The Tower of London is a must-see tourist destination for visitors to the U.K.'s capitol. But for Megan Clawson, it’s home. The 22-year-old recent college grad has written a novel inspired by her unique living situation.
So, you ask, how did she get to having a bedroom in this nearly thousand year old tower?
Clawson moved to the historic fortress during the pandemic in 2020, leaving behind her living accommodations at King’s College London, to save money on rent. And she gained a new — yet familiar — roommate in the process, she tells TODAY.com.
Her father had been living within the Tower of London's ancient walls since 2018 as part of his job as a Yeoman Warder (colloquially known as a Beefeater), which is the ceremonial bodyguard to the monarch, guardian of the Tower of London and keeper of the crown jewels. It's a small portion of the the country's armed forces: There are 32 Yeoman Warders, all of whom have a minimum of 22 years in the armed forces.
“I got here and I was like, ‘Why did I not just do this from the very beginning?’” she says of moving in with her dad. “Definitely one of the few things that’s good that’s come out of the pandemic is it’s made me decide to make the Tower my home.”
Clawson, who graduated from university in 2021, began documenting her life in the Tower of London on TikTok. Her account, @meganambxr, has garnered over 300 thousand followers.
“Learning the history and sharing it on my TikTok was my way of keeping the Tower alive and also giving back to the Tower,” she says. “I felt like I owed it to the Tower to learn about the people that were here before me and all of the things that it’s seen. I really wish that walls could talk because we’d get some really interesting conversations.”
The Tower of London also gave her the idea for her first novel. Clawson says she had never read a rom-com book with a member of the Royal Guard, which are “such a prolific thing in British culture,” as a romantic lead.
The rest is history. The famous setting became the backdrop for her debut novel “Falling Hard for the Royal Guard,” which is set to be released on May 2.
The book centers around Margaret “Maggie” Moore, 26, who has always dreamed of her fairy-tale ending with a perfect match. While she hasn’t had much luck so far, a chance encounter with a Royal Guard makes her hopeful.
“To turn my knowledge and my kind of intimacy with the Tower into something like a book, it just felt natural.”
Clawson didn’t have to do much research to write the novel set in the Tower of London. Instead, she was able to bring her own authentic voice to the pages.
“To turn my knowledge and my kind of intimacy with the Tower into something like a book, it just felt natural,” she says.
Megan and Maggie are one in the same (kind of)
Both with fiery red curls, Clawson and her fictionalized heroine could be mistaken for one another at a superficial glance. But the similarities run even deeper than that, the author says.
Much like Maggie, a member of the King's Guard caught Clawson’s eye, too. She met her now-boyfriend — who serves in the Scots Guards — on Tinder while he was stationed in the Tower of London for about two years.
While the encounter was a success, Clawson did previously navigate the treacherous terrain of dating apps and has heard “horror stories” about them from friends. She brought these experiences to the pages.
“They’re based on conversations I’ve had on the apps and thought ‘OK, if I actually met up with you, where would this go?’” she says.
Clawson and her literary counterpart both have an appreciation of history, which Clawson says “you can’t not” when living in the environment she does. “Every single step you take in this place, there has been some important historical event happen on that patch," she says.
The two also experience visits from unlikely guests — ghosts. The Tower of London, which served as a prison during the Tudor Age, is said to be haunted, including by the ghost of King Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed there in 1536.
Clawson describes waking up repeatedly to the sound of a squeaky dog toy on her desk and hearing footsteps walking up and down the stairs of her home when her father was away.
On a lighter note, both Clawson and her heroine learned the hard way that everyone can see when they dry their clothes on the washing line outside — underwear included. “I’ve had a few Maggie moments with that before,” she laughs.
While the similarities between Maggie and Megan go on and on, Clawson does make it clear that this isn’t exactly a page out of her own story. “It’s a nice romanticized version,” Clawson says.
“Being able to write something fictional about something that I know so well, and know that it could quite easily be true and quite easily happen ... It was just so lovely to be able to bring that fiction through but with that element of truth to it as well.”
The most unlikely address in all of London
As Clawson’s book and TikTok describe, residing in the castle built by William the Conqueror in the 1070s leads to some likely and not so likely interactions.
Some, you may anticipate — like the sheer numbers of tourists who walk by your window everyday. Clawson says visitors even go as far as asking her if she’s a royal, and snapping a few pictures of her.
“I’ve had it before where people have thought I was a ghost,” she laughs. “I think maybe I should get a bit of the fake tan on, I think that just goes to show how pale I am.”
But Clawson notes even Londoners tend not to realize you can live in the actual Tower of London. She says that the conversation plays out the exact same way every time she meets someone new.
“They always ask, ‘So where about in London do you live?’” she says. “And I say ‘I live in Tower Hill.' They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I know that, where about?’ I say, ‘Near Tower Bridge.’ I try and kind of leave that as long as possible and it’s actually usually my friends that go, ‘Oh, you know, she lives in the Tower of London.’”
Clawson says the realization of her home address normally leads to two outcomes — both of which derail the conversation. She says either the person will not believe her or insist they must know everything about her life.
Clawson who’s turning heads with her post code. She adds that the Beefeaters, like her dad, have gotten some questions and comments that she calls “so stupid that they have to write it down.”
Some of her personal favorites, which are included in the book, are, “Does the Tower Bridge go the whole way across the river?” and “It’s lucky that they built the Tower of London so close to the tube station.”
She notes that visitors tend to be a bit disappointed when they enter her residence. They expect to be transported back into medieval times, while it's actually modern inside.
“It’s just a regular house with far too many stairs and narrow slits on one side of the house instead of windows,” Clawson adds.
Fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming an author
As long as she can remember, Clawson says she has wanted to be an author. Despite this passion, she was never able to get to the point of finishing any writing she started.
But this time it was different. Clawson says the words flowed because she was able to draw from her day-to-day experiences. “I could walk through all of the places that Maggie goes and all of these little secret passageways, so it ended up just kind of writing itself which is really lovely,” she says.
In the span of five months, which started in December 2021, Clawson had written her very first novel.
“Being able to say that I’ve finished a book and it’s being published is amazing,” she says. “I never thought it would be something that I would be able to do so young as well.”
And when her dad, dressed in his Beefeater uniform, delivered her the first shipment of her debut novel, she recalls feeling “a lot of pride."
“All of a sudden it’s in your hands, and it looks like all the other books on the shelf,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve done this, like all of those words in this chunky book I’ve written down.’”
Clawson recognizes that she has now created a little bit of her own history inside the Tower of London, saying she some day intends to pass the book down to her children. “It’s on record now that I exist,” she says.
And it won’t be the only novel sporting Clawson’s name. She’s working on a second book, titled “Love at First Knight,” which she calls an enemies-to-lovers rom-com with fantasy elements.
“It’s just been an absolute dream,” she says.