Sunday, December 24, 2023

Top 10 Posts of 2023: #7

Counting down the top 10 most-viewed posts of's #7, a Q&A with Claudia Gray first posted on May 16, 2023.

Q&A with Claudia Gray


Photo by Stephanie Knapp

Claudia Gray is the author of the new novel The Late Mrs. Willoughby, a sequel to her novel The Murder of Mr. Wickham. Both books feature characters from the classic works of Jane Austen. Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She lives in New Orleans.


Q: This is your second book featuring various Jane Austen characters involved in a murder mystery. Why did you choose Mrs. Willoughby as the victim this time?


A: After The Murder of Mr. Wickham, we'd already established that Marianne hoped for Juliet to visit her soon, to bolster their new friendship. So that already brought us to the world of Sense and Sensibility. Then it was a matter of asking which person might have the greatest number of people who might, plausibly, want them dead. Unfortunately for Mrs. Willoughby, her suspect list was too long to pass up. Also, her death frees Willoughby from matrimony, which is something very interesting for the newlywed Brandons to confront. 


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy, your detectives, and do you think it's changed at all from the first book to the second?


A: They have come to greatly trust each other, even to the point of being willing to--not necessarily break, but definitely nudge social conventions together in the pursuit of justice. Juliet and Jonathan also greatly enjoy each other's company, which in that time and place necessarily raises the question of whether or not the two of them are courting. So far they aren't...and I'd say neither one is precisely sure how they feel about that. The relationship definitely develops more in book two!


Q: The writer Anna Lee Huber said of the book, “Gray remains true to Austen’s style and intent for her beloved characters while still adding her own spin on them and their progeny—one that is both refreshing and absorbing.” What do you think of that description?


A: How could I not love that? It's precisely the way I hoped the book would feel, and may the rest of its readers feel the same. I'm having so much fun writing these, so it's wonderful to hear that they're fun to read, too. 


Q: Marianne Brandon plays a big role in both novels--what intrigues you about her?


A: She's certainly one of Austen's liveliest heroines. Beyond that, though, she may be the heroine who errs the most, but also the one who is wronged most hurtfully. (At least in the romantic sense.) We both want to see her learn from her own mistakes and watch her triumph over the pain inflicted upon her.


Finally, the romance between her and Colonel Brandon is more told than shown, in the end, though I have come to believe they are in truth very well suited to each other. So visiting her at the point where her marriage is new is intriguing to me. 


Q: You imply that this isn’t the last we'll see of Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney--can you say anything about what’s next?


A: I can't give out too many details yet, but I can say that this is now a proper series--the Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mysteries--and the next novel is in final edits now. It's one I think readers are going to absolutely love. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: You can always order signed copies of any of the Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mysteries--and, in fact, of any of my published novels or graphic novels--from Octavia Books in New Orleans. And I hope to meet more readers out there on the road soon!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Claudia Gray.

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