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.

Happy Release Day, Tracy Grant!

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I have been anxiously awaiting The Berkeley Square Affair since I finished The Paris Affair a year ago. I love this series. Teresa Grant (whose name is actually Tracy) has been writing about Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch since 2011. I found out about Tracy’s books through an “if you like” recommendation on Lauren Willig’s website. When I looked up the first book in series, Vienna Waltz, I saw recommendations from Tasha Alexander, Deanna Raybourn and C.S. Harris, too. All of these authors have their own historical mystery series that I have really enjoyed. Those recommendations (plus the unbelievably gorgeous cover – I mean, look at this thing: Image ) made me start this series, and I’m so glad I did. The Berkeley Square Affair is the fourth full-length novel in the series. There are also two e-novellas.

Here is what Kensington Books has to say about The Berkeley Square Affair:

A stolen treasure may hold the secret to a ghastly crime…

Ensconced in the comfort of their elegant home in London’s Berkeley Square, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch are no longer subject to the perilous life of intrigue they led during the Napoleonic Wars. Once an Intelligence Agent, Malcolm is now a Member of Parliament, and Suzanne is one of the city’s most sought-after hostesses. But a late-night visit from a friend who’s been robbed may lure them back into the dangerous world they thought they’d left behind.

Playwright Simon Tanner had in his possession what may be a lost version of Hamlet, and the thieves were prepared to kill for it. But the Rannochs suspect there’s more at stake than a literary gem–for the play may conceal the identity of a Bonapartist spy–along with secrets that could force Malcolm and Suzanne to abandon their newfound peace and confront their own dark past…

This book will be different from the others in the series, because Malcolm and Suzanne have been living abroad, either in Vienna or Paris, for the previous books. England is home for Malcolm, but in a way, it’s behind enemy lines for Suzanne. It will be interesting to see how the change in location and the supposed transition away from intelligence work for both Malcolm and Suzanne will impact the story. Also, I’m excited that Tracy is adding Shakespeare into the mix!

Happy Release day, Tracy Grant!

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Today is release day for the e-novella “The Paris Plot” by historical mystery author Tracy (aka Teresa) Grant.  Tracy has written 3 novels about Suzanne and Malcom Rannoch, a husband and wife spy team working in Europe during the rise and fall of Napoleon.  This story picks up where her most recent novel, The Paris Affair, left off.  The Paris Affair was one of my favorite books from 2013, and Tracy’s description of Waterloo was fantastic.  I’ve really enjoyed watching her develop her characters throughout this series – not just Malcolm and Suzanne, but a handful of regulars who pop in and out of her other books, too.

Here is what Kensington Books has to say about “The Paris Plot”:

In the fallout of one of history’s bloodiest battles, a personal war is waged…

Paris in 1816 is reeling from the Battle of Waterloo, and relations between the British and French are uneasy at best. So it’s hardly a surprise to British attaché and Intelligence Agent Malcolm Rannoch when he and his wife Suzanne, soon to give birth to their second child, become the target of violent threats. Malcolm is certain that the secrets of his past have caught up with him—but he’s unaware that Suzanne has more than a few secrets of her own…

The Rannochs both served as spies throughout the Napoleonic Wars, Malcolm for the British and Suzanne for the Bonapartist French—and both could have left any number of enemies in their wake. But even for two seasoned agents, finding a would-be killer in a country where allegiances are tested and no one can be trusted may prove as impossible as escaping their history…

“The Paris Plot” is for sale today for less than $3 on Nook or Kindle.  Tracy’s next full-length novel about Malcolm and Suzanne, The Berkely Square Affair, will be out on March 25th.

Best of 2013

Looking back at everything I read in 2013, it’s hard to pick favorites.  There are obvious trends in my reading that I never noticed until I started shelving books on GoodReads.  I knew I liked historical fiction, but I had no idea how many historical mysteries I read until I saw the numbers.  Evidently I really gravitate towards those!  Also, I’ve discovered that the half-modern, half-historical mystery/adventure hybrid books that I could never find a name for do, in fact, have a genre.  They are evidently called timeslip novels.  So it seems to me that the easiest way to narrow down my best books of 2013 is to pick my favorite book from each of those 3 categories.

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Historical Fiction: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

From the publisher’s description, I was expecting a book about a spoiled little rich girl who is exiled to Kenya for bad behavior, and falls in love with a man who is different enough to make her settle down. I probably would have enjoyed that book. But what I actually got was SO much more, and so much better. Yes, Delilah starts off the spoiled little rich girl, but she is infinitely more complex than that. Every time I thought I had Delilah all figured out, I learned something that forced me to think again. Delilah is a walking contradiction, and it’s impossible to put any sort of label on her. This isn’t a trite story about a bad girl with a heart of gold. Delilah is damaged and difficult, and I hated her and loved her in turns.  I really enjoy a heroine who keeps me on my toes, and Delilah certainly delivered.

Deanna does a great job with her description of 1920s Kenya. She dips into a little of everything – politics, culture, the white “club” society, the tribal dynamics, and life on safari.  Loved it, cover to cover.

Historical Mystery: The Paris Affair by Teresa Grant

Picking up almost immediately where Grant’s previous book, Imperial Scandal left off, The Paris Affair drops Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch in the midst of post-Waterloo Paris, where political intrigue and danger abound. Grant doesn’t waste any time setting up her story. Before the end of the first chapter, Malcolm and Suzanne have blackmail, a hidden child, a foiled assassination plot, and a corpse on their hands.

One of Grant’s biggest assets as a writer is her ability to place you seamlessly into her setting.  She also has a gift for making her readers feel like they are participants in the story, working right alongside Suzanne and Malcolm. And on a more trivial note, good GRIEF do her dress descriptions make me wish I lived in the early 1800s.  Some of my favorite characters in the first and second books were back again, and I enjoyed watching Grant expand on their backgrounds, their relationships, and their hopes for the future.  My personal favorite, the incomparable Wilhelmine, Duchess of Sagan, is back in all her glory.  You don’t have to read the first two books in the series to enjoy this one, but I would recommend them simply because they’re great stories!

Timeslip: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

There are two stories at the heart of The Firebird. In the modern-day story, Nicola Marter is a woman who has the gift of psychometry. She can touch objects and see glimpses of people who owned them in the past. When Nicola touches the wooden figurine of the firebird, the tug of its past is so strong that she has an inadvertent vision of its history. This vision sets her off on a journey to discovery the truth about the firebird’s origins. Nicola also reaches out to Rob, a former flame whose power of psychometry is more practiced than her own, for help with her journey.

The historical story involves Anna, a child whose family is so entangled in Jacobite politics that, for her own safety, she is sent from home to an adopted family, to a convent in Ypres, to France, and eventually to Russia. As a child, Anna learns some hard lessons about who she can trust, and she grows into a young lady who is well-adjusted and well-mannered but guards her heart ferociously. When Anna meets Edmund O’Connor, she begins to wonder if she’s truly the good judge of people and their motives that she considers herself.

Kearsley is a fabulously talented writer.  I’m very particular (and sometimes unfairly judgmental) about books that have supernatural elements, but I enjoyed reading about psychometry. I found the concept interesting, and Kearsley’s way of moving between time periods felt fluid to me.  When I finished this book, I had the feeling that I can only describe as “book catharsis.”

Several of the other books I read in 2013 are worthy of an Honorable Mention (doesn’t THAT sound official?), but more on those later.  I’ll share two final things before I close for the day.  First, Joshilyn Jackson’s newest novel Someone Else’s Love Story is on sale for $1.99 today on both Kindle and Nook.  Let me tell you, that is a bargain.  As someone who already owns the hardcover, I might just buy the e-book too!  And lastly, I saw a good Buzzfeed book list today that got me excited about a few books that are coming to the big screen in 2014.  Gillian Flynn is on here TWICE.  I may have to read Gone Girl.