Julia Stuart is the bestselling novelist of Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo and an award-winning journalist. A former feature writer for the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, she is a writer-in-residence at Kingston University, as well as a guest tutor for City University's Creative Writing (Novels) MA. She lives in London. Her fourth novel, The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland was published in August 2016.
Julia Stuart's website
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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 ...
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