The Black Swan Interviews Andrea Penrose

Okay, the Black Swan has been squawking about me stealing her quill, so made a deal—she would come up with a couple of creative interview questions . . . and in return I’ll give her feather back! So without further ado, I’ll hand the quill pen to her. (Ha, ha, ha.)

BS: Be careful what you wish for! Being intimately acquainted with your writing process, I happen to know you have some very sneaky little tricks to get the daily word count done. How about you share one or two?

AP: Alright, alright—sometimes when I’m really struggling with a scene, I get a bar of Lindt Swiss chocolate (Right now, Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt is the current favorite) and break it into little squares. Then I let the Muse have a bite for every paragraph finished. I admit that’s blatant bribery, but the Muse doesn’t always play nice, so fair’s fair—especially when one is on deadline!

BS: Any tricks that don’t involve chocolate?

AP: Ummm . . . in my experience, there’s no problem—writing or otherwise—that can’t be solved by chocolate.

BS: Let’s move on to inspiration. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?

AP: I’m like a magpie who collects shiny little baubles of arcane information from the all sorts of different places which eventually hatch into plot ideas. For example, I love visiting London and exploring all the wonderful museums, including the smaller, esoteric ones (favorites include the Docklands Museum, the Guards Museum and the Museum of London.) A miniature portrait painted on ivory, a dueling pistol, a elaborate puzzle lock—the smallest thing can spark an “ah-ha!” moment, and provide sudden inspiration for a plot twist.

BS: Okay, say I pluck you out of London and strand you on a remote desert island—what five books would take with you?

 AP: FIVE? Only five? I don’t think it’s humanly possible to choose just five.

BS (flapping her wings): Hey, don’t be a wiseguy.

 AP: Sorry, but the mind boggles at the thought. Nonetheless, I’ll give it a try:

  1. The Complete Works of Jane Austen. (Okay, okay, I know that’s cheating a little, but hey, I might be there for a while.)
  2. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Because it always makes me laugh.)
  3. The Birth of the Modern by Paul Johnson. (It’s such a fascinating, sweeping history of the world in the early 1800s)
  4. Art by Andrew Graham-Dixon (Because I have an art background and love visual as well as written creativity.)
  5. Harry Potter-Years 1 through 7 by J. K. Rowling (Yes, yes, I’m cheating again!)

BS: Now can I have my feather back?

AP: Oh, but Charlotte Sloane is just starting her second adventure and she has a lot of drawing to do! Can we please hold on to it for a little while longer?



“Thoroughly enjoyable!” —Deanna Raybourn

In Regency London, an unconventional scientist and a fearless female artist form an unlikely alliance to expose unspeakable evil . . .

The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. He does not suffer fools gladly. So when pompous, pious Reverend Josiah Holworthy publicly condemns him for debauchery, Wrexford unsheathes his rapier-sharp wit and strikes back. As their war of words escalates, London’s most popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, skewers them both. But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect.

An artist in her own right, Charlotte Sloane has secretly slipped into the persona of her late husband, using his nom de plume A.J. Quill. When Wrexford discovers her true identity, she fears it will be her undoing. But he has a proposal—use her sources to unveil the clergyman’s clandestine involvement in questionable scientific practices, and unmask the real murderer. Soon Lord Wrexford and the mysterious Mrs. Sloane plunge into a dangerous shadow world hidden among London’s intellectual enclaves to trap a cunning adversary—before they fall victim to the next experiment in villainy . . .

“Thoroughly enjoyable . . . with sharp, engaging characters, rich period detail, and a compellingly twisty plot, Andrea Penrose delivers a winner . . . Fans of C.S. Harris and Kate Ross will be rooting for Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford. Devilishly good fun!” —Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author

“Fans of C.S. Harris take note! In this new, Regency-set mystery series, the artist Charlotte Sloane and the scientist Earl of Wrexford are the perfect mismatched pair of sleuths. A riveting ride through Regency London, from the slums of St. Giles, to the mansions of Mayfair.” —Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author

“A wonderfully engaging Regency mystery, with a most determined heroine and an engaging pair of street urchins at her side. Historical chemistry meets alchemy, and only a nonchalant nobleman can help solve the murder. A delight of a book.” —Joanna Bourne, award-winning author