The Poison Keeper by Deborah Swift / #Interview #BlogTour @maryanneyarde @swiftstory



Naples 1633

Aqua Tofana – One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell Giulia the hidden keys to her success. When Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life, and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her Aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed, and the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the ‘Camorra’, the mafia. Worse, her Aunt Isabetta, under Domenico’s thrall, insists that she should be consort to him – the brother of the man she has vowed to kill.

Based on the legendary life of Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets, and how even the darkest desires can be vanquished by courage and love.




When and where do you prefer to write?

I write every morning if I can, while my mind is still fresh and not addled by social media, other work, or the demands of household stuff like washing or shopping for food. My office is a spare bedroom at the top of the house with a small desk and a big surface where I can lay out my research books.

Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?

I like silence if I can get it! Today there’s a man with a pile driver digging up the road outside our house! But yes, I’m a keen silence fan, and try to include it in the rest of my life by practising meditation, and going for quiet walks alone.

If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?

I’d be too scared to write one with Hilary Mantel! She’s such a towering figure in historical fiction! But I’d choose Ken Follett. I admire the way he can keep his plots moving but still make us care about the characters.

Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?

I think I’d like to be the ‘bad one’. Then when people meet me in real life I’d be a pleasant surprise (I hope!)

Who would you like/have liked to interview?

I would love to have interviewed Henry VIII. I don’t suppose he’d be easy to interview, but I’d like to take him to task about beheading the women he’d got tired of. Even better, I’d like to get him on Judge Judy and let her do it for me!

Where can I find you when you are reading?

I have two favourite spots. One is a bench in the garden, (You can see it here occupied by our cat) the other is in our living room which has a huge squishy sofa. And of course I read in bed – who doesn’t? I still have a pile of books next to the bed even though I read a lot now on the Kindle.

Where can I find you wen you are not writing/reading?

I am usually exercising. I do Yoga, tai chi and dancing, because writing is such a sedentary occupation, and you have to spend long hours at a desk. I tried a standing desk, but my typing is not that good and it didn’t work for me. So I do have to make time to move – and I really enjoy it too. It’s a great tension release from the conflict in my plots.

What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?

I’m thrilled to hold the result of all those long hours of work. And usually a little apprehensive because reviews will be coming in soon, and there’s no guarantee that people will enjoy it. I hope the first few reviews are good, because then I can cope with the bad ones, and there are always a few because we can’t all enjoy the same kinds of book. I look at the cover and hope its pitching the book to the right readers.

How do you come up with a title for your book?

For this one, the title seemed pretty obvious. Publishers have changed my titles before now, and they have been right in their choices. For my last WW2 book, The Lifeline, I had a tussle trying to find a title, but in the end the title came from words the character spoke in the book.

How do you pick a cover for your book?

I chose the designer myself this time, and gave her a brief of two ideas I thought would work. She supplied me with two stunning designs and I then had to decide which would best attract the sort of readers I wanted for The Poison Keeper. It was such a hard choice as both looked brilliant. But I wanted to broaden my readership so I went for a cover which didn’t illustrate the story too specifically but gave a sense of the Renaissance. I love the cover Dee Dee Book Covers produced and I think the designer did a beautiful job.

Thank you for hosting me Els!

Thank you, Deborah Swift and The Coffee Pot Book Club


About the Author 

Deborah Swift lives in the north of England and is a USA Today bestselling author who has written fourteen historical novels to date. Her first novel, The Lady’s Slipper, set in 17th Century England, was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, and her WW2 novel Past Encounters was a BookViral Millennium Award winner.

Deborah enjoys writing about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and most of her novels have been published in reading group editions. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is a mentor with The History Quill.


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