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Amanda McCabe | 20 Questions: FLORA FLOWERDEW AND THE MYSTERY OF THE DUKE’S DIAMONDS

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1--What is the title of your latest release?

FLORA FLOWERDEW AND THE MYSTERY OF THE DUKE’S DIAMONDS!  A bit of a mouthful, but it suits this first in a new mystery series—a bit silly, a bit romantic, a bit caper-ish.  I loved writing it!

2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

Flora Flowerdew has a secret. The former Florrie Gubbins, music hall dancer, is now Madame Flowerdew, one of London’s most renowned spirit mediums. But it’s actually her beloved Pomeranian dog, Chou-Chou, who can see the ghosts.

One of her most lucrative seances, for the wealthy Petrie family whose daughter is about to marry a handsome young duke, goes chaotically awry. The duke’s late, and very irate, grandfather demands Flora and his grandson Benedict find the long-missing family diamonds—even the search becomes littered with mayhem and murder! Can Flora discover the jewels before she loses her career, her sanity—and her heart?

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

I’ve always been a big fan of reading steampunk stories!  And even though “Flora…” isn’t steampunk (she lives in a very real Victorian London) I thought some of that foggy, gaslit atmosphere was just right

4--Would you hang out with your sleuth in real life?

Oh, definitely!!!  She’s so much fun.  Flora Flowerdew (once named Florrie Gubbins) came up from a childhood in an orphanage and working as a chorus girl in a music hall to a comfortable life as a “spiritual medium.”  She’s seen dark things in life, but she never lost her high spirits and determination.  She likes to joke and shop and is very loyal.  Plus, she loved dogs!  We’d be great friends

5--What are three words that describe your sleuth?

Resourceful, fun, curious

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

I’ve written Victorian-set stories before (I love the time period!), but in this tale I got to delve into things like the circus, the world of newspapers (Flora’s old friend Evie is a reporter) and pickpockets, all the way up to dukes and wealthy Monte Carlo casinos!  It was quite a journey

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

I usually wait until I finish the first draft (unless something drastic changes in the plot along the way!).  If I stop to edit, I usually get caught up in fixing that one part and never finish the book!  I used to be a total pantser, but I’ve learned something plotting after so many books, so I guess now I am a plot-ser

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Oh, too many!  I inherited a sweet tooth from a long line of grandmothers!  I love chocolate, lemony desserts, and fresh-baked bread with good butter.  And fruit pies!  Now I’m really hungry…

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Hmmm.  Messy.  Very messy.  I would never dare show my desk on Instagram!  I bought a lovely antique desk and pink-upholstered chair a few years ago, carefully placed a few framed photos and items of my Eiffel Towers (I collect them—lamps, figurines, whatever has an Eiffel Tower on it).  Then as soon as I started writing it went to heck!  Piles of papers and research books, half-full teacups…

10--Who is an author you admire?

Anyone with a tidy desk?  LOL!  There are so many.  I always thought one of the very best perks of being a writer has been the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made.  I was a weird kid, always pretending to be a Bronte wandering the moors or hiding in a closet reading, and once I started going to writing conferences, I met my book tribe.  I certainly admire people like the Brontes, Austen, Barbara Pym, who wrote despite challenges and discouragements.  They give me strength to write on when it’s hard

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

“Jane Eyre”!  I’ve always been a reader, as long as I can remember, but I found a copy of JE at my grandmother’s house and liked the cover (a stormy sky and castle) and started reading it, knowing nothing about it.  I stayed up all night, engrossed, and was SHOCKED by the wife in the attic!  The thought that a book could startle, and amaze was incredible.  I also liked to read my grandmother’s old Barbara Cartlands and Victoria Holts, which got me into romance fiction.  And Nancy Drew for mysteries!

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)

Oh, it was years ago, but I will always remember!  It was the second book I finished (but the first I sent out—the very first is deservedly lost).  I really had little idea what I was doing, but I did read “Romantic Times” and knew a bit about how a book got out there.  Kensington was starting a new line of shorter historical romances, so I thought “what the heck?” and mailed off the story I’d just finished, not expecting much but I did like learning the process.  But then an editor called!!!  The day she was leaving for a conference.  (this was in the Stone Age, so no cell phones, I just had a message on my answering machine).  I had to wait to wait a week to talk to her, and then five minutes after she hung up after making the offer (I hope I was cool and professional on the phone, but it’s very blurry and I bet I wasn’t), I screamed and called my writing friends.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

I will read anything that sounds interesting!  Romance, mysteries, literary fiction, lots of non-fiction (both for research and fun), classics.  If someone recommends it to me or it catches my eye on a shelf, I’m there!

14--What’s your favorite movie?

That is a hard one!  I do love A Room With a View, I can never re-watch it enough

15--What is your favorite season?

I used to live somewhere that got very humid and hot in the summer, and I always thought I hated summer because it was so miserable and melty! Austen was right that it’s hard to be elegant in the heat, lol.   (I also hated winter, since I hate to be cold, but then I discovered the delightful concept of hygge, and now I enjoy the coziness, LOL).  My I love summer where I live now, because of the gorgeous flowers and endless blue skies, but autumn has always been my favorite.  The colors, the crisp air, apple pie, Halloween!

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

When I was a kid, I always had lovely parties (my mom made beautiful cakes, usually princesses or ballerinas since that’s what I liked), but now I usually go out to a nice restaurant in a “double party” with my dad (since his birthday is 5 days before mine!).  My whole family gets to try a lavish place and go all out, gorging on rich food and being together

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

When we were home at the beginning of Covid, my husband and I loved “Queen’s Gambit”!  (even though I love him dearly, we seldom agree on TV shows and movies.  He wasn’t so much into re-watching all of “Downton Abbey” with me, ha!).  I also am really enjoying “Vikings Valhalla,” even though it’s not my usual time period

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Ha!  See my answer above (I will eat anything!).  I’m lucky to live in a town that is filled with wonderful restaurants (and I am a terrible cook), so there’s New Mexican (different from Mexican, which is also great), Indian, Thai, fine dining, pub grub, gourmet pizza, and even an adorable literary-theme tearoom where I go with writing friends…

19--What do you do when you have free time?

My dogs think every free moment should be for them!  I do like taking them for walks in the mountains and to the dog park, but I also enjoy yoga classes, trying my hand at embroidery, scouring vintage stores

20--What can readers expect from you next?

I have a lot coming up!  I do have more books in the “Flora Flowerdew” and “Kate Haywood Elizabethan Mysteries” series planned, but in the meantime watch for a few romances (“A Manhattan Heiress Goes to Paris,” my first try at a 1920s romance, will be out in March 2023), as well as a Gilded Age Christmas novella in 2023!  You can check my website, ammandamccabe.com for details

FLORA FLOWERDEW & THE MYSTERY OF THE DUKE’S DIAMONDS by Amanda McCabe

Flora Flowerdew Victorian Mysteries #1

Flora Flowerdew & the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds

London 1888

Flora Flowerdew has a secret. The former Florrie Gubbins, music hall dancer, is now Madame Flowerdew, one of London’s most renowned spirit mediums. But it’s actually her beloved Pomeranian dog, Chou-Chou, who can see the ghosts.

One of her most lucrative seances, for the wealthy Petrie family whose daughter is about to marry a handsome young duke, goes chaotically awry. The duke’s late, and very irate, grandfather demands Flora and his grandson Benedict find the long-missing family diamonds—even the search becomes littered with mayhem and murder! Can Flora discover the jewels before she loses her career, her sanity—and her heart?

Sparks fly as Flora, Benedict, and Chou-Chou pursue the truth of the diamonds’ disappearance in this lighthearted, cozy historical mystery set in foggy, gas-lit London

 

Mystery Woman Sleuth | Historical [Oliver-Heber Books, On Sale: August 16, 2022, e-Book, / ]

Buy FLORA FLOWERDEW & THE MYSTERY OF THE DUKE’S DIAMONDSKindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Amanda McCabe

Amanda McCabe

Amanda McCabe lives in Oklahoma with two very spoiled cats, surrounded by large collections of books and antiques. When not reading or writing romances, she loves doing needlework, taking dancing lessons, and digging through antique stores in search of new treasures.

Debutantes in Paris

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