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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Post by Amanda Carmack & Giveaway

I have reviewed the first two books in the Elizabethan Mystery series, first "Murder at Hatfield House" (click here) and second "Murder at Westminster Abbey" (click here).  Now, we get a special blog post from the author about her research of the book.  Please give a shout-out and welcome in the comments to the talented author of the series, Amanda Carmack!  Thank you to the publisher for including me in the author's blog tour.

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When I started writing Murder at Westminster Abbey, I had lots of fun digging through boxes looking for photos and scrapbooks of my trips to England, and I got to revisit my very first visit to Westminster Abbey!  It was a rainy, stormy day, and I had just arrived in London after a long overnight flight.  The hotel room wasn't yet ready, I was jet-lagged and a bit silly with lack of sleep and too much Chardonnay (I am a terrible flier!).  So what could be better than a few hours wandering around in the cool darkness of Westminster Abbey, out of the rain?

For a lifelong history geek like me, the Abbey was a magical

place.  I spent hours at Poet's Corner, visiting Chaucer and Browning.  I stumbled across Anne of Cleves, Margaret Beaufort, and Aphra Behn, and stood atop where Oliver Cromwell once lay, before the Restoration came and he was dug up again.  Best of all, I found myself nearly alone for a few precious minutes at the tomb Elizabeth I shares with Mary I.  

It was wonderful to revisit my memories of that trip (and re-watch a DVD of William and Kate's wedding, just for research on cathedral details, of course!).  It was also a lot of fun to delve deeply into the events surrounding Elizabeth I's coronation—I almost feel like I could have been there now, and met all the historical figures who played a part in the glittering events.  I loved weaving the real pageantry with my fictional characters and what happened to them on those momentous days in January 1559.

Queen Mary's funeral was on December 14, 1558, and

Elizabeth then moved to Whitehall Palace to celebrate the Christmas season with a series of feasts and dances, organized by her newly appointed Master of the Horse, Robert Dudley.  But there was work to be done as well as dancing, a household to organize, counselors to appoint, and a coronation to plan.  The city, which had been quiet and somber for the last months of Queen Mary's sad life, sprang to life.  Viewing stands were built, streets graveled, the river cleaned up, and vast quantities of cloth of gold and silver, silks, velvets, and satins were ordered.  Seven hundred yards of blue cloth was laid as a carpet from Westminster Palace to the Abbey.  Despite the economy of re-making Queen Mary's royal robes for Elizabeth's more slender figure, the Exchequer paid out more than 18,000 pounds.

Dr. John Dee, the new queen's favorite astrologer, laid out a

horoscope predicting January 15 as the best date for the coronation.  He didn't predict the fact that the weather would be gray, cold, and icy, but the party went on.  On January 12, the queen boarded her barge at Whitehall and processed along the Thames to the Tower, where new monarchs traditionally slept before their coronation.  Accompanied by dozens of other barges, musicians, the Mayor and his aldermen, she floated past hundreds of people lining the riverbanks to toss flowers and shout their approval.  (The poor victim in my story, Nell, watches this procession before she sadly loses her life.  She'd heard from her grandmother about Queen Anne Boleyn's procession, and wants to see Queen Anne's daughter go by now...)

On leaving the Tower, Elizabeth processed four miles through London, wearing 23 yards of cloth of gold and silver trimmed with ermine, riding in a white litter lined with gold and drawn by white mules.  Trumpeters proceeded her, and her household rode behind, dressed in their finest red velvets and furs to watch five stately pageants that symbolized the new beginning of the reign.  I loved having my heroine, Kate Haywood, ride behind the queen, taking it all in.

As for the coronation will just have to read Murder at Westminster Abbey for a glimpse of it!

For more historical background on the events of January 1559, and some great resources I came across in my research, you can visit me anytime at

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THANK YOU Ms. Carmack for that fascinating look into the history behind Queen Elizabeth I's coronation.  I love how it was brought to life in the book.


Entry for giveaway lasts until Sunday April 6th, 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  The publisher will ship one copy of Murder at Westminster Abbey to the winner.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower or email subscriber) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  Please leave your contact email address.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until
Sunday April 6th, 2014.  I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your physical mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.  BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

If you mention this and provide a link on your Facebook or Twitter to share with friends, please note that in the comments and you will get an addition entry!

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Unknown said...

Looks fantastic! I hope I get a chance to read it. Thank you for the chance to win. Email subbie: jslbrown2009(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I love English history, mystery and suspence. Thank you for the chance to win!!!

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Unknown said...

Mystery, suspense, and English history what's not to love about it :). Thanks for the giveaway and a chance to win!

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mdcast1972 at gmail dot com

Sue Farrell said...

I like a little history with my mystery. Thanks for the contest.
email subsciber and GFC follower

Rita Wray said...

I have always been a huge fan of English history. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

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Unknown said...

What lovely photos! It must have been so much fun to have a chance to visit and "live" the history. The book sounds wonderful. I'm an email follower: michelle_willms at yahoo dot com. 2115

Anita Yancey said...

The book sounds really good. I love the cover. Thanks for having the giveaway.

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holdenj said...

Love the mix of English history and mystery! Thanks for the chance to win!

Carol M said...

Both of these books sound really good! I'd love to start reading this series! Thank you for the giveaway!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

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