I'd like to welcome author Susanna Calkins to the Cozy Up With Kathy stop of the book tour for A Murder at Rosamund's Gate. If you haven't already done so, check out my review of this book which I posted last week. You can read it HERE.
Kathy: What made you choose to pursue a PhD in history? What was your intended career?
SC: Great question! Ever when I was a kid, I was always interested in the historical origins of everyday things. What does so-and-so’s last name mean? What does such-and-such a phrase mean? I just wanted a better understanding of our modern world, which to me, meant studying the past. That passion for discovery was deep enough to sustain me through the Ph.D.
Kathy: I have a fondness for history and have some knowledge of certain eras, but must confess a general ignorance of 17th century England. What drew you to that period?
SC: The 17th century is often a period characterized as “the world turned upside down.” Even as religious and political conflicts tore society apart, this was also a time for incredible opportunity and growth for individuals. Events like the plague and the Great Fire of London helped level society—at least temporarily—giving newfound and unprecedented advantages to people who would not otherwise have been afforded them (like my Lucy).
Kathy: Lucy is a chambermaid, a relatively low ranking position in the household, yet a vital member of the family. What made you choose that position for her?
SC: I was always more interested in the lives of commoners, rather than nobles and gentry. Moreover, I always wondered how someone with no formal education could manage to solve a crime—and there are definitely some true accounts from the archives of people managing to do this.
Kathy: You're able to achieve a compelling read complete with historical accuracy. Are you concerned that some of the realism might be off-putting to some readers?
SC: This is a really interesting question. I essentially wrote the story I wanted to tell, which I think is how most writers start out with their first novels. Reading is such a subjective process too; I respect that my book may not be for everyone.
Kathy: What first drew you to the mysteries?
SC: I’ve always loved mysteries…from Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, and now to authors like Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Rhys Bowen, and Jacqueline Winspeare.
Kathy: Do you write any other genres?
SC: Interesting you should ask. My agent asked me to try my hand at Young Adult (a genre I enjoy). He currently is reading a manuscript I just sent, so stay tuned.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
SC: Lucy Campion is a 17th century chambermaid working in the household of a local magistrate. When a fellow servant (her friend) is murdered, and someone she loves is accused of the crime, Lucy must work to save this person from being hanged. The second in the series, From the Charred Remains, picks up a week after the first book ends, with a new puzzle that Lucy must solve.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
SC: Lucy is my favorite character, because I wanted to create someone bright and inquisitive who is good at solving puzzles. I also liked my magistrate, because he’s thoughtful and measured, and willing to consider Lucy’s opinions.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
SC: When I was first working on my PhD, I came across a series of 17th c. murder ballads (yes, people use to sing about murder), which raised a lot of questions for me. A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is an attempt to answer these questions.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
SC: It was always a dream to see my story come to life. Publication was a way to see my story realized.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
SC: Jane Austen, Anne Perry, Suzanne Collins, and C.S. Lewis (boy, I’d love to be at that party!)
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
SC: Last week, I read Nancy Bilyeau’s The Chalice. Very enjoyable read.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
SC: Well, given that my hobby used to be writing, but that became a full-time job (on top of my actual full-time job), I’m not sure if I have any hobbies any more. Probably watching too much TV.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
SC: Hmm…I know the wine is in the crisper drawer. Everything else I have to ask my husband. J
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
SC: Yes, From the Charred Remains (working title) is the second in the Lucy Campion series. The YA I mentioned is set in 1878 Paris, and could become a series as well.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
SC: Having a legitimate reason to hang out in a coffee shop all day.
Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog today!
Thanks for visiting this last stop on A Murder at Rosamund's Gate Book Tour. Don't forget to enter HERE for a chance to win a $40 Amazon.com gift card or a hardback copy of A Murder at Rosamund's Gate courtesy of Cozy Mystery Book Reviews.
Now for the winners of the Killer Crinolines tote bag as picked by Random.org: Kim Daley, Cyn209, and DarcyO. Please send your address to me at CozyUpWithKathy@gmail.com and I'll forward them to Duffy Brown who will send you your prize. Congratulations! If you didn't win-don't give up hope, I'll be running this same contest through my Facebook page in the next 2 weeks. Follow me there and try again. https://www.facebook.com/CozyUpWithKathy