Here is are some of the questions I have been asked during recent interviews and talks. Please feel free to comment on any of these and add your own query if you cannot find it here.
Q. Why did you make the hero of your books a glassmaker?
A. I had collected drinking glasses and decanters for many years and originally intended to write a non-fiction account of Venetian glass-blower, Jacopo Verseline, who came to London around 1570 to make drinking glasses; the first time it had been done successfully in England. Like some other glass collectors, I believe that Verseline was entitled to be thought of as the father of English glassmaking, since before him, drinking glasses had not been made to any reasonable standard. He also created a market with the merchant and liveryman classes, not just the very wealthy. The only details I could find, were several incidents that were more like the substance of a novel. This sowed the seed for the book and after much detailed research, the Glassmaker Series was born.
Q. Did it take you a long time to research the Glassmaker Series?
A. About three years were needed for the basic research, for what was originally intended to be one, or possibly two books. By the time I finished, I had identified the outlines of four books. Once I commenced writing the first book, on-going research was needed to help to flesh out the bare bones of the story, develop rounded characters and recreate the sights and sounds of sixteenth century London and Venice. Only you the readers can tell me if I succeeded.
Q. How is your book different than others out in the market? What needs does your book meet that makes it a must for someone to buy?
A. The strengths of the novel are the human dramas and adventures that unfold within a captivating, original context. The insight into the world of glassmaking is fascinating. The backdrop of the story’s settings, Venice and London in the sixteenth century also play a key part in its appeal to readers. These are not my words, but those of Martyn Bedford, University Lecturer in Creative Writing and best-selling author of Houdini Girl.
Q. Why do your books show Hawkins in a very favourable light, when he was really a slave trader?
A. The life and times of the 16th century was often hard and brutal, when viewed from a 21st century perceptive. Life was very different and I have tried to convey the flavour of England in the 16th century, without sanitising it. Moral values were very different then. Drake and his cousin, Sir John Hawkins, were not pirates and slave traders, but heroes to the population of England. As such I have avoided using 21st century values in writing about them.