Don’t miss Mary Lawrence @ BN!

During the tempestuous reign of Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard has seen up close what keeps a man alive—and what can kill him. A good thing, for she will need all her knowledge to keep a friend away from the gallows . . .

Bianca and her husband John are delighted to share in the glad fortune of their friend, Boisvert, the silversmith, who is to wed Odile, the wealthy widow of a goldsmith. But a pall is cast over the upcoming nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell tower of St. Vedast, the very church where the betrothed are to be married.

Tragedy strikes again at the couple’s reception, when Odile suddenly drops dead in the middle of the wedding feast. The constable suspects Boisvert poisoned his new bride for her money, but there’s not a trace of poison in her food or wine. Could the two deaths be connected? To prove their friend’s innocence, Bianca will need to employ her knowledge of alchemy—for if she can determine how the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder—before another victim is added to the death toll . . .

Praise for The Alchemist’s Daughter

“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” —Fiona Buckley

“Captivating . . . just smart enough to be charming without being precious or terribly unrealistic.” —Library Journal

“Well-written, enjoyable, and well-worth reading.” —New Mystery Reader

“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” —Fiona Buckley

In the year 1543 of King Henry VIII’s turbulent reign, the daughter of a notorious alchemist finds herself suspected of cold-blooded murder…

Bianca Goddard employs her knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants to concoct remedies for the disease-riddled poor in London’s squalid Southwark slum. But when her friend Jolyn comes to her complaining of severe stomach pains, Bianca’s prescription seems to kill her on the spot. Recovering from her shock, Bianca suspects Jolyn may have been poisoned before coming to her—but the local constable is not so easily convinced.

To clear her name and keep her neck free of the gallows, Bianca must apply her knowledge of the healing arts to deduce exactly how her friend was murdered and by whom—before she herself falls victim to a similar fate…

“Unique characters, a twisty plot and a bold, bright heroine add up to a great debut for Mary Lawrence’s The Alchemist’s Daughter. Mystery and Tudor fans alike will raise a glass to this new series.” —Karen Harper, author of The Poyson Garden

Q&A with Mary Lawrence Author of The Alchemist’s Daughter

1. What is your story about?

The Alchemist’s Daughter takes place in the final years of King Henry VIII’s reign. Bianca, the daughter of an infamous alchemist, must prove her innocence in the poisoning of her best friend and uncover its connection to a threatening pestilence before she is arrested and London succumbs to the plague. It’s a mystery featuring a young woman who concocts medicines using what she has learned from her father and mother. She is not an active sleuth but instead, finds herself in situations where the outcome affects her life or the life of someone she loves.

2. Who is your sleuth and what makes her different?

Bianca combines her knowledge of alchemy (learned from her father) with plants (learned from her mother), to make medicines. She has a mind for science and order, but that disciplined approach doesn’t spill over into her personal life and physical appearance. She is quite aware of the mores and conventions of her time, and follows her heart regardless of consequences, but she isn’t a 21st century woman transplanted into Tudor London. She pursues her science unobtrusively and is a bit of a hermit. Often these murders directly affect her life and she solves them because, ultimately, she is compassionate and a student of the human condition.

3. Why didn’t you self-publish?

Frankly, I wanted the satisfaction to know that my writing was good enough to be traditionally published. It’s a huge ego boost. I now have a vote of confidence in my writing that I never would have gotten if I’d self- published. It’s hard enough trying to be heard among all the noise. Traditional publishing still has the publicity advantage. And odds are, that if you buy a book from a traditional publisher you probably won’t be disappointed.

4. What is the hardest thing about writing?

Rejection. It eats away at you.

5. Any tips on dealing with rejection?

Do whatever you must to keep going. The self-doubt can be immobilizing. Before Matt Groening found fame with The Simpsons he had a series of little cartoon books featuring a character named Binky. Often he’d show Binky lying in the middle of his living room floor just staring up at the ceiling. I’ve done a lot of Binky in my life.

6. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enter contests where your writing gets critiqued. It’s important to hear how people respond to your story. Don’t write in a vacuum and think everything you produce is brilliant. It isn’t. But even critiques can be biased or full of unhelpful advice. Hemingway said to develop a built-in bullshit detector. Unfortunately, bullshit detectors don’t happen overnight.

7. What do you hope readers take away from your work?

I hope it offers them an enjoyable escape into another time. I want them to have fun reading and if I can make them smile, then I’ve done my job.

8. What were three works of art, music and literature that had a great effect on you?

Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, Beethoven’s 7th symphony, and Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. I remember each of them vividly. The colors and dreaminess of Monet’s gardens. Every movement of Beethoven’s 7th is remarkably different and yet they work together to perfection. The music reduces me to tears every time I hear it. I’d never read anything like Jeanette Winterson’s book when it came out, the mix of humor, sarcasm and truth in a love story was brilliant.