Monday, June 15, 2015

Nancy Bilyeau's "The Tapestry"

Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown and The Chalice, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the executive editor of Du Jour magazine.

Here Bilyeau dreamcasts a big screen adaptation of her latest novel, The Tapestry:
I am extremely partial to Joanna Stafford, the protagonist of my historical thriller series, and while “fun” may not be the best adjective for a Dominican novice living through Henry VIII’s destruction of the monasteries, she is smart, strong and stubborn. And, for whatever reason, she was difficult to cast in a movie of the mind. I knew what I wanted to hear—a soundtrack by composer Trevor Morris. After all, he created the music heard in The Last of the Mohicans, The Pillars of the Earth, The Tudors, The Borgias and Vikings. But whom would I “see”? It took a long time…

Sister Joanna Stafford: I didn’t find my Sister Joanna until I sat in a movie theatre in December of 2014, after I’d finished writing The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry, and I saw a tremendous performance. It was Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, who showed a certain kind of strength, a willful spontaneity, that is the key to my heroine. Runners-up are Eva Green (I was first intrigued by her in the Crusaders epic Kingdom of Heaven) and Haley Atwell (her role as Aliena in Pillars of the Earth is not dissimilar from fallen aristocrat Joanna Stafford).

Bishop Stephen Gardiner: Most of my trilogy’s main characters are fictional, but certain pivotal ones are taken from history, most significantly Joanna’s adversary in all three books—Stephen Gardiner, the bishop of Winchester. He was so brilliant, yet so manipulative, that his actual nickname in the court of Henry VIII was “Wily Winchester.” It’s important that the reader, like Joanna, never be sure of Gardiner’s motives. Ralph Fiennes is the actor who could don the robes and mitre to do justice to this fascinating—and frightening—man. Whether it’s in Schindler’s List, The English Patient, or his recent performance as Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman, Fiennes can put across the subtle arrogance and the intelligent, calculating brooding that’s essential to Gardiner.

Geoffrey Scovill: The vigorous young constable crosses paths with Joanna Stafford in the third chapter of The Crown, and from that moment on, the poor man is lost. Though it brings him undeniable suffering, he’s deeply in love with her. But Geoffrey is as smart as Joanna, and strong enough to challenge her when she’s plunging headlong into a conspiracy. I’m a huge fan of Homeland, and Rupert Friend, the black-ops operative “Peter Quinn” who carries a torch for series star Claire Danes, is absolutely perfect for Scovill.

Brother Edmund Sommerville: Readers have found the Dominican friar who also has feelings for Joanna my most original character. (Thank you!) He’s intellectual, selfless and sensitive, yet in The Crown and The Chalice he definitely throws a punch or two. And, deep down, he’s tormented. David Oakes often plays the “sexy bad guy” in historical series, from the Duke of Clarence in The White Queen to Juan in The Borgias, and I think he would be brilliant cast against type just a bit as the erudite friar.

Henry VIII: Every actor from Charles Laughton to Jonathan Rhys Meyers has tackled Henry, often to acclaim. What’s important to bear in mind is that in my novels Henry Tudor is a terrifying man, seen from afar while he wreaks havoc in the life of his novice cousin, Joanna Stafford. In The Tapestry, when Joanna is pulled into the life of the court, she finally begins to understand Henry VIII, a man whose charm, intelligence, and abilities are darkened by narcissism and paranoia. I think that Russell Crowe possesses the necessary charisma to play the king.
Visit Nancy Bilyeau's website.

--Marshal Zeringue