Books with Buzz: Deanna Raybourn Interview and 10-Book Giveaway (Contest Closed)

47683349In 2009 I made one of those discoveries that we readers live for:  A new author whose books I loved.  The author was Deanna Raybourn and the books were the first three in her series featuring Lady Julia Grey, a Victorian aristocrat who finds herself in circumstances she could never have imagined and discovers talents she never knew she had.  And, of course, there is Nicholas, the most enigmatic —and intriguing — man she’s ever meant.  I recommend the books — Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary, and Silent on the Moor — to everyone who enjoys romantic historical mysteries.

Deanna Raybourn has a new historical mystery coming out on March 1.  The Dead Travel Fast is not a Lady Julia Grey story, but instead is a stand-alone that represents a return to the classic Gothics so many of us remember with much fondness — it even takes place in a crumbling and mysterious castle in Transylvania.  I loved it.

To celebrate the release, Deanna Raybourn took the time to answer a few of my questions.  And, even better for 10 lucky readers, we’ve got 10 copies of The Dead Travel Fast to give away, thanks to the generosity of Mira. To enter for your chance to win a copy, all you need to do is comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 4th. The usual caveats apply: Due to high shipping costs, this contest is open only to U.S. and Canadian readers.  And, since the giveaway is designed to get advance copies of books into the hands of readers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them, if you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  Winners will be announced here on Friday morning.

Ready to hear from Deanna?

Deanna, thanks so much for joining us today.  Could you please tell our readers a bit about the plot of The Dead Travel Fast?

Thanks for inviting me! The Dead Travel Fast is a mid-Victorian Gothic that follows the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves her sedate life in Edinburgh for a crumbling castle in the Carpathians—and a nobleman who may or may not be a vampire…

I enjoyed the book so much and loved that it was a return to the kind of classic Gothic romances I devoured in my early teens.  A mysterious, decaying castle; a brooding, enigmatic count; a growing chorus of whispering from the villagers about all sorts of terrible goings-on – the tension in the book builds so deliciously.  There are shades, as well, of classic horror novels, including, of course, Dracula, since the book takes place in Transylvania in the mid 19th century.  Did you have fun revisiting the Gothic formula?

I had a wonderful time! I grew up reading Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, M.M. Kay, so writing a classic Gothic was just tremendous fun. This book was a love letter of sorts to all of those writers who came before, from the Romantics who started the genre with their fog-shrouded mountains and chain-rattling ghosts, to every mid-twentieth century writer who used the phrase, “Had I but known…” I think Gothics occupy a soft spot for loads of readers who are deeply nostalgic about them, and I wanted to write a book that Gothic fans would enjoy. I twisted it a touch with the folklore and vampire themes, but I am very pleased that it is structurally a traditional Gothic—and that it reads that way!

The setting in The Dead Travel Fast almost seems to be a third major character.  The people of Roumania are so dramatically different in their beliefs and attitudes than the Londoners many of us are far more familiar with in our reading about that I was constantly reminded that I was reading about very unique people in a very unique place.  What do you think the unusual setting brought to the book?  And did you get the chance to visit Roumainia?

I was actually planning a trip to Transylvania, and I was hugely disappointed to have to cancel it. The setting was absolutely essential to this book. It simply would not have been the same story if I had moved the action to London or Paris. I needed those grim mountains and shadowy forests to set the scene, and more importantly, I needed a heroine completely out of her element. What started me off with this book was a newspaper clipping describing how Transylvanian villagers exhumed a suspected vampire and performed an elaborate and gruesome ritual to bind him to his grave. It sounded like something entirely Medieval, but it was dated 2004. There are to this day places where the customs and beliefs I wrote about still exist, and that astonishes me. I also relied heavily upon Emily Gerard’s The Land Beyond the Forest for my research. It’s a divine book, written from a British woman traveler’s perspective about Transylvania when very few people knew anything about the land or its people. I was actually able to get my hands on a first edition, the same printing Bram Stoker used when he was writing Dracula! Gerard made one or two errors regarding the language, but the book is absolutely riveting.

What do you like most about Theodora and Andrei?

For starters, I love how different they are from Julia and Nicholas. Theodora is a middle-class young woman who has to rely very much upon herself. She is resourceful and clever, and perhaps not quite as nice as Julia, and definitely not as scatty. Andrei is a force of nature. He is something of a rogue, but he has a tremendously vulnerable side as well. His smooth, mannered exterior is partly a reflection of his aristocratic upbringing, but it’s also a very useful tool for keeping people at bay. He is a man of many secrets—and perhaps even more questions—about himself and the legacy of his birthright.

pic.phpThough The Dead Travel Fast is decidedly different from your previous books it also felt very much as if you were sticking to what you know and what readers expect from you in terms of style.  In other words, I would have no trouble – no trouble at all – in recommending the book to everyone who enjoyed the Lady Julia Grey series.  How do you think this one differs and, on the other hand, what do you see as the similarities?

One of the most difficult accomplishments for a writer is developing a distinctive voice, creating a narrative rhythm that is so unique a reader will know it’s your book without seeing your name on the cover. It took a lot of work and a lot of time to develop that voice for the Lady Julia Grey Series. Then when I went to write The Dead Travel Fast, I had to do it all over again! I loved the challenge. Both of my narrators are British women, but Julia is an aristocrat with a somewhat insouciant attitude. Theodora is much more serious and, since she is experiencing a culture that is entirely foreign to her, she’s a keen observer of what people are doing and why, and perhaps a little more thoughtful while Julia is more inclined to take action first and think later. My hope was to create a book that read differently from the series, but could still be enjoyed by someone who loves the Julia Grey books.

We always ask every author we interview at AAR about what’s up next.  With you, I find myself craving reassurance: Do you intend to continue the fabulous story of Lady Julia Grey?

Absolutely—I just finished writing Dark Road to Darjeeling, the next installment in the series. It is set on a tea plantation in the foothills of the Himalayas, and Nicholas and Julia find themselves enmeshed in another investigation together, in spite of his attempts to shake her off! This book also sees the return of a few characters we haven’t seen for awhile, and introduces an arch-villain for the first time. It’s due out in October, and I cannot wait to share it with readers!

And this reader cannot wait to read it!  Remember, to enter for your chance to win one of 10 advance copies, comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 4th.  If you’re not one of the lucky winners, take heart!  The Dead Travel Fast is available on March 1st.

- Sandy AAR

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249 Responses to “Books with Buzz: Deanna Raybourn Interview and 10-Book Giveaway (Contest Closed)”

  1. Kara says:

    I am dying to read this book… it’s the only thing that can keep from total despair while I wait for “Dark Road to Darjeeling”!!

  2. hotcha1 says:

    OH MY ANOTHER AUTHOR!! GOODY, I MUST GET YOUR BOOK!

  3. June says:

    Add me to the hopeful winners!

  4. Katie says:

    The Lady Julia Grey series is one of my favorite in romance; I can’t wait to see what Ms. Raybourn does with a brand new cast of characters!

  5. Can’t wait…love Deanna’s writing with wit!

  6. Michelle B. says:

    I greedily devoured the three Lady Julia Grey books one right after the other, after discovering them. I’ve been waiting for the fourth for months. I’m just as delighted to hear about the new Gothic. Thanks so much for the interview.

  7. Sarah C says:

    I’m so looking forward to this release. I love Deanna’s books! I tell everyone I can about these books.

  8. Sue Brandes says:

    Sounds really good. Please enter me too.

  9. SQ says:

    I definitely have to check this series out! I love Gothic novels.

  10. Vicki Losito says:

    I loved Deanna’s Lady Grey books, looking forward to reading This one!

  11. Kelley says:

    Sounds interesting! I always like to find new authors.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Can’t wait for this new release from Deanna! I’ve read all of her previous novels & I just know I won’t be disappointed!!!

  13. Kirsten Payne says:

    Deanna is by far one of my favorite authors! Since I LOVE the Lady Julia Grey books, I know I’m going to love this book. I’m so excited! This will be my first gothic!

  14. Debra says:

    I just love this series!

  15. Lori says:

    Can’t wait for the new Julia Gray, but already have the Dead Travel Fast on order, also. While I adore Nicholas Brisbane (have the wallpaper developed by another fan on my desktop), I am excited about a new Gothic. I read so many Gothics in middle and high school. I would love to get an early start on it. (I have the ebook version ordered for my Kindle.) Thanks for the many hours of entertainment.

  16. Mary D says:

    Oh, I can’t wait for The Dead Travel Fast! Deanna’s Lady Julia Grey series is one of my favorites from the last few years – there’s no one else writing such great psuedo-gothic books right now. She’s so wonderful!

  17. Emily says:

    OOH!!!! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a copy! (advance or otherwise). Pick me!Pick me!Pick me!!!

  18. Karen W. says:

    This book sounds awesome!

    Thanks for the contest! :)

  19. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by allaboutromance: Deanna Raybourn Interview and 10-book Giveaway: http://ow.ly/12xkr

  20. Virginia C says:

    Verrry Interesting! Victorian…Gothic…Romantic Thriller! Sounds like a very good read, indeed! I would love to win a copy of “The Dead Travel Fast”!

  21. Peggy H says:

    I’m very much looking forward to this book. I read all three of the “Silent…” books over the holidays and can’t wait for more of Deanna’s books!!

  22. Susan Sey says:

    Hi, Deanna–

    I loved your Silent books and am already half in love with this new series based just on this description. I’ll look forward to reading them!

  23. Cheryl says:

    Sounds good….loved the Lady Julia books…count me in;-)

  24. Carroll Robinson says:

    Fell in love with your books starting with SILENT IN THE GRAVE because they are so much fun as well as so well written, and though I love many of the mysteries of today, I missed sorely Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, & M.M.Kaye–though I have many of their books on tape to listen to when I get nostalgic–and though I love the Amelia Peabody books, they’ve already got a substantial footing in the 20th century. Am so excited about THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST as my nieces are great Twilight fans and also gave me a book on how to survive Zombies, which apparently have a culture of their own today, so to revisit Transylvania with some question of vampires will put me in good stead with the younger generation. I have already pre-ordered the book, so someone else who need it more can have a chance to win it. Looking forward to some good reading.

  25. Iris says:

    Looking forward to “meeting” these new characters, as well as the next adventures of Lady Julia Grey, et.al.

  26. cmndrs says:

    I thought the Lady Grey books were awesome. I’d love to enter the contest for The Dead Travel Fast!

  27. Rebecca says:

    Would love to read it!! Thanks for entering me in the contest.

  28. Rebecca says:

    Would love to read it!! Thanks for entering me in the contest.

  29. Katie Lynn says:

    I adore the Lady Julia Grey series – can’t wait to see what else Deanna has up her sleeve. I would love to win an advance copy of her new book, but if not, I’ll get my hands on it anyway when it’s released :)

  30. Ginny says:

    I read Silent in the Grave and I was thrilled to find that Deanna Raybourn had two more books in the series. I was happy to add an author to my must read list. It has been a while since I was actually surprised by a book…a welcome surprise at that.

  31. Katharina says:

    This story sounds wonderful … and I am SO glad that another Lady Julia Gray novel is coming our way. Thanks!!

  32. Rosie says:

    This sounds interesting. Count me in. :D

  33. Sandy M says:

    I’m so excited to hear about your newest book, Deanna. I loved reading Victoria Holt too all those years ago and if anyone can bring the feel of those old gothics, it’s you. Looking forward to reading The Dead Travel Fast.

  34. Pam says:

    The book sounds really interesting. Looking forward to reading a new author.

  35. Julia says:

    Sounds really good.

  36. Elizabeth K says:

    I too read Victoria Holt as a girl–such wonderfully creepy stuff! This book sounds just as distinctively great as your Lady Julia series. Can’t wait to read it!

  37. Andrea says:

    I am a HUGE fan of Deanna Raybourn and love all her books. Thanks so much for having this giveaway!

  38. Meagan says:

    I am a sucker for anything Gothic. Mix that with Deanna Raybourn and I am heaven! I cannot wait to read this one.

  39. Linda says:

    This would be so totally new for me, would love to try this book. Thanks for the contest.

  40. Elizabeth says:

    Absolutely cannot wait for this book… Deanna Raybourn writes the BEST escape fiction around!!! Sooo excited for the opportunity to get a copy of “The Dead Travel Fast” a few weeks early!!!!

  41. Lindymc says:

    Like so many others, I have loved the Julia Grey novels, anxiously awaiting the fourth one. In the meantime, I’d love a copy of this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  42. Kathy says:

    I would love to have a copy!!!

  43. Pamela says:

    Thanks for the interview & giveaway. Can’t wait to read this book (I also grew up reading Victoria Holt) and to read the next Julia Grey!

  44. Chloe says:

    Looking forward to reading this! And can’t wait for the next Julia and Nicholas book! :)

  45. Debbie says:

    I love the Lady Julia books and am looking forward to hearing more from her. What is her actual name/title now, post-marriage? I am also excited to read about new characters since I love Deanna Raybourn’s writing! Debbie

  46. Bee says:

    I would LOVE to win a copy of this book! Deanna Raybourn is one of my favorite recent authors.

  47. Leslie says:

    Deanna Raybourn is a wonder. I’ll follow her tales anywhere and would thoroughly enjoy an advanced copy.

  48. Danja says:

    I am very excited about the release of this book! What a wonderful interview.

  49. dorothaholloway says:

    oooyeah!!! can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  50. Swahmn says:

    I am really interested to see how the “voice” of Theodora is different from Lady Julia.
    I wonder, too, about Ms. Raybourn’s depiction of Lady Julia as “scatty”. Is it because she is oblivious to the evil in the books (particularly the first)?