Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Executed for Reading A Horoscope?

Did you know that, in Tudor times, you could be executed for reading the horoscope of a royal person, in case you planned to use that valuable information against them?

Such was the power invested in the occult arts that astrologers and 'conjurors of spirits' like Master John Dee - the Queen's official astrologer - could face serious trouble if discovered doing anything that might be considered injurious to a member of the royal household.

So what do you think happened when he was found in secret possession of Queen Mary's horoscope in 1555, at a time when tensions within England were very strained indeed, and many suspected the Queen might be deposed for her sister Elizabeth at any moment?

Read about this issue at the book blog OH, CHRYS! along with some other 'odd facts' I discovered during my research into Tudor England for my novel Witchstruck, just out in the States with Harlequin Teen, the first in a paranormal series for Young Adults and older.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

WITCHSTRUCK launches with Harlequin Teen in North America!

WITCHSTRUCK: Book One, the Tudor Witch Trilogy. OUT TODAY in the States (Harlequin Teen).

I'm delighted to announce that the first book in the Tudor Witch Trilogy, WITCHSTRUCK, is now available for sale across North America with Harlequin Teen, in paperback and ebook. 

My only wish is that my mother - the late, great romantic novelist Charlotte Lamb, who published well over a hundred books with Harlequin Mills & Boon, and another 50-odd for other publishers - could have been alive to see this day. Yet another daughter - for my older sister Sarah has also published with Harlequin - in the family business!

Witchstruck is the first in a paranormal romance trilogy. And I'm hoping there will be many happy days to come in my partnership with Harlequin.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different—that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practise witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne.

With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice. 

The Secret Circle meets The Other Boleyn Girl in Witchstruck, the first book of the magical Tudor Witch trilogy.

Special thanks to everyone who's helped me get to this day!
Victoria x

Sunday, 22 September 2013

North Cornwall Book Festival: my talk 25th October

My latest paperback Tudor novel - about Shakespeare's mistress - is out December 5th: pre-order from Amazon here.
North Cornwall Book Festival, St Endellion

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be appearing at the North Cornwall Book Festival this October, along with a host of other writers, both local to Cornwall and from further afield.

I'm delighted to be delivering the opening event at the North Cornwall Book Festival this coming Friday 25th October. The Festival is held in the beautiful location of St Endellion, North Cornwall.

Friday 25th October: 3.00pm Victoria Lamb

A talk by the award winning author of The Queen's Secret and Witchstruck, which was voted Young Adult Novel of the Year 2013 and has been described as "Twilight meets The Other Boleyn Girl", Victoria Lamb talks about her latest title and how she researches her historical and romantic novels. She also explores the contrasts between writing historical romance for grown-ups and for young adults.
Event lasts one hour. Tickets are £5 unreserved.

 I'll be talking about these books and others...

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Her Last Assassin: Book 3 of the Lucy Morgan Trilogy

Book Two, His Dark Lady, will be out in paperback soon in the UK
Those waiting for the final instalment in the Lucy Morgan Trilogy (The Queen's Secret; His Dark Lady) may be interested to know that book three, Her Last Assassin, has now passed copyedit stage.

At copyedit stage in a major publishing house, the writer works with a copyeditor on the final manuscript. Continuity and timing are checked, place names verified, general logistics questioned, and of course anything which jars and catches the copyeditor's attention gets a once-over by the writer.

Changes may still be made at this stage, but they are unlikely to be much more than cosmetic - a paragraph may be rearranged or rewritten, individual words may be deleted or added, and occasionally other work may be suggested. But any larger revisions - changes to the plot structure or character development - should already have been done to the editor's satisfaction.

All that remains after this stage is proofs: a final check that nothing has been missed, then on to the printing stage!

Her Last Assassin will be out in hardback in early 2014. Cover reveal coming soon!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

WITCHSTRUCK blog tour schedule

WITCHSTRUCK Tour Schedule:
Monday, September 16th – All Things Urban Fantasy
Wednesday, September 18th - The Book Cellar
Friday, September 20th – Harlequin Tour Stop
Monday, September  23th – Two Chicks on Books
Wednesday, September 25th – Oh Chrys
Friday, September 27th – Magical Urban Fantasy
Monday, September  30th – Unabridged Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 2nd – Such a Novel Idea
Friday, October 4th – Chapter by Chapter

Monday, 16 September 2013

WITCHSTRUCK tour begins: Win a personalised birthchart & $50 giftcard

US readers can now sign in to win a fantastic personalised astrological birthchart and $50 Amazon gift card via Rafflecopter as part of the WITCHSTRUCK blog tour that starts today!

Here's the first stop on the blog tour, ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY: 'How to become a Witchfinder, a Personal Testimony by Marcus Dent, English Witchfinder, 1554:

"Witches often have an Elder within their coven, who knows the old ways and possesses special knowledge. Take this old woman to a cell and keep her from sleep three days. Give her nothing but water. Question her, examining her unclothed body and asking whether she lies with the Devil ..."
Read more, and check future tour stops, at ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY. 

Each day on the Harlequin US blog tour you can also enter to win a paperback copy of WITCHSTRUCK.

Happy witch-hunting!

Manx Lit Fest

Talks, signings, workshops: all at the Manx Lit Fest next week
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be appearing at the Manx Lit Fest next week. I used to live in the Isle of Man - for twenty-three years, in fact - and went to school there, so this is a real treat.

During my time in the Island, I will be doing two secondary school events, one at Castle Rushen High School in Castletown and the other at the Queen Elizabeth II in Peel, where I'll be teaching sixth form students about writing historical fiction.

I will also give an hour's talk on the enduring appeal of Tudor fiction, and how I write and research my own historical books. That talk will be at the Villa Marina, Douglas, at 1.30pm on Saturday 28th September.

I'm seriously looking forward to drinking in the peaceful green landscape of the Isle of Man again. I left the Island for good in 2000 and have only been back twice, very fleetingly. So there will be plenty of 'skeet' to catch up on.

This will be a four-day visit, and although the Festival will be keeping me occupied much of the time, I'm sure there will also be chances for me to get out and about, crossing the legendary Fairy Bridge, meeting up with friends, visiting old haunts ...

Book Manx Lit Fest Events
If you will be on the Island that weekend, you can book for my Villa Marina talk - and other Manx Lit Fest events - here.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Visiting London: Talk at the RNA meeting

I'm thrilled to be giving a talk tomorrow at the London meeting of the Romantic Novelists Association.

I'll be talking to the RNA about writing Young Adult romance, with particular reference to how my YA books as Victoria Lamb compare to the historical adult fiction I write for Bantam.

I'll also be seeing various editors while in town, and my agent. Though as I was saying to a writer friend on Twitter last night, it's lovely to swan about in London for events like this, but I'm always more comfy at home in my PJs, writing my book and feeding the rabbit.

Looking through my mother's diaries, who wrote bestselling romance as Charlotte Lamb, I have been entertained by her own comments on talks she gave to the RNA. It's rather odd to be following in her footsteps like this ...

Odd but somehow comforting. Romance is the family business.

I may also, ahem, find a little time for shopping while in London. Though since I'm being "good", it will probably just be window-shopping.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Witchstruck - the Harlequin Blog Tour

WITCHSTRUCK launches in the States this month, with a fantastic book tour:

September 17th - October 4th, the WITCHSTRUCK tour  - "She cannot deny her power" - begins soon.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire

My debut novel as Victoria Lamb was The Queen's Secret, a Tudor story set almost entirely at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire.

I chose Kenilworth as the setting for my first Tudor novel because I had lived nearby for many years, often walking the castle grounds at dusk or on a sunny morning with the kids, and found the place enchanting.

Kenilworth Castle is marvellously atmospheric at any time or season, though I admit to preferring the quieter moments when few people are about. At dusk on a summer's eve, the shattered remains of the old Norman keep, partially destroyed during the Civil War, stand out black against the sunset. Bats come swooping out of the trees to flit above your head as you walk about the castle walls. There is a hush about the place at such moments, broken only by owl hoots from the nearby woods or the hoarse bark of a fox.

Visiting in autumn or winter, the oak leaves and withered reeds are stiff with frost alongside the long foot bridge that used to be the medieval tiltyard, iced puddles cracking underfoot, only the stream still gurgling as it tumbles into the mere. A thick cloak would have been necessary in Tudor times to keep out the winter's cold, not to mention several layers of woollen underclothes even indoors. A brazier no doubt kept the guards warm at night on the entrance gate. Climbing the stairways of the keep to look out over the small Warwickshire village of Kenilworth and the white-frosted countryside beyond, your breath steams out like smoke.

The castle and its grounds are maintained by English Heritage; it is an excellent place for visitors interested in English history. The gatehouse built by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, has been renovated, with a lift installed and a museum exhibition on the top floor, while the old stable block - Dudley was the Queen's Master of the Horse for many years, and known for his riding skills - is now jointly a cafe and exhibition centre.

Elizabeth I came to Kenilworth several times during her reign, for Robert Dudley was her court favourite, and rumoured by many to be her lover. In The Queen's Secret, my story follows her most famous visit to Kenilworth, which was in July 1575, when Robert Dudley wooed the Virgin Queen with the most lavish festivities imaginable: hundreds of entertainers were employed by him to enact plays and recite poems (many composed specially for the occasion), dance and sing, perform acrobatics, and generally amuse. Beyond this were jousting tournaments, and almost daily hunts in fine weather, for Elizabeth was a keen huntswoman, plus the popular but gruesome Tudor sport of bear-baiting. There were fantastical feasts laid on, with a huge salt cellar in the shape of a silver galleon being presented to the Queen, birds stuffed live into the bellies of roast beasts so they could be released at table Roman-style, and sugar-goblets that could be eaten after the mead or wine inside was finished.

Then there were the awe-inspiring firework displays, which became legendary in Warwickshire and passed into folk-tale. Perhaps J.R.R. Tolkien, a man of the Midlands, was thinking of those when he wrote the great firework display scene at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Many believe that Shakespeare and his father may have come to the castle from nearby Stratford, along with many of the local families in that part of Warwickshire, to see their queen and enjoy the entertainments. Later Shakespeare plays mention some curious oddities, for instance a mermaid on a dolphin's back, which we know formed part of the festivities that summer.

A courtier called Robert Laneham, who came to Kenilworth in Elizabeth's train that summer, later published a 'Letter' describing these festivities in intricate detail, including the astonishing firework displays, some of which took place on floating rafts or islands out on the castle mere, a vast lake surrounding the castle walls. He describes one of these water displays with great enthusiasm: 'with blaze of burning darts flying to and fro, leams of stars coruscant, streams and hail of fiery sparks, lightnings of wild-fire on water and land, flight and shooting of thunderbolts ... that the heavens thundered, the waters surged, the earth shook.'

The Queen's Secret is the first in a trilogy about Shakespeare's "Dark Lady"
Many of the festivities in The Queen's Secret were closely described in Laneham's Letter, which often gives dates and times as well as incredible detail, even down to the clothes the courtiers wore and the food they ate. But of course even a contemporaneous work of non-fiction cannot properly capture the atmosphere of a place. For that, an historical writer must visit in person where that is possible. I was lucky that so much of Kenilworth Castle still stands today, despite its partial destruction during the Civil War, and that I was able to wander the grounds at will, talking to the highly knowledgeable staff and getting a 'feel' for the place.

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Kenilworth Castle if you get the chance. And as you wander about the beautiful castle, imagine yourself back in the summer of 1575, with Queen Elizabeth herself watching an outdoor acrobatic display only a few feet away ... and Robert Dudley at her side, waiting for the perfect moment to propose.

It can also be purchased as a paperback edition in the States, where it is published by Berkley.