My next book follows Kit Doonan (Will’s brother in Mistress of the Sea) on a new adventure with Emme Fifield who is a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and an intelligence-gatherer for her spymaster, Walsingham. They become involved in one of the most enduring mysteries behind the founding of modern America: the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘Lost Colony’, the first attempt at founding a permanent English settlement in the New World. Together they confront Indians, treachery and a heart-rending battle for survival…

Of course that meant a trip for me to the location of the doomed settlement on the Island of Roanoke in Virginia, as it was then (now North Carolina in the Outer Banks). In 1587 at least 113 men, women and children were left on Roanoke by the colony’s governor, John White, who returned to England for essential supplies, only to be thwarted by the preparations to meet the threat from the Spanish Armada. When he eventually returned three years later no trace of the colony could be found, and amongst those missing was his own grand-daughter, Virginia Dare, the first child of English descent born on American soil.

In May this year speculation surrounding the Lost Colony was revived when the British Museum re-examined White’s map of Virginia, using infrared light and X-ray spectroscopy, and discovered a fort-like symbol hidden under a patch. The site of this fort – possibly planned but never built – lies at the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers. It was an area I’d visited only a few weeks before, and the find was tremendously exciting. Could this patch indicate the site of a possible re-location for the colony? In my story there will be an answer…

Here’s an article in the New York Times about the discovery: Map’s Hidden Marks Illuminate and Deepen Mystery of Lost Colony