Death of an Alchemist by Mary Lawrence – Interview + Giveaway

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DEATH OF AN ALCHEMISTDeath of an Alchemist by Mary Lawrence

In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London’s slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder. . .

For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. Instead he is strangled in his bed and his journal is stolen.

As the daughter of an alchemist herself, Bianca is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. As her husband, John, falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum’s journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist’s murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum’s death proves to be only the first in a series of murders–and Bianca’s quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself. . .

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1) What does your writing space look like? Feel free to include photos!

IMG_1304Thirty years ago, a friend gave me a framed print of the I Ching image –chaos– with the quote “where dreams are born”. I don’t purposely create my messes, they just happen. I spread my books and papers over the dining room table, piano top, the floor next to my reading chair, and my office. It drives my ‘ship-shape’, retired Navy husband cuckoo.

2) What is your favorite part of being an author?

My favorite part of being an author is getting a phrase right. When I read a section of my writing and think—damn, that’s good! Nothing else gives me that euphoric feeling. It’s wonderful when someone lets me know they liked the story but I’m not so popular or well-known that it happens very often. So I’ve learned to please myself and if someone else likes it then all the better, but I know how subjective and ephemeral opinions are.

3) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I hang out with my plants. We have a small berry farm in Southern Maine and in-season, I do a daily walk-through, inspect the bushes and trees, identify pests and diseases and treat problems before they get out of hand. It’s a learning experience. I’ve also started taking piano lessons. I guess I love being a perpetual student.

small rose window4) If you could write from anywhere in the world, where would you write and why?

If I could set up my mess anywhere in the world and write, I would choose Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, in the nave under the Rose Windows. I count myself fortunate to have seen them. Their beauty combined with the incredible architecture of that cathedral was a visceral experience for me. I felt my mind expand, and the whispers of centuries past brought tears to my eyes.

coffee mug5) Do you have any interesting writing quirks? Any snacks/drinks you have to have or music that you listen to?

I drink too much coffee when I write. And I have to have it quiet. If there is music, or TV, I can’t focus. I could never write in a coffee shop. If someone is running a chainsaw outside my house I have to put in earplugs.

6) Have you read any great books/authors lately? We’d love a recommendation!

Andrea Jones’ Hook and Jill reinvents J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan for grown-ups. Not only is it well-written, but Andrea is a dear friend whose work deserves a greater audience.

7) Describe Death of an Alchemist in 3 sentences or less.

In Death of an Alchemist, Bianca seeks help from an alchemist who has just discovered the elixir of immortality. The next day he’s dead and his journal with the recipe is missing. When her husband falls ill to the sweating sickness and the journal mysteriously shows up at her rent, Bianca dares to hope she might save John—but at what peril?

8) What are you working on right now?
I’m working on Book 3 in the Bianca Goddard Mysteries — Death at St. Vedast. In this book, Bianca hobnobs with the well-to-do merchant class. A pall is cast over their friend’s nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell tower where Boisvert and his wealthy bride are to be wed. But when the bride suddenly drops dead at her reception, Boisvert, finds himself accused of killing her.

To prove their friend’s innocence, Bianca travels to a country village to learn about a series of deaths where the victims exhibited similar symptoms. If Bianca can determine how the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder—before another victim is added to the death toll.

About the Author

mary lawrenceMary Lawrence studied biology and chemistry, graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Cytotechnology. She won the Celtic Heart Golden Claddagh Award for historical fiction, and was a finalist in both the RWA® Golden Heart contest, and the Gotham Young Adult Novel Discovery competition. Along with writing and farming, Lawrence works as a cytologist near Boston. She lives in Maine. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series. Visit her at

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you, Brooke, for sharing this. I am venturing beyond the “cozy,” and this set of books by Mary Lawrence is perfect…sixteenth century England, alchemy and mystery, secrets and murder! I, too, was lucky to see the ‘Rose Window’ in Notre Dame, and despite the tourists that day, I enjoyed the beauty and serenity. Writing there? Yes…or some Parisian flat with the view of the Seine!

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