Three Quick Questions (3QQ) is a new, ongoing feature at Fall Into the Story that highlights some of the authors scheduled to join Nora at a Turn the Page signing. This week, we’ll meet three authors who will be at the July 13 signing (Turn the Page’s 18th anniversary signing) from noon – 2 pm.
Deanna Raybourn is a New York Times best-selling author whose Lady Julia Grey series tells the stories of Victorian sleuth Lady Julia and her enigmatic partner, private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. The series has been a reader favorite since the first book, Silent in the Grave, was released in late 2007. (You can include one Nora Roberts among those readers!) Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
A Spear of Summer Grass, Deanna’s latest book, is set in 1923 Kenya where (after the uproar brought on by her latest exploits in Paris), Delilah Drummond is exiled to her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.
This is Deanna’s third visit to a TTP signing and we are delighted to welcome her back. Now, onto the questions.
1. You had a long career writing before you were first published. Then your first book, Silent in the Grave, won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, beating one Nora Roberts’ High Noon. How did you feel when you heard that Nora said if she had to lose, she was delighted that Silent in the Grave was the winner because she loved that book?
It was honestly one of the most phenomenal compliments I’ve ever received. I wrote for fourteen years before I got published, and I collected a lot of rejection letters. To go from that little bubble of isolation to someone like Nora Roberts knowing my name was surreal. I was shocked and delighted that she’d read the book, and even more excited that she liked it. She was just so enthusiastic and so gracious about my work—I realized she was not just a wildly successful writer but also a fabulous role model. To cheerlead newcomers in your field shows tremendous grace. I joke that I want to be her when I grow up, but it’s not really a joke!
2. When you go back to add another story to a series such as the Lady Julia Grey books do you immediately feel welcomed back into her world or do you have to take the time to re-transition?
At this point I’ve written more than half a million words in the Julia series, so it’s always like coming home to pick up her story again. It is an absolute luxury to be able to spend so much time with the same core group of characters—especially characters I’m so fond of. It took me two years to write the first book in the series, years I happily spent researching and world-building. The effort I put in at the beginning means I can just supplement with additional reading as I go along, adding even more detail and color to their late-Victorian world. Of course, the difficulty now is in making sure I don’t contradict myself throughout the series. It would be disastrously easy to forget a character’s eye color or how I killed them off!
3. Your current book, A Spear of Summer Grass, is positively modern as it’s set in 1923, compared the Victorian era of the Lady Julia Grey books. What were the most interesting differences in writing about a woman living in the small British community in Africa during the roaring 20s compared to a woman like Lady Julia who had to wear a heck of a lot more clothes? Or were there more similarities than one might think?
There was tremendous freedom in writing about Delilah Drummond, not only because she’s a woman of the 1920s but also because she is a particularly liberated sort of woman. Julia pushes the boundaries of acceptable behavior for 1890 at times, but she gets away with it because she is wealthy, titled, and from a notoriously eccentric family. (And if you are at all familiar with historical eccentrics of the English aristocracy, you know Julia is actually quite tame!) Delilah is a cat of an entirely different color. She has also had a privileged upbringing, but while Julia was the petted darling of a large family, Delilah has been essentially rootless. Her mother is dotingly neglectful, her father dead. In part to remedy the lack of a structured family life, Delilah lives large, doing exactly as she pleases—with whomever she pleases. She is a force of nature, damaged and self-absorbed, but also vital and dynamic and incredibly courageous. What they have in common is that they are both women pushing against the restrictions and expectations of their times—it just so happens that their times were very different.
Where else can you find Deanna other than Turn the Page this Saturday? Take your pick of fun: on her delectably delicious blog, on her Facebook page or on Twitter, where she waxes eloquent about many, many things from style, to research to the Tour de France.
If you would like a signed copy of Deanna’s books, just click on one of the links to Turn the Page, place an order and the fabulous TTP staff will make sure Deanna finishes up on Saturday.
And if you have any questions for Deanna, post them here and I’ll be sure to ask her, then post the answers in the recap of the signing weekend (scheduled for the evening of July 14).