Thursday, June 11, 2015

Q & A with Elizabeth Fremantle, Author of the New Historical Fiction Novel, Watch the Lady + Giveaway!!

Have I mentioned that I'm a Tudor history freak? No?! Well, let me just confess it here: I am a HUGE fan of all things Tudor! It all started with The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory and I've never looked back. There are just so many fascinating variables that can be addressed and expanded upon by a talented author ready to dive in and do so. Today I have a Q & A with one such author, Elizabeth Fremantle, who's newest novel, Watch the Lady, thrusts the reader into the heart of Queen Elizabeth I's court. I'll be reading this one soon and cannot wait!  I'll of course share my review then but, in the meantime, please welcome Ms. Fremantle to A Literary Vacation and be sure to continue after the Q & A for more information about Watch the Lady and a chance to win a copy of your own!

Hello Elizabeth! I have been a huge fan of historical fiction novels, especially those set in or around the Tudor era, for as long as I can remember! There just seems to be an unlimited amount of angles, characters and events from which to approach this time period. In Watch the Lady, you give us the story of a little known player at Elizabeth I’s court: Lady Penelope Devereux, a woman who not only inspired sonnets but plotted against her Queen. Where did you come up with the idea?

I had Penelope Devereux in mind from the start of my research for a Tudor trilogy. I wanted to map out the period of female rule in the second half of the sixteenth century through the perspectives of different women. I began with Katherine Parr and through her story we see the young Mary and Elizabeth Tudor who are both destined to become queen. But I was keen not to make them the main focus in any of the stories but rather show the lives of other women close to the throne and thereby gain a broader understanding of the Tudor court.
For WATCH THE LADY Penelope seemed the perfect means through which to explore the final years of Elizabeth’s reign because she was a woman at the very heart of so much of the action. Not only was she a legendary beauty and the muse of a great poet but she was a highly political and controversial figure and very much her own woman. Her behavior and character seemed to me something that the modern reader would be able to identify with.

What draws you to historical fiction? Are there any particular times in history you gravitate towards (other than Tudor history of course) or do you just enjoy history in general? Have you found any other little known historical figures you would love to write about?

I’m interested in times of change, so the Tudor period is particularly fascinating to me because of the Reformation, which shook society to the roots. It is at those moments that interesting things begin to happen. I’m now working on four books set in the Stuart period, immediately following the Tudors. That was a time equally beset with devastating changes, culminating in the English Civil War and there are some extraordinary women from the time whose lives I’m keen to explore.

One is Arbella Stuart, who’s the protagonist of my next novel – the follow up to WATCH THE LADY. She was raised to be Elizabeth’s heir only to see the throne go to her cousin James I. Raised in virtual incarceration, she made a bid for freedom at great personal risk. Following that I intend to write about Frances Howard a young woman who became enmeshed in a mysterious murder at the Tower of London.


What does a typical day in your life look like?  When do you fit in time to write?

I’m mostly at my desk from morning to night. I’m boringly disciplined about writing time and word count (minimum of 1,000 words a day) but that’s the way to make it happen. I walk the dogs in the morning then work all day until their evening walk and don’t stop for lunch. I do have to make time for promotional work, though it takes second place to writing.

A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
I enjoy ‘meeting’ readers on Facebook and Goodreads as people are really engaged on those sites and I feature regular giveaways. I’m branching out too, for example I’ll be soon running a Q&A on Facebook, which will give people a chance to get involved in a discussion and will be making some interesting clips to post. As I mentioned above though, the writing has to come first.
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?

I usually like to read things that are very different from my own, so lots of contemporary fiction and classics. I review fiction for a UK newspaper so reading is still work but it doesn’t make it any less pleasurable. Two recent favourites are Eve Chase’s BLACK RABBIT HALL and Laura Barnett’s THE VERSIONS OF US. They are both stunning debuts.

Are you working on any future books at this time? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I mentioned above my Stuart quartet, four books which will work as a continuation of the Tudor trilogy. They will focus on Arbella Stuart and the poet Aemilia Lanyer; Jacobean murderess Frances Howard; Civil War queen Henrietta Maria and restoration playwright Aphra Behn.

Thank you so much to Elizabeth for stopping by and answering my questions! I don't know about any of you but her Stuart quartet of books sounds PHENOMENAL!!! I cannot WAIT for them to come out!

If any of Elizabeth's books have piqued your interest or this Q & A has brought up questions you would like to ask Elizabeth, she will be hosting a Q & A session on her Facebook page on June 16th from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM UK time (2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST). So just go on over to her Facebook page during this time and interact with the author herself!


Publication Date: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN 9781476703121
560 pages
Celebrated poet’s muse. Trusted queen’s maid.
Adulteress. Enemy of the State.
Who is the real Penelope?
From “a brilliant new player in the court of royal fiction” (People), comes the mesmerizing story of Lady Penelope Devereux—the daring young beauty in the Tudor court, who inspired Sir Philip Sidney’s famous sonnets even while she plotted against Queen Elizabeth.
Penelope Devereux arrives at Queen Elizabeth’s court where she and her brother, the Earl of Essex, are drawn into the aging Queen’s favor. Young and na├»ve, Penelope, though promised elsewhere, falls in love with Philip Sidney who pours his heartbreak into the now classic sonnet series Astrophil and Stella. But Penelope is soon married off to a man who loathes her. Never fainthearted, she chooses her moment and strikes a deal with her husband: after she gives birth to two sons, she will be free to live as she chooses, with whom she chooses. But she is to discover that the course of true love is never smooth.
Meanwhile Robert Cecil, ever loyal to Elizabeth, has his eye on Penelope and her brother. Although it seems the Earl of Essex can do no wrong in the eyes of the Queen, as his influence grows, so his enemies gather. Penelope must draw on all her political savvy to save her brother from his own ballooning ambition and Cecil’s trap, while daring to plan for an event it is treason even to think about.
Unfolding over the course of two decades and told from the perspectives of Penelope and her greatest enemy, the devious politician Cecil, Watch the Lady chronicles the last gasps of Elizabeth’s reign, and the deadly scramble for power in a dying dynasty.

Praise for Watch the Lady

"This is a superbly written novel . . . Fremantle is surely a major new voice in historical fiction and this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy." – The Bookseller
"Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel . . . . This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon." – Booklist
"Fremantle manages to combine pacey storytelling with superb background…terrifically entertaining." – The Sunday Times


About the Author


Photograph by Paola Pieroni 
Elizabeth Fremantle is the author of Sisters of Treason, Queen’s Gambit, and Watch the Lady,  has contributed to Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times (London), and other publications. She has also reviewed fiction for The Sunday Express. She lives in London,

You can learn more about Elizabeth Fremantle and her books by visiting her website and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and  Pinterest.

Buy the Book

Simon and Schuster
Barnes and Noble
Google Play

Giveaway Time!!

Thanks to Nina at Simon and Schuster I have a SIGNED copy of Watch the Lady to give away to you guys! The giveaway will be open to US only and all you need to do to earn an entry is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to enter both your name and email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.
For extra entries you can follow me on various social  media sites (links on the right hand sidebar), just be sure to enter the name/email address you follow with on the form (I check!).
That's it!
 I'll pick a winner on June 18th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email address before I have to pick another winner.
Good luck everyone!!


  1. Replies
    1. Oh good! I have it on my Kindle and am excited to get to it as soon as I can, but it's great to hear you loved it! I've read a lot of good reviews about it so I have a feeling I'm going to love it too :)! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, I really appreciate it!

  2. I have our winner of a SIGNED copy of Watch the Lady! Using a random number generator, our winner is.....Letty Blanchard!! Congratulations Letty! I'll be sending you an email in just a few minutes and you will have 48 hours to respond to my email with your full mailing address before I have to pick another winner.

    Everyone, don't forget I have more giveaways going on right now (one just started today!) so be sure to enter away if you are interested :)!