Saturday, 8 October 2016

Author Q & A With Vivian Conroy

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, author interview, Vivian Conroy

Time for the next instalment of Author Q & A. I've been very fortunate so far to interview Tasmina Perry and Polly James, and now I've had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Vivian Conroy to the Blooming Fiction pad. With her Lady Alkmene stories taking the crime world in to a new cozy crime frenzy I put my nosey questions to Vivian to gather some gossip.
1. Thank you for joining Blooming Fiction today Vivian. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a random fact about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me to do a Q&A about my books!
I'm Vivian Conroy and I write the Lady Alkmene Callender 1920s' Mysteries for Carina UK, a division of HarperCollins UK. As a big cozy mystery fan, it was a dream come true to have my books acquired for publication earlier this year. Since then it has been a whirlwind of firsts: covers, reviews, seeing the book on people's reading devices, and now my very first Q&A here.
Random fact: when I read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, I was so afraid that I didn't dare sleep with the book beside my bed so I put it on the landing!
 2. What's your latest book called and what is it about?
My latest book is the first in the Lady Alkmene Mysteries, A Proposal To Die For.
When a wealthy art collector dies under suspicious circumstances, Lady Alkmene believes his recently recovered heir, a beautiful American actress, might have something to with the death. But she is not the only one interested in the case - reporter Jake Dubois, newly arrived in London after having covered crime in Paris, is determined to prove it was murder as well. The two of them are full of prejudice about each other, but to solve the crime they will have to work together. It was so much fun writing the setting and all the quirky characters.  
3. Do we need to read any previous books to understand what's going on in this book?
A Proposal To Die For is the first book in the Lady Alkmene mysteries so the ideal starter to get into the era, setting and characters.
But even if you'd like to pick up book 2, Diamonds of Death, first, it won't give away anything about the killer in the first book. Each mystery is stand-alone.
There are some threads that I'm going to weave through the entire series, but when such a thread is picked up again in a later installment, it is explained sufficiently for a reader who doesn't know the prior books to follow along.
4. Where did you get your inspiration from for your latest work?
I read my first Agatha Christie when I was 13 and have been hooked ever since, on both the books and the wonderful TV adaptation of the Poirot mysteries with David Suchet as the Belgian detective and Hugh Fraser as the loyal Captain Hastings. Saturday afternoons are still Poirot time for me!
With A Proposal To Die For I wanted to combine everything I love about the mystery genre: an evocative setting, clever characters whom the reader can sleuth along with, a plot that includes all-time mystery favorites like complications surrounding a will, the anonymous letter etc.
5. What would you like readers to get out of reading your book?
One Goodreads reviewer said: "All I wanted to do was get my housework done so I could re-enter this world." That is exactly the sort of feeling I want to create with my books. An escape from everyday life into a world with ballrooms, champagne and secrets
6. How about other books or stories you've written, are there any stories you would suggest as an ideal starter for readers new to your work?
A Proposal To Die For is obviously the best place to start as it is book 1 in the series. But if you love plots involving legendary diamonds, you should pick up Lady Alkmene #2, Diamonds of Death, releasing on 17 October.
And in book 3, Deadly Treasures, coming in November, Lady Alkmene travels to Cornwall for an excavation that turns up more than just dry bones ...
7. Have you taken any of your plots from life experiences?
I'm fascinated by psychology and motivation: what drives people to make choices so a big part of building my plots is asking myself why and how a character (especially the killer) came to be the person he or she is.            
Also what-if questions can be the starter to a new story. I keep an idea file in which I jot down possible plots for new books.
8.  Are all your books from the same genre? Is there a genre you would like to try writing?
The Lady Alkmene mysteries are all historical mysteries that can be qualified as cozy: no detailed descriptions of victims and a focus on finding clues, putting together a puzzle from all kinds of information provided.
It is by far my favorite genre to read and to watch as TV series (Death In Paradise, anyone?) so it is no surprise I also adore writing it. Whenever I sit down to enter Alkmene's world, I feel energized and can often forget completely about time ... and lunch!
But don't worry: I make up what I missed by eating chocolate cake and banana-caramel ice cream.
9. If you weren't an author what career would you see yourself in?
Something with history, I suppose, like museum curator. There is currently a fabulous Jazz Age exposition going on at the Fashion Textile Museum in London with robes, coats and dresses from the era. For instance with Egyptian patterns inspired by the find of King Tuth's tomb in 1922. Those tidbits I find fascinating and inspiring.
10. Is there any advice you've been given that you would pass on to anyone who dreams of becoming an author?
Basically: write what you love. Don't try to write to a trend. Just pour your own passion for your era, characters and subject into your writing and it will resonate with the readers as well.
Also: work hard on your opening scene to make sure it conveys the tone of the book right away. When my editor called me to buy my books, she told me that she only had to read a few sentences to know this was something she wanted to buy. You can find that opening scene, pretty much unchanged, here:  
11. In your spare time, what genres and authors do you like to read?
My repeat reads are Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, and the fabulous medieval mysteries by Ellis Peters. But I was also thrilled that Death In Paradise creator Robert Thorogood started writing Death In Paradise novels, which are just as twisty as the episodes on TV. Having read the first two, I'm eagerly awaiting the 3d to be published in 2017! 
12. If you could pick one book to summarise your personality what would it be and why?
Hmmm, I think the Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes is an analytical, fact-orientated person who sees immediate connections and can get lost in his thought process (as attested to by the famous quote when he is ignoring breakfast because he's wrapped up in a case: 'why waste energy on digestion?'). Like me, he is fascinated by human psychology and the reasons why people commit crimes. Furthermore he is energetic and dives into everything with his whole heart. He loves what he does.
13. Is there any author or literary figure, alive or dead, that you would love to meet?Oh, so many. I'd love to have lunch with the Bronte sisters and ask them how they experienced being a writer in their times.
I think teatime with Jane Austen would be fabulous.
And I'd also love to spend an afternoon with Brother Cadfael in his herb garden, just breathing the quiet that Ellis Peters knew to evoke so well with her amazing prose.
14. In your opinion, where is the best place to sit down and write?

Doesn't matter a whole lot to me. Once I'm typing and lost in the story, I don't hear or see anything that happens around me.
Surroundings are more important to me when I'm plotting or trying to figure out some motive or lead. Hiking or gardening are wonderful ways to let my mind wander so I can get really good ideas.
15. Last question, do you have an ultimate goal where your writing will take you? Any awards etc you'd like to win?
I would really like to keep following Alkmene and Jake as they embark on new adventures, both to take them to new places (away from England as well) and to develop their dynamic further. Reader enjoyment is my first and foremost goal: if readers experience my books as a fun escape from their everyday lives, and have as much sleuthing fun as I used to have when I dived into a new book, I'm perfectly happy!
Find me on Twitter @VivWrites where I share all the latest Lady Alkmene, interspersed with wild flowers, dogs and chocolate.

A huge thanks to Vivian for indulging us in the Q & A, catch up with all her Lady Alkmene adventures through the links below.

            Diamonds of Death:

            Deadly Treasures:



  1. I had no idea you had your own books! I'm a bit late but congrats! I've never read books that fall into the historical mysteries genre. Although, I have watched Death in Paradise and I loved it!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Sabah ||

  2. I'm going to give Proposal To Die For a read! Sounds like my kinda thing! Kudos for saying Sherlock Holmes too! I love those mysteries!


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