Author Interview with Deanna Raybourn by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty). Thank you both!
Jerelyn: Well nothing could give me more pleasure than to welcome Rita-Award winning Deanna Raybourn to the PBS blog, thank-you for joining us today. I have you to thank for my recent fixation with Victorian settings.
I get a sense that you really love this time period. Is this why you chose to set your stories in the Victorian period?
Deanna: Absolutely! I initially set the first book in the Regency, but I got about fifty pages in before I realized that just wouldn’t work. I needed late Victorian, something darker and more atmospheric with fog and gas lit streets and a bit more grit. I did tons more research and started the book over and it clicked immediately.
Jerelyn: The upcoming The Dark Enquiry is your 5th Lady Julia Grey novel. She is a wonderful character how did she come to you?
I think every author has at least one character that is largely autobiographical, and Julia is mine. We’re very different people, but I like to think that we look at the world from a similar point of view. She’s Victorian, but she’s very modern Victorian. She is always looking ahead to the twentieth century.
Jerelyn: Lady Julia comes from a large quirky family are you from a large family?
Deanna: I’m an only child! But my extended family is large and very colorful. I’ve told my editor some of our family stories and she says I can never use them in a book because no one would believe them.
Jerelyn: I love her relationship with Portia, is she Julia’s favorite sibling?
Deanna: She’s Julia’s favorite sister, no doubt about that, and she’s an excellent foil to Julia, I think. The other sisters are very busy with their own lives and we see very little of them in the series. Julia has mentioned that her favorite brother is Benedick, whom we haven’t even met yet—I love keeping him offstage so readers get to wonder a little about why Julia is so fond of him. She has a soft spot for Valerius, of course, as the closest to her in age, and in the last few books, she’s really come to know and appreciate Plum.
Jerelyn: You write about England so well, that I was surprised you’re an American. Did you travel often to England while researching the books?
Deanna: I’ve been to England several times, and my grandmother is English, so that part actually came pretty easily. I grew up reading English books and watching English television, and that sort of immersion is essential if you’re going to try to get across the syntax of another country. I’m always hugely thrilled when someone mistakes me for being English! My English editor actually did, and that tickled me to no end.
Jerelyn: Tell us about Nicholas Brisbane, if you will? He is in a word YUMMY!
Deanna: Nicholas is an enigma even to me. I deliberately didn’t write a full back-story for him because I wanted to continually be surprised. And I think the biggest shock of writing him that way is that clues I laid in one or two books back—completely without intention—are now coming home to roost in revelations about him. He’s a great deal of fun to write.
Jerelyn: Will you tell us about Dark Enquiry?
Deanna: This is the first time we have Julia and Nicholas in London since the beginning of the series, and I’m tremendously excited about that. They go sleuthing around a Spiritualist club and end up exposing some terribly dangerous secrets…
Jerelyn: What characters are the most fun to write?
Deanna: I love writing Nicholas and Julia and the various Marches, of course, but I also thoroughly enjoy the assorted villains. It’s always a pleasure to spend some time in those dark and twisted minds because I know I can get out again!
Jerelyn: Who is the hardest to write?
Deanna: Any character without a discernible sense of humour. Sometimes it’s necessary, but if they don’t have entertaining quirks, I find them more difficult to relate to.
Jerelyn: What do you read, when you have the time?
Deanna: I read loads of research books, nonfiction things like letters, biographies, memoirs. I read novels written by the English, about the English—anything to help me keep my own writing voice sharp. I particularly love Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart for mystery and Gothic adventures.
Jerelyn: Did you always aspire to be a writer?
Deanna: Always! I was making up stories even before I knew how to hold a pencil. My degree is in English and history because I figured that was the most practical for someone who intended to write historical fiction, and it’s served me very well.
Jerelyn: Is there an author that inspired you?
Deanna: Ask this question any given day and you’ll get a different answer from the day before. Today I will say Daphne du Maurier because I think Rebecca is a perfect novel.
Jerelyn: What is up next for you?
Deanna: My editor and I are chatting just this week about what I’m writing next—very exciting!
Jerelyn: Are you comfortable with social media as it pertains to the marketing of your books?
Deanna: Absolutely. I think writers have to be prepared to engage with readers, whether it’s at book signings or conferences or through social media. I am on Facebook, I tweet, I blog, and I encourage readers to friend me or follow me!
Jerelyn: What are your views on sites like Paperback Swap?
Deanna: I think they are a great means for readers to find new authors, people they might not be willing to try if they had to pay full retail for a book. Having said that, I should mention that for my favorite authors, I always purchase retail for two reasons: first, I want to make sure that they are getting royalties which, of course, they don’t for anything after the initial sale. And second, I want that sale to count with the publisher’s numbers. If I don’t buy retail, then that book doesn’t go down as a sale for the publisher and they might decide not to keep putting out books by my favorite author. For out of print books, I of course have to buy second hand, and for new books I buy through online retailers, independents, and for my e-reader. I’m thrilled there are so many options!
Jerelyn: Thank-you Deanna for your time and for visiting with us today.
If you would like to read more about Deanna she has an excellent blog, you can go to her website http://www.deannaraybourn.com/ or follow her on face book http://www.facebook.com/people/Deanna-Raybourn/1291673294 or on twitter.
The books of Deanna Raybourn:
due out 6-21-11
A copy of Ms Raybourn’s book, Dark Road to Darjeeling, will be sent to a member who comments on this interview. A winner will be chosen at Random. Good Luck!
The PBS Blog Team would like to wish Ms. Raybourn a very Happy Birthday!