So excited to interview mystery author Julianna Deering today! I’m sure you’ve noticed her smashing books around (affecting a fake British accent to celebrate the setting). The covers are irresistible! Here’s her latest:
I’m totally enamored with these covers!
Okay, back on topic. Julianna was not only kind enough to answer a lot of my questions, but she’s also offering a winner’s choice softcover giveaway to one lucky commenter (Click to Tweet!): winner can choose the first novel in the series, Rules of Murder, or the most recent release above, Death by the Book. (Um…I want to win. Don’t worry–I won’t enter, peeps.)
Sallying forth to the interview!
HG: Julianna, I’d love to know what drew you to writing in the mystery genre. What are your strongest influences?
JD: I’ve been a fan of the mysteries of the 1920s and ‘30s for a very long time. Agatha Christie (Poirot), Dorothy L. Sayers (Wimsey) and Margery Allingham (Campion) are easily my favorites. And I’m a big fan of the movies of the 1930s. I especially enjoy the Thin Man series (William Powell and Myrna Loy). This couple were a big influence on my own romantic pair, Drew Farthering and Madeline Parker.
HG: I love the retro look of your covers. I know you are with Bethany House. Were you able to work with them on that first one or did they know what direction they wanted to take?
JD: Aren’t the covers fabulous? My favorite so far is for Murder at the Mikado (due out July 1st). Drew is delicious in white tie, isn’t he? Bethany House has done a wonderful job of capturing the style of the book and of the time period with these covers. They’re art all by themselves. Anyway, they asked me for photos of what I imagined my lead characters looked like as well as photos of my idea of the house, the village, the car, etc., and we had some discussion about what would work to define the series. After that, based on what’s in each book, they came up with the covers. They did a marvelous job.
HG: We’ve had some chitchat in a Facebook Suspense group I’m in (and I’ve chatted with some agents about this topic, as well). What would you say draws the line between Suspense and Mystery categories? In other words, how did you decide your novel was Mystery versus Suspense?
JD: I think suspense is where the protagonist is in danger and has to stay one step ahead of the bad guy. Often the reader knows who the bad guy is and gets to see what he’s up to. Mystery is more likely to be solving the crime after the fact and, of course, knowing whodunit before the end would spoil the fun.
HG: I find it interesting you have a male main character (Drew Farthering). Do you find it easy or difficult to see things through his eyes? Do you ever have to run things he does or says through male beta readers?
JD: I enjoy writing male leads. My very first book, the medieval romance In Honor Bound (written as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has a very strong male lead as do the other two books in the series. I haven’t ever written a book that’s completely from a male point of view, but I do like switching between the male and female main characters. Men definitely think and talk differently from women, but that’s what makes them fun to write. Drew, being English on top of being male, is even more different, but he usually doesn’t give me any trouble. My editors at Bethany House are male, so I’m sure they’d let me know if he was not coming across the right way.
HG: I know you write under two names. Could you tell us a little about the benefits of a pseudonym?
JD: I think it’s a good way to let readers know you’re coming out with something different than you’ve had before. The style and content of the Drew books is very different from the contemporary mysteries I wrote for Annie’s Attic (very gentle needlework-themed cozies), and they’re both extremely different from the angsty, lushly romantic medieval trilogy I started with.
HG: Medieval! Big fan of medieval myself…I know some mystery writers plot meticulously, down to the last detail. I also know some don’t know the murderer into well into the book. What approach do you take to structuring your stories?
JD: I have to know the end first. In mystery, you have two basic storylines. (Click to Tweet!) One is what’s going on behind the scenes, what the bad guy is up to and how he’s hiding it. The other is what seems to be going on, the crimes, the people who seem guilty but aren’t, the clues that seem to point to one thing but really mean something entirely different. By the end, both of these storylines have to tie in together. I couldn’t possibly make all that work out if I didn’t know from the start who the murderer is. Now, I’m not a “plot to the last detail” person either. I usually have a destination and a few planned stops along the way, but otherwise I like to let the characters take whatever roads they like to get there. They often surprise me. And sometimes what I have carefully plotted just doesn’t work when I get down to the actual writing, so I have to fix it. I really have to let the book grow its own way every time. It’s always an interesting journey and never happens the same way twice.
HG: Finally, if you had to pick your favorite mystery novel EVER, which would it be and why?
JD: You really can’t go wrong with Dame Agatha. I have a really hard time deciding between her Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None. They’re both absolute classics with wonderful plots. I think And Then There Were None has the most baffling plot, but Orient Express has a more interesting cast, and the reason for the murder is more compelling. Either one is a fabulous read, especially for those who love a vintage mystery.
Thanks so much for visiting today, Julianna!
Thanks so much for having me, Heather! I’d like to add that Bethany House has made up some wonderful bookmarks and bookplates for Rules of Murder and Death by the Book. I’d be happy to send out autographed ones to anyone who sends a self-addressed, stamped envelope, at least 7” long to me at P. O. Box 375, Aubrey, Texas 76227.
More on Death by the Book: With Farlinford Processing and the family’s good name safe again following the events in Rules of Murder, Drew Farthering wants nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement to Madeline Parker. Instead, he finds himself involved in another mysterious case. The family lawyer has been found dead in a Winchester hotel room, skewered through the heart by an antique hat pin with a cryptic message attached: Advice to Jack.
Evidence of secret meetings and a young girl’s tearful confession point to the man’s double life, but what does that have to do with the murder of a physician on the local golf course? Nothing, it would seem. Nothing except for another puzzling note and the antique hat pin affixing it to the doctor’s chest.
Soon the police make an arrest in connection with the murders, but Drew isn’t at all sure they have the right man. Could the killer be one of his society friends, or is it someone much closer than that?
Find it here: