27 August 2021

Author Interview with Clare Marchant, Author of The Queen’s Spy

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

1584: Elizabeth I rules England. But a dangerous plot is brewing in court, and Mary Queen of Scots will stop at nothing to take her cousin’s throne. There’s only one thing standing in her way: Tom, the queen’s trusted apothecary, who makes the perfect silent spy…

2021: Travelling the globe in her campervan, Mathilde has never belonged anywhere. So when she receives news of an inheritance, she is shocked to discover she has a family in England.
Just like Mathilde, the medieval hall she inherits conceals secrets, and she quickly makes a haunting discovery. Can she unravel the truth about what happened there all those years ago? And will she finally find a place to call home?

I'm pleased to welcome author Clare Marchant to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Queen’s Spy is a dual timeline set in both Tudor London and present day. It follows deaf and mute Tom Lutton in the sixteenth century as he rises from apothecary to spy, and tries to find a place in a world where he is shunned because of his disability. But with secrets, plots by those who wish to see a Catholic monarch on the English throne and spying, comes betrayal.

In the present day, Mathilde travels the world in her campervan not belonging anywhere, haunted by her past. When she receives news of an inheritance in England, she makes a discovery at the medieval hall she now owns that leads her on a new journey as she tries to unravel its secrets.

What is your preferred writing routine

My writing routine is important to me. I like to get up early to make sure I am at my desk by about 8.30, and then I work until 1.00 or 2.00pm. If I am writing a book then I give myself a target of at least 2000 words a day and I always make sure I do that or I have to catch up at the weekend!

In the afternoons I usually go through social media (I’m currently dipping my toe into TikTok so I may spend some time making a video or possibly taking photos for Instagram) and also see what my fellow authors are up to. I also research anything that has cropped up during the morning’s writing.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers

The best piece of advice I can give to an aspiring writer is exactly what I was told when I was trying to write my first book and that is to sit down and write every day, even if it is only a few hundred words. Or one hundred, or fifty. They all add up and they are all contributing to the final book even if you later want to go back and change them all. But you can’t edit a blank page!

What have you found to be the best way of raising awareness of your books

In this day and age I think it is easier to promote our books with the amazing networking available on social media. I love connecting with readers and fellow authors all over the world, I probably go on Twitter more than any other social media although I try to get onto Instagram more often now and of course there is TikTok to get my head around!

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Researching my books is one of my absolute favourite pastimes, I spend hours down a rabbit hole sometimes completely away from what I need to be looking for because to me, history is so fascinating! One of the things that I was surprised at but was so useful for me was the amount of information that we have on the Babington plot, and this made writing The Queen’s Spy so wonderful. 

I discovered that a man in a blue coat was spotted delivering a letter to Babington who was believed to be one of Walsingham’s many men (so now you know why Tom has a blue coat!), in fact I always ensure that all of the historical facts in my books are correct and then I just weave in my own characters. I was interested to discover that the playwright Kit Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare was also a spy for Walsingham, and I loved reading about how a doctor at St Bartholomew’s hospital was also inventing a shorthand to be used with codes for spying activities.

What is the hardest scene you remember writing

The hardest scene I had to write in The Queen’s Spy was where someone dies (I don’t want to put any spoilers here!). Actually, writing any scene where I have to kill off a character is difficult, I create these people in my head and to me they are real so it isn’t nice when they need to die, even if it is integral to the plot.

What are you planning to write next

As for what I am writing next, I am already working on the next book! It is another Tudor dual timeline, all completely new characters (unlike The Queen’s Spy where Tom had been a child in my previous book The Secrets of Saffron Hall) and it will take us from Elizabethan England across to Europe.

Clare Marchant

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About the Author

Growing up in Surrey, Clare always dreamed of being a writer. Instead, she followed a career in IT, before moving to Norfolk for a quieter life and re-training as a jeweller. Now writing full time, she lives with her husband and the youngest two of her six children. Weekends are spent exploring local castles and monastic ruins, or visiting the nearby coast. Find out more at Clare's author page and find her on Facebook and Twitter @ClareMarchant

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