After winning her second Man Booker prize for Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel talks to Channel 4 News about "redefining" Thomas Cromwell and how her illness will help in writing her next book.
Please wait while this video loads. If it doesn't load after a few seconds you may need to have Adobe Flash installed.
Bring Up the Bodies is the first sequel to win the Man Booker prize and Mantel is also the first woman - and British writer - to win the award twice.
The former hospital social worker won the Booker prize in 2009 for Wolf Hall, the first novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy which charts his pivotal role in the court of Henry VIII and his journey from being born the son of a blacksmith to the Earl of Essex.
Speaking to Krishnan Guru-Murthy after her win, Mantel said she was not attempting to glorify Thomas Cromwell, but rather "redefine" him.
"Whatever you think of him, his story is fascinating", she said. "I'm trying to make the reader aware that there are versions, behind versions, behind versions."
Henry VIII was in chronic pain. I know what that does to degrade the personality, to detract from rationality, and I think I can write about this well. Hilary Mantel
Mantel has been acclaimed for her historical novels and for bringing the past to life, but she said she was firmly rooted in the fiction, rather than the historian, camp. "The historian tells us what happens, and the novelist tells us how it felt while it was happening," she said. "The novelist goes beyond the limits of documentary evidence into the murky waters of motivation.
"The novelist can open up the past and say - it was like this, but it need not have been."
Bring Up the Bodies won over an original list of 145 novels and along with Will Self's modernist work, Umbrella, was favourite to win.
Read more: the Channel 4 News book club reviews of the shortlist
The novel, which has already sold in six figures, can expect a huge boost in sales and is likely to catch up with Wolf Hall, which has UK sales of half-a-million. Described by the chair of judges Sir Peter Stothard as "a bloody book", the gossip and turmoil of life in the Tudor court is laid out in often bloodthirsty detail as the story builds to a violent and vivid end.
The novelist can open up the past and say - it was like this, but it need not have been. Hilary Mantel
With two books in the Cromwell trilogy becoming Booker winners, the pressure is growing on Mantel to come up with the goods with the final, as yet unwritten novel, in the series.
She told Channel 4 News that suffering from endometriosis and dealing with the chronic pain as a result of the condition, would help her empathise with Henry VIII. "We do know Henry was in chronic pain. I know what that does to degrade the personality, to detract from rationality, and I think I can write about this well," she said.
Mantel also told Channel 4 News that in the past, gender had been "a stick to beat me with" and that critics had continually pointed to the domestic, rather than the political, nature of her novels. "I even wrote an enormous novel about the French revolution - and one critic said there were too many references to wallpaper," she added.
But the novelist added that despite the public interest in the author behind the book, that becomes irrlevant in the writing process. "You forget who you are and what age you are and what sex you are," she said, "and if you don't forget, I don't think you're doing it right."