The difficult thing about choosing to set Midnight Never Come late in Elizabeth’s reign is that there’s a six-year span or so where a little fluctuation earlier or later means gaining or losing some really interesting people, and also interesting events. Mary Stuart dies in 1587, Leicester in 1588, Walsingham in 1590. Dee returns from the Continent in 1589, and leaves for Manchester in 1595. Marlowe dies(?) in 1593. Shakespeare’s in London by 1592, but nobody seems to be sure when precisely he got there, and his writing career doesn’t really get going until later. The Armada gets defeated in 1588. Spenser writes the initial version of The Faerie Queene in 1590, and while his vision bears absolutely no resemblance to Invidiana’s court, I can make ironic use of that fact.
Mind you, I think this will be the most time-complex thing I’ve ever written, since I suspect it will contain at least a few flashback scenes; I’ve already put together one from 1554, and there may be others. Certainly I’ll probably end up writing them, just to get matters straight in my own head, and then if they don’t go into the book maybe I’ll toss them up on the website as freebies. But no amount of flashing back will change the importance of when the main events are taking place, and that requires some thought.
1590, I think, will be the answer. It means no Leicester, alas, but I do get to have Essex instead, and that’s a potential source of fun. It also means I can have Walsingham for a while, and then get him out of my way. (Bastard would probably defuse my plot if I gave him half a chance.)
So let’s call it 1590, and go from there.