I'm pleased to have Victoria Lamb here to talk about the US release of the first in her adult Tudor series, called The Queen's Secret. With no further ado, here is the author's post.
The Queen's Secret is set entirely at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, England - affectionately known as 'Shakespeare Country' - over three short weeks during the summer of 1575. It follows Elizabeth I's epic visit to the home of her royal favourite - and in this novel, her secret lover - Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
By entertaining the whole court at Kenilworth, Robert stakes his fortune on finally being able to persuade Queen Elizabeth to marry him. But he reckons without his passionate attraction to the married Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex. Secretly, the Queen turns to Lucy Morgan, a young black singer, to bring her word of Robert's infidelity ... and plunges Lucy into mortal peril.
During the writing of this novel, I was living only a few miles from Kenilworth Castle, and became a frequent visitor during 2010-1. I grew accustomed to wandering the ruins of this medieval English stronghold and seeing it in all its moods, summer and winter, at dawn and dusk. I pored over accounts of Elizabeth's 1575 visit - there are some very detailed reports written at the time, giving daily activities and even lists of what was eaten at the many banquets and feasts - and quickly found myself familiar with almost every aspect of it. All that was lacking was the interior life of the Queen, and for that I had to search my imagination instead.
The result of all this research was The Queen's Secret, a novel which I hope is steeped in the everyday activities of a Tudor castle and its vast household of servants. It is part historical adventure, part romance, part political thriller, and is also a salute to the very beautiful and atmospheric region of Warwickshire in which it is set. Even William Shakespeare features as a young boy of eleven, for this trilogy will become as much his story as Lucy's in the next book, His Dark Lady, where they meet again as adults.
Victoria Lamb is the daughter of prolific British novelist Charlotte Lamb, and grew up in the rural Isle of Man, surrounded by books. She first conceived of writing about Shakespeare's England when studying Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights at Oxford University. She now lives with her husband on the wild fringes of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, with her five children and an energetic Irish Red Setter.