Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Deanna Raybourn Interview - A Perilous Undertaking

Photo Credit: Sigmon Taylor Photography

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughter.


Series: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Book 2)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley (January 10, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451476158
ISBN-13: 978-0451476159

Praise for Deanna Raybourn and A CURIOUS BEGINNING 

“Wickedly clever and devilishly amusing...Veronica Speedwell is a joy—unflappable, unrepentant, and thoroughly delightful.” —Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series

“Veronica Speedwell is sure to join the greats of mystery fiction.” —Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series

“The eccentricities of Victorian England receive a rousing look in the highly entertaining A Curious Beginning...Energetic storytelling.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Creating strong character pairings, placing the action in unexpectedly unusual but actual historical settings, and folding it all into a clever mystery are hallmarks of this author’s magical signature style...This new series starts off with a bang.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“I love this book! Brings us the powerful Veronica Speedwell, who triumphs over adversity and danger with wit, charm, and uncanny determination. A real find.” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River series

What was your first introduction to literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write? 
The first book I ever remember reading is LITTLE WOMEN, but I distinctly recall my grandmother handing me DEATH ON THE NILE and telling me that I would enjoy it. She also gave me the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes, and I think it’s safe to say that my love of mysteries started there.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you? 
I’ve been bitten by a tiger. My greatest regret in life is that it didn’t scar because that would have been an amazing story. They’re also usually surprised to find out that it took me fourteen years to get published.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
I wrote my first full-length novel at the age of 23. It was a Gothic that ran about 120,000 words and I wrote it in six weeks. That manuscript lives in a box in my attic, but I’ve written much better since, thank heaven.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
On a practical level, typing. The golf coach was also the typing teacher, and thanks to him and the IBM Selectric typewriter with the blacked-out keys, I can type 100+ words a minute which is a very useful skill for a writer. In a more general sense, I learned that my inclination to question everything is laudable.

How would you describe yourself in three words? 
Smart, subversive, and…if I don’t give you a third, it proves I’m subversive, right?

Did you learn anything from writing A Perilous Undertaking and what was it? 
That I can burn a book to ashes and rewrite from the ground up in a month. I knew it wasn’t coming together the way I wanted when I turned it in to my editor, and after I talked to her, I completely gutted it. I think she was quite nervous because all I said was, “I know what to do. I’ll see you in a month.” It was the first time we had worked together, and she wasn’t certain if I could deliver. But once she and I brainstormed the conflicts, I suddenly had the book in my head, and writing it was just a matter of taking dictation from my own subconscious. I pounded it out and handed it in four weeks later, and it was what I wanted it to be. So when I wrote the third Veronica adventure, I was the most relaxed I’ve ever been. There was the idea in the back of my head that, whatever I did with the first version, I could always fix it and I could fix it fast.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing Veronica Speedwell Series? 
I don’t count Veronica because I didn’t really get to know her, she just IS. Stoker is an absolute joy—my subconscious is always providing me with interesting little tidbits about him that I really love. My biggest surprise was Lady Wellingtonia. She was not originally in the first book, but I created her during the revision and she sprang into life, fully-formed and with a tremendous backstory that I adore. I have a soft spot for domineering old women, probably because I plan to be one.

For those who are unfamiliar with Veronica, how would you introduce her? 
Veronica Speedwell is a Victorian lepidopterist who travels the world hunting butterflies—and men—and occasionally stumbling over corpses.

What part of Lady Sundridge did you enjoy writing the most? 
The research into who she actually was. The usual sources are very close-lipped when it comes to her, and there is remarkably little information compared to other members of her family. That leaves lots of room to fill in the blanks with your own imagination! But what is known is pretty intriguing. Her work as a sculptor, her friendships with people who would have been judged as “unsuitable”, as well as her involvement in a few notable scandals all make her truly fascinating. She is rumored to have given birth to an illegitimate child, and her very married sculpting tutor was found dead in her studio under curious circumstances. If I had had another five hundred pages, I could have included a LOT more!

If you could introduce one of your character to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I think Veronica Speedwell and Delilah Drummond would get along famously. There is a glimmer of similarity between the flapper and the Victorian lepidopterist, I think. They are both independent women who are not afraid to speak their minds and do as they please. But eventually I’d have to separate them; Delilah’s lack of responsibility would grate on Veronica, and Delilah would be annoyed that Veronica can’t mix a cocktail.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be? 
Read books by and about people who don’t look like you. It will expand your world.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie? 
“Do you think my baby is cute?”

Who was your first boyfriend?
 Someone completely forgettable.

When was the last time you cried? 
Watching the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. The series has always been really special to my daughter and to me, so the day after Thanksgiving we piled up in my bed and watched, eating mac and cheese and sobbing a few times. Having her home from college the day the revival went live was really special.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I LOVED being an ‘80s teen. We had jelly shoes and the Go-Gos and early Madonna and the Brat Pack! Our dance music was without question the best. But if I had to pick another decade to be a teen, I’d go with the 1910s. That would put me at just the right age to enjoy the 1920s as an adult—bathtub gin, beaded dresses, and speakeasies. I’d have made an excellent flapper.

What is your greatest adventure? 
Going to have to go with parenthood.

Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

You can purchase A Perilous Undertaking at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEANNA RAYBOURN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Perilous Undertaking 
(Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn.


  1. Nice interview. I enjoyed Deanna's Lady Julia series.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. My greatest adventure (so far) would be Summer/Fall 2015. I flew to Boston explored the city, spent the night at a friends and the next day we drove to Niagra Falls and Ohio eventually stopping in Indiana. Then I spent a month in the fall traveling from Indiana to New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and finally back to Indiana. Saw lots of fun stuff including the Grand Canyon on that trip!

  4. My greatest adventure was a trip to Alaska.

  5. My greatest adventure: Oh, just existing and surviving maybe?

  6. A road trip with my sisters was a great adventure.

  7. I haven't had that many adventures... Just life. Four kids...I guess that's an adventure. :)

  8. My greatest adventure was a quest to go and get a visa for South Korea in Sweden in 6 days, cuz I had a plane ticket in 10.^^

  9. I studied abroad (London, England) while in college.