Deanna Raybourn Q&A and Give Away!

I have a special treat here today for Thursday Give Away: the wonderful Deanna Raybourn was generous enough to take the time to pop over here to chat about her books– and donate a copy of her upcoming release, A Spear of Summer Grass!

Like another book you might have heard a bit about recently, A Spear of Summer Grass is set in Kenya in the 1920s….

Without further ado, Deanna!

–What drew you to 1920s Kenya?

It’s a time and place I’ve always been enthralled by. In between writing books, I have certain pet subjects—about thirty of them!—that I go back to time and time again, and colonial Kenya is one of those subjects. When my editor told me I had carte blanche to write about whatever I wanted, I immediately zeroed in on that time and that place because it was the perfect excuse to geek out over one of my favorite subjects because I had to do it for work. What better justification is there than that? I pulled all the books about Africa in the 1920s from my TBR pile, grabbed an armful of old favorites off my shelves, and ordered a few dozen more that I hadn’t gotten my hands on yet. By the time I was finished, I had amassed a collection of about sixty books and I devoured them. I love the juxtaposition of the different types of people who gathered there. Establishing a colony is a difficult thing; it calls for people who are daring and courageous and perhaps a little reckless. If you aren’t resourceful and clever and dauntless, you won’t survive, so colonials tend to be extremely colorful people with tremendous stories and larger-than-life personalities. And in British East Africa, there was this magical mixture of aristocrats and farmers and fallen women and bureaucrats and daredevils that was just too delicious not to write about.

— After all those years of Lady Julia, was it odd writing about someone else?

Not entirely—I have written another stand alone, The Dead Travel Fast. But that stand alone was also Victorian, so the real difference came in changing a Victorian heroine for a twentieth century flapper with some serious baggage! Delilah has a lot of attitude, all of it bad, but with good reason. She’s been through some devastating experiences, and like a lot of people emerging from the Great War, she’s got scars. In one scene she confides to a friend, “’I’m dancing on broken glass. I’m Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, Kit. A frothy, expensive, mice-eaten confection. I’m the Sphinx’s nose, the fallen Colossus. I’m a beautiful ruin, and it’s time that’s done the deed.” But in spite of her wounds, Delilah puts on her red lipstick and her dancing shoes and walks with her head up. She’s determined to show her best face, and there’s something courageous about her that makes me feel protective. She’s not easy to like, but when you dig below the surface, there’s something fine underneath.

— Will we see Delilah Drummond again in City of Jasmine?

No, Delilah’s story is finished with A Spear of Summer Grass. In City of Jasmine, I have a new heroine—an English aviatrix named Evangeline Stark who heads to Damascus in 1923 to find the husband she buried five years before—a husband who has somehow turned up very much alive.

— What time period do you most want to set a book in?

I would dearly love to write a French Revolution book—I have the plot completely outlined and I know the main characters, but it’s going to take a long time to assemble all the research and it isn’t time to write that book yet. It’s roughed out to cover about fifteen years, so it will be my magnum opus! It may well be something I work on between contracted novels since I don’t have the faintest idea how long it will take to write. I’ve always liked the idea of having a project to putter with between other books, and this would be perfect for that.

— What’s next for you?

I’m writing the next Julia Grey holiday novella—this one is set at Midsummer and will be published this fall. And I’m also developing the proposal for my next novel which I’m hugely excited about. It’s in the very early stages yet, and I can’t talk until the proposal is done, but it’s the novel I’ll be writing through the autumn of this year, and I expect it will be something quite new for me.

To learn more about A Spear of Summer Grass and the Lady Julia books and novellas, visit Deanna on her website. (I particularly recommend her blog, which is always great fun.)

If you’re in the New York area, you can see us do our song and dance routine together on June 4 at the Mysterious Bookshop (6:00, 58 Warren Street) where Deanna will be talking about A Spear of Summer Grass and I’ll be talking about The Ashford Affair— and whatever else pops into our heads on the spur of the moment, which is the way it usually goes.

And now on to the important bit…. To win a copy of A Spear of Summer Grass, just leave a comment in the Comments section below. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

Thanks so much, Deanna, for coming to visit! A Spear of Summer Grass makes its appearance in bookstores on Tuesday, April 30th.


  1. Jessica S. on April 25, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Sounds like a great read, maybe I need to go on a Kenyan reading kick, interspersed with As Time Goes By…

  2. Pamela V on April 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Always nice to get an update from some of my favorite authors. I look forward to reading your next book.

  3. Jessica C on April 25, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Interesting Q and A! A Spear of Summer Grass sounds fascinating, and I wish you the best of luck with your magnum opus on the French Revolution!

  4. Christine on April 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I know I’ve been whiny about not having time to read more books, but this is one I’ve been looking forward to.

  5. Pam on April 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Excellent Q and A! I picked up The Dead Travel Fast a couple of years ago on your (Lauren’s) recommendation and Deanna Raybourn has quickly become one of my very favorite authors. I wish I could be in NYC to see your tandem talk and I can’t wait to read both of your Kenya books!

  6. Ashley on April 25, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I would love to win this one – it sounds great!

    I hate that I can’t be in NYC to see your “song and dance.” I love watching the two of you do Q&As together!

  7. BeckyS on April 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

    This sounds wonderful! I would love a chance to read it. Thanks for the great interview!

  8. jen on April 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Oooh, fun! An interview by one of my fave authors *with* one of my fave authors!

  9. Bevin on April 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I just finished The Ashford Affair, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading another novel set in the same time period! I’ve a hold on A Spear of Summer Grass at the library, but would love to win my own copy!

  10. Danielle Rush on April 25, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I am excited to read both of your new books!

  11. Lia on April 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Let me win, let me win!!

  12. Caroline on April 25, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Huge fan of Deanna’s work and I can’t wait to read “A Spear of Summer Grass”!

  13. Amanda on April 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Would love to win this one!

  14. Jillian on April 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Geeking out a bit here. Two of my favorite authors! It looks like I have another book to add to my to read list!

  15. Georgia on April 25, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I am so looking forward to reading Spear of Summer Grass. I thoroughly adored the prequel.

  16. Diane on April 25, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The tought of taking a trip to Kenya is excitung.
    Sorry to say I can’t. However a great book set in Kenya is a gift to the mind. I would love it.

  17. Lisa Wingearsd on April 25, 2013 at 11:47 am

    So excited! Two great authors and two great new books!

  18. Susan on April 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I have only read a few books from the era and location, so I enjoyed getting your insight on the characters. I have enjoyed the Lady Julia series, and I wish you the best on your future projects!

  19. Polet on April 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Wow, Delilah sounds like a lot of fun! I love female characters with attitude. And best of luck with the French Revolution book (I’ve always been partial to that time period, as I’m born on Bastille Day).

  20. Rebecca B. on April 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I love that two of my favorite authors are actually friends in real life. I don’t know why, but it makes me happy 🙂

  21. Vee R. on April 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I had a wonderful weekend in Kenya reading “The Ashford Affair” and “Far in the Wilds” and look forward to another weekend in Kenya when “A Spear of Summer Grass” (finally) gets here!

  22. Morgan J. on April 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Definitely excited to hear about the “magnum opus”. Less than a week until I get my hands on ASOSG one way or another 🙂

  23. Lesley on April 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I love her books and she is so down to earth! Hope the book is number one for a very long time!!!

  24. Linda on April 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve just finished (and loved) The Ashford Affair and can’t wait for A Spear of Summer Grass. I adore British Colonial Africa!

  25. angela jones on April 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Can’t wait for release!

  26. Katie R. on April 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I am looking forward to reading this book!

  27. Nicola Burke on April 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Love your julia grey series ..can’t wait to read this one

  28. Vanessa on April 25, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Ooh A Spear of Summer Grass sounds fascinating!

  29. Jorie on April 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I must express that The Roaring Twenties holds a special spot in my heart, both for literary wanderings and for setting of time – it’s singularly one of the best periods for writers and artists alike! I admit, my knowledge of British East Africa is limited, if I can recollect anything at all, which is why it’s my full intent to dig into your narrative with both open eyes and an open heart! Not to worry,… if I am not pulled in the draw, my local library has already purchased your book and its inbound!! I’ll be reading it right after The Ashford Affair, which originally I didn’t realise shared a connection with A Spear of Summer Grass, as I hadn’t known of the connection between the writers, or of the cunning inspirational hitchings that they both had at the very same time! I thought it grand, that you both winked into view during the same month! What happy mirth for your collective readership! 🙂 🙂

    And, I am happy to report, “Ashford” has arrived, and is awaiting my eyes to dash upon it’s contents! 🙂 Thank you for offering this wicked sweet giveaway!

    In closing,… I adore the French Revolution as a time setting, and like everyone else, I am looking keenly ahead to see what you give us in that venture!

  30. Pat D on April 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I love your stories Deanna! Looking forward to this one and all future ones.

  31. Caitlin W on April 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I love both of you so much and have read all your books. I loved Lauren’s new book and cannot wait until Deanna’s!

  32. Rachel on April 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I’m loving all these books set in 1920s Kenya!

  33. bn100 on April 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Interesting setting for the book

  34. Kim on April 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the Q&A and congrats on the new release. I’m a fan of the Lady Julia novels and hope you write that book set in the French Revolution. That time period is fascinating.

  35. Am7 on April 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I like the idea of something new!
    Good Luck!

  36. Sheila on April 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    It sounds terrific!

  37. Melissa Roberts on April 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Two of my very favorite authors talking together! In just the past year I discovered both of your series, and while I can’t believe it took me this long, I’m so glad I haven’t had to wait and wait for new books. But now I’m all caught up and can’t wait for this new release! You are both amazing authors!

  38. Doris F. on April 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Delilah’s line is divine. I am particularly fond of all allusions to Miss Havisham and her decrepit cake and am excited to read the book in its entirety.

  39. Jodi K on April 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Great Q&A with Deanna. I can’t wait to read Spear of Summer Grass and City of Jasmine!

  40. Jodi K on April 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Great questions and answers! I can’t wait to read Spear of Summer Grass and City of Jasmine!

  41. jamie on April 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Ok, City of Jasmine sounds fantastic!! I love reading about that time period in the middle east. I read the pre novella to Spear of Summer Grass and can’t hardly wait to finish the story 🙂 Having my own copy would be lovely.
    ps. LOVED Ashford Affair.

  42. Ashley on April 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I can’t wait for A Spear of Summer Grass to come out. I’m a huuuuge Deanna Raybourn fan…it’s funny but all my favorite authors have turned out to be friends! Thanks for hosting the Q&A Lauren!

  43. Amy on April 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    So looking forward to this book!

  44. Deanna Raybourn on April 25, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks so much for the book love! And huge thanks to Lauren for inviting me to hang out on her blog today. One update: after I answered these questions, I decided to link CITY OF JASMINE to A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS. So, the stories will have a few connections, and the prequel novella will include Delilah! Because you can never have enough disgraced flapper, can you? Good luck in the giveaway and happy reading!

  45. Amanda V on April 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Just finished Ashford Affair tonight (which I adored) and can’t wait to start another book set in Kenya.

  46. Amy on April 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Spear hasn’t even come out yet, and I’m already anticipating the release of City of Jasmine. What (another) wonderful premise!

  47. Amy on April 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    A Spear of Summer Grass hasn’t even come out yet, and I’m already anticipating the release of City of Jasmine. What another wonderful premise!

  48. Stephanie on April 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Looking forward to reading this one! The Lady July books are just one of the great recommendations I’ve gotten from Lauren and her readers, so I’m sure Spear of Summer Grass will be great.

  49. Lynne on April 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Whatever you write, Deanna, will suit me. But i do look forward to more of Lady Julia and Brisbane. They and her family are just the best!

  50. Lauren R. on April 25, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Dear Deanna and Lauren,
    I would totally be lying if I said that your names played no part in my being drawn to your books. You see, my first and middle names are Lauren and Deann. But together, you have opened up whole new vistas for me. Were it not for your books, I wouldn’t currently be exploring the romance genres, nor Victorian-set fiction, nor certain fantasy novels; heck, recently I even read a Jen Lancaster memoir (and loved it) which is completely out of character for me. As much as I love both of your books, it is the other books that they have exposed me to that make it super awesome, like a Kinder Egg. Because of both your books, my To Read list is like a really complicated family tree! <3 thanks!

  51. Paige on April 26, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Disgraced flapper? Count me in! A Spear of Summer Grass is now officially on my want to read list.

  52. Zoey on April 26, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Sounds fun! Just what I need.

  53. Marilyn on April 26, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Please enter me in the giveaway. I enjoyed the Article.

  54. Deanna Raybourn on April 26, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Just noticed that the post shows a release date for A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS as May 30–it’s actually APRIL 30. That’s right; the book is out in FOUR DAYS! Can y’all tell I’m excited??

    • Jorie on April 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Ms. Raybourn,

      I noticed that myself, but forgot to post about it! And, then I thought, did the bump it back!? As I remembered via the other blog(s) I’ve seen you on recently, like Tracy Grant? That it was set to launch the same month as Ashford! Hence my comments as such! I’m super stoked!! My library has it inbound!! I hope I’m lucky to be in the first 10 to read!

  55. Robyn on April 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Great Q&A. Loved to hear more about Deanna. Her books are great too!!!!

  56. Robyn on April 26, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Can’t wait to read A Spear of Summer Grass!!! (But still……. Brisbane! I <3 u 4eva)

  57. Nathalie on April 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I’ve had a soft spot for books set during the twenties since I read Dorothy Sayers. I would love to win a copy of the book.

  58. Rose T. on April 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Looking forward to new characters and new places and lots of excitement.

  59. Bonnie on April 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    GREAT INTERVIEW!!! I love your books! Can’t wait to read the new book “Spear of Summer Grass” and I would love an autographed copy! Also waiting for the novellas in the Fall!!

    Your Devoted Reader,

  60. Anne Burner on April 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Loved the interview…throwing my hat into the ring for the book. ^_^ So looking forward to it.

  61. Yvette Recktenwald on April 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I have been interested in early-ish 20th century Africa mysteries since I ran into Elspeth Huxley’s books. She wrote a series of mysteries set in 1930’s Africa, and they were shown on PBS’s Mystery about a million years ago. (And she wrote the Flame Trees of Thika.)

  62. Lynn T on April 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I am so excited to read both these books! Wish I could be in New York to see Lauren and Deanna in person, I saw them last year and they were even more awesome in person!

  63. Susan on April 27, 2013 at 2:28 am

    This one’s definitely on my wish list.

  64. Poof Books on April 28, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I so enjoyed my time at your website, big fan of your series and now you have introduced me to your song and dance partner, Deanna Raybourn for which I am grateful. I would love to come see you gals on June 4th but it is a bit far to travel. If only I could get that transportor working.

  65. Anna on April 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Great interview and it looks like a interesting book. I will have to put it on my to-read list.

  66. Megan on April 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Great Q and A, can’t wait for the book to come out!

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