Publication Date: January 30, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 246 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as “the most beautiful of all,” defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty. Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king’s favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival—and her honor—in a world of deceit and debauchery. Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family’s surviving diaries, letters and court papers.
Praise for Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John
“Elizabeth St.John has brought the early Stuart Court in the years before the English Civil War vividly to life.” – Historical Novel Society Review
“Elizabeth St.John offers great drama and intrigue in her compelling debut novel The Lady of the Tower.” – M.K. Tod, author of Lies Told in Silence
“The Lady of the Tower is a good combination of a historical romance that is well researched, with the added spice of the author being directly related to the heroine.” – Tobsha Learner, best-selling author of The Witch of Cologne
Interview With Elizabeth St.John
T.R.: Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary. (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)
E.S.J.: The Lady of the Tower is based on a diary from the 1660s that I discovered many years ago in Nottingham Castle. Written by the heroine’s daughter, the vivid story of her mother brought my ancestors to life, and I was determined to honor the truth of her account of my seventeenth century family. As I researched more, I made the decision to only use contemporary sources to inform my fiction, and so as I read letters, court pleadings, despatches, their voices started to come alive. And, as I immersed myself more in their world, they became part of my life. Because they were real people, and connected to me, I felt I had an obligation to interpret their lives authentically, while at the same time describing human behaviors that transcend time and place.
T.R. Describe the room you are sitting in as though it was a scene in one of your books.
E.S.J: Through the window to her herb garden, Lucy watched a chaffinch gathering seeds to take back to its young in the nest. So you too are responsible for your children, alone, carrying a burden that should be shared. She looked at her well-stocked bookshelves, the elegant furnishings, paintings and tapestries. So many riches. And yet, empty, meaningless, with her husband away on yet another mission for the king. Her gaze returned to the verdant garden, purple lavender and blue-flowered rosemary flourishing. No time for regrets. There was work to do.
T.R.: What words do you use over and over that drive your editor crazy?
E.S.J. Grey. I think it’s the English weather. Grey. Grey. Grey.
T.R.:Which character do you love to hate?
E.S.J.: Well, not Barbara, who is the natural antagonist in the book. She was delicious to write. I think Aunt Joan. The diary described her as “ so ill-natured in her jealous fits…that her cruelties to my mother exceeded the stories of stepmothers.” That made me furious, that she could treat a little girl that way. I delighted in making her as nasty as I could.
T.R. Using the title of your book as an acrostic, describe your work or yourself.
E.S.J.: That’s a long one. Here’s how I feel about my work / the process I went through – and I picked the first words that came into my head!
E picR edemptive
T.R.: Using only adverbs, describe the writing process for you.
Ha! I can never remember parts of speech, so I downloaded a handy dandy adverb mat. Here are the adverbs I chose! That was fun.
How – joyously
When – often
How Often – constantly
Where – everywhere
How Much – completely
T.R. You are sitting in a coffee shop. What does your writer mind see?
E.S.J.: Stories. People with stories. Faces that should be read. Conversations to eavesdrop. Gestures. Emotions – boredom, nerves, anxiety, happiness, sorrow, loneliness, friendship. Welcomes. Farewells. Meetings. Breakups. And people outside the window, intent on their destination, never seeing me as the observer. Spend a morning in a coffee shop and the whole world passes by.
T.R. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
E.S.J.: My favorite scene is set at Fonmon Castle, Wales, and it is when Allen returns to Lucy, realizing that she has captured his heart and he has to marry her. She is forced to consider his proposal and make the biggest decision in her life. I wrote this during a difficult time in my life, and have always gone to the sea to think things through. This drew on the actual account of Lucy and Allen’s courtship, fictionalized by my own experiences of decision making by the ocean. It is also set in one of my favorite parts of England, that I know well, and it was a joy to revisit it in my imagination as I wrote this scene.
T.R. What draws you to the historical fiction genre?
E.S.J.: As a child growing up in England, history surrounded me, and my ancestors were my family. My parents loved history and reading, visiting churches and castles, and exploring our rich history. I never remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about or reading historical fiction.
T.R.: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
E.S.J. Mmm..that’s easy – I’m just waiting for the call from Hollywood! Colin Firth as Allen, and Cate Blanchett as Lucy.
T.R.: How much time and effort went into your research for the book?
E.S.J.: About twenty years of general research as a hobby, and two years of concentrated research to create and support the story.
T.R.: If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?
E.S.J.: Lucy Worsley, curating at HRP or making a series at Hampton Court or the Tower. I think she has one of the best jobs in the world!
T.R. What do you do when you are not writing?
E.S.J.: I am a management consultant in biotech providing support and education programs for patients with chronic health issues, which I find incredibly rewarding. I also love to spend time with my husband, dog and two cats, and read, swim, hike, cook, travel, entertain friends and visit my daughter who’s at Uni in England.
T.R: Thank you so much for being our guest today Elizabeth.
Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and sites from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and the British Library to Castle Fonmon and The Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…
Elizabeth is currently writing a sequel to The Lady of the Tower, following the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War. The working title is “By Love Divided”, and it is due to publish in early 2017.
Giveaway Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John
This giveaway it is for one copy, paperback or eBook (winner’s choice). Print copies are open to US addresses only. Ebooks are open internationally. This giveaway ends on August 26, 2016 midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.
Tour Schedule for Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John
Tuesday, August 9
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Wednesday, August 10
Review at A Holland Reads
Thursday, August 11
Review at Book Nerd
Saturday, August 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Sunday, August 14
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views