Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
Veronica and I met on Twitter last year when I first joined up on the #WritingCommunity there. I was "bedazzled" by her book teasers, tags and "glamorous" GIFs. I just read her debut cozy mystery novel, The Crown for Castlewood Manor, this month and wanted to talk with her about her book, her series and what inspired her to write it!
Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi Veronica, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Veronica: Hi Shanna, thank you for having me as your guest! I’m a full time writer these days who loves to travel (the colder the destination the better!), read, and have a good time with friends and family (which includes my two cats, Daisy and Ebbie 😊).
I’ve always done technical writing during my engineering and software careers and have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. I was fortunate enough to ‘retire’ early and decided I was going to go out on a limb and see if I could put my little gray cells to work and write a cozy mystery. I started in 2016 and haven’t looked back!
Me: That’s wonderful, Veronica. How awesome! What inspired you to write The Crown for Castlewood Manor?
Veronica: I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey, and after the 6th season ended I had to find a way to still experience the joys, adventures, sorrows and dangers that I had come to depend on from my beloved show. I have always heard it was best to write about the things you love, so that words will flow. I took inventory of all the things that made me feel inspired, thrilled, and delighted as a watcher of DA, and reader in the cozy mystery world, and transformed them to fit into my fictional world at the Cherrywood Hall estate in the English countryside. I asked the question, “Would you want a period drama series filmed at your home?” My writer’s mind took off from there…
Me: So cool! Which character in your series is your favorite? Why?
Veronica: I love my main character, Gemma Lancaster Phillips, PhD. I can empathize with some of her personal dilemmas (love life, career) and I thoroughly enjoy the world she’s fortunate enough to live in! She’s a young woman of privilege who finds herself by going back to her ancestral home, re-connecting with her British family members, meeting some very nice (and not so nice) people, and just maybe, find the man of her dreams. I love seeing how she reacts to the situations I put her in—I have to say, I’m quite impressed, LOL!
Me: Ha ha, nice! Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Veronica: I have bits and pieces of me in all my characters (I kind of know where Gemma gets her love of boots from, ahem). I use traits, mannerisms, and personalities from people I’ve met, both the good and the bad. I keep a log of expressions, phrases, etc. that I think are unique—you never know when they might be used!
Me: So true! I think we put a part of ourselves into each character! It just sorta happens. So, what are you working on now?
Veronica: I just finished the 4th book in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. I’m in the editing phase now…dun-dun-dun!
Me: Ah, yes the lovely editing phase…(banging head against a counter! LOL) Now, how many books are there going to be in the My Almost Royal American Cousin series?
Veronica: Initially I was planning for 7-10 books. I love writing a series because you get to know the characters and watch them develop. I know how I will end the series, and I may try an off-shoot for the next book—I’m still deciding 😊. Need to keep things interesting for myself and readers!
Me: Yes, series are so much fun! Love how they kinda spin off on their own! LOL! So, you write full time now? When do you get your writing in?
Veronica: I do write full time these days. I like to write early in the morning, but when I’m in full book mode, you just never know. The cats are used to coming downstairs with me at 1am or sleeping during the day. I’ve learned to strike while the inspiration is hot!
Me: Yes, agreed! Gotta take advantage of when those ideas when they are flowing. Now, tell me a bit about book 4. Does it have a title yet? When is its debut?
Veronica: Book 4 sees some major changes occurring at Cherrywood Hall for many of the characters. There was a big cliffhanger at the end of the 3rd book, Deadly Receptions; the Debut of Castlewood Manor. It was decision time for me as a writer—how far should I go? I’m still going back and forth with the title, hope to decide soon. As for the release, I’m shooting for an early July date. The 4th book takes place during Christmas/New Year’s, so we’ll have a ‘Christmas in July’ party!
Me: Ooh, sounds exciting! What drew you to the mystery genre?
Veronica: I’ve always loved mysteries—started with Trixie Belden when I was a girl and went on from there. I prefer cozy style mysteries vs. true crime—we get enough of that in real life, IMO. In the cozy world bad things happen (really bad things…) but life goes on around them, usually sipping tea or sherry, LOL. I have a lot of food scenes in my stories—the characters are often together at breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner. It’s a good way to get the dialogue flowing, and clues/insights exchanged.
Me: Ah, ha, yes! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Veronica: I adore Dame Agatha Christie, especially her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories. Rhys Bowen is another favorite (Her Royal Spyness series). Since I became active on Twitter in 2018, I’ve been able to read many other authors and genres (including you, LUV Abundance!), and I love it! I try and read 1-2 books/week and do reviews. It’s my way of staying current and giving a little thank you to the #WritingCommunity.
Me: Yes, agreed! I’m so glad I found all these amazing writers… and their work! It’s been fun and exciting! Aww, thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book :-D So, what do you love about writing?
Veronica: I love meeting new characters and their worlds. I try and give a lot of detail in my books and being able to travel helps a lot with the setting descriptions. I enjoy sneaking to the locations my characters go to in my stories. It’s fun to sit in the ‘exact’ spot where events/conversations take place in your books, seeing the room from their perspective.
Me: That’s awesome! I can tell you put a lot of detail into your settings ;-) Alright, final question, Veronica: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Veronica: For my writing life: I’m looking forward to the querying process, which I hope to start in the next few weeks (agent and publisher). It’s time to see how far my series can go. I will continue with the marketing and promos for the series (I just had book trailers completed for the 3 published books, I love them!). Most likely book 5 will be started too. 😊
For my personal life: Travel, travel, and more travel. Hubby and I have some fantastic trips lined up this year for our 20th wedding anniversary and I can’t wait!
Thank you very much for inviting me in as your guest, Shanna!
Crowns and Kisses,
Me: Wonderful! And thank you, Veronica! Happy travels and best of luck to you in your book ventures! It’s truly been a pleasure.
You can find Veronica’s books, My American Almost Royal Cousin series, (click on the pictures below) on Amazon in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback formats.
Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British cozy murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor is the first book in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series, followed by Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor. The third book in the series, Deadly Receptions: the Debut of Castlewood Manor was released on February 1, 2019. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.
You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and Bookbub as well as her blog.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that chills, thrills and warms her heart. She enjoys supporting her fellow indies authors too.