coverJune 21st is the date many readers have been awaiting when The Dark Enquiry, the fifth installment in the adventures of Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane, will be released.

With just over a week to go, we’re celebrating with an interview with author Deanna Raybourn and, courtesy of Harlequin and just to sweeten the deal, we also have two Advance Reader Copies of the book to give away.  To enter for your chance to win, simply comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, June 16th.

The usual caveats apply:  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  Due to high postage costs, this giveaway is open only to readers in the U.S. and Canada.  You are welcome to comment more than once, but you will be entered only once.  Winners will be chosen at random and will be notified by email on Friday morning.  If a winner has not responded within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

Now, ready for Deanna?

Could you start by telling our readers a bit about the plot of The Dark Enquiry?

Absolutely! In this outing, our sleuthing couple, Lady Julia and her husband Nicholas, investigates the murder of a mysterious medium at a club for Spiritualists. Matters are complicated when they discover that Lady Julia’s eldest brother, Viscount Bellmont, visited the club himself. Readers of the series will also be interested to know that we get another few pieces of Nicholas’ past to add to the puzzle in this book…

Researching the different plots of books must be fun for you, what stuck out to you about the spiritualist movement?

I adore research for all my books and this one was no different. The Spiritualist movement was tremendously important to Victorians, whether they were believers or debunkers. Séances were a regular form of entertainment to many; for others, it was a very real means of communicating with the dead. That’s not surprising, actually, given the times. Mourning was practically a national pastime in Victorian England. It was due to lots of factors—the Crimean War, the death of Prince Albert, etc.—and many of the traditions we have surrounding death and mourning were adopted during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Of course, some of those traditions we’ve put aside, such as keeping the body lying out in the parlor at home or wearing hair jewelry, but those customs kept the dead very close to the living in Victorian times. It was only natural that they would go one step further and try to establish communication.

This one deals with the possibilities of communicating with dead loved ones.  Are you open to the subject in real life?

Certainly. I think most of the communications we believe we have are simply our own interpretations we put on perfectly natural occurrences because we are looking for that connection and that comfort when we grieve. But I also think the universe is a mysterious place, and it would be silly to think we know everything. Besides, I live with a ghost, so I have to keep an open mind.

It’s been fun to watch the development of a marriage within the constraints of Victorian society.   What’s different about the marriage of Julia and Nicholas?  In what ways do you feel they conform to the Victorian ideal of marriage?

Julia and Nicholas have what I like to call a modern Victorian marriage. They do occupy pretty traditional gender roles, but they also both have an eye to the future. Contrary to what many people believe, there were some very modern partnerships in Victorian times with wives not just being shuttled off to the kitchens and nurseries. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, for instance, had an untraditional partnership, but one that worked remarkably well. She dealt with affairs of state, with his support, and he oversaw the domestic arrangements and the raising of their children. Now, Julia and Nicholas would never go that far simply because Nicholas is not the sort of man to give up his life’s work, but Julia is very capable of insisting on being a full partner.

Now, let’s talk about the future.  How many more Lady Julia novels do you envision?

The series has always been a fairly fluid thing. I had three books in mind when I wrote the first one, but the publisher wanted more which was perfectly fine by me! I have written the synopsis for the sixth book but am not starting work on it just yet. If my publisher and I choose, that sixth book could provide a good stopping point or I could use it as a sort of springboard for another few books.

You took a detour from the Lady Julia for The Dead Travel Fast, a book set in Transylvania.  Any other detours planned?

My next book in fact! My publisher likes to plan breaks from the series so the books stay fresh and so do I. We have a project we’re discussing now that would give me a chance to do something quite different. I’m hugely excited about the possibilities, but can’t say anything more just yet.

And, last but not least, what’s next for Deanna Raybourn?

Launching The Dark Enquiry and travel! I have lots of travel lined up for the next few months with signings in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas so I hope readers will check the website for details and come see me. I adore meeting readers in person!

Remember, to enter for your chance to win an ARC, just comment to this post by 11:59 p.m.  eastern time on Thursday, June 16th.  Good luck, everyone!

– Sandy AAR