Guest- Clara McKenna

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the peonies are blooming filling the breeze with their heady fragrance!

I am just delighted to welcome Clara McKenna to the blog. I have had the pleasure of spending time with Clara at various conferences over the past several years. She writes engaging and fun historical mysteries set in England and I simply adore her book covers!

Welcome Clara!

It was just about a year ago I was putting the final touches on my Murder at Blackwater Bend manuscript when I got distracted by a coincidence. In a bit of last-minute research, I came across Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an 18th-century aristocrat, known for introducing smallpox inoculation and the language of flowers to Britain.  I was familiar with the name Montagu. The year before, on a research visit to the New Forest National Park, where my historical, cozy series is set, I’d visited Palace House, the home of the 4th Baron of Montagu in Beaulieu. Intrigued, I spend more time than I should’ve online trying to determine if the two families were related. (As far as I can navigate Debrett’s Peerage, they aren’t.)  I returned to what I should’ve been doing, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought. 

That night, the ding of my cellphone woke me up. I’d gotten an email. It had to be spam. I’d researched Mary Wortley Montagu, and within hours, here I was getting an email from someone with almost the same name. But unlike my research the day before, this couldn’t be a coincidence. Like when we buy something online and are suddenly bombarded with targeted ads of that same thing. But in my half-asleep fog, I didn’t want to be bothered deleting it.  I turned off my phone and went back to sleep. 

In the morning, I was curious. Why had my google search of the Montagu families triggered an email? So, I skimmed it. It wasn’t spam. It was a fabulous invitation. The chairman of the New Forest Heritage Center was organizing a fundraiser in England, and she wanted me to attend. And the chairman’s name? Mary Montagu-Scott, sister of the current Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Talk about a coincidence! 

Of course, I said yes. When I went, I met the gracious Mary Montagu-Scott (who’s grandfather I mention in one of my books). I made friends with Sally Marsh, fellow writer, and real-life commoner (which means she owns some of the free-ranging ponies that make the New Forest famous). I chatted with fellow attendee, the renowned historical fiction author, Edward Rutherfurd. Above all, I had the privilege to read a snippet from my book to an audience that calls the New Forest home. The event, a night talking New Forest and Fiction, has so far been the highlight of my writing career.  And it all came about by coincidence!

Readers, what are some of the unbelievable coincidences you’ve experienced? 

Bio: Clara writes the Stella & Lyndy Mystery series about an unlikely couple who mix love, murder, and horseracing in Edwardian England.  With an incurable case of wanderlust, she travels every chance she gets, England being a favorite destination. When she can’t get to England, she happily writes about it from her home in Iowa.

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21 Thoughts

  1. Welcome, Clara! I don’t think I’ve had anything that awesome happen to me. Usually when I get those types of emails they really are spam!

  2. Growing up I had always heard the story of a distance relative that was pregnant who was bitten by a poisonous snake, went into labor and both baby and Mom ended up dying from the snake bite. They were both buried in the same coffin.

    Imagine my surprise when I over heard an in-law to my in-law telling a very similar story. Knowing that there couldn’t possible be two situations exactly like this one, we started comparing notes and lineage to find that we had 2nd cousins that were related. If not for the coincidence of me having heard that story from relatives and then over hearing that present day one, we may have lived, visited and been around each other all our lives and never known that we were actually relatied.

    Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. When I first “met” author Lissa Marie Redmond, I learned she was from the Buffalo, NY area – as was I. That was enough of a connection, until I found out that not only did we attend the same high school (a number of years apart), my father’s cousin is her aunt (by marriage).

  4. Wow! What a great coincidence. I bet things you’ve gleaned from these new connections make all your future books richer.

  5. What a wonderful story. We learn so much when we are open to talking with strangers. I was flying back from Lima, Peru, to Miami, and started talking to the people seated behind me. They asked where I lived. I said a small town in NE Pennsylvania that no one has heard of. She asked what it was. It turns out her grandparents live in the next (even smaller) town over.

    I haven’t heard of your series, but it sounds fascinating.

  6. Several years back I read a book set in Deadwood, SD. I got hooked on that series. Still am. A few months later an Ohio friend of ours called and wanted us to vacation with them. His plan was for us to meet them in Deadwood. Boy, was I happy to say yes!

  7. When I was in speech class in college, we were asked to talk about ourselves. I mentioned that our high school had a winning football team. Wouldn’t you know that someone from our Turkey Day rival school had to mention that the last Turkey Day game was a tie? Of course my dad went to the rival school and cheered for them on our side of the stadium since he was our ride. In 1968, the kids just rolled their eyes at our dad. Nowdays there might have been a riot!

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