“Mystery and Tudor fans alike will raise a glass to this new series.” —Karen Harper (on The Alchemist's Daughter)
Publication Date: January 26, 2016 Kensington Books Hardcover & eBook
Genre: Historical Mystery
In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London’s slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder… For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. But the next day his body is found and the journal is gone.
Bianca, the daughter of an alchemist, is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. When her husband John falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum’s journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist’s murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum’s death is only the first in a series of murders—and Bianca’s quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself . . .
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A spy! I grew up in the sixties when TV shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Avengers, Get Smart, and The Saint, were popular. I have fond memories of watching these shows with my brother. Then on the playground at school, my friends and I would act out Agent 99 or Illya Kuryakin. But I completely lack the skill set to be an agent. I’m not stealthy or poker-faced, I’m not multilingual, and I wouldn’t be any good at killing folks (except in my books). I would have made the worst spy ever. I’m sure I would have ended in a salt mine in Siberia.
What are three things people may not know about you?
I have a pesticide applicator license, I spent over 25 years screening pap smears, and I used to be a decent viola player.
The pesticide license is a requirement if you farm and sell over $1000 worth of produce. I had to teach myself from an excruciatingly boring manual and learn the computations. So I’m proud of myself for persevering.
For years I made a living looking at pap smears under a microscope. The pay is better than writing and I had lots of time to think about people and stories. But since my book deal, I’ve given up my commute to Boston and now I focus on the farm and Bianca.
What is your favorite scene in Death of an Alchemist?
There is a scene where Bianca realizes that she should not tamper with nature. Her reasons for doing so were selfish and nearly kills a friend. She does something that shocks her friend and hopefully the reader--a nice little piece of symbolism to mark her change in thinking, her growth as a woman. (Sorry, I don’t want to give it away, but if you read the book it will be obvious.)
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Bianca hasn’t got any super powers or psychic abilities. What she does have, is curiosity. She lives in a slum of London and is surrounded by death and disease. Having observed her mother (the neighborhood white witch) unsuccessfully treat the sick with remedies based largely on superstition, Bianca seeks to combine her knowledge of herbs with alchemy techniques that she learned from her father. She has a scientific mind for cause and effect. Her first desire is to create medicines and understand disease and mortality, but when murder enters into the mix, she can’t help but try to sort out people’s motivations. Her attributes are her loyalty, curiosity, and tenacity. Bianca only believes what she can prove to herself--not what others tell her.
What is your best trait?
What is your worst trait?
Sensitivity. It is both a help and a hindrance to me as a writer.
“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.”
—Fiona Buckley (on The Alchemist's Daughter)
About the Author
Mary Lawrence studied biology and chemistry, graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Cytotechnology. Along with writing and farming, Lawrence works as a cytologist near Boston. She lives in Maine. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series.
For more information please visit Mary's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
To enter the Death of an Alchemist giveaway, please use the GLEAM form below. Four winners will receive a signed copy and the Grand Prize Winner will receive a signed copy plus a $15 Amazon Gift Card!
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Blog Tour Schedule
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, March 22
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Guest Post at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Wednesday, March 23
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, March 24
Interview at Books and Benches
Friday, March 25
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at The Book Connection
Monday, March 28
Tuesday, March 29
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Wednesday, March 30
Review at A Holland Reads
Thursday, March 31
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft's Blog
Friday, April 1
Guest Post at Passages to the Past