Her latest book, the fifth in the Julia Grey series – The Dark Enquiry(read Noa’s review here) will be out tomorrow, and since, horror of horrors! Ms. Raybourn has never taken the Paperback Proust we decided it was about time to do something to change that…enjoy!
What are you reading at the moment?
DR: Justine Picardie’s biography of Coco Chanel.
Most recent splurge?
DR: I literally ordered shoes online about five minutes ago—butter yellow and gray heels to go with a dress I bought for RWA. When I was first published, I always made a point of wearing interesting shoes and now readers always want me to show my feet! I have even had readers identify me at conferences because of my shoes, so now I feel I have to up my game every time. I fear this is going to get costly…
What you appreciate the most in your friends?
DR: Loyalty and a lack of drama. I like people who are funny and intelligent and kind with a slightly warped sense of irony.
Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
DR: Atticus Finch, Frederick Wentworth, Rochester, Darcy, Julian Kestrel.
Who are your favorite heroines in fiction?
DR: Flora Poste, Amelia Peabody, Elizabeth Bennet, Precious Ramotswe, the Provincial Lady.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
DR: I used to adore Mary, Queen of Scots, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten progressively more annoyed by he r stupidity. I’m Team Elizabeth now. I have issues with quite a few Renaissance popes and most dictators. I also have a fairly active loathing for Henry VIII.
Who are your heroines in World history?
DR: Elizabeth I, Grace O’Malley, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Katherine Swynford. I should point out that I am slightly biased with regards to Katherine Swynford—she is my 17th great grandmother.
What is your present state of mind? Focused.
DR: I am immersed in research for my next project and loving every minute of it, but I am also learning how to put it down and focus on my family when they need to be the priority. Being an author calls for a very different skill set than being a writer, and after five years of being published I am finally learning to pull them all together!
What is your motto?
DR: “Specto subitus.” Expect the unexpected. The last time I was in Las Vegas I very nearly got it tattooed on my wrist because it shows itself almost every day in my life.
What is your greatest extravagance?
DR: I am a pragmatic hedonist. I would rather buy a peony with my last dollar than something practical, but I never let things get too far out of hand. I do like to travel, so if I’m going to splash out on something, it will usually be a trip. I also think it’s important to treat yourself on a daily basis—flowers, good tea, nice chocolates, fabulous perfume—whatever makes you happy.
DR: Life. It’s very easy to think of travel only in terms of journeys, but I think life is utterly wasted if you don’t stop and take a look around and figure out where you’re going and if that’s really where you want to end up. That life philosophy is courtesy of Ferris Bueller.
On what occasion do you lie?
DR: I don’t. I never want to hurt someone’s feelings, so I may only tell a small part of the truth, but whatever I tell will be the truth. Life is vastly simpler that way.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
DR: Imperfection. I think being content with uncertainty or loose ends or the little messes that life tends to throw at you is the secret to it all. If there is no such thing as perfection—and I don’t think there is—then you are free to be happy anytime with the imperfection of it all. You can’t live your life on the premise that you’ll be happy when X happens or when Y is over. Life is now, it’s here, it’s untidy. Be happy with that, and you can be happy always.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
DR: Something with wings—a butterfly or a showy little bird with some fascinating plumage.
What is your greatest regret?
DR: I don’t believe in regret. I think every choice brings you to where you are. If it’s a choice you wouldn’t make again, then you learned something and that is not a thing to be regretted. If it’s a choice you’re happy with, then there’s certainly nothing to regret there either.
When and where were you happiest?
DR: Any given moment. Many times I’ll be puttering away at work or hanging out with my family or even tidying up the house and it hits me that this is happiness, those quiet everyday moments that don’t come with a trumpet fanfare. It just tiptoes in and sits with you and waits for you to notice sometimes. A good meal and a nice glass of wine in a lovely setting don’t hurt either…
Which talent would you most like to have?
DR: Singing or drawing. I think either would give me immense pleasure and I am rubbish at both.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
DR: Raising an extraordinary daughter. She will be seventeen this year and she’s an absolute delight to be around—funny, smart, and kind. Being her parent has taught me everything I know about kindness and patience and empathy and gentleness. I’m also extremely proud of sticking it out and writing novels for fourteen years before I got published, but that kind of perseverance still doesn’t compare to raising a child!
More about Deanna: A sixth-generation native Texan, Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.
Fourteen years and many, many rejections after her first novel, she signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.