Friday, March 16, 2018

Blog Tour Q&A: Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen

Please join me in welcoming Jane Steen to Let Them Read Books! Jane is touring the blogosphere with her new release, Lady Helena Investigates, the first in a brand new series featuring an aristocratic widow turned sleuth in Victorian England. I was honored to offer Jane some editorial assistance, and I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about starting a new series and the challenges in keeping a series fresh and engaging. Read on and enter to win an ecopy of Lady Helena Investigates!

A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.

Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.

1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.

The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.

Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?


Hi Jane! Thank you so much for stopping by today!

I’m very happy to be here :D

Lady Helena Investigates marks the beginning of a new series for you. Can you tell us who or what inspired the character of Lady Helena?

Lady Helena grew out of my enjoyment of lady sleuth stories and several weeks watching the whole of Downton Abbey with my husband. I realized that to cross-fertilize the lady sleuth mystery sub-genre with a saga about an aristocratic family would be tremendous fun, and was further inspired by the area I live in to imagine her living in a grand house high on a hill with a view of the sea, overlooking two small towns  that had fallen away from their former glory. I was excited about tackling a story with a large cast, and when I realized that Helena would end up investigating her own family, I just had to write that series.

Can you talk about some of the challenges and rewards of writing a series?

I think that to be a happy series writer, you need to be a series reader. I’ve always loved story arcs that span several books, especially the romantic elements—why hurry the romance? And a series gives you a chance to really grow the characters over time, confronting them with multiple shocks and conflicts that would seem ridiculous if you tried to squeeze them into one book. One of the hardest challenges is not becoming impatient—you have to reveal the story slowly, even if some of your readers get frustrated with your characters at first. If you make the characters too perfect to begin with, you’ve got nowhere to go with them; I’ve seen this happen in quite a few series where the main character ends up practically superhuman by the last book because the writer had to keep upping the ante. Setting the scene for future books is one of the more enjoyable aspects of writing the first book in the series; I plant little clues and signposts that readers might not consciously pick up on, but that make future developments more plausible and natural. And you need to be aware that your readers don’t know where the series is going at first, so every series needs time to grow its audience and that doesn’t happen fast.

Did you learn anything surprising in your research for this novel?

I learned a few tragic facts about some pretty distressing topics—I have to say I was surprised at how dark the novel got in places. I looked at some extremely disturbing photos and read harrowing accounts of poisonings. I also found a shocking real-life story about the actions of a cuckolded husband; but to explain more would be a spoiler. Of course most of my research isn’t laid out in the book; I’m careful to stick with what Helena herself knows as I tell the story through her eyes.

What does a typical day in your life as a writer look like?

I don’t think I’ve had a typical day since we moved to the UK a couple of years ago! I feel like I’m still finding my feet here, and I’m only just starting to get back into the sort of writing routine I had when we lived in the States. If I had to describe my working hours I think they’d sound pretty boring, as all the exciting stuff goes on in my head while I sit at my computer with only my fingers moving on the keyboard.

What can we expect from future adventures starring Lady Helena?

Lady Helena Investigates is the first of seven planned novels, which revolve mostly around the Scott-De Quincy family—every sibling has a secret or is keeping one for someone else. At the same time I get to reveal the truth about Armand Fortier, which is based on a fairly complex series of past events. Let’s say you’ll learn a little bit about French history . . .

Woo hoo! Can't wait to read more of her adventures, and more of the delicious Armand!

Lady Helena Investigates is on a blog tour!

About the Author:

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.

Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.

Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.

Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.

For more information, please visit Jane Steen’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Lady Helena Investigates


  1. What a great interview! Thank you for hosting Jane and her blog tour, Jenny!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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