Q&A with Amanda McCabe

Today I’m joining the blog tour for Flora Flowerdew And The Mystery Of The Duke’s Diamonds. I’m sharing a Q&A with the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to Amanda McCabe for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?  

I’ve always written stories, as long as I can remember!  I used to write little “magazines” for my grandmother when I was a kid, using cut-out illustrations from newspapers.  I think the plots had to do with ghosts and fairies, mostly.  It took quite a bit longer for me to realize I wanted to write as a job!

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?  

Definitely!  I’ve worked at libraries and bookstores, at a small newspaper for a while, and as an announcer/development at a classical music radio station.  They all helped me learn storytelling, how to observe people, how to pull ideas together.  I haven’t yet written a story about a composer, though…

What was your inspiration for Florence Flowerdew And The Mystery Of The Duke’s Diamonds?  

A dog, actually!  A friend’s Pomeranian, Max.  Max is very smart, and often seems to be watching something the rest of us can’t see (and giving warnings before something happens!).  I was sure he belonged in a story, but I didn’t find just the right one before I met Flora Flowerdew, the fake Victorian medium, and Chou Chou, her Pomeranian who sees ghosts

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?  

I’m sure I do!  I’ve always loved people-watching and eavesdropping, people’s lives are fascinating.  I’ve never used a particular person, wholesale, in a book, though.  It’s always aspects of friends or family members, or even interesting strangers I see out and about, that show up in my fictional friends.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?  

I used to be a total pantser when I started!  I had no idea of where a story was really going until I was pretty far into it.  Then I started writing mysteries, and that required more plotting.  Experience means I’m better able to plot ahead, too, since I can see where a story needs to turn or change.  I can also indulge my love of office supplies when I try to plot!  (I’m still a pantser about characters, though; it’s too hard to “meet” them otherwise)

How did you research? Did you enjoy it? 

I love research!  It’s like the “perk” of writing for me.  I’m one of those people who would have happily stayed in school forever, and this is a bit like that, delving into history and settings and fashions, learning things I’ve never thought of before

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?  

Absolutely!  Though it feels like my greatest influences were writers I found when I was very young, like my grandmother’s Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy novels, and Georgette Heyer.  Austen and the Brontes are my most-often rereads, and poetry (which I don’t write at all, though I used to try)

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?  

Oooh, that’s a hard one!  Austen, I think; my grandmother, because if Jane Austen was there and I didn’t invite her, she would be really angry (plus I miss her like crazy!), and Shakespeare

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?  

I wouldn’t like being stuck at all!  I am horribly claustrophobic, lol.  I would REALLY not like to be stuck with a person who doesn’t like reading and couldn’t distract me with tales of their favorite books.  

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Florence Flowerdew And The Mystery Of The Duke’s Diamonds?  

I’ve had several people ask me that, and I love the questions, because making “character boards” when I start a book is one of my favorite distractions!  I see Flora as actress Zoe Boyle, who was in “Downton Abbey” and a short-lived series about scandalous doctors in the 1950s called “Breathless”

What do you like to do in your spare time?  

I live in New Mexico, near gorgeous mountain trails, so I love spending time outdoors!  I do cross-stitch (finished a big project during Covid), playing with my dogs, yoga, watching BritBox

What is next for you?  

I am just finishing up a Christmas novella, set in 1797, then I am time travelling ahead of that to do a 1920s mystery!  

Favourites:

Book?  “Persuasion,” probably, or “Middlemarch,” or maybe AS Byatt’s “Possession,” though favorites change and change all the time with me!  These 3 are always wonderful

Film?  “A Room With a View,” so gorgeous!

Band/Singer?  I am such an oldie about music!  And I mean really old, like Mozart.  Billie Holliday’s voice always makes me cry, too

TV show?  I can rewatch old Agatha Christie adaptations forever!  During Covid, when my husband and I were stuck at home together, we watched all 60+ Poirot episodes.  I also really loved “Downton”

Colour?  Pink!

Place?  Here where I live is my favorite place on earth (Northern New Mexico), but I also love Paris

Biscuit?  Chocolate, of course!

***

Flora Flowerdew And The Mystery Of The Duke’s Diamonds is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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