Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interview with Deborah Swift

Earlier this week I reviewed Deborah Swift's wonderfully visceral and delightfully dramatic Restoration-era historical novel The Gilded Lily. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Deborah Swift, so read on to learn more about her and her writing, and be sure to check out the international giveaway at the end!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

It was a macabre romantic novel written when I was a teenager about a farm girl that fell in love with a boy from a travelling fun-fair and left home to follow him around the country. It was pretty awful stuff, culminating in a fatal accident on the Waltzers! I kept it for ages under the bed gathering dust but finally threw it away when I realized how bad it was!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I write every morning whilst my mind is uncluttered with other jobs. Although I have a laptop I like to write on my big old clunky computer. I always start the day with a large mug of tea. Always by me is a good supply of sharp pencils even though I hardly ever use them, and I mostly type. But I think I must be a stationary-aholic as I also have little notepads, paperclips, index markers, post-its and highlighters which I hardly ever use either!

Was The Gilded Lily the original title of your book?

The working title was The Eye of The Beholder when it was in a very early draft. One of the themes in the book is beauty, and what makes a person beautiful, and how we recognize beauty when we see it. Later on The Gilded Lily seemed a good name for the beauty business where Ella works, and in the novel I play with the idea that this might have been how the phrase became common in our language from the Shakespeare - that it was made famous by the establishment in my book. Of course it also refers to Ella, who is the gilded lily of the title. The name The Gilded Lily also keeps the flower theme, as my previous book The Lady’s Slipper was also the name of a flower. Now I can’t imagine it being called anything else.

As you were writing The Gilded Lily, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

A few of the scenes with Jay Whitgift surprised me. He is a person that keeps himself tightly guarded. But I’m not going to tell you anything about him because I hope he’ll surprise the reader too! I enjoyed writing the relationship between Jay, the young blood about town, and his father who is from a different era and does not realize how much the world has moved on.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I do quite a few physical things as they are a good antidote to sitting at a desk and writing. I enjoy walks in the country, Tai chi, Yoga. One of my more unusual hobbies is Taiko Drumming which is bashing away on very big Japanese drums. I’m in a Taiko performing group and it keeps me fit and it’s a great stress-reliever to put my ear plugs in and hammer away.

Read any good books recently?

I’m reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake which I‘m loving. Before that I read Barbara Erskine’s Time’s Legacy, which is a time-slip novel set in Glastonbury that goes back to early Celtic Britain and the coming of the Romans – also an excellent read. Next on my list is A Gentleman of Fortune, a Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie mystery by Miss Anna Dean. I read the first one in the series and really liked its dry humour so I’m going back for more.

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I'm thrilled to offer one copy of The Gilded Lily to a lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers, ends 10/12.


  1. The Gilded Lily is a great title! Great interview, too :)

  2. Very nice interview! I can't wait to read The Lady's Slipper, and then this one when it comes out in November. She sounds like she really rocks the historical fiction novel!!

  3. Great interview! I like the story behind the title, and the books Swift's currently reading sound really good too.

  4. Thanks for the giveaway. I loved the interview!

  5. What a great interview. I think that all authors and bookish people are stationery-aholics!