Interview & Giveaway: Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am super excited to share with you my interview with Author Deborah Swift, who is currently on Blog Tour for her new historical, Entertaining Mr. Pepys.

I recently reviewed this excellent book and you can read my review here.

Hope you enjoy the interview! Be sure to enter our giveaway below to win a copy of the book!

Hello Deborah and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Entertaining Mr. Pepys!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I enjoy writing historical fiction with ordinary people as the main characters. This is one of the things that inspired me to write a series of novels around Pepys’s famous diary. He mentions a lot of ordinary women in his diary, and some appear often. I was interested to unpick what lives were like for these real women, against the background of the other major events in the diary such as the Plague and the Great Fire of London. This novel, Entertaining Mr Pepys, is about Mary Elizabeth Knepp, the singer and actress, a woman Pepys has an intense friendship with, and who played at the King’s Theatre alongside Nell Gwynne.

What research did you undertake when writing the series?

Pepys Diary formed the major part of my research. It’s an enormously long document running to more than a million words, but to my relief, it’s also available online. I also used the diaries of his contemporaries such as John Evelyn, and the writings of women such as Aphra Behn. Writing a historical novel like this involved research into specialist areas such ‘types of harness in 17th Century carriages’, ‘theatrical machinery of the Restoration’ and ‘how buildings burn’, and so I used Google and Youtube a lot for that. Then had to delete my browsing history in case people should think me an arsonist! I also read quite a few plays because the book is set in the world of 17th Century theatre.

What would you like readers to take away from reading the series?

They are designed to be entertainments, so I hope people will love them and be entertained! Each of the stories focuses on a different woman, and her struggles to attain a goal, so they are all about the indomitable human spirit. The first book is about how a maid might battle to become independent, the second about how a woman might scheme to build security for herself in terms of property, and the third about how a woman might find a voice in a man’s world. And of course there is always love - the key to their stories, for all the women, is that there is always someone she loves who will be affected by her choices.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Actually it was several scenes - the scenes during the Great fire of London, in which two thirds of the city of London was destroyed. It was such a massive change over such a short space of time, and such a catastrophe, that I wanted to convey the enormity of it to my readers. I also wanted to describe the panic and confusion as people tried to save the things they loved.

What was the first historical novel you read?

It was a copy of Anya Seton’s Katherine lent to me by my mother who was also an avid reader. I can still remember the slightly florid cover, with a woman wearing ermine. It was the story of the love affair between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, and I remember being lost in it for days. I still find Anya Seton readable – and this is one of the joys of historical fiction – it can be read by several generations, and still be relevant.

So what appeals to you most about historical fiction?

I think the genre can convey lessons learned from the past in an accessible way, and, without sounding too grandiose about it, fiction about the past can be a fierce force for good. The past is fascinating and extraordinary and shows us aspects of the human experience that are extinct, or so strange as to be scarcely believable. It also shows us ourselves, but reflected against a different background.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Writing involves a lot of time at the desk, so I enjoy doing various sorts of physical exercise or working out. My weekly routine consists of Tai Chi, Yoga, Zumba and Taiko Drumming. Taiko Drumming is playing big drums with a lot of big movements and physical choreography. I’m part of a performance group of Taiko Drummers, and they perform at festivals and fetes mostly in the summer. It’s noisy, fun and a great way to keep fit.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m working on the third book in a WW2 series. The first one is already out, one is in production, and the other I’m researching. It’s set in The Shetland Islands off Scotland in the Second World War. Quite a change from Mr Pepys, but as they say; ‘a change is as good as a rest!’

Entertaining Mr Pepys is published by Accent Press in ebook, paperback & audio.

You can buy the book here

Deborah’s website

Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

London 1666

Elizabeth 'Bird' Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward - for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

The third in Deborah Swift's atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys' Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.

'A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London' - Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack

'The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins' - Readers Favourite Review

Amazon | Book Depository

Praise for the Pepys Trilogy

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' - The Visitor

'A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail' - Readers Favorite 5*

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined' -Lancashire Evening Post

About the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, November 22
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Thursday, November 28
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, November 29
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, December 2
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, December 9
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 11
Review at Hopewell's Public Library of Life

Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Entertaining Mr. Pepys

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