Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Catching Up With Myself by Carola Dunn

I was born and grew up in England. With a degree in Russian and French from the University of Manchester, I set out around the world, making it as far as Fiji before turning back to marry and settle in California. While my son was small, I had a variety of part-time and temp jobs: child-care, market research, construction (leach-lines to roof-tiles), building design, proof-reading, and writing definitions for a dictionary of science and technology. Then, faced with the prospect of getting a "proper" job, I sat down to write a book instead—longhand, at the kitchen table.

I was lucky enough to sell my first manuscript, a Regency, and went on to write another 31 books in the genre, not counting a number of novellas. They are all still going strong as ebooks, available at and other ebook sellers. Many are also taking on a new life in large print.

I had just moved to Oregon when both the publishers I was writing for stopped publishing Regencies. That was when I started writing mysteries, my Daisy Dalrymple series, set in England in the 1920s. Again I was lucky, selling the first to St Martin's. The series is still going strong. The nineteenth, ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH, will be out Feb/March 2011, and I've just signed contracts for two more.

In the meantime, I've started a Cornish Mystery series, set in the 1960s, also for St Martin's/Minotaur. The first, MANNA FROM HADES, came out in 2009 and was an IMBA bestseller (as were many of the Daisy books). The second, A COLOURFUL DEATH, comes out in June 2010.

So much for a "brief" bio. I'll conclude by saying I have two gorgeous grandchildren (is there any other kind?) and I live near the Willamette River, where my border-collie mix, Trillian, walks me every morning.

by Carola Dunn

It's been interesting writing in two genres and three time periods. For a while, I was writing mystery and romance, 1920s and Regency, at the same time (I found another Regency publisher after the two dropped out). That was when I realized how many of my Regencies had mystery/thriller elements: the very first, Toblethorpe Manor (aka A Girl with No Name), has kidnapping and attempted murder/suicide; Angel has three attempted murders, as does Captain Ingram's Inheritance; there are spies and smugglers galore. The big difference is that you're not trying to work out whodunnit as much as trying to bring the hero and heroine together in spite of what's going on.

In fact, the greatest difficulty was keeping the colloquial, time-sensitive language separate. I'd find Regency slang creeping into 1920s England. I had to immerse myself in novels written in the '20s to switch my mind to the right mode. I've always been very particular about making sure the words and phrases I use are correct for the time. I have the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the one that comes in two immense volumes with a magnifying glass included. I consulted it so often, my biceps were in great shape, but I'm glad to have OED online these days!

I'd stopped writing Regencies before I moved into the 1960s. Now I just have to keep '20s and '60s straight. Of course, I lived through the '60s, but I've change countries and time has moved on. I speak a different language now—my English friends and family say I speak American, though my American friends and family swear I sound as English as the day I stepped off the boat. One way or another, there's still almost as much research to make sure I'm getting it right.

Besides the language changes, and the changes in the way people think and dress, I have to contend with the changing age of my protagonist. My oldest Regency heroine was, if I remember correctly, 42. Daisy remains in her 20s, though now married with children. I decided I wanted to write about a character closer to my own age, and the result was Eleanor Trewynn, a widow in her sixties, who stars in MANNA FROM HADES and A COLOURFUL DEATH.

So, you might say, I'm gradually catching up with myself. I don't know if I ever will, but the journey's fun!

You'll find me, and Eleanor, and Daisy, at

We're also on Facebook, where Daisy Dalrymple and Cornish Mysteries have their own pages.

Drop by and say hello.


Mary Jane Maffini said...

Nice to see you here, Carola! I am looking forward to your new book. You have the magic touch!

Mason Canyon said...

Your newest series sounds intriguing. The 60s were good years. Looking forward to your new book.

Thanks Kaye for hosting Carola.

Thoughts in Progress

Anonymous said...

So happy to read this guest post by one of my favorite authors, Carola Dunn. I have not read the Cornish mystery series yet, but I am a big, big, big fan of the Daisy Dalrymple series. I think when I started reading it, there were maybe 10 or 11 of them. I read them one right after another and just loved them. And I never read books in a series back to back like that. Kudos all around to Carola and to Kaye. Glad to hear of new book coming. Carola lives in one of my favorite places, Oregon.

Auntie Knickers said...

I'm excited to hear that there is a new Cornish mystery coming out soon -- loved the first one.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

A post from Carola - Blogger won't let her comment - "A Colourful Death has already gone to a second printing, which
augurs well for the probability of a third one of these days."