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.

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Lady Arianna is back in a Swirl of Shadows

A Swirl of ShadowsAndrea here, welcoming a guest interviewer to the Word Wenches today! C. P. Lesley, a historian, is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel and two series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible. She also hosts New Books in Historical Fiction, a podcast channel on the New Books Network and interviews historical fiction authors on her website. (You can hear her podcast with me on my latest Wrexford & Sloane mystery, Murder at the Royal Botanic gardens, here. And she has also interviewed Nicola.)

C.P. was kind enough to interview me recently on my new Lady Arianna Regency mystery, A Swirl of Shadows, which released last week, and graciously offered to let me share it here. (As luck would have it, the setting aligns very well with her historical expertise, as you shall soon discover!) So without further ado, here’s some tidbits on Lady Arianna and Saybrook—and their latest adventure!

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Every Mystery Needs a Villain . . .

EIC 10Andrea here, starting to get excited that Murder on Queen’s Landing, my latest Wrexford & Sloane Regency mystery, releases on Tuesday! It’s always a thrill when a book is close to getting into the hands (or ears!) of readers, as that’s what makes all the angst and gnashing of teeth within the solitary confinement of the writing room worthwhile.

Murder at Queen's Landing-smallAnd it also makes me reflect on what a long process it is to bring a mystery from the initial “hmm, what if . . .” to weaving all the threads together (without tying myself in knots!) to handing in a finished manuscript and finally seeing a printed book!

For me, research is always a huge part of the early stages. I like to base my stories around scientific discoveries or technical advances in the Regency, and then figure out how create a mystery with them interacting with some aspect of the era’s rich history. And then, of course, you need to figure out a villain—which isn’t always as easy as it might seem. However, in this book, in which I wanted to create a scheme that involved skullduggery in finance and commerce, an obvious villain leapt to mind . . .

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A Question of Numbers!

A Question of NumbersAndrea here, and I'm excited to announce that today is Release Day for A Question of Numbers, the latest book in my Lady Arianna Regency mystery series. I've had such fun writing these characters and their adventures, so I thought I'd share a bit of backstory about why I love writing the mystery genre, as well as a bit about the inspiration behind this latest story.

I began my career as a published author (don't ask about the old manuscripts squirreled away in a desk drawer) Lawrence 2writing traditional Regency romances for NAL. I loved the era—and that's stayed with me to this day—and after glomming a number of books in the genre (including Wenches Mary Jo, Pat and Jo Beverley) I buckled up my courage and took a try at it, and to my surprise and delight . . . I got a contract. When the publishing world changed, I moved to sexy Regencies, which were fun, but I came to realize that my heart really lay in writing mysteries.

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Sweet Inspiration: On Heroines, Plots . . . and Chocolate!

Chocolate-01Andrea here, I’m just putting the finishing touches a new Lady Arianna mystery, which got me to musing on how a series takes shape in an author’s head . . .

But first allow me set the scene: For those of you who follow the series, you may recall that the last Lady A book, SMOKE AND LIES, took place on Elba amidst international intrigue and deceptions as Napoleon plotted his escape from the tiny island off Italy in order to re-seize the French throne. In A QUESTION OF NUMBERS, Lady Arianna and Lord Saybrook’s latest adventure, (which will be released in early Spring) the action moves to Brussels, a city aswirl in rumors and treachery as all of Europe waits to see if Napoleon will once again march his army into battle against the rest of Europe. (Brussels, you might ask? But honestly, what Regency historical author could possibly resist the chance to feature the Duchess of Richmond’s ball—one of the most famous parties in history—in a scene!)

Smoke and LiesNow, if you had asked me when I first started to envision the first flutters of Lady Arianna if I ever imagined her matching wits with Napoleon, the answer would have been a resounding . . . Well, er, no. (You see, it’s a trick question—but I’ll get to that in a moment.)

So, that’s where Lady A and her friends are now . . . but how did they actually come to life? The process was a little different than the usual way ideas happen for me, so I thought it might be interesting to share, as readers often ask, “How do think up your ideas?” The answer is, sometimes creativity takes some twists and turns.

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