I was there with five other bloggers for the launch and cover reveal of Philippa Gregory’s new YA novel Changeling. The first in a four book series: Order of Darkness.
The event was the most formal blogger event I’ve been to and I found that I much prefer the formal style. I am a big fan of organisation and this event was expertly organised. We sent questions in advance and we were each given the chance to ask them press conference style. We were all a little nervous beforehand but Philippa put us at ease.
I’ve been reading one of her adult novels: Earthly Joys. It is set in the early 1600s and the main character – John Tradescant – is the Head Gardener of statesman Robert Cecil. I’ve been fascinated by the relationship between the mighty Cecil and his gardener. I got the chance to ask Philippa how a gardener could come to have such influence. She explained that in the world of court where all the players are false and effectively manipulators and liars, Cecil would have found John wonderfully different. He was a man of the earth and had a great deal of common sense. He was a practical and honest man. A complete contrast to court life. It was great to hear this because I have spent so long pondering how a gardener could grow to be so influential. Philippa also pointed out that Cecil spent a long time reflecting his garden and John would have designed it to allow his lord time for his personal reveries. Enlightening stuff!
Philippa talked about Changeling and gave us the context of the historical period. The people believe it is the End of Days – the coming of the apocalypse – after the successful invasion of the Ottomans in Constantinople. The lead male character – Luca - is charged with identifying events which may symptomatic of the end of the world: outbreaks of plague, village hysteria etc. Philippa’s lead female character Isolde is extraordinary of her time as she seeks to undo injustices that are done to her and regain her fortune.
As the closing question, I asked Philippa what she read for pleasure and not surprisingly she said history. It is her passion. She was inspirational talking about the period in which Changeling is set and really made it come alive for me. She also said that she believes in nourishing the subconscious mind so she reads the Classic English and American Literature Canon for pleasure and because she loves good writing.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for inviting me to the event. I was so inspired when I went away and it was perfect time as I had my writing class in the evening. What a day!