Guest- Clara McKenna, and a Giveaway!

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.

J: The developing relationship between Stella and Lyndy is a particularly engaging part of these books. How did you come to create the situation between them?

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, I hoped would offer me a contract, suggested I rethink that scenario and consider making them a bickering couple. Overall it was a good idea- writing them as a couple created more storyline opportunities and lots of possible conflict. But I couldn’t imagine them as antagonistic. If they were stuck together (and I was stuck with them), they would have to eventually fall in love. That particular editor passed on the series, by the way, but Stella and Lyndy persevered, as they do, nonetheless. 

J: Readers of historical mysteries often love the manners, mores, and fashions of days gone by. What is it that you most enjoy about writing historical novels?

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 immersed in that time as much as I can ever be. It’s wonderful!

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.

J: How can readers keep up-to-date with your new releases, appearances, and other news?

 C: They can visit my website,, or by following me @claramckennaauthor on Facebook, Instagram, and Bookbub. 

Readers, are you, like Clara an anglophile? Do you have another lifelong enthusiasm? Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway!

57 Thoughts

  1. Jessie– I know what you mean about the fall colors, they take your breath away!

    Clara, what a great post and congrats on the upcoming release! My grandmother was British, her mother’s family was from the Durham area, father’s moved a lot. I like the historical novels that can sometimes fill in little details about what their lives may have been like. No ties to royalty, just working folks — an innkeeper/publican and miners for some. Thanks for the chance to win and I signed up for your newsletter.

  2. Remember our trip through the New England states a few years back and how gorgeous New Hampshire was. I’m jealous of all your bright colors. With a dry and hot summer with very little rain, there’s not much color to be found in our area other than brown.

    Love exploring other countries – even if through the stories in books. Maybe it’s because my grandfather immigrated to the U.S. when he was a young man. His life was a mystery with all connections to his past cut when he entered this country leaving a lot of unanswered questions. I especially enjoy England’s history because it’s so linked to ours. It amazes me as the similarities and the vast differences in our histories. Love reading stories in the era of “Murder at the Majestic Hotel”.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win a copy of a book most definitely on my TBR list. Can’t wait to read and review it. Love your covers!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay. My grandmother was from Denmark but refused to say anything about “the old country.” She was “an American now.” So I know what you mean about missing that history.

  3. Oh yes totally and completely an anglophile!! Since I was a little kid, hearing stories of King Arthur, medieval times, even Ebenezer Scrooge, made me want to learn more about England! Now watching Midsomer Murders helps me to see the small towns, the countryside, and get a good mystery in as well! Love their accent, too!

  4. Welcome back to the blog, Clara. I am an Anglophile! Books and TV produced and set anywhere in the UK, bring them on. I was in Scotland in July, too!

  5. I do love this series & have been looking forward to the next installment. I also love all things English, including tea, scones and mysteries! As to lifelong enthusiasm, I’d have to say reading (especially mysteries) and needlework. My mother was a big reader, mostly mysteries and science fiction, so I started early with the Trixie Belden books, then whatever Mom was reading. As to needlework, my mother and grandmother were both talented knitters and sewers so I also learned from them at a young age. You can always find me in the middle if a good book and a knitting project!

  6. I would definitely say I’m a anglophile even since I started reading the Harry Potter series.

  7. I would say I’m an Anglophile. Love anything England! So excited to read your book! You are a new author to me! Thanks for the chance!!

  8. Welcome back, Clara and congratulations on the new book! I’ve only been to England once, but loved every minute of it and look forward to going back.

  9. We just got home from NH! Spectacular colors this year! I love Stella and Lyndy! I rode my whole young life so the horse inclusion really spoke to me! I have since turned my Mom and sister on to this series! We all enjoy it immensely:)

  10. CONGRATULATIONS Clara on your newest book Murder at the Majestic Hotel!!! You write such intriguing books set in our favorite England. My wife and I definitely are anglophiles…we are in love with Britain when it comes to Mystery shows on Britbox or Acorn TV. We just love the English accent, their customs, and the scenery. We also love all mystery books by US or Canadian authors that set their stories in England. We read constantly, and we want to read your latest! Thank you for visiting The Wickeds blog today! Luis at ole dot travel

  11. Let me say I love this series and am in a track stance waiting for the latest to drop.

    Complete Anglophile here. Give me bangers with my mash every time and I’m so happy to live in Maine now where I can make a true Christmas pudding.

    1. Thank you, Kait! My mom loves bangers and mash too. Someday I’ll tackle a true Christmas pudding since my next book takes place at Christmas!

  12. I fell in love with England when I fell in love with the Beatles way back in the sixties. I love reading books that have a setting in England, especially mysteries. I love all of the references to tea and the elevenses! I will always live in the United States, but England is a wonderful place to visit!

  13. I read the third in one day. The atmosphere is perticular.
    For me it is a must read series.
    And it helps me a lot to read in English (french 😅)

    Amazing the giveaway. Is it only for US residents ? ´Cause I live in France
    In all other cases, thank you for this amazing way to share and discover a new book

      1. I understand, it is too bad… I need to move abroad then 😅
        I’m going to stock up on books the next time I come to the US 😅

  14. I’m not an anglophile. It’s just not something I’m drawn to quite as much as other locations. Having said that, there are some great series I love that are set there. Including this one.

    And I can’t imagine this series without Lyndy. That editor may have passed on the series, but they did you a HUGE favor with that suggestion.

    Looking forward to this one. I’ve got it pre-ordered, so no need to enter me in the giveaway.

  15. Two of my favorite authors in one blog post! Of course, I’m an anglophile; have been since childhood. Can’t wait to read the latest Stella & Lyndy adventure. Thank you both, Clara & Jessie for your wonderful series!

  16. I never think of myself as an Anglophile, but I guess I really am. “Discovered” England through Sherlock Holmes and it’s been bliss ever since.

    I’m new to this series, but am very intrigued and would love to win a copy of this book.

  17. Congratulations on your new release. This is a new series to me and I would really enjoy starting the series.

  18. I’m an artist and am obsessed with all things art: galleries, museums, processes, artists’ backstories. Lately I’ve loved going to author’s book talks, another creative endeavor. Looking forward to this next release!

  19. Yes, I grew up reading historical fiction, often set in Great Britain. Also, read Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georgette Heyer, and many more authors. I was lucky enough to visit Great Britain twice years ago. Looking forward to the new book.

  20. I do love reading books set in England and I love the English concept of afternoon tea. Someday I hope to visit England and have a proper English tea.

  21. I have a mild case. I do love cats. I love cozy mysteries. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

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