Message From The Author
RHYS BOWEN TALKS ABOUT ROYAL BLOOD, THE FOURTH ROYAL SPYNESS MYSTERY
If you had to sum up the story of my new Royal Spyness book in one sentence, I suppose it would be Lady Georgie meets vampires. Quite a departure from the drawing rooms of Buckingham Palace and her Scottish Castle.
I’m not quite sure why there is this fascination with vampires. I mean, would we really want to be bitten in the neck and find ourselves undead? But we love to read about it from the safety of book pages, don’t we? I suppose it’s because they are the ultimate tall, dark and handsome heroes, the bad boys we could never take home to mom and knew would never make good husband material, and yet we lusted after them anyway because they were not quite to be trusted and they represented the thrill of danger and forbidden fruit.
Whatever the reason, vampires are really big in literature these days so I thought it was about time I had a little fun with the whole vampire genre. What if my heroine, Lady Georgie, was asked to represent the royal family at a wedding in Europe, I thought. And what if that wedding turned out to be in Transylvania, at a remote castle in the mountains… and wolves were howling and it was snowing and there was a big locked chest in her room and when she looked out of the window, something was crawling up the castle wall? Now we know that Georgie already has one tall, dark and handsome man in her life—the dashing and slightly dangerous Darcy O’Mara. So how would she feel about an encounter with a handsome vampire?
I don’t know about you, but I love to be scared and amused at the same time. My favorite movies are those like Charade and Foul Play when I can laugh but still be on the edge of my seat. So that was what I wanted to achieve when I wrote Royal Blood, Lady Georgie’s fourth adventure. I’ve been having a ball with all the Royal Spyness books because they give me a chance to poke gentle fun at the English class system as well as so many quaint, weird and wonderful elements of English life that I really miss now that I live in America.
Her Royal Spyness came into being because my editors wanted me to write a big dark standalone novel. I thought seriously about this, considered serial killers and terrorists about to blow up the New York water supply. Then I asked myself whether I really wanted to spend six months of my life with these people and the answer was NO. So I came up with the most unlikely sleuth I could think of: what if she was a minor royal in 1930s England but she was penniless? I know a lot about penniless aristocrats because I married into a family who used to own several stately homes and have lost them all. But they still behave as if they are just a little different from ordinary mortals. The cousins have funny nicknames. They still tell stories about the silly pranks they played on the butler and the balls they attended. They think it’s normal to have twenty or thirty sit down to Sunday lunch.
And so I created Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, great granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She’s thirty fourth in line to the throne but she has no money and no way of earning any. She wouldn’t be allowed to take a normal job, even if there were jobs, because it’s the time of the great depression, but she doesn’t want to live with family members as a sort of unpaid companion either. She wants to make her own way in the world, to be an independent woman. During the three novels I have written before Royal Blood she has tried various unsuccessful ways of making money. She has tried cleaning houses. She inadvertently once set up an escort service with disastrous results. In this book she doesn’t have to, and she even gets a proposal from a prince—the dreaded Prince Siegfried whom she calls Fishface and who has tried to get her to marry him before. But frankly she’d rather take her chances with an undead beau than with this particular prince!
Not only are there undead dangers in the book, there is a real and living murderer lurking in the castle. A repulsive womanizing field marshal is poisoned at a banquet and it is up to Georgie, with Darcy secretly helping her, to find out who wants to thin the ranks of the royals at the party. I have brought in all the classic vampire elements to this story, and had a lot of fun doing it. I’m not going to tell you whether the vampires are real or not. You’ll have to read the book for yourselves. It goes on sale on September 7th and I’ll be traveling all over the US on tour during September. My schedule is on my website, www.rhysbowen.com, I hope to see some of you.
- Rhys Bowen
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