Jessie: In New Hampshire where the trees are heartbreakingly beautiful at this time of year!
I am not sure how many years have passed since I first met Clara McKenna. I do remember that it was in the lobby of the hotel where Malice Domestic was being held. She was friendly and pleasant and funny as well. It has been a great pleasure to get to know her better over time through our joint participation in the Sleuths in Time group as well as at in-person events. If you are not already familiar with her latest series you are in for a treat! I hope you will enjoy reading the interview as much as I did in conducting it. Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. Clara has offered to send the winner a copy of her upcoming release, Murder at the Majestic Hotel or a copy of one of her novels of the winner’s choosing.
Jessie: Your series prominently features horses. Did you make this choice based on a historical figure that inspired you or was it prompted by a personal interest in horses?
Clara: I have always loved horses. As a child in Upstate NY, we would attend races and I would dream of having a horse of my own. Every Sunday morning, I’d comb the horses for sale in the classified ads in the newspaper, hoping to find one I could afford. I finally did, only to be reminded that we lived in a city neighborhood and I’d have to pay for boarding too. Needless to say, I never did buy one- Birthday money only went so far. But I took horseback riding lessons at summer camp and went riding at nearby stables every chance I got. Having said that, I also wanted to find a unique way for Stella’s family to have come by their fortune. Racehorse breeding in Kentucky fit the bill perfectly.
C: In my original proposal, Stella and Lyndy were to be married in the first book with Stella suspected of Lyndy’s murder. An editor,
C: I often say that until someone invents a time machine, reading, and in my case, writing historical novels is the closest thing we’ll ever get. Whether I’m researching paint colors available for 1905 car models or describing the embellishments on an Edwardian lady’s hat worn at afternoon tea, I’m im
J: Clearly, you enjoy the era in which these novels are set, but is there another you also would like to write about? If so, what draws you to it?
C: I’m a history buff so there aren’t too many eras I don’t like but I’d have to say the Victorian period is one of my favorites. While the Edwardian Era, being as short as it is, is a bit of the calm before the storm, the Victorian period is wonderfully rife with social, technological, and ideological upheaval. Such drastic changes are the perfect vehicle for the conflict necessary for an entertaining mystery.
J: It makes perfect sense that this series is set in England. Do you consider yourself to be an anglophile?
C: Absolutely! I can’t remember a time I didn’t love all things British. I love the landscape, the accents, the people, the culture, the history, and the food. I can’t live without Britbox or afternoon tea! I’ve visited the UK multiple times, including a trip to Scotland this past July, but it all started when I was ten. I told my mom that I wanted to go to England. She opened a bank account for me, saying that if I saved my money I could go. When I was 17, I told her I’d saved enough. “For what?” she’d asked. “To go to England.” She admitted she never thought I was serious.
When I told my agent that story, he said, “Sounds like a series idea to me.” And thus my series about an American in England was born. Where else would I want to spend the day, even if only in my head?
J: Are you able to give us a hint as to what is in store next for Stella and Lyndy?
C: I’d love to. In book #4, Murder at the Majestic Hotel, (releasing on October 25th), newly married, Stella and Lyndy are off to Yorkshire for their honeymoon. They encounter the owner of Britain’s largest chocolate company, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, and Lyndy’s maternal aunt. But in typical fashion, when a dead body throws a wrench in their plans, Stella and Lyndy solve the crime and still manage to salvage what they can of their time together.
Readers, are you, like Clara an anglophile? Do you have another lifelong enthusiasm? Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway!