An Interview with Dianne Freeman, author of A LADY'S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER

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“A fantastic blend of history, mystery and humor. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.”   

-Darcie Wilde, National Bestselling Author of “A Useful Woman,” and “A Purely Private Matter.”

"A delightful tale of shenanigans among the British aristocracy. Lady Frances feels very real-- not too smart and spunky but no shrinking violet either.”

Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries.


An Interview with Dianne Freeman

Dianne Freeman’s debut historical mystery novel, A LADY’S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER, will be published on June 26, 2018 by Kensington.

Question - Please describe what the book is about.

Dianne Freeman - Victorian widow, Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is dealing with a high society burglar, a marriage-mad sister, and a murder. When the London season turns deadly, she fears one of her sister’s suitors may be the killer. Frances must rally her wits and a circle of gossiping friends and enemies to unmask the culprit before she becomes his next victim.

Q - Where did you get the idea?

DF - The Victorian era is a favorite of mine. I’ve been reading books from and about that period for as long as I can remember. The American heiress concept came from Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. Further research showed me they didn’t all meet with such wretched ends. I liked the idea of a more upbeat version where my heiress pushes some boundaries, and because I love a good mystery, I thought I’d give her a knack for solving crimes.

Q - What’s the story behind the title?

DF - I had half a dozen terrible titles. None of them expressed the spirit or even the content of the book. Finally, I gave a few options to a Facebook group I belonged to. Over the course of an evening, about thirty friends threw out suggestions and variants of suggestions. After a little wine and a lot of laughs, we came up with A LADY’S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER. 

Q - Tell us about your favorite character.

DF - They’re all my favorites! Okay, my favorite would have to be Frances. As a woman of her time, duty to one’s family comes first—but she’s done that and it wasn’t a particularly satisfying experience. Now she’s trying to make a life for herself and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong, but she faces her problems with aplomb even when she has no idea what she’s doing. She just keeps moving forward. I can’t help but admire that.

Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

DF - Just for fun I’d spend the day with Lady Fiona Nash. We’d go shopping for fabulous gowns and hats, have tea while she filled me in on all the latest gossip, then end the day at Alicia Stoke-Whitney’s ball.

Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

DF - My characters are all creatures of my imagination though they may share some traits with people I know—including me.

 Q - How long did you take to write this book?

DF - It took about two years from the time I began the first draft to the time I found my agent, but I did remodel a kitchen between drafts three and four. I did one more revision with my agent which took about a month. Then she worked her magic and sold the book in three days.

Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?

DF - I spent a lot of time in the newspaper archives, much of it researching things that were totally unnecessary but I find this era fascinating and I distract easily. Since I mention specific dates in the novel, I did think it necessary to find out if any major events took place during that week that my characters would have taken note of. It was also important to understand the technology of the day. How did one send information quickly from London to New York? What was photography like at the time? I needed to know not just when something was invented, but when was it available and if my characters were likely to use it.

Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

DF - A lot of backstory. It was a good exercise to write it, since it really helped me to get into my main character’s head, but it was nothing anyone would want to read.

Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?

DF - I was definitely a pantser when writing this book and had to write myself out of many plot holes. My editor wanted an outline for my second book and I’ve come to appreciate knowing where the story is going. I’m a plotting convert.

Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

DF - I write mystery and really enjoy plotting the crime—the who, what, where, when, why, and how. I love being devious—on paper.

Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

DF - The first draft. Even with an outline first drafts are hard.

Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

DF - I don’t think it’s really writer’s block, but when I get stuck on a plot point or a piece of dialog that isn’t working I’ll take a walk. Something about getting away from my desk and moving helps me think. Usually by the time I get home, I’ve worked out my problem.

Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

DF - Twenty or so years ago, I wrote two romance novels that were so awful I buried them in the back yard. And then I moved!

Q - Do you have any writing quirks?

DF - I bury bad manuscripts in the back yard?

Q - How did you get into writing?

DF - Writing just seemed like a natural spin-off from reading. It’s always been a hobby for me. When I retired I was thrilled to have the time to write an actual novel. Because my husband is also retired, I don’t have as much time as I thought I would.

Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

DF - I co-authored the non-fiction book, HAUNTED HIGHWAY—THE SPIRITS OF ROUTE 66. It’s a travel guide to haunted sites along Route 66.

Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

DF - I’m not a fan of horror. Someone gave me a copy of Stephen King’s NIGHT SHIFT and it scared me so badly I donated it to the library just to get it out of my house.

Q - What are you working on right now?

DF - I just finished book 2 in the series, A LADY’S GUIDE TO GOSSIP AND MURDER

Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?

DF - Every word matters. I always try to remember this when I edit.

Q - The book you’re currently reading


Dianne Freeman’s Biography

Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who left the world of corporate finance to pursue her passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, HAUNTED HIGHWAY, THE SPIRITS OF ROUTE 66, she realized her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. She also realized she didn’t like winter very much so now she and her husband pursue the endless summer by splitting their time between Michigan and Arizona.

Links to Dianne Freeman