Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Deanna Raybourn Interview - An Unexpected Peril


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.

        
  


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
There was never a time when I didn’t know I was going to be a storyteller. I remember being extremely happy when I learned to print because I could finally get stories out of my head and onto paper. By the time I was six, I was pretending to be interviewed by Barbara Walters because I knew answering questions about myself was going to be part of my life when I grew up.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting to meet readers and hear their stories is always incredibly wonderful. They tell me about the chemo or divorce or pandemic or just crappy day that my books gave them a little escape from. As a reader, I know how important it is to be able to step out of your own life sometimes, even for just a little while. As a writer, the fact that I can do that for other people just makes me really happy.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I feel like I should say the pandemic, but the truth is, being locked down and anxious made escaping into this book an absolute joy. The hours I spent writing each day were my ticket to another world for just a little while and I think it helped keep me on track.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
When I was a child, my grandmother handed me a copy of DEATH ON THE NILE and said, “I think you’ll like this.” It was my introduction to Agatha Christie and it opened up a whole new type of reading for me. I loved kids’ mysteries—Jupiter Jones, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew—but reading about adults in a glamorous setting, picking through the psychology of murder, puzzling out the intricacies of plot, that was all entirely new. The next year, she bought me the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes which started my love for Victoriana.

Tell us about AN UNEXPECTED PERIL (Veronica Speedwell #6)!
This sixth Veronica Speedwell adventure picks up after book five ends, in January of 1889. As a member of the exclusive Curiosity Club, Veronica is setting up an exhibition honoring the memory of one of their members, a mountaineer killed during her latest expedition. It’s Stoker who first realizes that the climber’s death may not have been accidental after all and they soon become caught up in an investigation that involves a princess and her entourage…

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book 1 and in what way have they changed?
Veronica is very much always herself, but she is slowly, quite slowly, letting herself come to trust and depend upon Stoker—who is very probably the most dependable character I’ve ever written. He is a rock, but Veronica is not good at vulnerability so she has resisted engaging in a true partnership and runs away from commitment like her petticoats were on fire. Stoker is less rude and abrasive than he used to be. We see more of his softer side now, less of the loner who pushes everyone away. They are making each other better; it’s just taking a lot of time!

TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT AN UNEXPECTED PERIL
  • 1. Every bit of the fictitious country of the Alpenwald had to be invented, so there is folklore, history, geography, flora, fauna, and even court dress that is wholly my creation.
  • 2. The mountaineer Alice Baker-Greene is based on two Victorian climbers, rivals named Anne Smith Peck and Fanny Bullock Workman who both carried suffragist banners to the tops of mountains.
  • 3. The weather event described in the book—a cold snap that brought snow to southern England—actually happened in January of 1889.
  • 4. The shade of blue referred to in the book as Alpenwalder blue is based on Powderham blue, the color of the staircase hall at Powderham Castle, the seat of the Earls of Devon. (It’s also the color of the cover.)
  • 5. Stoker’s pockets are always a collection of miscellany, and in this book, we discover that he always carries small bits of rope to practice knots—a holdover from his days in the navy.
  • 6. The pastry chef, Julian d’Orlande, was named with the blessing of Orlando Jones, the actor who is the physical model for the character.
  • 7. Stoker has never celebrated a birthday that we have seen in the course of the six books. (Maybe in book 7?)
  • 8. The Curiosity Club—known formally as the Hippolyta Club—is an organization for exceptional women, scholars, explorers, artists, musicians, and other notables. It is based on the gentlemen’s clubs which enjoyed their heyday in Victorian times and still exist in one form or another in London.
  • 9. This is the first book in which neither Stoker nor Veronica acquires a pet. (Although there is temporary ownership of a cat.)
  • 10. Veronica’s character was inspired by Margaret Fountaine, a globe-trotting lepidopterist who took a number of lovers and generally had a very good time.
Meet the Characters
Veronica Speedwell is 26 and a semi-legitimate and unrecognized member of the British royal family. She is a lepidopterist by trade, something that keeps her out of society, and she is perfectly happy to keep it that way. Her sidekick and best friend with benefits is Stoker, aka The Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, an aristocratic black sheep, natural historian, and former naval surgeon. They are working together to establish a museum for their benefactor, but the going is slow and they have a bad habit of stumbling over dead bodies while engaging in an ongoing battle of wits and wills. Their chemistry is electric.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I love creative play and it’s vital for my process, so I always create a playlist and post a collage of photos on the wall next to my desk for inspiration. I also always begin a book on the first of a month. If there is a particular angle for a book—raising butterflies, growing herbs, throwing knives—I will usually dabble a little just to get a feel for what my characters are doing. (I don’t recommend raising butterflies, by the way. Their excrement is called frass and it smells dreadful. But throwing knives is fun.)


A princess is missing, and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club—an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women—Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela's chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves—and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.

Having noted Veronica's resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica's own family—the royalty who has never claimed her.

You can purchase An Unexpected Peril at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEANNA RAYBOURN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn.
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