Hi Everyone, I am so excited to have Rachel McMillan on my blog today! She is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, A Van Buren and Deluca mysteries, and the novellas Love in Three Quarter Time and Starring Christmas.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I live in Toronto, Canada and work in educational publishing. I don’t have a husband and kids of my own but I dote on my two adorable nieces Maisie (3) and Ellie ( 1).
What hobbies and activities do you like to do?
I LOVE TO READ! I am a huge broadway nerd so I love to see musical theatre. I also enjoy traveling. I love writing. I also am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan! So baseball season is a favourite of mine.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl but unfortunately I am an early riser weekdays for work
Growing up, what did you see yourself doing as a career?
Definitely something bookish— I didn’t realize that it would be in Educational Publishing but that has worked out 🙂
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t creating stories or reading. So I don’t know if I can trace it back. I always loved to read and I always loved to imagine stories in my head and scribble them down.
Thank you for these great answers! I love that reading has been something you’ve loved your whole life. It’s great that you incorporated what you love into your job as well. Now let’s move onto what books you’ve written.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For my historical books, there is a LOT of research involved. And often (and this is the fun part) research trips. To use my new Van Buren and DeLuca series as an example, I travelled to Boston several times last year just for research. This included meeting with historians, looking at maps at the Massachusetts historical society, traveling to meet an expert on sculptor Cyrus Dallin and visiting the historical places I use in the series. Also, I watched a lot of 1930s films to get the dialect and vernacular of the time period. I also read a ton about Boston in the 1930s as well as studied the fashion and makeup. A bit of everything. For Love in Three Quarter, I was lucky to be using a city I have spent a lot of time in (Vienna) and it is a contemporary story which saved a lot of research time. The only research I did was on the Opera Ball and waltzing.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There’s a lot of me in my characters. Hamish DeLuca (from my upcoming series) has my anxiety and panic disorder and I gave him all of the symptoms I have experienced. So that was true to life. There are a few awkward moments in Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder when Jem Watts is pursuing Ray DeLuca that are based on my actual experiences. Love in Three Quarter is all imaginative— though I did authentically write my passion and love for Vienna and Viennese culture. I also kind of wrote my ideal man in this little novella. Lol.
What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?
Oh! That’s a tough one because I do write a lot all year. I do love November-December when it gets dark early and I can light candles and feel cozy.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I do a bit of both. In my traditional publishing life, I have to submit a synopsis to my publisher even before the book is written so that their marketing and sales team can prepare in advance. So I generally have an outline; but I also let myself fall down rabbit holes and follow any trail that strikes me.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with again?
I really want to write another Herringford and Watts novel. You get to see them in periphery in my Van Buren and DeLuca series because my hero is the son of two of the main characters in Herringford and Watts.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?
A Lesson in Love and Murder. Not that I would change anything about it; more because I had such a wonderful time and experience researching and writing it. I really LOVED writing that book.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
Of my own, I would love to see Jem and Merinda (Herringford and Watts) get the Hallmark treatment
Thank you for these great answers. It’s fun to hear about how you’ve come up with and created your stories. You have two new books releasing this year. Love In Three Quarter’s Time just released in February and Murder at the Flamingo will release in July. They sound really good!
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novels?
Love in Three Quarter Time is the first in a trilogy of Vienna set novels about people who meet and find love in Vienna, Austria. In the first, my heroine Evelyn follows Rudy,the man of her dreams, to Austria to help catalogue his family’s vast collection of antiques. But she learns a lot more about herself and love (in all of its different tenets) when she meets Klaus Bauner, a Viennese professor who may lack Rudy’s dashing good looks but teaches her a lot about how she wants to be treated and what it means to be a gentleman.
Murder at the Flamingo is the first in the Van Buren and DeLuca series about Hamish DeLuca, a young lawyer who follows his cousin Luca Valari to Boston to help him open a fashionable nightclub. While there he meets ( and falls in love with) ex-debutante Regina Van Buren. Together they set up a detective business in Boston’s North End. The series, of course, has murder mysteries but also deals with racism, social injustice and perceptions of mental illness in 1930s America.
What inspired you to write this story?
I have been in love with Vienna for a long time and I always wanted to write about it. I decided it would be fun (and it was) to spend fictional time there with some contemporary romances. I also talk a lot on social media about my thesis that romance is far more than what is found in relationships, rather a way of life. So I wanted to pursue the idea of romance and love in its many tenets in fiction and Vienna was the perfect setting. I also just love music and history and foreign travel and so there is a lot of my heart in these books.
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
I try to write about romance as a way of life. I hope people take that away. In my historical books, I am really passionate about looking at women’s roles in different eras— the empowerment and the limitations and encouraging women to recognize that we are all many different things. You cannot put us into boxes. I hope women feel validated when reading my books and hopefully challenged.
Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your books that only a few people will find? Would you be willing to share a clue with your readers?
There are a million easter eggs in Murder at the Flamingo for fans of the Herringford and Watts series (a few obvious ones: Hamish’s best friend is Maisie Forth, Hamish’s “aunt” Merinda taught him how to pick a lock). In Love in Three Quarter you really get a sense of my personality and my love for Vienna.
Thank you for taking time to answer these questions! I loved hearing your answers. Congratulations on your upcoming releases! I wish you the very best in your writing adventure. -Becca
Purchase your copy of Murder at the Flamingo: A Van Buren & DeLuca Mysteries here: Amazon
For a complete list of Rachel’s books, Click here: Amazon