Get Lost in Death of an Alchemist

In Death of an Alchemist, Bianca seeks help from an alchemist who has just discovered the elixir of immortality. The next day he’s dead and his journal with the recipe is missing. When her husband falls ill to the sweating sickness and the journal mysteriously shows up at her rent, Bianca dares to hope she might save John--but at what peril?

Not a Tudor fan?

Choosing a time period or special locale matters as much to the ‘feel’ of a story as it does to an author’s comfort zone—

Part of the reason why I’ve set my Bianca Goddard mysteries in Tudor London at the end of Henry VIII’s reign, is that I’ve been reading fiction and nonfiction set in the 1500s for over twenty-five years. I never tire learning about the period. So what draws me to Tudor England?

I like that the period is far enough in the past that it isn’t familiar. Most folks don’t have a preconceived notion of what it must have been like. It lends a mysterious feel to the time and, in my mind, makes it ripe for interjecting a little creep and superstition into the mix. The majority of books about this period are centered on politics or court machinations. But I began to wonder what it must have been like for the commoners.

The Tudor era was short, lasting just over 100 years, but during that time, the Tudor monarchs changed how England was perceived by the rest of the world. It was no longer an insignificant island raising sheep under perpetually cloudy skies. This was the beginning of the modern era. This was the start of the British Empire.

Parliament was formed and the rudiments of the secret service were instituted. Henry started the Royal Navy in response to the rebel-rousing Scots and threats from France. He heavily taxed his people and conscripted them into his army and navy.

For me, Henry VIII is the most interesting Tudor monarch. Henry broke away from the power of the Vatican and effectively made himself pope of a church that he created. He dissolved the monasteries and pocketed the sale of their considerable valuables. That takes a massive ego.

And Henry certainly had one. He stood 6’2” in a country where the average height of a man was 5’7”. Ascending the throne in his youth, he was adored by his people. He was handsome, athletic, generous, and fun-loving. But by the end of his reign in 1547, he was arguably the most hated and feared of monarchs. More than 72,000 people were sent to their death under Henry. No other British monarch executed more people.

But if Henry isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other interesting characters with big personalities whose influences are still felt 500 years later. Besides Henry VIII, Bloody Mary, and Elizabeth I, the period produced important literary figures--William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson; and political players--Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, and Sir Walter Raleigh, who left their mark on modern England and Western culture.

So, if you haven’t considered reading a book set in Tudor England, give it a try. You might discover a whole ‘new’ world of fascinating characters. There is someone for everyone in Tudor England.

If you could step back in time to Tudor England, which would you most want to see? 

1. A feast with Henry VIII

2. A joust

3. Elizabeth I at court

4. A play at the Globe theatre by Shakespeare

5. A stroll through the town of London

Or maybe you'd rather experience something else in the Tudor period. Please share in comments!

Mary Lawrence is a Hoosier living in Maine. Besides writing the Bianca Goddard Mysteries, she runs a small berry farm, drinks too much coffee, and tries to make her deadlines.

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  1. The Globe Theater... since it's been re constructed... if you do go to the UK... Hampton Court is not to be missed!!

  2. I haven't seen either one. Would love a tour of Hampton Court. Some day I'll manage it...Thanks Hoosier girl, glad you stopped by!

  3. Welcome back, Mary !
    Just came out of deadline h*** to wave a hello !

  4. Thanks for having me, Angie. Hope you can enjoy your evening!

  5. I love Tudor England. We are watching Reign on CW now. From your choice I would say 4. I love going to plays.

  6. I wonder if it's on Netflix? I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for mentioning and stopping by!

  7. I'd love to have a walk through London - but I confess my main obsession is Anne Boleyn. I feel like she doesn't really have a voice in history - she is known only through the eyes of others. How fascinating it would have been if she;d kept a journal.