Riana was born in South Africa, but has lived in Canda since she was eight years old. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and is a classical musician. She and her family live in Toronto (I love that city, I honeymooned there!) and she enjoys photography, reading, and cooking when she’s not writing. Riana is the author of the Miss Mary Investigates series. Her books are available in ebook and paperback. Visit her Website to find out where to get her books. And don’t forget to follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about her books, visit her Amazon Page.
Let’s find out more about Riana and her books…
What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
I’ve always loved mysteries. I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five books, and as I grew older, I loved matching wits with Hercule Poirot and Inspector Alleyn. I never thought I’d be able to write a mystery, but the idea was always there in my head.
My second love is historical fiction, and specifically Regency-era fiction. I’m a Jane Austen fan and have written several romances inspired by her works. One day I had the idea that I could set a mystery in the world of Austen’s novels, and the pieces just begin to click together. My two loves were united in one series.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
My stories are set during the Regency era in England. Because they are part of the world of Jane Austen’s six novels, they have rather specific dates. The first one, Death of a Clergyman, is set in Hertfordshire in the year 1811, in the fictional world of Pride and Prejudice.
Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen
My protagonist is Mary Bennet, the boring and forgotten middle sister from Austen’s famous novel. Mary is the one who spouts sermons and plays the piano really badly, but what if there’s more to her? What if, instead of being a pedantic bore, she’s aching for attention? And what if, because she’s so ignored, she is able to see and hear things that other people don’t? Throw in Alexander Lyons, a young investigator from London, who might not be quite what he seems, and you have a duo that readers have come to love.
What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
My mysteries are perfect for people who love Austen and Regency romance, as well as a cracking plot. Each mystery in my series is set in a different one of Austen’s novels, although the two sleuths are the same, moving in the society that Austen created so beautifully. The stories, while separate from Austen’s original creations, shed new light on her characters, while keeping to their essences.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
For me, writing historical fiction is all about the research! I know the era well, but there is always a huge amount of extra reading that I need to do before starting to write. Some of the research involves investigative techniques of the time, or what poisons were available where, or how long it would take to ride a horse from Point A to Point B without killing the horse. Some of the research involves reading legal precedent from the times, or reading accounts of London’s slums or great estates out in the counties.
A lot of this research informs my stories, and a lot makes it into the novels, but I do try to keep it organic and part of the story. I won’t write a treatise on slavery laws, for example, but I might have my characters discuss some aspects that are important to the plot. I take the history part of historical research seriously, but ultimately, mysteries are about entertainment and I want to keep it fun.
Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
In essence, I don’t think the crimes are that different. The details might vary to account for changes in technology, but crime is (sadly) an intrinsic part of humanity. The big motives – money, love, and power – transcend time. If someone is intent on murder, he or she will use what is available, and as often as not, the details are less important than the impetus. What does differ is the science available to the investigator. For my characters, working over 200 years ago, there are no surveillance cameras, no fingerprints, no DNA evidence. But they have the most important tools – intelligence, careful questions, sharp eyes, and burning curiosity.
I hope you are enjoying meeting these new authors. And learning a bit of history too.