Blog Tour Guest Post: HONESTY AND LIES by Eloise Williams (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in gold on blue flanked by graphic of two girls in maid's caps
Genre: Historical
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for HONESTY AND LIES: title in gold on wintry scene with two girls in maids uniform holding a platter of food

London 1601.

At Queen Elizabeth I’s court, storyteller Honesty, seeking fame and fortune, joins Alice, as a maid at Greenwich Palace. Honesty looks for attention while Alice must stay invisible.

What is Alice hiding? In a world of treason and secrets, can they both survive?

Blurb adapted from proof copy. Add to your Goodreads shelves here and read my review here.

I really enjoyed this historical mystery set near me and am so excited to have Eloise Williams here to talk about the inspiration behind it.

Honestly, inspiration is such an elusive thing and so hard to pin down. It can appear from anywhere and at any time. It’s a kind of magic and it can also be accumulative. A small detail, which is forgotten and then chimes later when something else ignites. This is how it happened for me with HONEST AND LIES. Somewhere, in the mists of the history of my own lifetime, I found an interest in Elizabethan London. The fogs have since gathered and made my memory soupy, so that I’m not sure what the initial moment of inspiration for the story was.

It might have been when I took a trip to Greenwich and rode a boat along the Thames back to Southwark. London looks very different from the water. It gives you a whole new perspective on the place. Perhaps I was influenced by my work as an actor – I certainly played lots of bit parts in Elizabethan plays which gave me time to listen to the drama of the stories told by other people’s tongues. Was it more generally a love of history? The strange foods, the oppressive rules and being born to a specific station in life – though this arguably still exists – the hygiene, and the toilets which make festival portaloos seem positively glamourous. Or was it just that I saw a painting of Queen Elizabeth I and wanted to describe her beautiful gowns? It might have been all
of these things. A kind of concoction of ideas and influences.

Like most authors, I like to fall down research rabbit holes. There’s nothing more pleasing than wandering museums and historic buildings, filling notebooks with whalebone farthingales and bum rolls, belladonna and ear scoops, wherries and worries about witches. But they must serve as the backdrop. The real story is in the characters and what happens to them and for me this is a tale of friendship against the odds.

I’m drawn to the dark and dangerous elements of history, the life of ordinary people and the theme of appearance versus reality – this definitely stems from my time in theatres where the backstage areas were often a very stark, mouldy contrast to the auditoriums. What if I put two girls in the apparently magnificent world of Greenwich Palace, under the eye of Queen Elizabeth herself? What if they worked there and I explored what life was like for them? What if it wasn’t the glamourous, beautiful lifestyle one might expect?

Yes, the stakes are high for traitors, with imprisonment, torture or execution on the cards for those who went against the queen. But luckily my characters completely obey orders, stay within the boundaries of their role in society, aren’t secretly plotting, or skiving off to see a play at the Globe. Oh, and neither of them is hiding anything at all. They are being completely honest with each other. Or might there be the slightest possibility that I’m telling lies?

Thank you, Eloise!

Blog tour banner: list of participating blogger in white and blue on purple next to image of book

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