S.J. Parris Books

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S.J. Parris is a pen name that Stephanie Merritt uses to write historical fiction. Born in 1974, Merritt attended Queen’s College and Cambridge University. She joined the Observer as Deputy Literary Editor in 1998, only departing in 2005 to write full-time.

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Order of Giordano Bruno Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Heresy 2010 Description / Buy
2 Prophecy 2011 Description / Buy
3 Sacrilege 2012 Description / Buy
4 The Secret Dead 2013 Description / Buy
5 Treachery 2014 Description / Buy
6 Conspiracy 2016 Description / Buy
7 Execution 2020 Description / Buy
8 The Dead of Winter: Three Giordano Bruno Novellas 2020 Description / Buy
9 Alchemy 2023 Description / Buy
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‘Gaveston’ was her first novel. The award-winning book came out in 2002. After writing ‘Real’ in 2005 and a memoir that detailed her struggle with depression, Merritt decided to explore her passion for history. This meant creating the S.J. Parris pen name.

Merritt decided to publish the first book in the Giordano Bruno series under a pseudonym because she did not want to confuse her readers. As Merritt, she had written two contemporary novels. The author had created a specific brand that she did not want to taint by suddenly swerving into the historical fiction genre.

By creating S.J. Parris, Merritt wanted to build a new brand that would attract its own fanbase. She succeeded. Merritt’s interest in history, and especially the Tudor period, was ignited at a young age.

The author was six years old when she saw a picture of Mary, Queen of Scots. The illustration was hardly appropriate for a child because Mary was in the process of being beheaded.

But rather than repelling her, the image fascinated Merritt. It compelled her to explore Mary’s story. Before long, the author’s curiosity had given birth to an unquenchable obsession with history. She went to university and studied Medieval and Renaissance literature.

During this period, she discovered Bruno, the hero of her historical fiction novels. Because of her love for history, Merritt was tempted to dedicate her life to academia. But she concluded that writing and publishing were her true passions.

She was not content to read about the Tudor period. She wanted to write about it. Bruno was the perfect protagonist for Merritt because he wasn’t quite as well known as other figures from England’s history.

She started her research by reading about his life. The scarcity of biographies about Bruno excited Merritt. Other historical fiction authors struggle to tell compelling stories because they have to insert fictional characters into historical settings without drastically changing historical events.

But Bruno’s life had so many gaps that the author had plenty of room to insert her stories without corrupting the historical narrative. In the beginning, Merritt was obsessed with staying true to the facts of history.

However, as her career advanced, she started giving herself more permission to massage historical events. The years she spent in journalism, writing for publications like The Times, The Guardian, and The Daily Telegraph, have shaped her publishing career.

Journalism taught her discipline. It also taught her to perform thorough research, which is important because research is vital to historical fiction.

S.J. Parris Awards

Parris’ work has been shortlisted for a Historical Dagger Award (CWA).

Best S.J. Parris Books

The author is a regular speaker at various literary events. That includes Guardian Live and the Hay Festival. She has also judged the Perrier Comedy Award. Parris’ best books include:

Heresy: Bruno is accustomed to controversy. He drew the ire of the Roman Inquisition when he dared to suggest that the universe was infinite. But now Queen Elizabeth I wants him to wade into even more dangerous waters.

The people at Oxford University think he came to participate in a debate about the Copernican Theory. But in truth, the Queen tasked him with unveiling a catholic plot.

Bruno was supposed to foil a scheme to overthrow Elizabeth I. But a series of murders has complicated matters.

Prophecy: Jupiter and Saturn will align for the first time in a thousand years. The phenomenon has created an air of anxiety in England because it usually heralds the dawn of a new age.

London is rife with predictions about what might happen once the most powerful planets in the cosmos align. Bruno wants to dismiss the rumors that Queen Elizabeth will die.

But the predictions become all but impossible to quell once the Queen’s maids of honor die. Some people think that black magic is to blame. The Queen is looking to John Dee, her astrologer, for answers. On the other hand, Dee has turned to a mysterious medium who claims to know more than he’s letting on.

When Does The Next S.J. Parris book come out?

S.J. Parris doesn't seem to have an upcoming book. Their newest book is Alchemy and was released on April, 27th 2023. It is the newest book in the Giordano Bruno Series.


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