An Interview and a Giveaway with Tracy Grant

Alright, Pink Crew, we have a very special guest with us today! Allow me to introduce Teresa (Tracy) Grant, author of eleven novels, who currently writes a series of historical mysteries published by Kensington Books.

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I stumbled across Tracy’s books on Lauren’s website a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did! They are set in the Napoleonic era, both in Great Britain and in Europe, and they feature a husband-and-wife spy team named Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch. Malcolm is a British aristocrat working as diplomat and spy, and Suzanne is his war bride with a shadowy past. Their first novel, Vienna Waltz, is set during the Congress of Vienna in 1814, and Malcolm and Suzanne are drawn into an investigation when Princess Tatiana is murdered.

Tracy has stopped by to chat and kindly answer a few questions about herself, her writing, and her current projects. So without further ado, I will give you Tracy in her own words.

Tracy, if I took a sneak peek into your writing space, what would I find?

A latte or a cup of tea. I do a lot of my writing in a Peet’s Coffee & Tea in an open air mall. But as the mother of a small child, I’ve learned to write wherever and whenever I get the chance. Yesterday I wrote in Peet’s, in the children’s department at Nordstrom’s, at the playground, in Pottery Barn Kids, and curled up in an armchair at home late in the evening.

What are five of your favorite things?

Hard to limit the list to five, but a sampling: The X-Files, the finale trio of Der Rosenkavalier, Alice Temperley dresses, my daughter’s rendition of “Let it Go”, Shakespeare’s history plays, pumpkin lattes.

If you stopped writing books (please don’t), what would you do for a living?

I don’t think I could stop writing books any more than I could stop breathing. But I also work part time as Director of Foundation, Corporate & Government Relations for the Merola Opera Program, and I spend a lot of time being a mommy to my two and nine-month old Mélanie.

When you walk into a book store, where do you go first?

To see if they have my books 🙂

If you were having a dinner party, and you could invite 6 characters (other than yours) to attend, who would you pick?

Harriet Vane & Lord Peter Wimsey, Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy, Lord Vaughn & Mary Alsworthy

What sparked your interest in the Napoleonic era?

Seeing the Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier film of Pride and Prejudice when I was six and then asking my mom to read the book to me. Followed by the rest of Jane Austen and then Georgette Heyer starting when I was nine or ten. I was intrigued by the Congress of Vienna from the references to Sophy’s time there in The Grand Sophy, the first Heyer book my mom read to me. Heyer’s An Infamous Army got me fascinated with Waterloo and the Napoleonic Wars. It such a fascinating time period, on the cusp of change between the Enlightenment and French Revolution and the Victorian Industrial era.

What was your inspiration for Malcolm and Suzanne?

I think the first inspiration was watching the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour film of The Scarlet Pimpernel and thinking during the wedding scene “what if she really was spying on him when they got married?” Not long after, my mom and I began co-writing Regency romances together as Anthea Malcolm. In our second book, which was never published, we had two secondary characters who almost ended up married. I remember thinking “if these two people did get married, it would be really interesting to see what happened to them in five years or so.” Years later, that sparked my three books about Charles & Mélanie Fraser. When I changed publishers and my new publisher wanted new names, I decide to write a sort of “parallel universe” changing their names to Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch and beginning with their history at the Congress of Vienna, which I really wanted to dramatize.

How important are the names of the characters in your books? Do you choose names based on their sound or meaning, or something else entirely?

I love naming characters! Sometimes a name just pops into my head and feels right. Other times I think about it and make lists. I try to think about who the characters’ parents are and what sort of name they might have chosen – aristocrats concerned with the family lineage which might pick the name of an ancestor; classical scholars might pick a name from classical history or mythology; a romantic might pick a name from a contemporary novel. I have The Oxford Book of English Christian Names which has origins and historical usage info on names, which is a big help. One of the challenges is that the British upper classes tend to use a fairly small number of names over and over, and there’s a limit to how many Georges, Williams, Carolines, and Henriettas one can have in a fictional world without hopelessly confusing the reader. With Harry and Cordelia, I actually posted possible names on my blog and on Facebook to get reader input. I decided on Cordelia when my friend writer Deborah Crombie said she’d always loved the name. I also ended up giving it to my daughter as her middle name as well.

What are you working on now?

A book set about three months after The Berkeley Square Affair. It begins with Laura Dudley, the nanny/governess of Malcolm and Suzanne’s children, being found holding a knife in the study of a duke who has just been stabbed to death. Malcolm and Suzanne believe she’s innocent, but Laura refuses to talk. And they quickly learn there is a great deal they don’t know about her. It’s a challenging investigation for Malcolm and Suzanne since it’s the first time they’ve been embroiled in a mystery since Malcolm learned the truth of Suzanne’s past.

What books do you recommend to readers who enjoy your work?

Lauren Willig, of course. Tasha Alexander, Deanna Raybourn, C.S. Harris, Deborah Crombie, and Laurie King. All write wonderful stories with strong mysteries and fascinating relationships among the characters. Also a wonderful book called Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. It takes place in the Victorian era has an amazing mix of suspense, adventure, and history, and one of the best love stories I’ve ever read. And going back in time, I was strongly influenced by British “Golden Age” mystery writers, particularly Dorothy Sayers, and also Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. They write great mysteries that also have wonderfully rich ongoing love stories for the detectives.

If readers would like to learn more about you and your work, how would they do that?

My website is at http://www.tracygrant.org. You can follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tracygrant and on twitter at https://twitter.com/tracygrant.

In addition to answering all of my questions, Tracy has also agreed to autograph a copy of Vienna Waltz for a commenter on today’s blog post! Isn’t she wonderful? To enter yourself for this giveaway, just leave a comment below. You have until midnight EST on September 25 to enter. I will announce the winner on Friday.

Want to earn extra entries for this giveaway? You can enter up to three times. Here’s how:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Follow the blog! If you are already a follower, just mention that in your comment. There are links in the top right corner of this page to become a follower.
  3. Post a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Again, you can just let me know in your comment that you’ve done this. I trust you.

On Friday, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. Good luck! And thank you again, Tracy, for sharing your time with us today.