Blog Tour/Q&A: Blood and Ink by D. K. Marley

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I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for historical mystery, Blood and Ink by D. K. Marley.  I have a fabulous interview in which, amongst other things, the author shares her fascination with research, the challenges of achieving historical authenticity and her own favourite authors.

WinThere’s also a giveaway (open internationally) running until the end of the tour with a chance to win one of two copies of Blood and Ink. To enter and view the rules, visit the tour page here and complete the Gleam form at the bottom of the page.

On the tour page you can also see the other fantastic book bloggers taking part in the tour and follow links to reviews of Blood and Ink.

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Blood and InkAbout the Book

Blood and Ink tells the story of Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.

Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England’s underworld – a secret spy ring created by the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.  Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his ‘dark lady,’ the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.

As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen’s own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.

And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?

Format: Audiobook, paperback, ebook (438 pp.)    Publisher: The White Rabbit Publishing
Published: 28th March 2018  Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Blood and Ink on Goodreads


Interview: D. K. Marley, author of Blood and Ink

Without giving too much away, can you tell me a bit about Blood and Ink?

Blood and Ink is the story of the playwright, Christopher Marlowe, and his association with the underground world of Walsingham’s spy ring, how he became a playwright, the possibility he did not die in 1593 and is the suspected true author of Shakespeare’s plays.

How did you get the idea for the story?

In 2000, I visited the Globe Theatre in London. At the time, there was a display in the museum about the different men who might have written or co-written the plays of Shakespeare. One of them was Kit Marlowe. When I got back home from that trip, I started researching since it was always my desire to write a historical fiction novel. Something about the idea struck me as an incredible premise for an alternate history, so I spent the next few years researching and plotting out my novel.

How did you approach your research for the book? Do you enjoy the process of research?

I love the process of research, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a writer, or else I get really absorbed in history. My process is: 1) read and read and read; 2) take lots of notes and start arranging them on note cards or files; 3) plot out my story and characters and see how to fit in the history; 4) start writing.

What was the most surprising fact you came across during your research?

So much! Even though I am a staunch Stratfordian and believer in William Shakespeare as the author, I was surprised at how much of the sonnets reflected Marlowe’s life. I found myself baffled at times at the evidence of Marlowe’s death – the inquest, the grave, the suspicions, the trumped-up charges against him, and the secret identity of Monsieur LeDoux. Very intriguing!!

What do you think is the key to creating an authentic picture of a particular historical period?

To me, to take a reader back to the time period, you must stay true to the setting, the language (as far as it does not turn your reader off), the clothes, the smells, the poor living conditions, everything! Tudor England or Medieval England was not the romantic setting so often portrayed today on television or film…especially to the poor. Even to the nobility, you were dealing with dark, dank, sometimes sweltering, sometimes frigid estates or castles; so to stay authentic to historical fiction, all of these elements give your reader honesty.

Readers (me included) seem fascinated with the Tudor period of English history.  Why do you think this is?

I love it, as well. Tudor history is fascinating because it represents a time of incredible change, in thinking, in art, in religion, and all backed by one of the most interesting Queens in history. True, the history has been glamorized in television and film, but for me, there is something so relatable, as well as fantastical, about these people’s lives. Love, passion, betrayal, greed, suffering, ambition, death, marriage, feminism, bullying, machismo, friendship, lust, secrets, politics, religion… the stuff of life, even our life today, except flavoured with grand gowns, men with swords, and imposing castles. Somehow, I think (speaking as a reader myself) we imagine the aforementioned list manageable if we wore a corset and our hero swept in wearing a doublet. We seek to escape and what better century to escape than the seemingly magical world of the Tudors!

Were there particular scenes in the book you found especially challenging – or rewarding – to write?

I found the scenes of the massacre in Paris difficult to write. I rewrote the scene several times, sometimes more violent, sometimes less violent, but ended with trying to focus more on how the scene affected Kit as a young boy instead of the gory details of what happened in the streets of Paris. I loved writing the scene between Marlowe and the Countess of Pembroke. When I first read Venus and Adonis, I thought to myself…”this happened, the writer of this poem is speaking from experience, just the same as when he wrote the poem of a young shepherd boy to his secret love”… so the entire scene developed from the poem. Mary Herbert was an incredible poetess in her own right and very well could have been a match for Marlowe, so the entire scene just flowed from my mind as I wrote.

Do you have a favourite place to write or any writing rituals?

This may sound funny, but I have a loveseat covered with a Toile slipcover where I sit to write. The scenes on the slipcover depict English country scenes with women in flowing skirts and men on horseback, so maybe it gives me inspiration. Plus, my daughter, who was killed 3 1/2 years ago by a drunk driver, used to sit in this very seat and read her favourite books when she would come to visit me. She was my reading buddy, so I feel close to her when I sit here.

Which authors do you admire and enjoy reading?

I have so many and continue to add to my collection. My first and foremost is Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who wrote The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game. Next in my list is in order: William Shakespeare (of course), Ken Follett, Jane Austen, Rosalind Miles, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Toni Morrison, and Margaret George.

What are you working on next? 

My second novel, Prince of Sorrows, a historical fiction adaptation of the play Hamlet is now available on Amazon. I am working on a breakaway novel, meaning breaking away from my normal Shakespearean vein, with a historical novel titled Child of Love and Water set in the islands of Coastal Georgia in the 1700s, involving a Creek Indian warrior, a Gullah slave girl, a British soldier, and an Irish immigrant girl, due out in December of 2018. My next in the Shakespeare series is A Winter’s Fire which adapts the story of Lady Macbeth and is set for release in the spring or summer of 2019.

Thank you for those fascinating answers and insight into your busy writing life!


DK MarleyAbout the Author

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel Blood and Ink, an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.

She is an avid Shakespearean/Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has travelled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes.

She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

Connect with D. K. Marley

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Blog Tour/Interview: The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes

The Girl in the Pink Raincoat Banner 9th JulyI’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes.  My thanks to Florence and Blake at Head of Zeus for inviting me to participate in the tour.

I’m thrilled to bring you a Q&A with Alrene in which she discusses, amongst other things, the surprising facts that can turn up during research for her books and the importance of the right notebook!

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The Girl in the Pink RaincoatAbout the Book

When a factory girl and a Jewish businessman fall in love it seems that the whole world is against them.

Manchester, 1939. On the eve of war Gracie Earnshaw is working in Rosenberg’s Raincoat factory – a job she hates – but her life is about to be turned upside down when she falls in love with Jacob, the boss’s charismatic nephew.

Through Jacob, with his ambitions to be a writer, Gracie glimpses another world: theatre, music and prejudice. But their forbidden romance is cut short when Jacob is arrested and tragedy unfolds.

Gracie struggles with heartbreak, danger and old family secrets, but the love of her first sweetheart comes back to her in an unexpected way giving her the chance of a new life and happiness.

Format: Hardcover, ebook (368 pp.)    Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 12th July 2018                        Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Publisher | Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Girl in the Pink Raincoat on Goodreads


Interview with Alrene Hughes, author of The Girl in the Pink Raincoat

Welcome, Alrene. Without giving too much away can you tell me a bit about The Girl in the Pink Raincoat?

It’s set in Manchester during WW2.  Gracie Earnshaw is working in Rosenberg’s Raincoat factory – a job she hates – but her life is about to be turned upside down when she falls in love with Jacob, the boss’s charismatic nephew.  Through Jacob, with his ambitions to be a writer, Gracie glimpses another world: theatre, music and prejudice. But their forbidden romance is cut short when Jacob is arrested and tragedy unfolds.  Gracie struggles with heartbreak, danger and old family secrets, but the love of her first sweetheart comes back to her in an unexpected way giving her the chance of a new life and happiness.

How did you get the idea for the story?

To begin with, I wanted to write about Manchester where I live and I like to write about WW2 because the period gives rise to a lot of drama that can change the characters’ lives. Gracie came to me very quickly, a factory girl who was good fun and loved telling stories, but there was something else about her… I knew she wouldn’t stay in the raincoat factory, but her journey had so many twists, none of which I could have envisaged when I set out to write her story.

How did you approach your research for the book? Do you enjoy the process of research?

I had already written three WW2 novels set in Belfast, where I grew up, and I learned then that thorough, well-written, non-fiction accounts of a city at war are a god-send to a novelist. Then there are the books about the home-front and cultural life in the city. Once the novel is underway the internet really comes into its own for the fine detail: what the interior of a particular dance hall looked like; what date a certain film or song came out.  Yes I do like researching, but in the end you just have to get on with writing the book!

What was the most surprising fact you came across during your research?

I came across an account of an internment camp housing enemy aliens – initially German and Austrian citizens and later Italians. The surprise was that the camp, in a disused cotton mill, was five minutes from my house! It is still standing and is now a business centre. The tragic story of the camp, and the subsequent sinking of the SS Arandora Star carrying the internees to Canada, is at the heart of the novel.

Your Martha’s Girls trilogy was also set in WW2. What attracts you to this period of history?

When I decided to write my first novel I searched for a story and took the usual advice – write about what you know. That led me to an old family scrapbook full of concert programmes, old photographs and mementoes. My mother and her sisters were talented singers in the style of the Andrews Sisters and as members of ENSA they entertained in military camps, concert and dance halls. I ended up writing a trilogy allowing the readers to see the entire war through the eyes of Martha and her daughters. What kept me going was the commitment to my family and the joy of recreating their lives, with several imaginative additions. And somewhere along the way I got hooked on the era.

When those books were finished it seemed the most natural thing to move the setting to Manchester and start again with new characters, completely fictional this time, in The Girl in the Pink Raincoat.

Do you have a favourite place to write or any writing rituals?

I’m lucky enough to have a room where I write overlooking the garden. Actually, that’s not quite true; I also spend a lot of time staring out the window wondering where on earth the story is going, then there’s the temptation to Google in the name of research, not to mention several other displacement activities. I also spend time in Greece and in the lazy afternoons I can usually write for 4-5 hours at a time with no interruptions or no internet.

I haven’t got any writing rituals, but I like to have an A4 notebook with a nice cover for each novel to work out planning, ideas for chapters, things to go back and change later, keep a daily record count…

What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about the writing process?

I love it when, in the course of writing, a sudden thought occurs to me that’s so much better than I originally intended. Often, as I write towards the end of a chapter there’s a real sense of achievement when it comes together and that full stop at the end is the time to smile and know it’s going to be fine.

Least favourite thing – when I could happily throw the laptop out of the window. That’s the time to shut it down and sleep on it. More often than not, it doesn’t look so bad in the morning.

Which authors do you admire and enjoy reading?

I read all sorts of books and don’t often go back to authors. But I would say that I’ve always liked Anita Shreve for her insight into the complexity of love. A critic described her as ‘a supremely elegant anatomist of the human heart.’ That’s the kind of book for me.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on another WW2 family saga/historical romance set in Manchester. It focuses on a young married woman who has led a sheltered life, but when her husband is killed in the blitz she has to face both grief and the need to earn a living. Circumstances lead her to join the police where she comes into contact with the harsh reality of life for women and her own longing to fall in love again.

Thank you, Alrene, for those fascinating answers to my questions.  Your many fans will be delighted to hear you’re already working on the next book.


Alrene Hughes
Photo credit: Tony Edwards

About the Author

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life.

She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time.

Connect with Alrene

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