Today’s blog post comes to you by the one and only Amanda McCabe, who loves to dive into a multitude of time periods for her Romances and Mysteries. Her newest, Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds is out this Tuesday (8/16)! We’ll let Amanda take it from here.
The inspiration for Flora Flowerdew and her world came from—a dog, of course! I’ve always had wonderful pets myself, dogs and cats (currently two dogs!), but never a Pomeranian like Chou-Chou. A friend got a Pom puppy (Polly), and I loved her fluffy, foxy face and her mischievous personality. She is always into trouble somewhere but is so adorable about it that she seldom gets into trouble. More than that, my friend is convinced Polly can see things we don’t. She growls at empty corners, tilts her head like she’s listening to silent voices, and prances in circles like she’s welcoming new visitors.
Polly is definitely a Character Dog, and I knew she needed her own book! It just took a while to find just the right story, just the right owner. Then Chou-Chou, Polly’s Pom, ghost-seeing Victorian counterpart, as well as her owner Flora, a former music-hall actress turned medium and businesswoman, came into my imagination. They had to live on the gaslit streets of Victorian London.
Because something else I love, besides dogs, is the Victorian era. The fashion, the rapid changes in society, the architecture and art (I am a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites), the eccentric queen, it’s all fascinating. I enjoy reading steampunk, and even though Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds is not in that genre, I was so inspired by that kind of atmosphere. I was also inspired to look beyond the upper classes and royal court (though we glimpse them with Benedict and his family) to the world of the lower theater, the circus, Evie and her newspaper career, village life in Cornwall, and of course the flourishing interest in spiritualism.
Though Flora’s tale is light-hearted, and she’s built herself a good life with her work, her comfortable home, her friends and dog, she started life in a very uncertain way. I loved her sense of strength and adventure, not to mention her humor and fashion sense! And I really want her dog…
If you’d like to look a little more into the life of Flora’s Victorian London, here are a few sources I enjoy:
- -Christopher Hibbert, Life in Victorian England (2016)
- –Judith Flanders, The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London (2014)
- –Michael Paterson, A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain (2013)
- –Jennifer Phegley, Courtship and Marriage in Victorian England (2011)
- –Kelley Graham, Gone to the Shops: Shopping in Victorian England (2008)
Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)
She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Oklahoma with a menagerie of two cats, a Pug, and a very bossy miniature Poodle, along with far too many books.
When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.