Friday, March 8, 2013

Blog Tour Interview : Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

Please join me in welcoming author Christine Trent to the blog today! Christine is touring the blogosphere with her new Victorian mystery, Lady of Ashes. (Which I loved, by the way. Click here to read my review.) Christine was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me about her newest book and her writing life. Read on and then enter to win your own copy of Lady of Ashes!

Hi Christine! Thank you so much for taking the time to appear on Let Them Read Books!

Lady of Ashes seems to be a bit of a departure from the style of your previous books. What inspired you to create a mystery series around a female undertaker?

This book was the inspiration of a fellow writer, Mary Oldham, who turned to me while we were attending a writing conference together and said, “You know what I’ve always wanted to read about?  A Victorian undertaker.”  I have no idea where her thought came from, but the only credit I can take is for picking up the ball and running with it.  I’m glad I did, it was some of the most fascinating research I’ve done to date.

Your descriptions of Violet's profession are so thorough and detailed. Can you tell us how you went about researching undertaking in the nineteenth century?

Researching the 19th century funeral profession was not easy, as undertakers then—as now—tend to hold their practices and methods very close to the chest, so to speak.  However, I was able to draw on a wealth of advertising and memoirs to cobble together what the practice must have been like.  I also interviewed a local funeral director.  He seemed shocked, yet pleased, that someone would actually write fiction about his profession.

Which of your characters to-date is your favorite?

Tough question.  I tend to inhabit all of my protagonists during the time that I write their stories.  My favorite?  I guess now that I am writing Violet’s follow-on story and have inhabited her the longest, I find her to be my favorite.  Or my most well-developed character, anyway.

As for the historical characters I include in my books, my favorite to write about was the Prince Regent, later to become George IV, in BY THE KING’S DESIGN.  Such a bonehead...and so fun to depict.

Which character did you find most challenging to write?

I would say that Madame Tussaud, in A ROYAL LIKENESS, was my most challenging character.  She was a very hard-nosed businesswoman.  Profit and success were everything to her as she built up a business in a field that attracted less-than-savory entrepreneurs.  Some of her rigidity spilled over into her family relationships.  My challenge was to get the reader to have sympathy for a woman who wasn’t necessarily the nurturing, loving wife and mother we see as an ideal.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? What's a typical day like for you as a writer?

A typical day goes like this:  I get up, may or may not shower, pad downstairs to feed my five bellowing cats, then sit in front of the computer, expecting brilliance to flow from my fingertips.  Soon, I am trolling the Internet to check on news, to check rankings on Amazon, to check what’s going on on Facebook, to see if there’s something interesting to purchase at my favorite scrapbooking site……..well, you get the picture.  I don’t hit a stride until sometimes 2:00 in the afternoon, after which I may work until 8:00 or 9:00 at night.  Does anyone else have the same difficulties with concentration that I do?  My husband always says, “Let me know when you want me to cut off the Internet so you can focus.”  I can’t bring myself to be without it.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Believe it or not, sometimes I put the computer aside and write by hand.  I find my concentration is better when I take breaks from the computer.  And the Internet.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently wrapping up the next book in the LADY OF ASHES mystery series, then I will dive straight into the third book of the series.  I have two book deadlines this year, a first for me since usually I just turn in one book a year.

Thanks, Christine! I also get terribly distracted by the internet!

Christine has generously offered to give away a copy of Lady of Ashes to one of my readers, and guess what? It's open internationally! Woo hoo!

To enter, simply leave a comment and include your email address. Giveaway closes at 11:59pm Friday, March 22, 2013. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected. Stay tuned for more great giveaways!


  1. I love that her inspiration came from another author.

  2. Enjoyed this interview, chuckled at the comment re. George IV - "such a bonehead" - that book and Lady of Ashes have been on my wish list for several months. Would love to win a copy. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Oh, I totally understand getting distracted by the Internet. I love reading interviews with Christine Trent because she is so honest. No need to enter me in the giveaway. I have read this novel and loved it.

  4. Madame Tussaud... After having read the superb book by Michelle Moran (, I would be very interested in this one.
    thanks for the giveaway
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  5. Bermuda-I'm hoping my friend may give me great ideas in the future!

  6. Linda-if you get a chance to read BY THE KING'S DESIGN, you'll know why I call him that. :-)

  7. Laura-thank you for your comment. As you can see, I'm on the Internet now instead of writing. :-)

  8. Wordsandpeace-did you know that Michelle and I were working on our books about Madame Tussaud at the same time? We met at a conference, and were each astounded to learn the other was writing about this formidable woman. Moran's book covers Tussaud's early life in France, whereas mine picks up with her life once she comes to England.

  9. This sounds like an interesting read, thanks for the chance in your giveaway.

  10. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. I am so very intrigued by this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  12. I have been reading some great reviews for this book!
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. Wow, a Victorian female undertaker is certainly something I would have never thought about reading before. Not that I have a problem with it, but it is a unique concept. This is going on my TBR and Request List for one of my library branches!

    pherlaithiel (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. Thank you for this opportunity. It sounds like a strong, gutsy heroine, right up my alley. A touch of mystery never hurts either. LOL


  15. A fascinating novel which interests me greatly. thanks for this lovely giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  16. This interview was interesting and the book sounds intriguing. Thank you for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. LOL! I loved her description of her day. I've been wanting to read her books. Thanks for the chance to win and read Lady of Ashes!

    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

  18. I haven't read anything by this author yet, would love to start with this one. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    rexmoy (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. I work for the Medical Examiner's office so it would be interesting to read about this profession in another country in a different time period. Loved the interview! I ALWAYS get distracted by the internet. I'll get the computer to look up an answer and my husband walks in hours later wondering where I've been!

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can't wait to read this one.

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  20. I can't wait to read this book. I am definately putting it on my to be read list.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  21. I have to say, her 'writing day' is rather soothing to read -- I don't really get going until midday either. So maybe there's hope for me! Thanks for the lovely interview -- really delighted to see such great buzz about this book!

    unabridgedchick at

  22. I am so very inspire by this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

    The Equation book

  23. I have this book on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway! J
    janesteen AT hotmail DOT com.

  24. I´d love to read this book! Sounds very interesting :)

  25. I love read about this period in history and also love that the womna is an undertaker! I really want to read this book!


  26. That was a fun interview. I can imagine that first phone call to a funeral house asking to chitchat over tea some afternoon about the undertaker job! I wonder if Ms. Trent had to bribe her way in the door by promising to bring some fave tasty treat of the Director's - cognac, fresh bagels, perhaps home made tamales? Find their weakness and then pry their secrets out! All in a very civilized manner of course.

    Thanks for the chance to win. I follow via email: nrlymrtl at gmail dot com

  27. These unusual characters in a period mystery would certainly be interesting to fans of many genres, including me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  28. I've been reading some wonderful reviews of Lady of Ashes by some of my favorite bloggers, I am so anxious to read it myself!

  29. Great interview! Would love to read this one. Have added it to my TBR list.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  30. I'd love to win this! Thanks for the giveaway!

  31. i love this cover!!! thank you for the giveaway!!!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  32. Thanks for the giveaway! This book looks so good and I've seen it around on various blogs!

    mestith at gmail dot com

  33. Thanks for the giveaway and specially for making it open to all. Much appreciated.


  34. I've been stalking this tour. I am really excited to read this just sounds so good! Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    Email addy is: thelitbitch [at] me [dot] com

  35. Good reviews on this one; can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.


  36. This character sounds wholly unique! I read a lot of historical fiction but I have never come across a Victorial era female undertaker. I can't wait to see what she does!

  37. Loved this interview, especially the author's answer about her average writing day. Seems like many of us can relate to the distractions of the world wide web *sigh* but then I wouldn't have stumbled upon your site and this chance to win Lady of Ashes... email address:

  38. Thanks for the giveaway. Years ago, while visiting antiques shops with my mother, we came across an old Victorian embalming table, a complete set of related tools and a huge leather bound volume on embalming techniques. I was fascinated, being only 19 at the time, but did not have the necessary funds for the purchase since the dealer wanted several hundreds of dollars.

  39. Great interview! I really want to read this book. LOVE the cover!

    Thanks for the chance!


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