Andrea Penrose on Murder at the Serpentine Bridge

Murder at the Serpentine Bridge-smallNicola here, and today I have the huge pleasure of interviewing the Wenches’ own Andrea Penrose about her latest historical mystery. Murder at the Serpentine Bridge is book six in the Wrexford and Sloane series, featuring the irresistible combination of the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane aka A J Quill (and now of course Countess of Wrexford.) The book been garnering rave reviews and rightly so – I’ve enjoyed all of the series very much but this one could be my favourite so far! It’s a clever and compulsive mystery, the historical backdrop is fascinating and the cast of characters is as nuanced and interesting as ever – it was great to meet old friends again!

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and find out more!

Gent 4aWhat particularly draws you to writing mysteries set in the Regency period?
I love the era because it was a fabulously interesting time and place. Radical new ideas were clashing with the conventional thinking of the past. People were questioning the fundamentals of society, and as a result they were fomenting changes in every aspect of life. Romanticism was taking hold, bringing a new wave of individual expression. New technology was disrupting everyday life as the Industrial Revolution began cranking into high gear. In so many ways, it was the birth of the modern world, and for me, its challenges, its characters and its conflicts have such relevance to our own times.


Dividing the worldPlease tell us more about Murder at the Serpentine Bridge, Book Six in the Wrexford and Sloane series.
Well, sometimes history gives an author a more perfect setting for a diabolical mystery that one dare dream up on one’s own! The Peace Celebrations, held in London during the summer of 1814 to honor the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to the isle of Elba, brought all the major heads of Europe together for a non-stop two-week party filled with glittering balls, spectacular fireworks, mock naval battles on the lake in Hyde Park, horse races at Royal Ascot and champagne-fueled banquets and entertainments. The possibilities for intrigue and skullduggery were endless!

Charlotte and Wrexford are hoping for a quiet summer of settling into their new marriage. But when Wrexford and their two young wards, Raven and Hawk, discover a body of an innovative inventor floating in the Serpentine, they all find themselves drawn into a diabolical intrigue. The dead man’s prototype for a revolutionary new weapon has gone missing from a British military research laboratory, and when the government learns that it’s being offered by secret auction to the highest bidder, they ask Wrexford to help in recover it—a request that is fraught with complications as a family member by marriage may be involved. But as old secrets tangle with new betrayals, Charlotte and Wrexford, along with their trusted inner circle of family and friends—which now includes a new fledgling friend for Raven and Hawk—must outwit a cunning villain to prevent the situation from igniting a new war.

Park-Soldiers AEach book in the series is connected to a geographical location in London. How do you choose these settings?
The mystery itself helps define the locales. For example, Murder at Queen’s Landing involved skullduggery within the East India Company, so a lot of the action took place down in the docklands. I love London and have spent hours walking around the different neighborhoods and visiting historic places like Kensington Palace and the Royal Institution so I can have a real feeling for what they are. I’m a very visual writer, so I feel that the setting is a “character” in the book. I also have a fabulous vintage digital map of London that I can blow up and find specific streets, alleyways and bends in the river in which to pinpoint the action.

Each book also explores a scientific discovery or invention of the era, which is a fascinating perspective. What inspired you to focus on this aspect of the Regency period?
It really struck me that like our era, the Regency was a time of momentous change. And science and technology was an elemental catalyst for fomenting those changes. It was both exciting and frightening. And I find that that tension—the Good and Evil of Progress—is really interesting to play with as a concept for a mystery.
LC-56_165-004
Chevalier_de_Saint-GeorgesBlack history is a prominent and very interesting theme in the story . Please tell us about your research into these stories that are only just beginning to be told.
One of the things I love about history is that our views about the past are constantly evolving as we discover new information. I find it really exciting that more and more stories outside the traditional narratives are coming to light, and unsung people whose accomplishments have until now been lost in the shadows are getting the recognition they deserve.

Using some of these new resources, my research led me to learn that during the Regency there were vibrant and thriving Black communities in London and other parts of Britain percolating with intellectual, economic and artistic creativity. So I wanted this story to reflect the real multicultural diversity that existed in the era.

How do you plan out the structure of your books and manage all the threads that need to be knitted together for a mystery? (Asking for a friend 😊)
Umm, well to quote what Wellington said about Waterloo, my keeping all the threads in my mysteries from getting hopelessly tangled is always “a close-run thing.” I am a total pantser, and can’t make myself outline a book. My brain simply doesn’t work that way, so I have to trust that the “ah-ha” moments of how things fit together will happen as I’m going along. Which is why a “plotting walk” is part of my daily writing schedule. I often need to jog the brain cells into telling me what’s next!

BattleYou describe the two faces of the Regency period beautifully: “In the stews of London, the ugliness was there for everyone to see. But in Mayfair, a veneer of wealth and privilege could often hide a core of rot.” What do you think it would really have been like to live in Regency London? Do you see modern-day parallels in the Regency era?
I think in every era there is the same dichotomy. If you are wealthy and of high social status, you live quite well, if you are not of the privileged class, life is very tough. We like to think we are making progress, but human nature does seem to have an elemental Good vs. Evil conflict within it, so it’s a never-ending fight to try to make a fairer society. (I have to admit, I would like to have lived in the Regency during the Peace Celebrations and experienced that amazing fortnight of over-the-top partying!)

Your cast of characters is as varied as it is vividly drawn. Do they drive your story with their inter-relationships and their character traits or do you start with the mystery and fit them around it?
I love creating people and their interrelationships, so while I do sit down first and pick the “McGuffin—ie, the particular bit of science or technology that will be the core element of the mystery, it’s how the mystery affects the characters that is my main focus. I’ve found that adding a new person to Charlotte and Wrexford’s world helps keep things fresh and moving in unexpected ways. I had great fun introducing Peregrine to Raven and Hawk in this current book . . . and watching the feathers fly!

Can you give us a glimpse of what’s next for Wrexford and Sloane – personally and professionally?
Book Seven of the Wrexford & Sloane series is already turned in and there are at least two more coming after that. I’m also working on an exciting new historical fiction project—a fictional biography of Lady Hester Stanhope—that has been absolutely fascinating to research. Stay tuned for more on that in a future blog!

Fireworks at Hyde ParkThank you very much for telling us more about Murder at the Serpentine Bridge, Andrea! It’s been fascinating to hear more about what goes on “behind the book” and we’ll also be looking forward to reading about Lady Hester Stanhope on the blog! (If you haven’t already ordered a copy of Andrea’s latest, I recommend picking it up as soon as you can. It’s a super read!)

To be in the draw for a free copy of Andrea’s book, leave a comment on the blog or respond to these questions…

90 thoughts on “Andrea Penrose on Murder at the Serpentine Bridge”

  1. Thank you, Nicola and Andrea, for this interview. And best wishes, Andrea, for the success of this new book! Is it a little odd to be talking about book six when book seven has already been written?

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Nicola and Andrea, for this interview. And best wishes, Andrea, for the success of this new book! Is it a little odd to be talking about book six when book seven has already been written?

    Reply
  3. Thank you, Nicola and Andrea, for this interview. And best wishes, Andrea, for the success of this new book! Is it a little odd to be talking about book six when book seven has already been written?

    Reply
  4. Thank you, Nicola and Andrea, for this interview. And best wishes, Andrea, for the success of this new book! Is it a little odd to be talking about book six when book seven has already been written?

    Reply
  5. Thank you, Nicola and Andrea, for this interview. And best wishes, Andrea, for the success of this new book! Is it a little odd to be talking about book six when book seven has already been written?

    Reply
  6. Thanks, for the interview, Andrea and Nicola! Andrea, as he all know, setting up a compelling premise for a new series is as challenging as it is essential. A brilliant stroke in creating your Wexford and Sloane series is the way you’ve combined your passions for science and art, and built those into stories on your terrific historical research skills. So glad there are more in this series to come!

    Reply
  7. Thanks, for the interview, Andrea and Nicola! Andrea, as he all know, setting up a compelling premise for a new series is as challenging as it is essential. A brilliant stroke in creating your Wexford and Sloane series is the way you’ve combined your passions for science and art, and built those into stories on your terrific historical research skills. So glad there are more in this series to come!

    Reply
  8. Thanks, for the interview, Andrea and Nicola! Andrea, as he all know, setting up a compelling premise for a new series is as challenging as it is essential. A brilliant stroke in creating your Wexford and Sloane series is the way you’ve combined your passions for science and art, and built those into stories on your terrific historical research skills. So glad there are more in this series to come!

    Reply
  9. Thanks, for the interview, Andrea and Nicola! Andrea, as he all know, setting up a compelling premise for a new series is as challenging as it is essential. A brilliant stroke in creating your Wexford and Sloane series is the way you’ve combined your passions for science and art, and built those into stories on your terrific historical research skills. So glad there are more in this series to come!

    Reply
  10. Thanks, for the interview, Andrea and Nicola! Andrea, as he all know, setting up a compelling premise for a new series is as challenging as it is essential. A brilliant stroke in creating your Wexford and Sloane series is the way you’ve combined your passions for science and art, and built those into stories on your terrific historical research skills. So glad there are more in this series to come!

    Reply
  11. Thank you SO much, Mary Jo. My brain seems to have fun diving down rabbit hole and unearthing arcane bits and bobs of odd information. I hope readers enjoy the result as much as I enjoy cobbling together a story that uses all the historical tidbits.

    Reply
  12. Thank you SO much, Mary Jo. My brain seems to have fun diving down rabbit hole and unearthing arcane bits and bobs of odd information. I hope readers enjoy the result as much as I enjoy cobbling together a story that uses all the historical tidbits.

    Reply
  13. Thank you SO much, Mary Jo. My brain seems to have fun diving down rabbit hole and unearthing arcane bits and bobs of odd information. I hope readers enjoy the result as much as I enjoy cobbling together a story that uses all the historical tidbits.

    Reply
  14. Thank you SO much, Mary Jo. My brain seems to have fun diving down rabbit hole and unearthing arcane bits and bobs of odd information. I hope readers enjoy the result as much as I enjoy cobbling together a story that uses all the historical tidbits.

    Reply
  15. Thank you SO much, Mary Jo. My brain seems to have fun diving down rabbit hole and unearthing arcane bits and bobs of odd information. I hope readers enjoy the result as much as I enjoy cobbling together a story that uses all the historical tidbits.

    Reply
  16. Any chance Wrex and Charlotte will attend the Congress of Vienna? I love how the pack of weasels has expanded. Will Wrex and Charlotte will have their own weasel before too long?

    Reply
  17. Any chance Wrex and Charlotte will attend the Congress of Vienna? I love how the pack of weasels has expanded. Will Wrex and Charlotte will have their own weasel before too long?

    Reply
  18. Any chance Wrex and Charlotte will attend the Congress of Vienna? I love how the pack of weasels has expanded. Will Wrex and Charlotte will have their own weasel before too long?

    Reply
  19. Any chance Wrex and Charlotte will attend the Congress of Vienna? I love how the pack of weasels has expanded. Will Wrex and Charlotte will have their own weasel before too long?

    Reply
  20. Any chance Wrex and Charlotte will attend the Congress of Vienna? I love how the pack of weasels has expanded. Will Wrex and Charlotte will have their own weasel before too long?

    Reply
  21. Please don’t include me in the book drawing, because I’ve already won a copy on Goodreads. I’m also very happy to hear that at least 3 more books will be coming. The series is set in an amazingly action packed era of history, which I love reading about.

    Reply
  22. Please don’t include me in the book drawing, because I’ve already won a copy on Goodreads. I’m also very happy to hear that at least 3 more books will be coming. The series is set in an amazingly action packed era of history, which I love reading about.

    Reply
  23. Please don’t include me in the book drawing, because I’ve already won a copy on Goodreads. I’m also very happy to hear that at least 3 more books will be coming. The series is set in an amazingly action packed era of history, which I love reading about.

    Reply
  24. Please don’t include me in the book drawing, because I’ve already won a copy on Goodreads. I’m also very happy to hear that at least 3 more books will be coming. The series is set in an amazingly action packed era of history, which I love reading about.

    Reply
  25. Please don’t include me in the book drawing, because I’ve already won a copy on Goodreads. I’m also very happy to hear that at least 3 more books will be coming. The series is set in an amazingly action packed era of history, which I love reading about.

    Reply
  26. I’m looking forward to this! After a summer of recovering from major surgery this spring, it will be good to dig into a great mystery. It’s also good to start catching up with what you lovely Wenches have been up to.

    Reply
  27. I’m looking forward to this! After a summer of recovering from major surgery this spring, it will be good to dig into a great mystery. It’s also good to start catching up with what you lovely Wenches have been up to.

    Reply
  28. I’m looking forward to this! After a summer of recovering from major surgery this spring, it will be good to dig into a great mystery. It’s also good to start catching up with what you lovely Wenches have been up to.

    Reply
  29. I’m looking forward to this! After a summer of recovering from major surgery this spring, it will be good to dig into a great mystery. It’s also good to start catching up with what you lovely Wenches have been up to.

    Reply
  30. I’m looking forward to this! After a summer of recovering from major surgery this spring, it will be good to dig into a great mystery. It’s also good to start catching up with what you lovely Wenches have been up to.

    Reply
  31. I have loved this series from the start. Up to now the first book was my favourite but I do think this one has just edged it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery in this one. I love the expanding family and Charlotte’s inward tussle with trying to be a proper lady and still wanting to be in the thick of things. Already looking forward to the next one. Sooooo long to wait 🙂
    I already have the book courtesy of NetGalley.

    Reply
  32. I have loved this series from the start. Up to now the first book was my favourite but I do think this one has just edged it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery in this one. I love the expanding family and Charlotte’s inward tussle with trying to be a proper lady and still wanting to be in the thick of things. Already looking forward to the next one. Sooooo long to wait 🙂
    I already have the book courtesy of NetGalley.

    Reply
  33. I have loved this series from the start. Up to now the first book was my favourite but I do think this one has just edged it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery in this one. I love the expanding family and Charlotte’s inward tussle with trying to be a proper lady and still wanting to be in the thick of things. Already looking forward to the next one. Sooooo long to wait 🙂
    I already have the book courtesy of NetGalley.

    Reply
  34. I have loved this series from the start. Up to now the first book was my favourite but I do think this one has just edged it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery in this one. I love the expanding family and Charlotte’s inward tussle with trying to be a proper lady and still wanting to be in the thick of things. Already looking forward to the next one. Sooooo long to wait 🙂
    I already have the book courtesy of NetGalley.

    Reply
  35. I have loved this series from the start. Up to now the first book was my favourite but I do think this one has just edged it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery in this one. I love the expanding family and Charlotte’s inward tussle with trying to be a proper lady and still wanting to be in the thick of things. Already looking forward to the next one. Sooooo long to wait 🙂
    I already have the book courtesy of NetGalley.

    Reply
  36. I love your Wexford and Sloane series. History and mystery all in one. Great that there will be more books – Unfortunately, I want to read them all NOW!

    Reply
  37. I love your Wexford and Sloane series. History and mystery all in one. Great that there will be more books – Unfortunately, I want to read them all NOW!

    Reply
  38. I love your Wexford and Sloane series. History and mystery all in one. Great that there will be more books – Unfortunately, I want to read them all NOW!

    Reply
  39. I love your Wexford and Sloane series. History and mystery all in one. Great that there will be more books – Unfortunately, I want to read them all NOW!

    Reply
  40. I love your Wexford and Sloane series. History and mystery all in one. Great that there will be more books – Unfortunately, I want to read them all NOW!

    Reply
  41. Thank you both for such great insights in a writer’s world.
    I’m so glad your current book is available now. I look forward to reading it and all the rest of the story as it unfolds over the next few years.
    The new series sounds so interesting. If I remember correctly, Lady Hester was an explorer. This is going to be another exciting story.

    Reply
  42. Thank you both for such great insights in a writer’s world.
    I’m so glad your current book is available now. I look forward to reading it and all the rest of the story as it unfolds over the next few years.
    The new series sounds so interesting. If I remember correctly, Lady Hester was an explorer. This is going to be another exciting story.

    Reply
  43. Thank you both for such great insights in a writer’s world.
    I’m so glad your current book is available now. I look forward to reading it and all the rest of the story as it unfolds over the next few years.
    The new series sounds so interesting. If I remember correctly, Lady Hester was an explorer. This is going to be another exciting story.

    Reply
  44. Thank you both for such great insights in a writer’s world.
    I’m so glad your current book is available now. I look forward to reading it and all the rest of the story as it unfolds over the next few years.
    The new series sounds so interesting. If I remember correctly, Lady Hester was an explorer. This is going to be another exciting story.

    Reply
  45. Thank you both for such great insights in a writer’s world.
    I’m so glad your current book is available now. I look forward to reading it and all the rest of the story as it unfolds over the next few years.
    The new series sounds so interesting. If I remember correctly, Lady Hester was an explorer. This is going to be another exciting story.

    Reply
  46. Thank you both for the terrific interview. And, as always, I like the pictures too. I like your description of the two layers in the Regency period. And it has always been thus. We pride ourselves on being so up to smart now. And yet, if you look carefully, we are human beings with the same characteristics. I guess as long as we are all humans we will be human.
    I am a fan of mysteries no matter the historic period. And I do believe the Regency had better clothes than some periods. I am shallow, what can I say? Thanks again.

    Reply
  47. Thank you both for the terrific interview. And, as always, I like the pictures too. I like your description of the two layers in the Regency period. And it has always been thus. We pride ourselves on being so up to smart now. And yet, if you look carefully, we are human beings with the same characteristics. I guess as long as we are all humans we will be human.
    I am a fan of mysteries no matter the historic period. And I do believe the Regency had better clothes than some periods. I am shallow, what can I say? Thanks again.

    Reply
  48. Thank you both for the terrific interview. And, as always, I like the pictures too. I like your description of the two layers in the Regency period. And it has always been thus. We pride ourselves on being so up to smart now. And yet, if you look carefully, we are human beings with the same characteristics. I guess as long as we are all humans we will be human.
    I am a fan of mysteries no matter the historic period. And I do believe the Regency had better clothes than some periods. I am shallow, what can I say? Thanks again.

    Reply
  49. Thank you both for the terrific interview. And, as always, I like the pictures too. I like your description of the two layers in the Regency period. And it has always been thus. We pride ourselves on being so up to smart now. And yet, if you look carefully, we are human beings with the same characteristics. I guess as long as we are all humans we will be human.
    I am a fan of mysteries no matter the historic period. And I do believe the Regency had better clothes than some periods. I am shallow, what can I say? Thanks again.

    Reply
  50. Thank you both for the terrific interview. And, as always, I like the pictures too. I like your description of the two layers in the Regency period. And it has always been thus. We pride ourselves on being so up to smart now. And yet, if you look carefully, we are human beings with the same characteristics. I guess as long as we are all humans we will be human.
    I am a fan of mysteries no matter the historic period. And I do believe the Regency had better clothes than some periods. I am shallow, what can I say? Thanks again.

    Reply
  51. Looking forward to reading this new mystery. I also love the Regency Period. I admire your ability to weave the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Regency into the stories.
    When doing research, however do you not find yourself wandering into a world of distractions?
    Loved the insight into your mysteries.
    Kathy

    Reply
  52. Looking forward to reading this new mystery. I also love the Regency Period. I admire your ability to weave the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Regency into the stories.
    When doing research, however do you not find yourself wandering into a world of distractions?
    Loved the insight into your mysteries.
    Kathy

    Reply
  53. Looking forward to reading this new mystery. I also love the Regency Period. I admire your ability to weave the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Regency into the stories.
    When doing research, however do you not find yourself wandering into a world of distractions?
    Loved the insight into your mysteries.
    Kathy

    Reply
  54. Looking forward to reading this new mystery. I also love the Regency Period. I admire your ability to weave the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Regency into the stories.
    When doing research, however do you not find yourself wandering into a world of distractions?
    Loved the insight into your mysteries.
    Kathy

    Reply
  55. Looking forward to reading this new mystery. I also love the Regency Period. I admire your ability to weave the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Regency into the stories.
    When doing research, however do you not find yourself wandering into a world of distractions?
    Loved the insight into your mysteries.
    Kathy

    Reply

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