Julia Stuart grew up in the West Midlands in England. She studied French and Spanish, and lived for a short period in France and Spain teaching English. After studying journalism at college, she worked on regional newspapers for six years. She then became a staff features writer for The Independent, where she worked for eight years, including a spell with The Independent on Sunday. In 2007, she relocated to Bahrain with her English husband, who is also a journalist.
She is the author of The Matchmaker of Périgord (2007). Her second novel was published in August 2010 as The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise in the USA and Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo in the UK.
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Julia Stuart talks about The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
Authors famously don't like to be questioned about where they get their ideas from. I suspect it's because they're asked it so often. Yet I still think it's one of the most salient questions a reader can ask. You can't write a book about a menagerie of exotic beasts housed at the Tower of London, a beefeater who collects rain samples, and a chaplain who writes erotica and expect not to have to account for it somewhere down the line.
I have a plump blue folder on which I've written the words "book ideas", in the hope that it will provide me with some. It is filled with articles torn out of newspapers and magazines that have either made me laugh or tugged at my heartstrings. They are not fully formed plots (alas), just scraps of intrigue that may be useful one day, if only for a scene.
The inspiration for The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise came from an article I read in a weekend supplement. It told of the beefeaters who not only worked at the Tower but lived there, quite literally being locked in at night. I thought it was a great setting for a novel, but couldn't come up with a plot, so I put it in the folder and got on with my first ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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