I recently had the pleasure of reviewing The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift as part of The Gilded Lily Virtual Book Tour thanks the the lovely Amy over at Historic Fiction Virtual Book Tours!
The Gilded Lily is a fascinating historical fiction novel set in the back allies of post Elizabethan London. The Appleby sisters are on the run and hoping they can start fresh again in London. But London isn’t all that it seems….the quickly fall into a dangerous circle and soon find that getting caught by the law might be easier than getting caught up in London’s criminal syndicate.
If you haven’t done so already be sure to enter the giveaway (details at the end of this post) for a chance to win a copy of The Gilded Lily (open internationally). Be sure to Tweet about the giveaway using the Twitter hashtag #GildedLilyVirtualTour
Giveaway runs from 12/1/12 to 12/7/12. Winners will be announced 12/8/12.
Deborah also agreed to do an interview with me, so without further ado please welcome Deborah Swift to The Lit Bitch!
The Lit Bitch: One of the things I loved about this novel was that the story was timeless and I felt like it could have happened during any time period, so what made you choose the 17th century as the novels period?
Deborah Swift: I have always been fascinated by the Restoration – I used to design theatre costumes and did a couple of plays from this period and just loved the whole look. When I originally began The Gilded Lily I was interested in the fact that the ideal of women’s beauty has changed over time. The years just after the Restoration of the King when England was suddenly released from the grip of Puritanism seemed an ideal choice to set a novel about beauty and greed. At that time there was a great flowering of interest in fashion, the theatre, beautiful women (and men!) and a luxurious lifestyle. The Gilded Lily in the novel is the name of a place where women go to buy perfumes and potions, an enterprise I thought fitted well into this new culture of hedonism.
At the same time London in the 17th century had a much darker face hidden beneath the glamour – it was a much less tolerant society than our own, a magnification of all our vices of bigotry, fear of another’s differences and cruelty to others less fortunate than ourselves. An ideal ground to find the more shady characters who also populate the book!
The Lit Bitch: Which of the sisters do you identify with most and why? Do you admire one more than the other?
Deborah Swift: That is a hard one for me! Of course I like Sadie the most on a surface level because she is so good-hearted. But on the other hand I have a soft spot for Ella because she is so full of life and ambition. She is her own worst enemy for most of the book, but through her own mistakes she learns something about herself and has a real possibility for change. And for that reason I have to admire her too.
The Lit Bitch: How much time did you devote to researching your novel? What did you find most intriguing about this time period?
Deborah Swift: I usually spend about six months altogether on researching my books. Most of the research is about ordinary every day objects we take for granted – such as the price of a pair of gloves, or how far a hired horse can gallop in a day. For this novel I had to research pawn-broking, wig-making and gunpowder manufacture as well as the apothecary’s ingredients for beauty products.
The Lit Bitch: Will the Appleby sisters be making an appearance in any future books?
Deborah Swift: I’d love to see what happens to both of them, but there are no plans for another book about them just yet as I’m working on something else, but I hope they‘ll wait for me to return to them later.
The Lit Bitch: Who was the hardest character for you to identify with or hardest scene for you to write in the novel?
Deborah Swift: Definitely Allsop who is both a weak man and a bully, and his friend Wycliffe – they are the worst examples of Restoration excess. Unsurprisingly I had to grit my teeth to write scenes about these characters, but their exploits are based on true lives of Charles II’s sycophantic courtiers, The Wits.
The Lit Bitch: Sadie’s birthmark was a brilliant way to make her an instant target and stand out, what was the inspiration behind that characteristic?
Deborah Swift: I had a friend at school who had a birthmark right in the middle of her forehead. When we were out together as children, I noticed how people’s eyes would always stray to her forehead, despite their best intentions not to stare. When we got older she grew her hair long to cover it. In the 17th century these sorts of marks were treated with suspicion because they were little understood.
The Lit Bitch: Who is your all time literary crush?
Deborah Swift: It has to be Charles Dickens. His characters stick with you over years. I read Great Expectations at school and have never forgotten Magwitch, Estella and Miss Havisham. Recently I saw a musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities and it moved me to tears.
The Lit Bitch: Do you like to write any other genres?
Deborah Swift: I write poetry for pleasure, but I am in thrall to the past – I love to research and find new ways to bring the dusty corners of History to life.
The Lit Bitch: Who is your literary inspiration?
Deborah Swift: I have so many! But I have particularly enjoyed the work of Lindsay Clarke – not strictly speaking a historical novelist, and probably not well-known in the US, but I like his philosophy and literary style. For historical novelists – Mary Renault who has stood the test of time so well, and Hilary Mantel who is bringing quality historical fiction to everyone’s attention.
The Lit Bitch: What are your plans for your next project? What are you currently working on?
Deborah Swift: My next novel is finished and is called A Divided Inheritance. It is set in 1609 and is the story of a woman whose life is turned upside down when a cousin she has never met arrives unannounced at her house. It is a story of courage, hope and the triumph of kinship over adversity. More information about it can be found here http://deborahswift.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-next-big-thing-divided-inheritance.html or on my website www.deborahswift.co.uk Look out for it in September 2013!
Thank you very much for such a great set of questions!
About the Book
Publication Date: November 27, 2012 | St. Martin’s Griffin | 480p
SYNOPSIS: A spellbinding historical novel of beauty and greed and surprising redemption.
DEBORAH SWIFT, a set and costume designer for the BBC, lives in Windermere, England. THE LADY’S SLIPPER, shortlisted for The Impress Novelists Prize in 2007, was inspired by her own discovery of the rare orchid during a summer walk. For more information on Deborah Swift and her novels, please visit her website atwww.deborahswift.co.uk.
Giveaway (how to enter)
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Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, November 20
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
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Review at Reading the Past
Thursday, November 22
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Tuesday, November 27
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Thursday, November 29
Review & Giveaway at The Book Garden
Friday, November 30
Review at The Lit Bitch
Saturday, December 1
Author Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Monday, December 3
Review at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, December 4
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at One Book at a Time
Wednesday, December 5
Review at One Book at a Time