Monday, September 22, 2014

An Unlikely Interview

I'd like to welcome Clare Langley-Hawthorne to the blog today. Clare pens the Ursula Marlow Mystery series. The third book in this historical series, Unlikely Traitors, was released in July of this year.

Kathy: Unlikely Traitors takes place during the winter of 1913. What made you choose this time period for your series?

CL-H: When I was writing the first book in the series, Ursula Marlow walked into my head dressed in suffragette colors so I knew that was the time period for the book. I wanted to set the third book in the series, Unlikely Traitors at a time when there was considerable unrest, both in Ireland as well as in England, with fears of war and of a German invasion running amok. 1913, two years after the first book was set, seemed a natural progression as well as a way of setting a story during that time of unrest.

Kathy: Historical mysteries require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?

CL-H: I love nothing more than travelling to London and sitting down at the British Library to read periodicals, magazines and newspapers from the Edwardian era.

Kathy: The first two books in the Ursula Marlow Mystery series, Consequences of Sin and The Serpent and the Scorpion, were published in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Unlikely Traitors, the third in the series, was just published July 8th of this year, 2014. Why such a long wait for this book?

CL-H: My family and I undertook not one but two transcontinental moves which delayed finalizing the book and its publication. We moved back to Australia after 15 years living in the US and then, two years later, we returned to the US to live in Colorado!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CL-H: I fell in love with Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and knew that if I was to write a novel, I wanted to emulate that kind of style. I’m also not a big fan of gore or intense violence.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CL-H: Most of my work has either an historical or ‘alternate’ historical element. I am trying my hand at YA and middle grade fiction but both those fall much more in the fantasy, alternate history side of things.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CL-H: The Ursula Marlow series is about a feisty, independent woman trying to make her way in Edwardian society. She gets involved in helping solve crimes only when she has something very personal at stake – in the first book this is the arrest of her friend and fellow radical Winifred Stanford-Jones, in the second in is the murder of her new friend Katya – the mysterious wife of a wealthy Russian financier. In the third book, Unlikely Traitors, it is defending Lord Oliver Wrotham on charges of treason.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

CL-H: My favorite character has to be Lord Wrotham. In him I got to create my own Mr. Darcy (though my husband is a bit leery about that!)

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

CL-H: I just decided to write the kind of book I’d love to read if I was sitting on a beach and when Ursula walked into my head, I knew it would be a combination of history, mystery and romance.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CL-H: My writing group really encouraged me and I was lucky enough to meet an agent at my very first writing conference who was interested in representing my work.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

CL-H: Jane Austen, Vera Brittain, Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CL-H: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (for my book group) and Zeppelin Nights, London in the First World War by Jerry White (for research).

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

CL-H: I love crosswords and try to complete the New York Times crossword every day. I also love to paint, do yoga and Zumba (I love dancingJ)

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

CL-H: Vegemite. Wine. Cheddar cheese. Pasta. Hopefully I’ll never have to cook a meal that involves only those ingredients!

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

CL-H: I have an outline for a 4th Ursula book and am working on a draft for a new historical mystery series. These will probably have to wait, however, while I complete the middle grade ‘alternative history’ fantasy I am currently finishing up.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

CL-H: It gives me the flexibility to pursue my dream as well as play ‘mum’ to my twin boys. I love that I can spend all day lost in my imagination (with my collie Hamish beside me) and still pick up my kids from school and help them with their homework (well, so long as it’s not math!)

For more information about Clare Langley-Hawthorne and her books, check out the following links:


  1. Thanks for the interesting interview, Clare and Kathy. Ursula, and her series, sound fascinating!