On the first Friday of November 2015, we are having breakfast with mystery author Anne Cleeland. Anne holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar.
She writes a contemporary mystery series set in Scotland Yard featuring detectives Acton and Doyle (Book Three is Murder in Hindsight), as well as a historical series set in the Regency period. A member of International Thriller Writers, The Historical Novel Society, and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children.
For this crisp November breakfast, I’m having holiday grapes, walnuts, a teeny seeded croissant and a square inch of apricot stilton. Anne, what are you having?
My favorite breakfast is when I get to order room service—you know, when you’re at a hotel, and you leave the card on the door the night before. For me, that is true decadence (and worth every overpriced penny.) Lucky I don’t travel very much, or I’d be sausage-shaped!
Now that’s something I’ve rarely done! So tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.
For me, it always starts with a conversation. Sometimes, I’m not sure who is speaking to who (whom?) but I go from conversation to conversation—the first draft is mostly dialogue and action, almost like a screenplay. Then, (once I’ve figured out what the plot is) I go back to the beginning, and put some meat on those bare bones. As my readers could probably tell you, I really don’t like description or details, because I think they slow down the story. I write linear, from Chapter One to the end; I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a chapter, or changed the order of the story. I revise and revise and revise; that’s the best advice I’d offer to a new writer—even when you think it’s perfect, go over it once more!
Tell us about the Doyle and Acton series. Why did you decide to write about British detectives?
I think it all started with Masterpiece Mystery! I love British detective shows.
And having a Scotland Yard setting is important for a couple of reasons; Acton is a well-respected chief inspector, brilliant and reclusive. However, Doyle, his rookie partner, is the only one who realizes that he’s breaking bad, and she tries to be his moral compass, with only mixed success. He gets away with what he gets away with because he has a title, and no one would suspect that a lord is a vigilante. There is also a romance between them, which is fun because she is working-class Irish, and a fish out of water in his aristocratic world. It also means there’s a Downton Abbey-like estate, and an evil dowager plotting in the background.
Downton Abbey has much to answer for. Another hot chocolate, Anne? What did you find fun/intriguing about writing Murder in Thrall, and what was difficult?
Murder in Thrall is the first book in the series, and the story is told from Doyle’s point of view. It was great fun to have her realize, little by little, that her boss was not at all what he seemed. It was also tricky, because there are a couple of big twists in the story, and I had to make sure I didn’t give them away.
The hardest part was researching the police procedures in London—I wanted to get it as accurate as I could. But I missed the fact that police tape is not yellow, it’s blue and white. (Thanks, English fans!)
Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.
I’ve also written a couple of historical adventure stories set in the Regency period; in fact, I’m serializing a free historical on my website—one chapter a week. Check it out, and see if you like it at www.annecleeland.com. I think we’re on Chapter 10 of The Bengal Bridegift.
With respect to Doyle & Acton, the fourth book is called Murder in Containment, and I don’t have a publish date as yet.
I highly recommend Tainted Angel for those seeking an intriguing Regency spy story and Daughter of the God-King for those who enjoy historical archeological novels like those written by Elizabeth Peters.
Thank you for visiting with us, Anne. I hope you all check out The Bengal Bridegift at her website! Let me pour us all another virtual cup of hot chocolate before you rush off to Amazon for Murder in Thrall or another book in her New Scotland Yard or Regency series.
Thanks a million, Michelle!
Learn more about Anne Cleeland at:
Website: www.annecleeland.com. You can order her books at your local bookstore or on Amazon at: