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!
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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