Welcome to the blog, Victoria Lamb! Victoria is a young adult debut author who has written a paranormal book set in the Tudor era. I have asked her to share with us a little bit about herself and the book through an interview below.
Tell us a little about yourself and the book(s) you've written...
I’m an English novelist writing two series at the moment: a trilogy of adult Tudor novels about Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady”, and a Tudor Witch series for Young Adult readers, starting with ‘Witchstruck’. I’ve lived a fairly nomadic existence, never really feeling settled in one place, though I’ve spent most of my life living near one coast or another – I love walking along the shore and staring out to sea. Before I started writing novels with any seriousness, I spent a decade working in poetry, which means I’m fairly laid back and used to going with the flow. Which is good, as I have five children – three of whom are home-schooled - and a bouncy Red Setter puppy, and often find my study invaded by people demanding lunch or a walk!
What is your favourite thing about writing?
I love the rush of a new idea at the planning stage, the thrill of being able to create new people and new worlds just with the power of language. Writing narrative fiction is rather like being able to try on someone else’s skin for a few months, to do things differently for a change. I find that aspect of being a novelist exhilarating. The technical side of things and actual day-to-day work of writing can feel like very hard work in comparison.
Describe your main characters. If they were real people, would you be friends with them?
My main characters are Meg Lytton, my heroine in the Tudor Witch series, and Alejandro, a young Spaniard training to be a Catholic priest – though the kind of priest who wears a sword and is trained as a soldier. (These really existed in medieval times!)
I’d probably be a little wary of Meg Lytton in real life. She is kind and compassionate, but she has real power as a witch and is not afraid to use it. She’s so determined and single-minded, she’d be one of those friends who made all the decisions while I just tagged along behind. But I’d rather Meg was my friend than my enemy, that’s for sure. She’s brave and would risk her own life to protect a friend, as she does with the Lady Elizabeth in my story.
As for the hero, Alejandro, just being around him in real life would be a breathtaking experience. He’s smart and confident and very intense about his beliefs. Though of course it would be hard to be friends with someone so sexy and dangerous. I’d inevitably fall in love with him, and then Meg would probably toss me into some howling void for it!
How do you relax after a long day of writing?
I love this question! After I finish for the day, which is often quite late, I tend to curl up on the sofa with my husband and my crazy Red Setter puppy, and watch films or TV series boxsets. We love sci-fi in particular and have just finished watching Stargate Universe again, which was a fantastic series and should never have been cut. On my shelves for these ‘boxset fests’ are the likes of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Life on Mars (the English version) etc. The list goes on. We also watch hundreds of films on DVD and buy two or three new films every week, in most genres. If I wasn’t writing novels, I’d definitely be writing for the screen. #obsessed
If you had to choose a colour to describe your book, which one would you pick? Why?
Definitely red. Scarlet heart, darkening at the edges to a deep throbbing crimson. First, red is my own favourite colour – I’m a double Scorpio, what can I say? - and second, it’s also the colour of love, alert, conflict, danger, blood, death ... all of which feature strongly in Witchstruck. (Black was a contender, but it doesn’t suggest the full-blooded love of Alejandro for Meg, so red it has to be.)
If you weren't writing what do you think you'd be doing?
What was life like for you when YOU were a teen?
I was very insular when I was a teenager. The middle child in a large family, I had my own room at the top of the house and stayed there a lot, reading books and listening to music. Sometimes I think they forgot I was there. I wrote novels and poems too, but my mother – also a novelist – used to discourage me from writing, I’m not sure why. When I wasn’t reading books, I was often out walking somewhere. We lived near a cliff in a very picturesque part of the Isle of Man, so I would sit and stare out to sea on the cliff path, or walk along the beach. My favourite times were when it was stormy and the waves were lashing the cliff. Once I was old enough to fall in love – and be rejected! – I would go and cry by the sea. It was a good place to be alone and wallow in my depression. As you can imagine, my poems from that time were pretty grim!
Do you have pets? Can you tell us a little about them?
At the moment we have a gorgeous new puppy, named Daisy by my youngest daughter. Daisy is a Red (Irish) Setter with a glossy reddish-brown coat and feathery legs. Like most Red Setters, she can be a bit crazy and leaps about like a kangeroo when excited. But she’s also very smart and quickly worked out how to unhook the latch on her outside enclosure using just her teeth. She’s brilliant with kids and adores being fussed – always rolling over to get her tummy tickled – but needs to be kept away from livestock near our farmhouse, as she loves to play and doesn’t yet understand that sheep don’t like to be chased.
Would you prefer to be a dragon rider, a dragon slayer, or the dragon itself?
In some of Ursula Le Guin’s stories set in Earthsea, she mentions people who are descended from dragons and can actually turn into dragons at will. I also love Anne McCaffrey’s books about dragons and dragon riders, and have read lots of other dragon stories, but I secretly always wanted to be one of those part-human, part-dragon people in Earthsea. That way, if someone really annoyed me, I could hurry round the corner, turn into a dragon, then fly back and scare the life out of them!
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to give ‘advice’ to anyone, not last because I’m still learning myself. If a teen asked me for specific advice, I’d probably suggest they should stay open to all sides of an experience, not just look at the negative. Sometimes even our worst mistakes can be useful, or take us places which eventually prove positive.
Thank you for sharing with us, Victoria! Read more about Victoria and her book Witchstruck below:
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.
An English novelist, Victoria grew up in the peaceful Isle of Man, benefiting from a vast library of books and a family of writers from which to take inspiration. She now lives with her husband and five children in a three-hundred year old farmhouse on the fringes of Cornwall's Bodmin Moor, where she walks every day and writes in a study overlooking fields of moorland ponies. Her other works include a trilogy of Tudor novels about Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady”, beginning with The Queen’s Secret (Bantam, 2012).
Thrilling and fast-paced, this is the first unputdownable story in a bewitching new series.