I love, love, love the Elizabethan period! The music, the clothes, the houses, the sense of adventure and discovery, the poetry—it’s all so exciting. Writing the Kate Haywood Mysteries lets me live in the time period for a few hours every day, see it through Kate’s eyes, talk to Queen Elizabeth, sweep around in farthingales and ruffs—and then come back to my own cozy house, with running water and electricity. The best of both worlds!
My love of the Elizabethan era started when I was about ten years old, and found a magical box full of paperbacks at my grandmother’s house one summer. That box was full of wonders, and started me on a lifelong love of reading and history. Jane Austen’s Emma; Jane Eyre; Little Women; 1960s Harlequins set in mysterious places with names like Cornwall, where young, innocent secretaries encountered dark, brooding millionaires; Victoria Holt Gothics with crumbling castles and dark, brooding dukes (who may or may not have killed their wives). These treasures kept me gloriously busy for weeks.
One of the best finds was a Barbara Cartland story called Elizabethan Lover. I was no newcomer to Cartland novels by then. My grandmother had an endless supply of those thin little paperbacks, full of wide-eyed heroines in fabulous gowns, more dark, broody dukes, and all kinds of interesting historical tidbits. From a literary point-of-view, they were—well, not great. But they always sent me to the library in search of historical non-fiction about whatever the setting of the last novel was—Victorian London theater, the Indian Mutiny, gypsies, horse training, Waterloo.
But Elizabethan Lover was my all-time favorite. The wide-eyed heroine (named Elizabeth, I think?), was quite feisty compared to most of Cartland’s stammering teenaged heroines, liked to shoot a bow and arrow and climb trees. She was in love with the hero (dark and broody, of course), who is about to set off on a voyage to the New World, and is—gasp!–betrothed to the heroine’s beautiful sister. Who wants to run away to France to be a nun. The heroine, for reasons I can’t remember, disguises herself as a boy and stows away on the hero’s ship for the voyage. I loved so many things from that story—the details of the ship’s journey, the visit to court after they return (and the heroine goes to be maid-of-honor to the queen), the fashions and houses, details of business arrangements, betrothals, and religious politics.
It led me to dressing up as Anne Boleyn for a fifth grade book report (my mom is a genius at sewing costumes!), and looking into every aspect of Queen Elizabeth’s life and reign. (It also led to some seriously unrealistic dating expectations in high school, but that’s another story…)
In MURDER IN THE QUEEN’S GARDEN, Kate has to solve a crime in the beautiful mazes and gardens of Nonsuch Palace, in the middle of an idyllic summer interlude. There’s magic, thanks to the queen’s astrologer Dr. Dee, dancing, jousting, some great gowns, and maybe even a bit of romance. I hope you enjoy visiting Nonsuch as much as I did! There’s more “behind the book” info on my website.
If you could visit any time period, what would it be???
About MURDER IN THE QUEEN’S GARDEN
1559. Elizabeth has been on the throne for six months, and life in England seems newly golden. But for the Royal Court, murder and betrayal are foretold in the stars…
Kate Haywood, the young queen’s personal musician, has been keeping busy playing for a merry round of summer parties where famed astrologer Dr. John Dee and his fantastic horoscopes are all the rage. However, Elizabeth’s favorite stargazer fails to predict the discovery of a skeleton in the queen’s garden—and that the victim’s identity will call his own innocence into question.
When the doctor’s pupil is the victim of a second murder, the concerned queen enlists her trusted Kate to clear the accused killer of wrongdoing. But will the stars align to light Kate’s path through a tangled thicket of treachery to save Elizabeth’s prized astrologer and protect the queen from those who threaten her reign?
About Amanda Carmack
Amanda has been in love with the Tudors ever since an accidental viewing of Anne of the Thousand Days on TV as a kid! Now she just wishes she could live with them all the time–but there has to be time for writing about them too.
She also writes as Amanda McCabe and Laurel McKee, and her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Oklahoma with a menagerie of two cats, a Pug, and a very bossy miniature Poodle, along with far too many books.
When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, yoga, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.