Today I’m delighted to be talking to Vivienne Brereton about her recently released novel, Beware the Lizard Lurking. This is the second book in Vivienne’s series, The House of the Red Duke, which follows the fortunes of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, his family and those within his orbit.
Vivienne, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Thank you so much, Catherine, for inviting me onto your Blog. Writing has always played a very important part in my life, even if it has only fairly recently developed into a historical series. I’ve lived in six different countries in my adult life with my husband and three sons and have adapted my career accordingly. Teaching English, editing, writing articles, reading – the written word has always played an important part of my life. The idea for my series came to me many years ago when we lived in Munich and I had the great good fortune, through an American friend, to discover the Munich City Library which is the equivalent of the Washington Library of Congress, the British Library in London, and all the others across the world. Although I’d done a degree in History in the UK, nothing could have prepared me for the choice of books now open to me. The image of a kid in a candy store exactly describes the feeling. Research became an utter joy, on top of extending my existing sixteenth century library.
Were there experiences or people in your childhood, in particular, that have influenced your writing?
I was a voracious reader from the moment I first learned to read, devouring every book I could. One book I remember was ‘The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my children’ by Charles Kingsley. It was a small red book with pictures and my older brother had borrowed it from his school library. I was heartbroken because he had to return it before I’d finished it. Another book I remember was ‘The Ship that flew’ by Hilda Lewis, a wonderful tale of four children travelling around the world and back in time in a model ship that took them wherever they want to go. I can see now I was already developing an interest in history. ‘The Wool-Pack’ by Cynthia Harnett was a real find and took me back to fifteenth century England. At about aged twelve, I discovered Jean Plaidy, and beyond that has been a lifetime of enjoyment of historical fiction.
Beware the Lizard Lurking is an intriguing title. Tell us about the novel and the way the title relates to it (without giving too much away).
This is the second book in the series that follows the fortunes of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, the grandfather of two Tudor queens: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. I have subtitled it Love and War at the Candlelit Courts because the story is based in four European courts: England, Scotland, France and the Burgundian court of Margaret of Austria. Thomas was a remarkable man who lived to the astonishing age of eighty and made an impact in each of these courts. It is not only Thomas’s story but that of his extended family.
I very much believe that Tudor parents weren’t so different to us and wanted to show the existence of real love between parent and child. In the eyes of other countries, the English had a strange habit of sending their children away to live in different, higher ranking households which has transferred to boarding schools in modern times.
The title belongs to a line from a poem and without giving too much away, it is saying don’t get too comfortable because you never know what lies around the corner!
Your novels have a range of characters both historic and fictional. Do you have a preference for writing one over the other?
I enjoy both equally and they each demand the same amount of research and attention to detail. They are all very real to me, whether from life or a product of my imagination. The only drawback of the historic ones is the potential for spoilers if a curious reader is inspired to look them up. Ha ha. I almost feel like writing: Spoiler alert! Do not look up the facts until you’ve finished the book.
Have you taken any literary pilgrimages or visited the places in your novel?
I have certainly visited most of the places in the book. Through my Cornish husband, I have a deep abiding love of Cornwall, its mystery and magic. I would love to revisit Scotland and especially Stirling Castle and Holyrood House in Edinburgh.
I’ve visited Hever Castle several times as well as Leeds Castle, and the Tower of London, St Michael’s Mount, amongst many others. Nothing can match the feeling of walking into one of these places and imagining your book brought to life.
Is there any music that you particularly associate with your books?
I incorporate music into my books and hope that readers might go off and listen to the pieces. For example, The Boar’s Head Carol is featured in a Christmas scene. The First Nowell turns out to be a Cornish carol.
The song that isn’t included in the book but for me sums up the essence of the era is one performed by Enya.
If Beware the Lizard Lurking were made into a film, which actors would you choose to play the parts?
What a great question! Jonathan Rhys Myers was so perfect as Henry VIII, I would love to time travel and get him. Thomas Howard could be played by any actor who exuded sex appeal and charisma into his seventies. An older Sean Connery perhaps. Keeping your position at Henry’s Tudor court was a real achievement and he wasn’t pushed aside by his middle-aged sons. He shone until the very end.
Thank you again, Catherine. I’ve so enjoyed answering your questions. They’ve made me feel quite nostalgic for my childhood and discovering all those wonderful books.
Beware the Lizard Lurking
Welcome to the candlelit courts of Europe!
Uninvited guests at a secret wedding.
A frozen River Thames.
May Day celebrations to remember.
The young Henry VIII, with the aid of his chief advisor, Thomas Wolsey, and against the counsel of Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey, is hellbent on a so-called holy war with France. This puts him at odds with his Scottish brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, and his older sister, Margaret.
Both Tristan and Nicolas know that time is running out for them before they have to…enter the Church – and into an arranged marriage, respectively. In the meantime, they remain at loggerheads over pretty Ysabeau de Sapincourt, the spoilt young wife of the hapless Robert.
At La Colombe, near Ardres, in Picardy, spirited little Valentine is still making mischief as she sees fit.
Across the Narrow Sea, Cecily is perfectly content in her beloved Zennor Castle, in Cornwall.
None of them know what Dame Fortune has in store for them.
Will she allow them to follow their own paths…or has she got other ideas?
Born between historic Winchester and Southampton in the UK, Vivienne has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in Medieval History at university, and the growing desire to write a novel.
However, life took over somewhat and only after stays, short and long, in six countries she called home did she finally settle down to finish her novel.
Words have always played an important part in her life, whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English, or just picking up a good book.
Having three sons came in very handy when she had to write about squabbles between the male characters in her novel. Not so handy when she took her boys to Hampton Court and one of them got lost in the maze!
Seeing A Phoenix Rising, the first book in the series The House of the Red Duke in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her. She very much hopes that anyone reading Beware the Lizard Lurking, the second book in the series, will enjoy the end result as much as she enjoyed writing it.
Book Title: Beware the Lizard Lurking
Series: The House of the Red Duke, Book 2
Author: Vivienne Brereton
Publication Date: 12th February 2021
Publisher: Yuletide Press
Page Length: 302 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction