ASHLEY WEAVER is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish
Libraries in Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was
a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State
University. She lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.
Ashley Weaver was interviewed by our Senior Reviewer, Miranda Owen
Your newest mystery – AN ACT OF VILLAINY –
involves actors and the theater world. Was that especially fun to write
It was incredibly fun! I have always been fascinated by the theater world.
There's something so magical about being transported to another place through
the actions of the people onstage. I liked the idea of inserting Amory and Milo
into the sphere of bright lights and entertainment and then incorporating a
sinister element. A theater is, after all, an excellent backdrop for a dramatic
I love the level of detail you put into each "Amory Ames" story, like
with the perfume trivia in your most recent book THE ESSENCE OF MALICE. How
much research is involved with each book you write?
Some books, like THE ESSENCE
OF MALICE, require more research than others. I didn't know much about the
various perfumery processes beforehand, so I did a lot of reading on that
subject. For AN ACT OF VILLAINY, I bought some books on the history of British
theater. I was also lucky enough to attend Agatha Christie's The
Mousetrap at the St. Martin's Theatre on a visit to London a couple of
years ago, so that provided some additional inspiration! In general, I have done
quite a bit of research on the 1930s, so I start each book with that base
knowledge, as well as an overall familiarity with whatever subject might relate
to the murder. Anything else that needs to be researched, I do as I go along.
And, of course, being a librarian gives me easy access to all the research
materials I could ever want!
I love Amory's wardrobe changes. Each outfit is easy to visualize and
drool over. Are you a history buff and get your ideas from actual items of
clothing? Why write about the 1930s specifically?
I have long been a fan of vintage fashion, and there's just something so elegant
about the 1930s. I grew up watching a lot of old movies, and I loved the picture
they presented, especially the glamour and sophistication of men in tuxedos and
women in evening gowns dancing the night away in Art Deco nightclubs. That
initial love for the era proved long-lasting and extended far beyond fashion. I
knew immediately when I started the Amory Ames series that Amory belonged in a
1930s setting. When writing about her wardrobe, I find a blend of research and
imagination works best. I will often take bits and pieces of actual clothing
from that era and then write them in colors and fabrics that are Amory's style.
Amory and Milo Ames have an occasionally tempestuous relationship. Is it
difficult balancing their relationship drama with the mystery?
I knew from the start of the series that I wanted Amory and Milo's marriage to
be an example of "after happily-ever-after." They had a whirlwind courtship and
married before they knew each other well, so the idea of exploring what happens
when the honeymoon is over was very appealing to me. I feel that the struggles
in their relationship and the ways in which they have begun to grow as a couple
coincides nicely with their detecting endeavors; their involvement in mysteries
has taught them to communicate and has built their trust in each another. As
they work as crime solving partners they are developing the skills to make them
better life partners.
Your main characters in this mystery series have been compared to the
classic Dashiell Hammett characters Nick and Nora Charles, and your stories make
me think of everything I love about Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers mysteries
– what authors or books have influenced your writing? Who are some of your
favorite books and authors?
I am so flattered by these comparisons! Agatha Christie is, of course, the Queen
of Crime, and I love her books and admire the way she can simultaneously give
you pertinent clues and lead you astray. I also really love Georgette Heyer. Her
dialogue, especially, is so enjoyable—always sharp and quick-witted. As for
favorite modern authors, lately I have been reading a lot of Liane Moriarty. She
has such a distinctive storytelling style and wonderful, relatable characters. I
have both laughed out loud and cried during every book of hers I've read.
The covers of your books are beautiful. As artwork they are amazing, and
I currently have one as the background on my laptop. How much input do you have
into how the covers look?
Thank you so much! All credit for the gorgeous covers goes to David Baldeosingh
Rotstein for the jacket designs and John Mattos for the jacket illustrations.
They have done an absolutely outstanding job with my covers, and I've loved each
one more than the last!
What are you currently working on now?
I actually just finished up the 6th Amory Ames Mystery, so I'm
taking a little break before I jump into #7. There is more of Amory and Milo to
An Act of Villainy is an a gem, set in 1930s London and filled with
style, banter, and twists that traditional mystery fans will positively
"So you've gotten yourself involved with another murder, have you?"
Walking through London’s West End after a night at the theater, Amory Ames
and her husband Milo run into wealthy investor and former actor Gerard Holloway.
Holloway and his wife Georgina are old friends of theirs, and when Holloway
invites them to the dress rehearsal of a new play he is directing, Amory readily
However, Amory is shocked to learn that Holloway has cast his mistress,
actress Flora Bell, in the lead role. Furthermore, the casual invitation is not
what it seems—he admits to Amory and Milo that Flora has been receiving
threatening letters, and he needs their help in finding the mysterious sender.
Despite Amory’s conflicting feelings—not only does she feel loyalty to Georgina,
but the disintegration of the Holloways’ perfect marriage seems to bode ill for
her own sometimes delicate relationship—her curiosity gets the better of her,
and she begins to make inquiries.
It quickly becomes clear that each member of the cast has reason to resent
Flora—and with a group so skilled in the art of deception, it isn’t easy to
separate truth from illusion. When vague threats escalate, the scene is set for
murder, and Amory and Milo must find the killer before the final curtain falls.
[Minotaur Books, On Sale: September 4, 2018,
Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250159755 / eISBN: 9781250159762]
Catch up on the series!
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