About the Book
Lizzie Lott’s Sovereign is the first of a projected series of seven stand-alone novels for young adults, featuring the eponymous heroine and her exploits as a member of the Most Righteous
Order of Saint Judas. You can buy the Kindle edition here.
Beginning in Victorian England on the eve of the Franco-Prussian war, 14-year-old barmaid Lizzie Lott is rescued from a life of grinding poverty by a stranger with unbelievably
fast reactions who spins a story about a shadowy group of individuals with equally unusual gifts. He drops Lizzie out of her depth
into a world of espionage, excitement and endeavour — all because she possesses an unnatural physical strength. Can she unravel a dastardly French plot without
being exposed as a spy? Why is her quirky ability to speak Dutch important? And what does Queen Victoria know that she’s not telling?
Join Lizzie in her opening adventure as she strives to become a Knight of St Judas!
These are questions that have been asked repeatedly about the series. More will be added as more are repeatedly asked…
Why is the first book called Lizzie Lott’s Sovereign?
The book’s working title was The Knights of St Judas, which sounded suitably intriguing but gave the impression that the story was mainly about
the knights when it was actually about Lizzie. A switch to Lizzie Lott and the Knights of St Judas fixed this but followed a tired formula — there
are way too many <Person> and the <Strange Thing> series currently around in young adult fiction. The final title was decided upon because it’s adaptable (other books can have the same
Lizzie Lott’s <Something> style) and can seem to say one thing while meaning another: it’s called Lizzie Lott’s Sovereign because she is.
Why are we never given a description of what Lizzie looks like?
The more the reader knows what Lizzie looks like, the less the reader is able to identify with Lizzie. If the reader identifies with Lizzie, then the book is more immersive;
more immersive means a more fun read; therefore, Lizzie’s physical appearance is not described but left to the reader’s imagination. Authors of comic books use a
similar technique, drawing main characters in low detail so that the reader is better able to project onto them. That said, if you really, really need a picture of Lizzie or
it’ll drive you crazy, there’s one in the Meet the Knights section of this web site, here.
How come Lizzie can read and write when she’s a working-class girl in Victorian times?
Although there was no universal educational provision for Victorian children in Britain until the passing of the Education Act in 1870, nevertheless in towns and cities there
were plenty of schools offering an elementary education for 2d or 3d a week. These were run mainly by churches or charities, or were dame schools operated by an older woman from her own home. The 3d schools were better than the 2d schools,
and children — both boys and girls alike — could expect to be taught reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithmetic, some history and some geography. Hull, where Lizzie lived, was particularly
well-endowed with schools: over 10,000 Hull children a year attended school in Lizzie’s time, around half of them going to private schools run by entrepreneurs (which were often short-lived
and not worth the money) and half going to public schools run by philanthropical organisations (which were usually superior). It's therefore not at all surprising that Lizzie
could read, write, pick out countries from a map and recall stories of King Arthur.
Why are the Knights’ gifts not like the super-powers found in movie and comic book franchises?
Those kinds of powers don’t make sense! All the Knights’ gifts are (at least in theory) scientifically possible. People who can fly or shoot laser beams out of their
eyes or use telekenesis or turn their skin to rock are great for one kind of story, but they don’t really fit the kind that makes an attempt at plausibility within an
How much was a Victorian sovereign worth in today’s money?
It depends on what you mean by “worth”! There are three basic answers:
The easiest answer is that a sovereign was worth roughly the same back in 1869 as it is today, because the important thing is how much
gold there is in one, not its face value (which was and is £1). Its gold content is the same now as it was then: 7.322g. The actual price of gold fluctuates quite wildly, though, going up
when there is a major international crisis and coming down when there isn’t. Right now as I type this a sovereign is worth £221.05, but who knows what it will
be worth when you read it?
The next-easiest answer comes from the fact that in Victorian times Britain operated under the gold standard, which meant that the value
of the pound was tied to that of gold: an ounce of gold always had a value of £3 17s 10½d (three pounds, seventeen shillings and tenpence halfpenny). This strange-seeming amount
was chosen because it meant that the gold in a sovereign was worth exactly £1. Because of inflation, £1 in 1869 was worth £74.50 in today’s money;
therefore, that's what a sovereign was worth.
The hardest answer takes into account a phenomenon by which money “felt” like it was worth more in Victorian times
even after it has been adjusted for inflation. This is because average wages were a lot lower then than they are today. By way of illustration, suppose you earn £400 a
week and want to buy something costing £20: that would represent 5% of your weekly wage. However, if your salary were only £100 a week, £20 would be 20% of
your weekly wage — it would “feel” four times more expensive to you. Using this approach, a sovereign in Lizzie’s time would have felt more like
£722 feels to us — not a sum you’d expect to see lying on the floor of a tavern, which perhaps explains Lizzie’s father’s unease when she
presented it to him!
If you’re interested in this kind of thing, the excellent web site measuringworth.com has
a calculator on it that converts between past and present values using several
different methods. See if you can find out what the 3d
a week Lizzie’s father paid for her to go to school would have felt like to him (the per Capita GDP answer).
Why does Lizzie have such a weird middle name?
Lizzie’s middle name is Ygerna: the Y is pronounced like the i in sit; the g is hard as in gag; and the emphasis on the ger
in the middle. Lizzie is very proud of her middle name because it’s her permanent connection to the mother she never knew. As far as she is concerned, Ygerna is unusual because
it’s a Cornish name; her mother, Ygerna Lott (née White) was from Cornwall. What Lizzie doesn’t know, however, is that Ygerna is actually very uncommon in
Cornwall, too — not a single person had the name Ygerna in the 1861 Census and only a handful had anything much like it. The etymology of the name has been lost,
although it’s said to mean “fair lady”; the Whites passed it down as a family tradition to be given to the first-born daughter of each generation. The name is
perhaps better-known, although equally under-used, in its English form: Igraine. Hit Wikipedia if you don’t
know why that’s important to Lizzie’s story.
What will the other books in the series be called?
All the yet-to-be-written books have working titles, but these may change. The full list is as follows (with alternative titles, because that might give you a better idea of what they’re about):
||Lizzie Lott’s Sovereign
||Lizzie Lott and the Knights of Saint Judas
||Lizzie Lott’s Reflection
||Lizzie Lott and the Unknown Knight
||Lizzie Lott’s Tempting
||Lizzie Lott and the Prussian Spy
||Lizzie Lott’s Spirit
||Lizzie Lott and the Ghost Town
||Lizzie Lott’s Time
||Lizzie Lott and the Past of Sir Mary
||Lizzie Lott’s Seconded
||Lizzie Lott aboard the HMS Iscariot
||Lizzie Lott’s Empress
||Lizzie Lott and the Empress of India
How can I get in touch?
You can contact the publisher through their website at notbyus.com. You can also friend Lizzie on her
About the Author
According to modern theories of Literature, you shouldn’t be interested in the author, just the text. Still, if you’re a martyr to your curiosity you can check out his
blog here, his general web site here and his
Wikipedia entry here. That’ll teach you.