Welcome to the online home of Deborah Swift, historical novelist. Before publishing her first novel Deborah worked as a set and costume designer for film and TV. She also developed a degree course in Theatre Arts at the Arden School of Theatre, where she taught scenography and the history of design. In 2007 she took an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, and since then has juggled writing with teaching.
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I’m a delver into archives, drinker of too much tea, and a lover of antiques and old buildings. Whilst you are reading this, I’m probably tapping away on my keyboard surrounded by my books and research. Our sturdy, stone-built house used to be the village primary school, and from my window I have a view of a few 17th century cottages, and behind those, green fields dotted with grazing sheep. This peaceful picture is often the opposite of what is unfolding on the page in front of me because storytelling thrives on conflict. And characters. And of course you, the reader.
Historical fiction was a natural choice for me as a writer because I always enjoyed the research aspect of design – poking about in archives and museums, not to mention the attraction of boned bodices and the excuse to visit old and interesting buildings!
I live close to the glorious countryside of the Lake District and divide my time between teaching and writing. When I’m not at work I love to walk and explore the landscape around my home – the lakes, the mountains and the sea.
This photo was taken by a friend as he and my husband went paragliding over Rydal Water near Grasmere. I stayed safely on the ground! Grasmere was the home of William Wordsworth and has a strong literary romantic tradition. Close by my home are several beautiful old houses including Levens Hall which I used as a setting in ‘The Lady’s Slipper’. Sizergh Castle and Leighton Hall (pictured) are within five miles of my front door, and a little further South the historic town of Lancaster with its castle and Georgian buildings. I am training to be a tour guide at Leighton Hall, so if you visit, look for the name badge on the tour guide!
My books are often an exploration of ideas I am passionate about. In ‘The Lady’s Slipper’ I was interested in how we preserve and conserve the natural environment, and how nature mysticism might have something in common with more organised religions, such as the early Quakers. In ‘The Gilded Lily’ I examine ideas of beauty, and find that pressures to be beautiful in the Restoration period have much in common with today. ‘A Divided Inheritance’ was a one woman’s journey into the male world of sword-fighting, and also a journey to one of the least known atrocities of the 17th century, an incident which I think deserves a much wider mention. All three books are published by Pan Macmillan. My young adult series, The Highway Trilogy, (published by Endeavour Press) is designed to introduce younger readers to historical fiction and also to a period full of social, political and religious upheaval – The English Civil Wars.
My alter-ego – DAVINA BLAKE
I have also written a book set in World War II, ‘Past Encounters’ – you can find out more about it at www.davinablake.com
RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS
For enquiries about rights and permissions, please contact me direct.