I did not intend to write The King’s Mistress in first person.
It’s confining. I find it more suitable for short pieces with a twist rather than for novels. A first person narrator is to a greater or lesser degree unreliable. She presents only her side of the story. My students in both creative writing and literature classes were challenged by first person narrative, rushing past the clues regarding to whom the story was addressed, forgetting the limitations of one pair of eyes, all of which is part of the story the author is presenting. So I’ve become quite wary of first person narration.
But every time I sat down to write the first draft, no matter in whose voice I began I wound up in Alice’s “I”. We struggled for months. At last, worn down by Alice (or my subconscious), I considered what I might gain by limiting myself to Alice’s voice. More empathy. A focus on what she was experiencing, which was what I’d set out to explore. Giving her a voice at long last—for centuries she’d been silenced by Walsingham’s venom, which went unquestioned. Even in her time, she was forbidden to respond to parliament, to present her own defense.
So I gave Alice her voice.
I’m intrigued (and amused) by the relief I feel as I work now in third person, in a variety of voices. I have a sense of space. I suppose I did experience Alice’s confined world.
Creativity is one of the most profound mysteries.