Victoria Lamb 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 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. She also writes poetry as Jane Holland. Her mother was the late great romantic novelist Charlotte Lamb.
Why did you want to write Tudor Witch Trilogy?
(It’s your first YA series, is it different from writing your previous books?)
I love witchcraft, it has such a rich history, both in the United Kingdom and in America. So when my agent suggested a Tudor paranormal, it was an obvious choice of subject. I was already writing an adult Tudor trilogy for Transworld based around Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” – the first book is called The Queen’s Secret, for those interested in Elizabethan fiction, and has a black court singer as the heroine – so I was able to utilize much of the same research for my YA series.
In terms of differences between YA and adult fiction, I did not purposefully set out to write a book for teen readers. I merely avoided anything that wouldn’t make suitable reading for a younger teen – sex, graphic violence, bad language – but otherwise wrote as I normally do. Though in fact Witchstruck contains one violent death scene and Witchfall several scenes which sensitive types might find distressing.
Is it easier plotting a trilogy then a standalone book?
A trilogy is a bigger canvas than a standalone novel; it gives you room for manoeuvre and best of all, for character and story development. The Tudor Witch story was originally devised as a five book series. We moved to a trilogy, but it did mean leaving out some story elements which I would love to develop if further books are ever commissioned.
I would say plotting a standalone is easier though. It has a clearer, more open-and-shut structure. When writing a series, there needs to be an individual story strand in each novel which begins and is resolved within that book. Yet each book is also part of a larger story arc which changes and develops as the series moves along towards its overall resolution. Getting that balance right can be tricky.
Which character is closest to you?
Probably Alejandro. He’s there to catch Meg when she falls. That’s the kind of person I am too. I don’t like being the centre of attention, I’m happier to let someone else take the limelight while I fix things backstage. That’s why I became a writer. We spend most of our time alone backstage, fixing stuff, and letting our heroes and heroines look good!
What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
I’m not qualified to answer that. Book bloggers usually know the answers to ‘tricksy’ questions like that rather better than writers.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
In my twenties, I was ranked 24th in the world for women’s snooker.
What do you do when you see your books in shops?
Make sure they’re all facing outwards, then embarrass my kids by telling everyone within earshot that I wrote them.
The US cover of Witchstruck is very different from the UK, do you prefer one?
I love the US cover. It’s spooky and otherworldly, and so eye-catching. But I know plenty of readers who have said they prefer the UK one, and of course that is scorchingly beautiful too!
Cont. Did you have any input in the design?
I had only minimal input. Along the lines of ‘Oh, I like that!’ Which is how I prefer it. I’m very easy to please with covers. Unless it’s something outrageously wrong for the story, I tend to nod and tug my forelock. I’m not a finger in every pie type, and as far as I’m concerned, the majority of marketing and design people in big publishing houses are professionals who know their business better than I do.
Is researching fun or a necessary evil?
(Do you have a set plan before you start?)
I research on the hoof, as needed, since I have been writing Tudor fiction for several years now. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes I want to bang my head on the desk because I can’t find the exact detail I need, so have to bodge it or write a ‘fix’ to get round not knowing that fact. Which is annoying. I’d rather change the story than knowingly write something that is historically wrong.
Interestingly, a lot of things we might assume are too modern did actually exist in Tudor times, and research often surprises me. Sadly, knowing an historical fact to be true does not stop other people telling me I got it wrong when I didn’t. Sigh.
Can you tell us a little more about the final book in the Tudor Witch Trilogy?
No, it’s a secret. Ha! Though you might find out little dribbles of content by following my Twitter stream over the next few months. @VictoriaLamb1
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Tea or Coffee?
Can you recommend a book to read?
THE CRYSTAL CAVE by Mary Stewart
You can have one magic power, what would you like?
One thing you couldn’t write without?
What word describes you best?
You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
The South of France.
When no one is watching do you dance?
What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Buffy and a chicken curry.
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
Who are you, really?