They're just people who happen to be Tudors
by Sarah Pitt
Victoria Lamb knows what she's doing when it comes to plundering the rich seam of Tudor England, with its plotting, intrigue, murders and betrayal.
The author, who lives at Cardinham near Bodmin with her husband and five children, also writes poetry and literary fiction under her real name, Jane Holland. It is under her pen name that Victoria lets her imagination go wild, in a time of corsets and kirtles, doublet and hose, when the monarch had absolute power.
From a scholarly sort of background – Victoria studied the Elizabethan and Jacobean poets at university – Victoria knows her historical stuff, but by her own admission she uses it lightly in her prose. "It isn't too history-heavy," she says. "I'm interested in people. My books are about people who just happen to wear Tudor outfits."
All the same, she tries not to impose 21st century morals on this much harsher, brutal era. "I have to ask myself 'what would a Tudor person do in this situation?"
Naturally, Elizabeth I plays a big part in her books, being the leading lady of the age, and a consummate player of power games.
She features as the young Princess Elizabeth in Victoria's trilogy for young adults (so far Witchstruck, Witchfall), imprisoned by her Catholic half-sister Mary, and in captivity learning the secrets of witchcraft from feisty young witch Meg Lytton.
In Victoria's adult trilogy, so far The Queen's Secret and His Dark Lady, Elizabeth is middle-aged, but still holding power over the love of her life Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, as embarks on her summer progress of great houses.
The real heroine of these books though, is a young black girl called Lucy Morgan, part of the queen's entourage of dancers and entertainers, who uncovers a plot on the monarch's life.
In the second book, His Dark Lady, Lucy meets and falls passionately in love with Shakespeare, revealing her identity as the "dark lady" of the Bard's sonnets. "I have always been fascinated by the identity of Shakespeare's 'dark lady'," says Victoria. "Nobody really knows who she was, so it was a wide open field."
The Witchstruck trilogy was quite unusual, as a historical romance aimed at teenagers with a bit of the paranormal thrown in.
Written at the suggestion of Victoria's splendidly named agent Luigi Bonomi, it was one that paid off, as Witchstruck was the Romantic Novelists' Association's young adult novel of the year 2013.
The tantalising hero tempting Meg Lytton is a Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo. "I was listening to the Lady Gaga song Alejandro at the time, and I thought it was a great name!"
Charlotte grew up "thinking that writing is what women did", as her mother was the late prolific romantic novelist Charlotte Lamb. Luigi was her mother's agent and he is now trying to find a publisher for her youngest daughter, Indgio Haynes, nine, who has a Kindle book available on Amazon.
"He'll then have three generations of the same family!" says Victoria, who is busy writing a third steamy Tudor trilogy under another pen-name. "By the time I've finished I'll have written nine Tudor novels –- I'll be all Tudor-ed out! I might do something different next time!"
Victoria Lamb will be talking at the North Cornwall Book Festival at Trefelix, Trebetherick, on Friday, October 25, at 3pm. For tickets and more details visit: endelienta.org.uk/whats-on-book-festival.html.