The Devil in Disguise, The Angel in My Arms and The Sinner Who Seduced Me. Those of you who like historical spy stories (I LOVE spy stories) will want to check out the series.
Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a copy of the Regency Rogues book of your choice. See below for more details.
And the winner Stefanie selected is Maria! Congratulations, Maria, and thanks to all for coming over.
First, thank you to the Historical Hussies for kindly inviting me here for a chat. Now, here’s a question that I’m asked quite often: what inspired you to write about spies?
In many ways, the inspiration behind my Regency Rogues series began with the movie, Elizabeth. Oh, I’d heard of Sir Francis Walsingham during my school years, of course. But it wasn’t until the Working Title film that Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster got me thinking. I know, I know—Elizabeth was absolutely riddled with historical inaccuracies and artistic license taken to the limits.
But the fact remains that the man captured my imagination.
Turns out, I’m not the only one who found him to be keenly unforgettable. Queen Elizabeth met Walsingham through mutual friends, including such notable men as Robert Dudley and Sir William Cecil. In 1570, Elizabeth assigned Sir Francis as ambassador to France—a terrible honor, if ever there was one, considering the queen’s desire to establish an alliance between England, Charles IX, and the Huguenots. Despite Walsingham’s best efforts, Catholic opposition proved too powerful and he returned to England defeated—but not undone. Elizabeth saw in Walsingham a man she could trust and put to good use.
And put to good use she did. He’d no more crossed the channel and set foot on British soil before the queen appointed him joint principal secretary alongside Sir Thomas Smith. Smith retired in 1576, leaving Walsingham in charge. One of his many duties included foreign intelligence—a subject matter close to the man’s heart. It is rumored that he’d been spying for Cecil from as early as 1567, reporting on the movements of foreign spies in London. His new position put an official stamp on his favored pastime, and he set to work building an efficient and impressive intelligence network the likes of which the world had never seen before.
He’s long been considered a forerunner of modern intelligence methods, one of the first to use agent provocateurs with 53 agents at foreign courts and another 18 whose duties are, to this day, a closely held secret. His men were trained in the art of deciphering correspondence, forgery, and many other, less reputable skills. As for the identities of his spies, the famous playwright Christopher Marlowe was rumored to be in Walsingham’s employ, as was Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno. But these are all just rumors, still—which, in my opinion, speaks to the man’s significance.
Yes, Rumors. Even more than his having thwarted both the Throckmorton and Babington plots to regain Elizabeth’s throne for Catholic rule, Sir Francis Walsingham’s ability to keep secrets—even from beyond the grave--is part of his mystique, at least for me. Sure, spies are all about secrets. But Walsingham managed an intricate network that included both Catholic and Protestant alike, stars of the stage and political big-wigs—all without any real rulebook, so to speak. He created and managed, directed and oversaw, during one of the most turbulent times in English history.
Fascinating stuff. And ripe for fictional pillaging, wouldn’t you agree? What if Walsingham’s men were as fascinating as the time they lived in? Why would anyone assume that they were immune to love’s lure? And if an author was to imagine an agent in Walsingham’s employ, where and when would their story best blossom and grow? I asked myself all of these questions, and more.
And found my way to the Regency Rogues.
Would you like to try one of my Regency Rogues books before you buy? Tell me which book you’d like to win, and you’re automatically entered to receive the Sloane book of your choice.
Please visit me on the web:
The Regency Rogues Series
The Devil in Disguise
May 24, 2011
The Angel in My Arms
June 28, 2011
The Sinner Who Seduced Me
July 26, 2011