Friday, 19 January 2018

#2 Someone to #Lean on - #Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange

Friday means it's time to give those supporting secondary characters a bit of the limelight! 

Today, I'm joined by my Crooked Cat author friend, Jennifer Wilson, who has picked a really great secondary character to feature. I've read Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile  and felt that Sir William was a lovely guy who went all out to help those he loved though, at that point, I didn't know much about his background. Jen's going to tell you more about his turncoat tendencies (Oops did I say that? So many courtiers of the era turned whither and thither many times). Please read on...

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange Wikimedia Commons 
Hi Nancy, and thanks for inviting me over today, to talk about a secondary character, and one who I was really chuffed to include.
I’m glad to say that for both Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, my main characters have been there before a single word was written. Richard III and Mary, Queen of Scots were shouting at me to be written about – I just needed to find a story that worked for them.
After them though, the supporting casts proved trickier. London and Edinburgh have a lot of possible ghosts to pick through, even if you narrow it down to just a handful of locations! For the Royal Mile though, one man stood out: Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange. 
I had first come across Sir William in a novel, The Last Knight and the Queen of Scots, by Linda Root, as I was stocking up my shiny new Kindle for a trip north of the border. I’d never heard of him before, but his tale stayed with me, and I knew he would fit into Mary’s ghostly court perfectly, even though, as far as I can tell, there’s no record of his ghost being recorded anywhere.
Born around 1520, Sir William was a fascinating character, who found himself both ally and enemy to Queen Mary, and took part, as a young man, in the infamous murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. He then turned his hand to spying, known by the code-name Corax to Edward VI of England. Well, to his advisors, anyway.
Mary, Queen of Scots - Blairs Museum
Wikimedia Commons
In Queen Mary’s trials with her court, he started in opposition to her, against her marriage to Lord Darnley, and became embroiled in another infamous murder, that of poor David Rizzio. Happily, my versions of Sir William and Rizzio see fit not to discuss the issue, but as with William Hastings and Richard III, it cannot be easy, spending eternity with one involved in your murder.
For the final years of his life, Sir William switched to Queen Mary’s side of the debate, and held Edinburgh Castle for her from October 1571 to its surrender in May 1573. Despite many standing in his defence, he was hanged in the city in August that year.
It was this final act in favour of Queen Mary that won Sir William his place as ghostly Mary’s most trusted friend and advisor. He was so interesting to write about, capturing that heroic edge, and, after all, who doesn’t love a knight in shining armour, willing to fight and lay down his life for his lady? It all gets very Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for this romantic!
I’ll not give the game away as to the plot of Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile (because what would be the point of that?!), but I knew I couldn’t let Sir William go passing through his white light, and vanishing from my Kindred Spirits world. As a result, there is always the chance he’ll make a reappearance at some point in the future. After all, with all that living he got through, he’s bound to have plenty of places to get his haunting teeth into…
About Jennifer
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked in marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.

Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. 
She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website
Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.

Thank you for coming, Jen. Sir William is definitely one to watch. I don't see him as being a completely nasty character from that portrait - there's a hint behind the eyes of some hidden depth, a softness, although he must have had to be quite ruthless at times. 

I added the one of Mary, Queen of Scots which is in the Blairs Museum near Aberdeen. I remember being very impressed with it when I visited some years ago with a class of primary school kids. I stood discussing it with a small group of 10 year olds who came to the same impression as me that there was a calculation in Mary's eyes, a cold watchfulness. I'm sure that she had to be very watchful for a good part of her life.  

Portraits could never hide all the traits of the person being painted, in my opinion, so a really good look might just reveal some tiny little aspect of their character. 

Till the next supporting character visits...enjoy the days between.


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