* In your historical mystery series, beginning with the novel
SILENT IN THE GRAVE, your heroine, Lady Julia Grey, finds
herself entangled with the mysterious Nicholas Brisbane in attempting
to solve a series of murders. What was it about Victorian England that
fascinated you enough to make it the setting of a romantic suspense
When I first started to write Silent in the Grave, it was set in the Regency.
I got about fifty pages in when I realized that setting—bright, sparkling, fun—
was completely wrong. I needed something darker and grittier. I immediately
thought of the late Victorian period. There’s something atmospheric about the
gaslights and fogbound streets, and that suited the book much better.
* Your second novel SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY continues to
follow Lady Julia Grey as she helps Brisbane investigate the murder
of a man in Belmont Abbey. How much of the novel is based on fact
and how much is fiction?
Silent in the Sanctuary is entirely fictitious. I based Silent in the Grave on a
case in France, albeit with a string of female victims. I turned and twisted that
story until it was completely different, but it did have its roots in a historical case.
Sanctuary was my chance to play with the classic mystery country house setting.
I wanted an opportunity for Julia to investigate a murder and explore her relationship
with Nicholas Brisbane outside of London, without all of the distractions of city life.
In this case, I chose the setting and developed the plot from there.
* Tell us something surprising about women in 19th century England.
Women in nineteenth-century England were not just sitting by the fire,
needlepointing cushions and waiting for their husbands to come home.
They were becoming doctors and investigative journalists. They were
demonstrating for the vote for women, for children’s and animals’ and
workers’ rights. Some were advocating vegetarianism and free love.
Others were traveling independently and often completely alone.They
were dynamic and resourceful and much more interesting than people
* In which ways does Lady Julia defy the conventions of her time?
Julia starts off as a rather predictable Victorian lady, but widowhood is
really the making of her. She decides that life is too short to be dull, so she
throws off her widow’s weeds and takes control of her own money.
She forms friendships that polite society would frown upon, and she engages
in a flirtation with Nicholas Brisbane that puts her completely beyond the pale
socially. The beauty of her situation is that, because of her money and title and
the support of her family, she doesn’t much care what anyone else thinks.
* What are you working on next, and will the ever-resourceful
Lady Julia Grey continue to be your protagonist?
I am just putting the finishing touches on Silent on the Moor, March ’09.
After that I am very excited because my next project is something a little different.
I will be writing a mysterious historical novel set in Scotland and Transylvania in 1898.
Once that book is finished, it should be right back to the Julia Grey series for me.