I was lucky enough to achieve a teenage ambition today as Kathryn and I went to interview best-selling author Philippa Gregory.
I have to admit, I was very nervous because Philippa is my favourite author, I’ve read all her books and I really admire her work. The first novel I read was The Queen’s Fool as I was doing a section from it as part of my drama exam. I read book and I was completely hooked!
We were asked to come to The Berkeley Hotel for 2pm. When we arrived, Philippa came out to meet us and sent us up to the suite to set up whilst she finished her lunch. I’d like to think that I remained cool, calm and collected on the outside but unfortunately I think it was probably quite obvious that I was a bit starstruck!
Philippa came and joined us fifteen minutes later. She then took forty-five minutes out of her very busy day to allow us to interview her about the book itself, her success, the subsequent films and the reaction the Tudors have worldwide. It was absolutely fascinating. We now have a 36 minute interview which will be cut to about 45 seconds for our film. It feels sacrilegious!
Philippa spoke about how Anne Boleyn has become an icon and that it is incredible how her story experience resurgences for every generation. The book has been incredibly successful and is now sold in countries worldwide in multiple different languages. It has also been turned into two films: the BBC version and the Hollywood version. Philippa told us that when Scarlett Johannson played the role of Mary Boleyn, she went to the director with a highlighted copy of the book to say that certain chapters from the book had to be part of the film.
I asked Philippa whether she felt a sense of responsibility for how Anne’s image had been adapted. She told us about the lengthy research process that she undertakes for each book. For Philippa, there are two distinct phases- the research phase and the writing phase. She said that she doesn’t make any apologies for her work because she argues that it is very obvious that the work is a novel. She does also include an author’s note and a bibliography at the end of each novel so the information is there if readers wish to find out more.
I won’t spoil too much of the interview because we will be publishing it on this website, but it was absolutely fascinating. A huge thanks to Philippa for taking the time out of her busy schedule to fit us in, especially as she does not have time to do any more interviews with students and we were her last. She has also asked to host our final documentary on her website so we are very excited about that!