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Introducing Dianne Freeman: A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder

I’m thrilled to introduce fellow Authors18 member Dianne Freeman to talk about her debut cozy mystery A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. The novel is about Victorian widow Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, who is dealing with a high society burglar, a marriage-mad sister, and a murder. When the London season turns deadly, she fears one of her sister’s suitors may be the killer. Frances must rally her wits and a circle of gossiping friends and enemies to unmask the culprit before she becomes his next victim. I just finished reading this novel and loved every minute of it!
CH: First, that amazing title! How did you come up with it?
DF: I had half a dozen terrible titles. None of them expressed the spirit or even the content of the book. Finally, I gave a few options to a Facebook group I belonged to. Over the course of an evening, about thirty friends threw out suggestions and variants of suggestions. After a little wine and a lot of laughs, we came up with A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder.
CH: How long did you take to write this book?
DF: It took about two years from the time I began the first draft to the time I found my agent, but I did remodel a kitchen between drafts three and four. I did one more revision with my agent which took about a month. Then she worked her magic and sold the book in three days.
CH: I know how intensive the research process can be for historical fiction. What kind of research did you do for A Lady’s Guide?
DF: I spent a lot of time in the newspaper archives, much of it researching things that were totally unnecessary but I find this era fascinating and I distract easily. Since I mention specific dates in the novel, I did think it necessary to find out if any major events took place during that week that my characters would have taken note of. It was also important to understand the technology of the day. How did one send information quickly from London to New York? What was photography like at the time? I needed to know not just when something was invented, but when was it available and if my characters were likely to use it.
CH: That last point is really important: it drives me crazy when characters in historical novels use new technology practically the minute after it was invented! What did you remove from the book during the editing process?
DF: A lot of backstory. It was a good exercise to write it, since it really helped me to get into my main character’s head, but it was nothing anyone would want to read.
CH: What is your favorite part of your writing process?
DF: I write mystery and really enjoy plotting the crime—the who, what, where, when, why, and how. I love being devious—on paper.
CH: What is the most challenging part of your writing process?
DF: The first draft. Even with an outline first drafts are hard.
CH: I agree. Nothing is harder than a first draft. Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

DF: I don’t think it’s really writer’s block, but when I get stuck on a plot point or a piece of dialog that isn’t working I’ll take a walk. Something about getting away from my desk and moving helps me think. Usually by the time I get home, I’ve worked out my problem.
CH: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
DF: Twenty or so years ago, I wrote two romance novels that were so awful I buried them in the back yard. And then I moved!
CH: Do you have any writing quirks?
DF: I bury bad manuscripts in the back yard?
CH: Ha! That will be a fun discovery for the new (or future) homeowner. How did you get into writing?
DF: Writing just seemed like a natural spin-off from reading. It’s always been a hobby for me. When I retired I was thrilled to have the time to write an actual novel. Because my husband is also retired, I don’t have as much time as I thought I would.
CH: What are you working on right now?
DF: I just finished book 2 in the series, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder.
Thanks for this interview, Dianne. I’m thrilled to hear that book 2 is on its way because I can’t wait to read more of Frances’s adventures!
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder is available for purchase here.
If you’d like to connect with Dianne online, you can find her at the links below:


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