Saturday, November 22, 2014

Historical Fiction Blog Tours & Interview: Die I Will Not (S. K. Rizzolo)

Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback
Series: John Chase Mystery Series
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?
Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.

S.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

Die I Will Not explores royal scandal, 19th-century journalism, and dirty politics. As I researched these topics, I became fascinated by the idea of people struggling to retain their privacy under the relentless, ubiquitous gaze of the modern world—under the gaze of scandals that simply refuse to die. Perhaps readers can relate in our own era of 24-hour news cycles trumpeting the latest brouhaha.

2. Who is your favorite character in the book?

It’s hard to choose! I love that my three protagonists are human beings just trying to live meaningful lives and do the right thing. As a reader, I don’t want to spend time with people whom I can’t admire or even like, so I don’t want them center stage in my books. John Chase, my Bow Street Runner detective, is a man over 40, graying, with an untidy queue. A bit gruff, he has a much kinder heart than he himself realizes. 

My heroine Penelope Wolfe is part of the gentry—but her imprudent marriage has forced her to the fringes of Society. Her father is a radical philosopher. Her husband is a spendthrift artist. Her true love, Edward Buckler, is a barrister (a lawyer) who is chivalrous but not particularly dashing or self-assured. John Chase serves as an amused, envious, and somewhat disapproving bystander to this developing romance.

3. Which came first, the title or the novel?

They emerged together. I knew that I wanted to write about “Collatinus,” who employs an alias to write seditious letters in the press, so I needed to find a historical figure from Ancient Rome to fit the profile. Luckily, I soon stumbled upon Collatinus and his more famous wife, Lucretia. My title comes from Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, a poem about the rape of a Roman noblewoman by the king’s son in 509 BC. Afterwards, the virtuous Lucretia plunged a dagger into her own breast in order to cleanse her shame. To avenge her death, her husband Collatinus and his allies overthrew the monarchy and established the Roman republic. So essentially “die I will not” is Lucretia’s vow that she will not fade into oblivion until her reputation can be restored. In my novel the Lucretia figure is a doomed courtesan, whose tragic story forms the mystery plot.

4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

Well, I spent a lot of time on the courtroom scenes. The intricacies of English law are daunting to a writer, but I hope I’ve gotten most of the details right. In general, I’ve had fun exploring some of the off the beaten track aspects of life in Regency England. Readers familiar with the genre may expect an ordered world of darkly handsome, devil-may-care dukes and ballroom scenes—a sort of comedy of manners, which, by the way, I do appreciate. But I long ago decided that I don’t want to write along those lines.

5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

I learned that the goal is to produce the work to the best of my ability. Anything else is extra. And I’ve learned that I have to separate myself from the cultural din that surrounds us, the clamoring for our attention that everyone experiences today. Writing has always been a solitary pursuit, and I think that solitude and mental focus are absolutely necessary to the process.

6. What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I’m pleased that my publisher Poisoned Pen Press decided to reissue all three books in the series with brand new covers. The covers are now linked thematically through a recurring blood drop motif, and they’re quite beautiful!

7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

8. What was your favorite book in 2014?

A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

9. What’s up next for you?

I have started researching book #4 in the series. Having left Penelope Wolfe in a precarious position at the end of Die I Will Not, I will need to figure out how she will cope with her family problems while she helps solve a new mystery, of course! I have some exciting ideas for this new novel, which will center around a disputed inheritance.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add?

It’s been great to get to know other mystery and historical fiction readers and writers. That’s the best thing about Internet communities: you can befriend like-minded souls. Who knew that other people in the world actually enjoy living in the 19th century?

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