Sunday, 1 August 2010

Walsingham... the original spymaster

Just a quick note on a piece of research I've been doing for the back story of my Spies by Night (a prize for anyone who can come up with a better name) project.

Sir Francis Walsingham was the original spymaster. As Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary he employed a vast network of spies right across Europe, largely funded from his own coffers. Many of his methods, including surveillance and cryptography, laid the foundations for modern day espionage.

One of the things I find intriguing about supernatural romances, and specifically vampire romances, is their ability to span time and to leapfrog generations. How would someone who was a spy for Walsingham fare in modern day espionage? What would their role look like? How would they react to changes in society and the rule of law?

That's one of the reasons I decided to make my vampire romance contemporary, but its hero five hundred years old: a vampire born into espionage under the watchful eye of Francis Walsingham and thrown into the modern world of Russian Organised Crime.

Both historical and supernatural romance allow us to suspend disbelief, because the rules we ourselves operate by don't apply. I love the imaginative potential that offers!

A bit of further reading on Walsingham, for anyone that is interested:

Alan Haynes' "The Elizabeth Secret Service"
Stephen Budiansky's "Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage"

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