Lately I’ve been asked several times who my favorite character is in Her Mother’s Daughter. Particularly, I’m asked about the fictional characters, because the historical figures are who they were and I must portray them as believably themselves.
But with the fictional folk I get to decide who they are, and even within the requirements of plot that leaves me a lot of room for creativity. Some of them end up being like people I’d want to know, and others not so much. But…favorite? Some may stand out more than others. Even the bad guys can hold a special place in my personal pecking order. A clearly imagined and well-crafted villain is as much a pleasure to read or write as the most stalwart yet Achilles-heeled hero.
In my first published novel the main character was a classic good guy named Dylan Matheson. He was a joy. It amused me to hear about him from readers, for it seemed the women all wanted to meet Dylan and the men all thought they were just like Dylan. (I think we should get them all together!)
For Her Mother’s Daughter there weren’t terribly many fictional characters. The story spans the entirety of Mary Tudor’s life, and that life was filled with well-known people. A few of the point-of-view characters are fictional, and among those I suppose the one who strikes me as most likeable is Niccolò Delarosa, the lute player.
In the story he first appears as a musician in Henry’s court, when Mary begins her rehabilitation after the death of Anne Boleyn. He’s an Italian of ordinary lineage, but his proficiency with his instrument and his ability to keep his head down and his mouth shut earn him a career in the royal court. And, to his great agony, he has a crush on the king’s daughter. Poor Niccolò spends the next two decades or so, in Henry’s court then in Mary’s, cherishing her. So near, and yet so far. She longing to be loved, and he wishing to oblige, but never able to say so or express his feelings in any way. Over the years he observes the failure of her marriage, and her unhappiness, unable to do anything about it.
I see him as an ordinary guy with a good heart. A solid citizen, good at his job, and loyal to his master and then his mistress. To me, he falls into the category of the sort of guy I’d like to know. The sort who are all too rare in real life. They exist—I’ve known some—and Niccolò is the essence of those good men I’ve known.