You guys may or may not remember that a couple of week’s ago, I chose Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb as my Waiting on Wednesday post. Right after that went live, Victoria Lamb herself emailed me about participating in a blog tour for Witchstruck when it was released. I readily said yes. One does not say no to a Tudor his-fic piece about a teenage witch! So, without further ado, give a warm welcome to Victoria Lamb!
While studying Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights at university, Victoria Lamb conceived a desire to write a series of novels about Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’. Now a busy mother of five, she has finally achieved that ambition after much research, and The Queen’s Secret is the result.
Daughter of the prolific novelist Charlotte Lamb, Victoria lives in Warwickshire – also known as Shakespeare Country – only twenty minutes from Kenilworth Castle where The Queen’s Secret is set. She is presently working on her new novel featuring Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’, Lucy Morgan.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I was born into a family of writers, which helped set the scene for my future career. But it wasn’t until the day I was taken to see where the poet John Keats lived at Hampstead that I made a conscious decision to become a writer. I was fascinated by his tragic life story and by his poetry, and determined to write poetry myself – starting straight away at the age of about ten!
In one sentence, why should someone read your book?
It’s hard not to find a story about a teen witch intense and compelling when it’s set in a time when just being suspected of witchcraft could earn you an agonising death.
Briefly, can you talk about the path you took to getting your book published?
I had already discussed Witchstruck with my agent long before even beginning to write it, so he was fully behind the book by the time it was finished. I emailed him the manuscript, and about a week later the first three books of the series had been acquired by Random House Children’s Books.
When you’re writing, do you prefer silence or do some of your characters have soundtracks? Or do you do something completely different?
Normally I listen to music on my headphones while writing. Very loud pop music is my drug of choice. In general, I prefer mainstream pop to indie when working, as it tends to have a strong beat and the generic lyrics are unlikely to distract me. I do have playlists for some of my chapters. Sometimes I get entirely taken up in my writing and forget the music’s finished. That always feels odd when I finally notice. I’ve also developed a habit of clutching a pen in my hand while actually typing. I don’t know what that’s about. I gave up smoking about five years ago, so maybe it’s a substitute?
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Yes, I like to think I’m very like my hero in Witchstruck, Alejandro. I’m not Spanish, nor male, nor a priest, but I think he has my very dry sense of humour. And perhaps my tenacity too. He doesn’t give up easily.
Now, Witchstruck focuses on Tudor times when Mary is queen, but who’s your favorite wife of Henry VIII and why?
Definitely Katherine of Aragon, mainly because she stuck that man for twenty-four years and did her best to give him a son. She fell pregnant as many as six or seven times. Apart from Mary, she either miscarried or her children were stillborn or died soon after birth. And at the end of that, he divorced Katherine in her late forties and married a much younger woman in the hope of a male heir. The irony, of course, is that it was his daughters Mary and Elizabeth whose reigns stand out in history, while his son by Jane Seymour died after only a few years on the throne.
When you aren’t writing, what kind of stuff do you read? Any favorite titles you think everyone should read?
I read quite a lot of fantasy fiction, sci fi, and also non-fiction. I’m researching Steampunk at the moment. I don’t like recommending new books in general, as it feels a bit awkward. But everyone should read an Anne McCaffrey ‘Pern’ novel at some point. Futuristic other-world telepathic dragons and their riders. For YA readers I’d start with Dragonsong.
So, I know you can’t be writing all the time. What kind of adventures have you gotten up to while taking a break from writing?
I am actually writing nearly all the time, or researching/planning my next book. I’m a bit obsessive like that. For fun I like to translate Latin, mostly because it makes my brain work in a completely different way to writing. (Rather like people who enjoy doing crosswords.) I also enjoy walking beside the sea and daydreaming. Once I was abducted by webfooted aliens …
What’s the better YA trend: vampires, angels or mermaids? Or do you run screaming from all three?
I’d have to go with angels there. Vampires feels like it’s been done to death, and angels have a long and venerable history dating back to before the Bible was written, which gives them rather more gravitas than someone with over-sharp teeth and a blood fetish. Or it should. Mermaids though? Seriously?
What’s the last book you read? Any books out there that you’re dying to be released?
I recently finished ‘Witch Light’ by Susan Fletcher, which was quite a literary read. I’m looking forward to ‘Frostfire’ by Zoe Marriot, another new release this month.
I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you, Gretchen!
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Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.
Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg’s existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn – despite their very different attitudes to her secret.
BUT WAIT, there’s more! There’s a GIVEAWAY! You’re excited, right? Because who wouldn’t want a copy of this? It goes til July 18th, 11:59 PM and is INTERNATIONAL! Click HERE to enter!