Rhys Bowen’s mysteries have been nonimated for every major mystery award including the Edgar and she has won both Agatha Anthony and MacAvity awards. She currently writes two series: The Molly Murphy Mysteries, featuring a brash Irish immigrnt sleuth in early nineteen hundreds New York City, and the lighter, funnier Royal Spyness books about a minor royal in the 1930s who is penniless and struggling to make her own way in a difficult world. The new book, Royal Blood is a Romantic Times Top Pick and the series has received starred reviews. It also has a movie option.
Rhys was born in Bath, England but enjoyed spending time in Wales with Welsh relatives as she grew up. She studied at London University and worked in BBC drama before being lured to Australian Broadcasting and meeting her future husband in Sydney. Together they set out for San Francisco and the rest–they say, is history. She has lived in the Bar Area ever since raising four children and writing a lot of books.*Rhys’s Latest book – Royal Blood (No. 4 in the Royal Spyness Mystery series) is out Today September 7th! *
PBD: How did you get started writing professionally?
RB: I’ve ben writing all my adult life. My first book came out in 1976 and was a children’s book.
PBD: How many books did you write before you were published?
RB: I wrote several earnest novels in college before I got the hang of it.
PBD: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
RB: I wanted to be an opera singer but my mother told me I’d never have the build. I wish I hadn’t listened to her.
PBD: What would you like people to know about you?
RB: I’m great at boogie boarding–and I’m also a fun person who likes to laugh and enoys hanging out with friends.
PBD: Your books are set in New York (Molly Murphy), Wales (Evan Evans), England and Scotland (Royal Spyness) what made you choose these locations? What kind of research did you do (if any) before writing the books?
RB: I chose Wales because it was obvious for me. A place I was very familiar with that made an exciting and different setting full of interesting quirky people. I chose New York because of a visit to Ellis Island and the desire to set a mystery there. And the Royal Spyness books are set all over Britain. I wanted to write about an unlikely sleuth so I thought a member of the royal family was about as unlikely as you can get.
I do lots of research for the Molly books. For the Royal Spyness novels the research usually involves listening to older family members talk and witnessing things happening in large English country houses. Luckily I married into the kind of family where Lady Georgie would feel right at home so I can pick up plenty of material.
PBD: Each of your lead characters is so unique, are there any similarities between them?
RB: Georgie and Molly both share a desire to make their own way in the world, to be independent. They are spunky and have strong sense of justice. Evan was just a decent man, the type you’d like to share a pint with in a pub.
PBD: Do you relate to any of your characters? Which?
RB: I suppose I’m a little like Molly in that I haven’t always thought before I speak and I have a strong sense of justice, but I am most like Geogie (Including the clumsiness, I confess)
PBD: You have written children’s books, historical novels, young adult books… why mysteries?
RB: Mysteries have always been what I like to read.
PBD: Can you share anything about the latest “Royal Spyness” novel (available today Sept. 7 2010)?
RB: The new book is called Royal Blood and it takes Georgie to represent the family at a royal wedding in Transylvania. I thought it would be great fun to spoof the whole vampire genre. I love to laugh and be scared at the same time so that’s what this book sets out to do.
…And we couldn’t let Rhys visit without answering a few PBD Proust questions 😉
PBD: What is your chief characteristic?
PBD: What you appreciate the most in your friends?
RB: Knowing that they are always there for me.
PBD: What is your main fault?
RB: Faults? What faults? I don’t think I have any! Okay, seriously, probably getting too upset over things.
PBD: What is “home” to you?
RB: Sitting around a dinner table with all my family, laughing, talking, sharing.
PBD: How would you wish to die?
RB: Of extreme old age… fall asleep one night and not wake up.
PBD: What is your motto?
RB: We actually have a family motto–Inter Utrumque tene–which means hold a middle course. Not a bad thing, but I think my motto is Follow your dream.
PBD: What is your greatest extravagance?
RB: I’m not a particularly extravagent person. I guess travel abroad is where I spent money. And I do love caviar and oysters.
PBD: What is your favorite journey?
RB: I have a new one. Along the coast from Nice to Monte Carlo, France.
PBD: On what occasion do you lie?
RB: Probably to spare someone’s feelings.
PBD: One thing you could never live without?
PBD: Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
RB: Frodo Baggins. Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Mr. Darcy. Falco. Inspector Gamache .. you see, I have eclectic taste!
PBD: Who are your favorite heroines in fiction?
RB: Elizabeth Bennett, Miss Marple, I’m sure there are plenty more but my brain is still jetlagged.
PBD: Real life heroes?
RB: Anyone who has the guts to stand up to injustice. Nelson Mandela has always impressed me with his quiet dignity.
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