Skip to main content

Interview with Deanna Raybourn + Giveaway!

You guys. It is a genuine thrill for me to welcome Deanna Raybourn to the blog today! I am such a fangirl. I discovered Ms. Raybourn's work through her debut novelSilent in the Grave—a book I consider perfect in every way and one that I foist upon other readers every chance I get. To say I was excited when she announced she was writing another Victorian mystery series is a not-so-mild understatement. A Curious Beginning is the first in the Veronica Speedwell series and it is being released in trade paperback on July 12th. We're celebrating with a giveaway of one copy, complete with gorgeous new cover. I literally can't stop stroking my copy. So, without further ado, please welcome Deanna Raybourn!

This is your second Victorian mystery series. How did the idea for the series develop and how differently did your protagonists make themselves known as opposed to Lady Julia and Brisbane? 

I am so lucky to have another chance to explore Victorian London! I love this time period unreservedly, and when my previous publisher declined to continue the Lady Julia series, I was not ready to leave the 19th century. I have studied Victorian female explorers since college, and I have always been smitten with Margaret Fountaine, a lepidopterist who traveled the globe, collecting butterflies and lovers, and writing a series of genteelly-salacious journals. I used her as inspiration for Veronica’s character; they have very different backstories, but the notion of a woman who travels on her own was extremely appealing for me. By definition, that made her different from Lady Julia who has been reared in the hothouse atmosphere of English aristocracy. The Julia books show her evolving into an independent, inquisitive, self-actualized woman; Veronica is already there when we meet her.  I like tortured heroes, so there was no question that Stoker would have a painful personal history. Because I lowered my heroine’s social status for this series, it made sense to elevate the hero’s. Stoker is more highly born than Brisbane and has been to the right schools, carried a noble name. He has rejected that life, taking a sort of downward trajectory while Brisbane has been upwardly mobile. It has made for an interesting change for me to switch up that dynamic, and having one very successful sleuthing couple has made it much easier to create another.

I'm a huge fan of name origin stories and how an author goes about naming her characters. Veronica Speedwell and Stoker's names are so perfect for them and for this series. Can you elaborate on that process for us?

Veronica’s name came about when I was researching herbs and came across the plant Veronica. Its common name is speedwell, and I thought that together they sounded like the perfect Victorian heroine; I knew immediately who she was—intrepid, unconventional. Stoker was completely the opposite. I went through an entire draft with a totally different name! It never felt right, and I had to keep working at it, trying and discarding a variety of options. Then I recalled the Deborah Mitford, the late Duchess of Devonshire, had a son nicknamed Stoker. I put that together with Revelstoke, a name I’d always wanted to use, and it suddenly came together. As an aristocrat, he needed a double-barreled name and an Honourable, just to gild the lily a bit. I tend to squirrel away names that I like in hopes of one day finding characters to fit.

What do we have to look forward to on the horizon?

Veronica’s third adventure! I am writing it now and having a wonderful time digging deeper into their world. I hope to be able to keep writing Veronica for a very long time. I have so many plans for her and for Stoker! The Lady Julia TV series is still in development in the UK, and I’m quite excited about that too.

What is one book and/or series you've been gushing about lately?

I have wrestled people down to make sure they’re listening when I rave about Lyndsay Faye’s JANE STEELE, a truly superb book that reimagines a Jane Eyre-type character as a serial killer. Genius. And I’ve just discovered M.R.C. Kasasian’s Gower Street Detectives series; it’s wonderful. That’s two, and I’m not choosing between them—I can’t!

And, just for fun, what's the first word that comes to mind when I say:

Veronica: badass
Books: life
Stoker: wounded
London: history
Sexy: husband
Victorian: queen
Love: grace
Collage: inspiration
Home: dog

Thank you so much for stopping by and whetting our appetites for more Veronica!

***

And now for the giveaway! Penguin Random House has graciously offered up a brand new paperback copy of A Curious Beginning to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only and will run through Thursday, July 14th. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter. Good luck, and happy reading!

Comments

You Might Also Like

Review | The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

All it took was hearing the basic bones of the premise of Beth O'Leary's debut novel The Flatsharefor me to determine I would absolutely be reading it as soon as I possibly could. I was so delighted to be granted access to an advanced reading copy by Flatiron Books. Even better, it became apparent from the moment I read the first few lines that this reading experience would take place in one headlong rush. No significant breaks allowed, let alone required. The Flatshare was published first in the UK and then slightly later here in the U.S. I dithered over which cover to buy as both have much to recommend them, but I finally decided on the U.S. cover (pictured here). I just love the two of them standing on either side of the same door, the tiny heart between the title and author name.

Tiffy is in a massive, massive bind. Out on her ear after breaking up with her exceptionally controlling boyfriend, she needs an inexpensive place to live and she needs it yesterday. Despite her …

In the Beginning, or the First Ten Books I Reviewed on the Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl
It's been awhile, but this topic was too good to pass up. When I thought about it, I genuinely could not recall which were the first ten books I actually reviewed here on the blog. So then, of course, I had to know. The thing is, I originally started the whole thing simply posting a once a month list of my favorite reads and rereads of the month. That went on for some time until lo and behold I went ahead and wrote and posted my first review on November 9, 2007. In hindsight, I probably should have known exactly which book pushed me over the edge into full fledged reviews. So this was a rather delightful journey back in time. Do you remember the first book you ever reviewed (in any forum) or what made you take the plunge? Here are my first ten (and I have to say, looking at this snapshot from the past, these remain some of my absolute favorite authors and a pretty spot-on array of the genres I read and love tod…

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior

It is a pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for Hazel Prior's debut novel Ellie and the Harpmaker. I confess it was the title that drew me in when Berkley approached me about a possible review. It sounded a bit fey, a bit on the ethereal side. The comparisons to the exquisite Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Finedecidedly did not hurt. And so I readily accepted and opened my review copy to the first page. A thought:
Some things are easier to hide than others.

A fact:
Harps come under the "others" category. So do small boys. As you know by now, I am such a sucker for a good epigraph, and this one did the trick nicely. As did the novel's opening lines: A woman came to the barn today. Her hair was the color of walnut wood. Her eyes were the color of bracken in October. Her socks were the color of cherries, which was noticeable because all the rest of her clothes were sad colors. And so we are introduced to one Dan Hollis and the particular way that he sees the world and …