Monday, August 1, 2016

Charmed and Fabulous: Rhys Bowen's New Book!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Trying to remember when I first met Rhys Bowen--it was at the St. Martins party at...Bouchercon? Or somewhere. And I've never told her this, but she was a vision. I mean--sorry for being sappy, but there was an aura around her. A real glow--of happiness and joy and genuine engagement. And we chatted, and clicked, and laughed and laughed, and there might have been wine involved,  and the next day, she was a Red. (Where was this photo taken, anyone remember? )

Since then, we have been real sisters--sharing success and disappointment and writer's craziness and family rites of passage--and always always, Rhys has a genuine enjoyment and appreciation and gratitude for everything that happens. Even the downs--she faces them with high sprits and optimism.

And her new book? Crowned and Dangerous comes out tomorrow! (Yay! Pre-order here, just saying)   Wow, Rhys--I have never read such glowing reviews! Except for your other books  :-) but anyway, one reviewer (in a  starred review!) called you a combination of Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse. Well, that's quite a tribute. What do you think about that, dear Rhys? And --if this is even possible--was that a conscious decision?

RHYS: I have a confession to make, Hank. I was in awe when I met you. I mean so chic, not a hair out of place and those impossibly high heels. And then we clicked instantly and becoming one of the Reds was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. You guys are the sisters I never had.

HANK: Aw. xoxo. Meant to be.

RHYS: As far as Christie and Wodehouse. Wow, that is a little humbling and gobsmacking! I don't set out to write like anybody. Every book I have written has been a book I wanted to read and it wasn't on the shelf. I'm flattered that anyone should compare me to such giants but I think I still have a way to go!

HALLIE: Darcy and Lady Georgie are on their way to Scotland get married when Darcy's father is murdered, and so the book takes us to Ireland instead. And what an Ireland it is! Can you tell us about the wonderful settings for the book?

RHYS: Those who read the last book in the series (Malice in the Palace) will know we left Georgie and Darcy in a cliff-hanger, on their way to Scotland to get married. We know the course of true love never does run smooth in books so they run into a blizzard in Yorkshire and then Darcy sees a headline in the morning newspaper that sends him rushing to Ireland and leaving Georgie behind.

I adore Ireland. it's so fresh and green and the people are so warm. So I set the book in horse country, where there are lush meadows with thoroughbreds in them and sweeping hills and old castles. I've visited quite a few of those old castles, had a medieval banquet at Bunratty and even kissed the Blarney Stone (actually not really kissed it. Kissed air about an inch away. Think of all those lips who went before me!)

LUCY: Two questions for you Rhys. First is about lady Georgie's voice, which is one of the things I love most about the Royal spyness series. Did her voice just come to you, or did you have to work on imagining who she was first?

And second is a question about how to maintain such a grueling schedule and exceptional career over the long haul. It was so exciting to hear about your early children's book being fashioned for the London stage. Any advice for writers looking to stick this out through thick and thin?

RHYS: Lady Georgie's voice came to me when I first started to write. I didn't stop until I'd written 25 pages and she still won't shut up. I just listen to her and write it down.  I saw her and knew her instantly and she's been a joy to spend time with. It's such fun to sit at the computer and chuckle.

Second question: 2 books a year. Yes, I'm a crazy woman. The problem is I have two publishers and they both want a book a year. But then what would I do if I didn't write? I think the way for a writer to have a long career is never be satisfied, always wanting to do better than the last book, and being prepared to reinvent yourself. Oh, and to see the play of my book in London was such a thrill!

DEBS: Rhys, I am in awe of you. Two (at least!) very different books a year, and both so good. But I wonder if you look forward to Georgie when you're writing Molly, because Georgie is just so much fun? And another question, the Georgie books always seem so effortless. Do you ever find yourself struggling with the plot or lost in the middle? (And of course I'd ask if you'll ever let Georgie marry Darcy, but I don't think you'll tell us...)

HANK: Oh, that's such a good question! And yes, they do seem effortless. Rhys, do you work solidly on one, and then the next?  Or back and forth?

RHYS: Debs, when I'm writing Molly I always dream of writing Georgie, and the other way around. The grass is always greener, I guess. But I could never switch between them. When I'm writing Molly I am in New York, 1905. I sometimes snap at John because Molly is mad at Daniel! And when I write Georgie I am completely in her world. In fact it's hard to switch off. I do plenty of lying awake, staring at the ceiling and muttering to myself! I have to wait a few weeks before I am ready to switch to the other. I can tell I'm ready when I start getting little ideas for plot twists.

HANK: Let me sneak in a little about CROWNED AND DANGEROUS--and yes, let's see that wonderful cover again!

 Nothing is simple when you’re thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O’Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules...

With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn’t planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret—as I had hoped—but to make me his wife!

Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family’s Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employs Darcy’s father as a hired hand.

Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission—except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy’s father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he’s innocent, and it’s up to us to prove it—for better or worse.

JULIA: No question - just pure admiration. I adore the Lady Georgie books and have put so many in the hands of readers. I simply say, "Imagine one of those sparkling 1930's comedies crossed with Agatha Christie" and bam! Who could resist?

I'm also, like Debs, in awe of how Rhys manages two wonderful books a year, traveling with John, book tours and conferences, close relationships with her grown kids, grandkids, and granddogs...and still stay eminently sane and healthy. One begins to suspect a portrait in the attic.

(Rhys: not so sure about the sane part, Julia!)

Congrats on Crowned and Dangerous, Rhys!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Let me add my congratulations! Rhys, I've never met you in person, but have nothing but respect for your writing, not least the speed at which you write not one, but two series! Hearty congrats on CROWNED AND DANGEROUS!

HANK: Cannot wait or the entire Red contingent to be together, Susan! Whoa. Pick a date--our house! 

So, dear Reds and readers--what questions do you have for Rhys? About when she met the Queen? When she sang with --who was it, Rhys?  And what--can you tell us?-do you love the most about writing CROWNED?

RHYS:  Thank you all so much for this, darling Reds. I feel so blessed to have you all.  One thing I loved about writing Crowned was some new and very eccentric relations. I loved how Georgie and Darcy's relationship is almost shattered and hangs on anyway. And a really complex plot!

And I'll give a signed copy to one lucky commenter!


  1. Congratulations, Rhys . . . I am so looking forward to reading “Crowned and Dangerous.”
    I think it was lovely of that reviewer to declare you a combination of Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse. It’s a well-deserved compliment.

    My question: Although I truly love both Molly and Georgie [and their stories], I’m curious about your Dreamwalker book . . . will there be more Red Dragon Academy books?
    Do you approach your writing differently when you’re writing for younger readers? And how does writing with a co-author compare to writing the Molly and Georgie stories?

  2. Congratulations, Rhys on the upcoming release of "Crowned and Dangerous"!

    I had hopes that the cliff hanger ending in "Malice at the Palace" would end well for Georgie and Darcy...but I should have known there would be further complications to delay their elopement in Scotland! But it's great that this new book is set in Ireland. Such a beautiful country...I could easily picture the lush green countryside, with horses, castles and warm people.

    My question is related to writing both historical series. What are the unique challenges for you in research and writing either the Royal Spyness or Molly series. Accurate setting? Royal protocol and aristocratic customs? Writing authentic dialogue for the time period?

  3. Great questions! Grace, the dialogue thing must be so full of peril--Edith, didn't you check on malarkey? And Joan--Rhys was so ahead of the curve with those, right?

  4. Love, love, love both series! The comparison to Wodehouse and Christie is so true, especially with Georgie. She makes me giggle out loud! Even two books a year aren't enough for your devoted fans, but since we don't want you to "burn-out", we'll have to be satisfied with that.

  5. So many congratulations, Rhys! And what a fabulous review quote.

    Yes, dialogue both inner and spoken is tricky when writing books set many decades ago. I did check on malarkey, Hank: Since it's attested in the US from 1924, Georgie can say the word, but only if she learned it from an American, and Molly can't!

  6. Oh, I'm itching to get started on Crowned. What a tease you are. Two books a year. Woman, I'm tired just thinking about it. Not really, more like super energized, and look at the great research trips you get to do. I love Georgie's voice and setting. The period has always fascinated me.

  7. Rhys, I'm reading this as I struggle to finish the book I've been working on, going on 2 years. Can I just say Pffffftht. You make it look so easy.

  8. He does make it look easy! I'd love to be in the room with her when she's writing… Rhys, who is in a time zone three hours earlier from us, how many hours in a row do you write? And how many words? (Just to drive us crazy… :-))

  9. Congratulations, Rhys, on the newest book and on being able to write two a year. As one who has never written anything more complicated than a grocery list, I truly admire you and all the Reds.

    Writing a mystery must be the hardest ever book to birth, what with all that plotting that must come together, leaving little breadcrumbs along the way that aren't too obvious but that are there for the discerning reader, and still remaining logical in the end. It is that moment when I slap my head in wonder and think "how did I miss it!" Boggles my already discombobulated mind!

    I have a Facebook friend, Judy Lopatin, who is entranced with you. If I should be so fortunate as to win that copy of the CROWNED AND DANGEROUS, I would withdraw in her favor. It's what friends do.

  10. Having just gifted a pristine hardcopy copy of Semptimus Bean to a very dear friend's daughter two weeks back when I was visiting Cape Cod, I have to ask: Do you every long to write another kids book, Rhy?

    I was allowed to sit in when Grandmom read Semptimus Bean to the little one for bedtime and it was just so delightful to hear it read aloud. There is just something so relaxing about being read to.

    There's a picture of the very excited little girl holding the book on my Facebook page, if anyone is interested.

  11. Really looking forward to Georgie's and Darcy's adventure in Ireland--and maybe to their wedding, at long last!

    Having just spent more than a week with you, Rhys, I'm in awe at your constant good humor, and your charming viewpoint of life. I so admire your many accomplishments.

    All the life experiences we've had go into our creative writing. From which of the fascinating parts of your background do you think Georgie sprang? She's very like you, in some ways: levelheaded (as is Molly), slim and attractive, intelligent, and inquisitive, as well as a good listener. Did you know this, or does that surprise you to consider?

  12. Perhaps you need to add a character like Jeeves (Wodehouse) to help the course of Georgie's and Darcy's lives to run more smoothly! (Their lives would present a challenge even to Jeeves.)

    I'm looking forward to Crowned and Dangerous!

  13. Rhys, how do you know so much about the way of life for the Royals?

  14. Be patient, darling Red's, I've just woken up. It's hard being three hours behind.

    Starting with my research: I use John's family background for the way people interact, for talk about butlers and the lower classes. I know about the royals from visiting Buckingham Palace, having tea with the Queen once and meeting the Queen Mum and several others. I read biographies on them and try to keep each character authentic, so that anything they say is true to what they would have said or are known to have said. I double check protocol, forms of address etc which is where lots of writers fall down.

    Let me just stress that research is important to me. Getting it right. If you believe I am talking from a room in 1935 you'll believe my whole story. (The only time I slip up has to do with trains. Some train buff is always telling me that a particular train didn't stop at that station on THAT DAY or was delayed by a cow on the line or something. Train buffs KNOW EVERYTHING!

  15. Joan, and a couple of others.
    Dreamwalker...a children's book I wrote with my daughter. It was a fun exercise. We had a joint vision for the premise, she did a lot of the plotting. We took it in turn to write the scenes. It worked well. I liked the book and we will certainly write the next one if we ever have more than three minutes to sit down together. Time is the big problem.

    And I truly loved all those old children's books. Septimus Bean was such fun. I don't think I'll write any more. A I'm so busy and B the world has changed. So many children's books have become dark and edgy. And those who know me know that I'm not a dark and edgy person. (Which is why I'll probably never win that Edgar!)

  16. Congratulations, Rhys.

    I met you very briefly, standing in line for the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame at Bouchercon Cleveland and you were so warm, generous, and lovely. Hope I get to see you at a future Boucheron.

    I wrote one short story set in 1942. It was enough to let me know that I'd much rather write contemporary!

  17. Grace, Edith... Dialog has to be right. This isn't the hard part for me. When I was a little girl people still spoke as my characters do. My Mom grew up in the 30s. I still remember people who called you "OLd Bean, old fruit, oh you are a brick" etc. They said things like spiffing and smashing, and top hole.
    And of course I love reading Jeeves and Wooster (who wouldn't want a Jeeves. Perhaps Georgie will acquire one)
    But I do double check for anachronisms. Usually find one or two.

    Sometimes I am just not thinking straight. In this book are two archeologists and I have one say "From the satelite images".Editor caught it, naturally. I wrote back "What had I been smoking?"

  18. Mary, I have a picture of us in that line outside the Rockand Roll hall of fame! Wasn't that fun.

    Hank I write at least five pages a day until I finish the first draft. Don't take days off, just work straight through. I can't get it out of my head anyway so no point in taking breaks. When I've finished the first draft I go through and do a complete polish. Then give it to a couple of first readers, do another polish and off it goes. Then I take a deep breath and switch to Molly. Early morning writing. I'm a morning person.
    (Unless something comes into my head at midnight and I have to creep down and put it into the story)

    Karen, I guess Molly might have started out a little like me--strong sense of justice, not always able to shut up. Georgie wasn 't supposed to be like me . Her voice is certainly different from mine, but as the series progresses she has taken on more of my traits: like being clumsy under stress. She has certainly grown in confidence (maybe it comes from knowing that she is loved by a gorgeous guy)

    And for those of you who wonder if I chose the name for a reason... Think Colin Firth coming out of the lake dripping wet. Nuff said.

  19. I cannot wait for a new Georgie book! Rhys, you have made her so real. Other than the great story you always present, I always enjoy traveling to places I probably will never get to. Ireland has long been a dream for me. Now for a question I have been wondering about: What does the Royal Family think of your books? I've often heard about various TV programs they enjoy, but never books. Surely there must be a reader or 2 in the family.

  20. I am so excited for a new Georgie. I read the book then I buy the version and listen from the beginning - 1st book, all the way through until the latest. I do chores, errands and fixing food all the while. The time and days fly by and I so enjoy being immersed in Georgie's World once again. Well done, Rhys, and thank you.

  21. Congratulations, Rhys!
    I have enjoyed every installment of the Georgie series (and I can't wait till tomorrow when my pre-order will magically arrive on my Kindle!), but I also thought the first Royal Spyness mystery was an absolute gem in and of itself. I was wondering if you started writing about Georgie with a series in mind, and, if so, do you have an idea of where she is ultimately headed? Or do you just get new ideas as you go along? Of course, I hope the story of Georgie and Darcy never ends! I'm just curious as to whether you write each book with a larger story in mind.

  22. Dear Rhys, you are such an inspiration. I was a fan long before we were REDS together, but it has been such a blessing to be sisters every single day for the long has it been now?

    I cannot wait to read Crowned and Dangerous! But as I've heard so much about the wonderful audio narration, I've ordered my Audible copy. Congrats congrats and big hugs!

  23. Ohh, I can't wait to read this book. I love this series, and also the Molly series. And of course, Evan! My email, in case I win, I hope! Pamela dot fry dot priest at gmail dot com Congratulations Rhys!

  24. What does the royal family think of the books, Judi? I don't know. I've never plucked up the courage to send them one. I am sure Kate would like them. Probably Harry and William. Not so sure about the queen, even though I've kept her ancestry really authentic.

    And I didn't start with a series arc in mind. I always jot down ideas I could use in the future. I knew I wanted to visit Darcy's home some day. I hope they'll finally get married. But if they do, will the magic be gone?

  25. Wonderful interview! Amazing that the interview happened at the same time as the writing conference.

    Hank, I remember the first time I met Rhys. She was on a panel with a friend, Penny Warner, at the local bookstore. I think there were four mystery novelists on the panel. Rhys was introducing her new book series about Evan Evans, set in Wales. Still have the Evan Evans books. And I have the Lady Georgie and Molly series now. I can read them again and again. Love them all!

    Rhys, I get what you mean about writing a book that you want to read. Love Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse.

    Question: Did writing for the BBC provide training ? I am impressed by the clever writing of BBC programmes on PBS over the years.

    Look forward to reading the new Crowned and Dangerous novel. Hope to make it to your event this week!


  26. I can hardly wait until my copy arrives. I love Georgie. She speaks to my inner stumblebum. And that Darcy. Now that Georgie is ready to make hay, married or not, he acquires a halo. Aargh. I'll be really interested to see how things go with Georgie's mum since she is trying to marry a rich German at a time when that is not a very good future. How does John survive your characters' moods if he's getting the brunt of them yearlong with that ferocious writing schedule?

  27. Yes, Rhys, you are an inspiration! I am happy with four pages a day..that's 1000 words.

    And no , no, the magic will not be gone. Think of Nick and Nora, right?

  28. Did the BBC provide training, Diana?
    Oh yes. What an education. Our plays were meticulously researched and starting off with a medium where dialog had to set scene, time place etc makes me very aware of pacing, scenes, differentiating characters etc.

  29. Dear Rhys is a marvel as a writer, as a raconteur and - now I know - as a karaoke singer! The energy, the sense of fun, and the generosity to encourage other writers. As always I will gobble up the new Georgie and get a signed copy for my sister, who is also a big fan. Thank you, Rhys, for all that you share!

  30. So happy that the newest Royal Spyness book is out. Love the series and the time period of the books. Can't wait to read it! Congrats!

  31. Acckkkk - I didn't want to know so much about the new book - but love hearing the insiders views. Midnight tonight, or as soon as it appears on my kindle, I will be ensconced in Georgie's world. Can't wait to see what happens in Ireland. We're planning a trip to England this fall and I plan to re-read all the Georgie books on the flight over... wonder if I can get through them all? I agree wholeheartedly about the Wodehouse in your writing - where else would Queen have come from? I'd be happy to volunteer as one of your "first readers"! Thanks so much, Rhys, for a wonderful series, and for allowing us to share Georgie's world.

    P.S. Is your play currently in London? Where? & How long will it be up?

  32. I'd love to hear more about Rhys having tea with the Queen and the Queen Mum! I immensely enjoy the Jungle Red posts and the interactions between other Reds, writers and readers. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of how you do what you do as well as for your sense of

  33. We have a news grand daughter arriving in August. She is getting a copy of Septimus Bean and a birth present.

  34. Rhys, I find you endlessly fascinating! You are truly one of the most engaging people I've ever met, even putting me at ease in my fan girl enthusiasm. You and John made Bouchercon Raleigh so special by coming to the dinner I threw together. I became a big fan of John, who was the ultimate host at one end of the table, with us at the other end. Everyone loved him. I was in heaven with you all, some other favorite authors, and other friends. You have so much of which to be proud, so much success, and, yet, there is not an aloof bone in your body. Warm and welcoming is our Rhys.

    This interview today was so interesting. All the Reds had great questions, and the answers are making it so hard to wait even another day for Crowned and Dangerous. My favorite answer and one that hilariously sums up Georgie and Darcy is "the course of true love never does run smooth in books so they run into a blizzard in Yorkshire and then Darcy sees a headline in the morning newspaper that sends him rushing to Ireland and leaving Georgie behind."

    One of the aspects of your life, Rhys, that interests me is your start in life, in Wales. The story of the train going up the mountain has stayed with me since I read it, and one of the things I want in New Orleans is to hear you tell about the train in person. I am embarrassed to say that I've only read the first two Evan Evans books, and while I loved them, I need to get the rest of them and finish that great series set in Wales. As far as a question for you goes, I'll make it about Wales. Do you speak Welsh or one of the dialects? That and the different Scottish dialects intrigue me.

  35. Oh, Rhys, I've been anxiously awaiting the new Georgie story! I can hardly wait. I loved hearing you speak a couple of years ago in Denver. You are an extremely engaging speaker and your books are wonderful. I've got two of my three daughters reading them as well. (The other one doesn't read. She's a scientist and says she reads too many journals, etc, and doesn't have time to read for fun.) The Jungle Reds are endlessly interesting, individually and as a whole. I've actually read at least two books by each of you and have enjoyed every one. I have to admit to having favorites, though. Georgie and Maggie Hope are my two favorite characters. They should meet, although Georgie would be older by then, wouldn't she?

  36. I have read all the Lady Georgina books ans cannot wait for this one ! You need to write faster Rhys! I just adore this series!

  37. A cross between Christie and Wodehouse - now there's a blurb that makes me want to start reading right now.

  38. KATHY, yes I speak Welsh. Not well but enough to be understood. I wish I had the time to learn to be more fluent. I only remember from my childhood so it was all to do with going to bed and washing my hands!
    Wales is a fabulous place, scenery, food and culture. A welsh male voice choir is so amazing

    Oh, and I agree with the cover blurb giving away too ,uch of the story! I don't like to know who is going to dies,

  39. Lady Georgie is a bit of froth on a sunny summer day--that's how effortless your writing appears to be, Rhys--as if she just glides off the page and into our lives (or trips off the page and falls into our lives?). With a tall glass of something cold, she's the perfect companion for an evening's entertainment!

  40. Rhys, intrigued by your "the magic might be gone" if Darcy and Georgie married.
    Did the magic disappear for Evan Evans when he married his lovely lovely school teacher? (Sorry my gray haired brain syndrome has hidden her name.) I discovered the series after you had stopped writing it. (It did introduce me to Molly and she to Georgie.) Still wish for the next book as they trip over their own children in addition to those in school.
    Georgie and Molly are great, but Evan is my first love.
    Congratulations on the new book.

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  42. Haven't we talked about having Georgie and Maggie Hope meet? Even if Lady Georgie is older, that'd be even more fabulous, Bev!

    And I was JUST thinking about that. SO frustrating to have the cover copy says: and when xxx is found murdered... I think: WHAT? Do you know how hard the author worked to make that a surprise??

  43. I love Georgie's spirit and independence, loyalty, and ability to get out of impossible fixes. Having just finished ROYAL BLOOD, I am please to know there are more to come.
    I'm with Hank in disliking "spoilers" in blurbs, introductions, and reviews. Why spoil the carefully-crafted suspense?
    Many thanks for the work of creation. <3

  44. I avoid spoilers at all costs. So I haven't read the previous comments.

    I can't wait to wake up with Georgie and Darcy in the morning. I will have the audible version waiting. I cannot wait.

    I love, love, love Darcy. Just simply love him. He and Georgie are so good together.

    Thank you, Rhys, for giving us this lovely summer delight!

  45. Congratulations on your latest book!

    As an aspiring mystery writer struggling to finish her 1st draft, your diligence is awe-inspiring.

    I also love how you're so casual about having tea with the queen ^^

  46. You go Mia! Cannot wait to hear how the book comes out--keep writing!

    And yes, Rhys is clearly royalty herself, right?

  47. Every time I think I have learned the most interesting fact about Rhys, I read about something else she did or somewhere she went. And the books - keep writing!

  48. Grandma--you are SO right! Come back tomorrow for the winner--and a blog like you have never seen before. Life-saving--truly!

    Love to you all--we are so grateful to know you!

  49. I love Lady Georgie, and of course I also love Rhys.

  50. Well, I devoured Crowned and Dangerous and I've come here needing more Rhys and Georgie -ness. Not disappointed. I can clearly see I need to pick up Evan now. Thanks for sharing such great talents.

  51. Is there any hope for another evans?