Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interview/Book Giveaway with Julianna Deering, Author of Murder at the Mikado

 by Jeff Reynolds


Does this author pictured here look familiar? Could it be that this is the third time I've interviewed her in the past twelve months? Would this be an indicator that a new installment of the critically acclaimed Drew Farthering Series? (Since I do book reviews on Amazon, I could be considered a critic, so the series is acclaimed by at least this critic.) And is there a possibility that we're giving away that new book? Of course -- details below.

I am going to assume that the majority of you have read the other interviews, so I'll be trying to ask new questions. For those who missed one or both previous interview, here are the links:

Sleuths and Suspects: Interview and Book Giveaway with Julianna Deering, August 28, 2013

Sleuths and Suspects: Interview and Book Giveaway with Julianna Deering, March 13, 2014

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome back, Julianna. Since this is your third interview here on this page in the past year, I'll try to make this more challenging. Let me start by asking you what three items you most want us to know about you.

Juliana Deering: Hmm . . . three things I haven't mentioned before? Number one, I deeply and utterly despise hot weather. It's expensive and tiresome and icky and there's no hockey. So, yeah, summer is not my favorite time of year. Number two, I want to have a little tuxedo kitten called Crazy Eddie. Number three, I very much would like to have an indoor swimming pool. I suppose I used up all the serious stuff already, though I am serious about not liking hot weather.

JR:  Of course, since this is your third interview, the third installment of the Drew Farthering Mysteries must be out. (One of my favorite mystery series, by the way). Would you like to give a brief summary of the series and tell us about the latest chapter -- well, technically twenty chapters.

JD: I'd love to! The series is about Drew Farthering, a rich young Englishman in the 1930s, and his perky American sweetheart, Madeline Parker, who solve mysteries. They are my take on the classic cozy mysteries of that era. The latest book, Murder at the Mikado, starts out with the murder of a well-known local actor. The chief suspect also happens to be a former flame a Drew's, the beautiful and irresistible Fleur Hargreaves. Madeline, of course, wants Drew to stay focused on their upcoming wedding and not on Fleur. It seems that, no matter what he does, he's going to be in hot water with someone, poor chap.

JR:  For those who are culturally challenged, the Mikado is the best known of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Were you a G&S fan before writing this? If not, how did you research it? If so (and even if not), what's your favorite of theirs?

JD: Oh, I love Gilbert and Sullivan! I've been a fan of theirs for decades. I think my favorite is the Pirates of Penzance, especially the amazing version with Kevin Kline, but there are so many others I enjoy, too.  The Mikado is probably my second favorite. It's also nice that their works are old enough to be in public domain, so I don't have to worry about when I reference them in my story.

JR:  There are times when a character meets the reaper in a mystery and I think, "Why did that nice person have to get killed off?" One of those times occurred in Murder at the Mikado. In a previous interview you mentioned you knew who did it when you get started, but how do you decide who the victims are? And while a lot of the murderees probably deserved it, is it hard knocking off one who deserves better?

Mostly I kill off the person whose death works for my story. For example, if I make it look like Mr. A is the killer and then I want to totally destroy that theory, how better to do that than have Mr. A be the next victim? Or perhaps I need to drive someone to do something he would not ordinarily consider, like take the law into his own hands. What's more likely to make him do that than for him to find the love of his life with a knife in her back and the police insisting it was suicide? Of course, I don't like having to dispatch the nice characters, but I usually know they won't be around long and don't let myself get too attached to them.

JR:  It's only been four months since your most recent book has been published, and the first one is less than a year old. I'm assuming Bethany House is a full service publishing company, but what activities do you do to promote your book besides answering my questions?

JD:  I'll admit right off I'm not a very good marketer. I'm too busy trying to write new books. But I do mention on Facebook and Twitter and my blog whenever I have news or special offers. For example, Bethany House sends me the most wonderful bookmarks and notepads for each of the books, and I'd love to send them out to readers.  All they have to do is write me at P. O. Box 375, Aubrey, Texas 76227 and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (one at least 7" long with one first-class stamp for a bookmark and one at least 6" x 4" with 70 cents postage). Besides that, I do a lot of online interviews and giveaways and even some book signings. Mostly though, the best way to promote your books is to keep writing the best ones you can. Nothing else will last.

JR:  As you mentioned in a previous interview, there's a lot of difference between Drew Farthering's home in England of the 1930's and your real-life residence of 2014 Dallas, Texas. I have a suspicion that the spiritual climates were quite different as well. Is it much of a challenge giving spiritual challenges in our post-modern, post Christian society from a time where the Judeo-Christian worldview was alive and well and served with tea and crumpets?

JD: Actually then, as now, there were a lot of social Christians, people who attended church because it was the expected, proper thing to do and not because of a genuine relationship with God. My hero, Drew Farthering, started off as just such a person. He had a nebulous belief in a God of some sort but didn't think He was interested in our day-to-day affairs. I think the main difference between then and now is that Christianity was considered expected and proper in the 1930s. Now, thanks in many ways to the influence of the secular media, it is something to be ridiculed or, at best, distrusted. Are Christians perfect? Not by any means, but the ones I know try their best to live in a way that pleases God and shows love to those around them. I guess that's one of the reasons I like writing historicals more than contemporary mysteries.

JR:  Has your evil twin DeAnna Dodson (or are you her evil twin) written anything recently? And what else can we expect from either of you?

JD:  Well, she doesn't commit nearly as many murders as I do, so I suspect I'm the evil twin, though she may be catching up now. She's working on a new book for a new series from Annie's Attic. It's called Annie's Secrets of the Quilt, and it's about a woman who inherits a quilt and a diary that talks about the fabrics in the quilt and how they're connected to famous people in history. I'm writing the second book in the series, Lies of Splendor, which focuses on a girl who was a lady-in-waiting for Marie Antoinette just before the French Revolution.

I am very excited to tell you that I just came to terms with Bethany House for three more Drew books. Dressed for Murder is due out in the Spring of 2016. I don't have titles for the other two, but they should follow in Fall 2016 and Summer 2017. That seems a long time off, but I have a lot of work to do before then.

And if you are clever with languages, you might want to check out the German version of Rules of MurderMord mit Stil ist auch nicht Besser (Murder with Style is also not Better). I'm not sure exactly how they came up with that, but I'm really delighted to see my book in another language.  I just wish it was French or Spanish. I might be able to read a bit of it. I understand there will be a Norwegian version, too.  Then I'll be really lost.

JR:  Thanks again, Julianna Dodson  -- or is it DeAnna Deering? (Just joking.) Once again, in case we've forgotten, do you have any web-pages or blogs or upcoming interviews that you'd like to pass along?

JD: I just have to share this beautiful blog from New Zealand. I love how they have it set up.
And here are my other links:

Thank you, Jeff, for letting me visit again. If you or your readers have more questions or think of something we didn't talk about here, please comment.  I'd love to chat.

Jeff to readers: You've just seen the invitation from Julianna to ask any other questions. Also, it's time to enter the contest for Murder at the Mikado. You just have to follow these three easy steps:

  1. Leave a comment. That's easy, isn't it?
  2. Leave your e-mail address so we can contact you. You can spell it out, like AuntDotKahm(at)And(dot)com.
  3. If you had used a setting for a story like Julianna used the Mikado, what would you use? For example, it could be a play/musical/operetta, a concert of a specific artist, or a sporting event (if they had hockey in '30's England, I'm sure Drew Farthering would be at a game).


    I love the Drew Farther in books. Julianna has become one of my new favorite suspense writers. I would love to meet her in person. We have a lot in common. Love Avalanche hockey, cross-stitch, and HATE summer. I would use a hockey game at the Pepsi Center for a murder mystery. Great, Jeff now I'm thinking of a new story idea. :).

  2. Great interview. I've not read any of Juliana Deering's novels. I'll have to check them out. Thanks for introducing me to a new author!

  3. I enjoyed the interview. The name of the book is very intriguing. I have not read any of her books--now I want to! I will have to look her up. How about a modern day mystery at the Notre Dame Cathedral following in the Hunchback's footsteps or maybe in the Paris Opera house??? Hmm. Lots of ideas running through my mind now!

  4. I enjoyed the interview. I am going to add the Drew Farthering Mysteries to my reading list.

    I'd use Allison's House, a play drawn from the life of Emily Dickinson, by Susan Glaspell. Allison's House won the Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize for drama. I suspect that some "interesting" things happened when the play got upgraded to a commercial playhouse.

    madhoydenish [at] gmail [dot] com

  5. I have Death by the Book on my TBR table and can't wait to read it. I'm writing a series set in Memphis, so I think I would use the Orpheum as my setting, maybe when they put on a production of Phantom of the Opera. Great interview. pat at ptbradley dot com

  6. As far as a place where I'd set a story -- I did one at a fictitious apologetics conference, but one interesting place would be at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville. That is, if one could harmonize a murder taking place there.