Saturday, October 14, 2017

ROCCO welcomes Rhys Bowen!

Meow, my guest today is author Rhys Bowen!

Rhys Bowen is the New York TimesBestselling Author of the Royal Spyness Series, Molly Murphy Mysteries, and Constable Evans. She has won the Agatha Best Novel Award and has been nominated for the Edgar Best Novel. Rhys’s titles have received rave reviews around the globe.

  • Welcome, Rhys! Tell us a little about your background
Thank you ROCCO. I was born and raised in England, educated at London University and worked for the BBC, but now live in California and Arizona (I like sunshine). I’m married with 4 children and now 5 grandchildren. I have been a published writer for most of my life. I have been writing mysteries for 20 years now and have made the New York Times and USA today bestseller lists as well as being #1 on Kindle. My books have won 14 awards to date, out of 28 nominations and my fortieth mystery comes out next March..
  • Tell us a bit about your “Royal Spyness” series. How did that idea come about?
It came about when my publisher said they couldn’t really break me out unless I wrote a big dark stand-alone novel. I thought about this and decided I didn’t want to spend six months in such a dark setting. So I realized I wanted to have fun when I wrote. I wondered what would be the most unlikely sleuth I could come up with. How about if she was royal? But penniless? And the 1930s—such a fascinating time to set any book.
  • Tell us about your other series, Molly Murphy and Evan Evans.  Do you prefer one over the other?
It’s like saying which child do you like best! Evan was my first sleuth. I started writing those books because I had read Tony Hillerman and was so impressed with his sense of place. Since I had spent a lot of time in Wales during my childhood I wanted to give that same sense of place to my books. So the books take place in a small village in Snowdonia. And Molly—she came about after I visited Ellis Island. I was emotionally overcome with what I felt there and knew I had to set a book there. I also wanted to write a first person female protagonist, one who is brave and feisty with a strong sense of justice but not always wise (a little like me, I’m afraid). The first book, Murphy’s Law, won the Agatha Award for best novel that year and the series has gone on to win many more awards. Book 17 comes out in November!
And I’d also like to mention this year’s big stand-alone novel In Farleigh Field. It takes place in Britain in WWII and was such a joy to write. An equal joy that it has done so brilliantly: selling over 100,000 copies during the first month!
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I get to know them first through their speech. Both Molly and Georgie are first person narrators and once they started speaking they literally took over. Apart from that they reveal a little more about themselves with each book. I’ve never been able to create a character. They just introduce themselves and there they are!
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
Definitely a pantzer! I start by knowing the environment in which the story will take place. Sometimes I know the crime that will happen, sometimes who will be killed and why. Sometimes very little. I write the first half of every book in panic mode. But if I outlined and knew what was going to happen I’d be bored. I like being surprised as much as my readers do!
However, when I wrote In Farleigh Field there were multiple points of view, several different stories so it had to be plotted out more carefully.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Oh character, definitely. Plots can be clever but readers fall in love with a character. No reader has ever said to me “I love your books because of their clever plots.” They say, “I love Georgie. Or I love Molly.”
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
My biggest challenge has been to try to fit in as many books as my publishers want me to write. Twice now I’ve done 3 books a year and that has been brutal. But it’s hard to say no.
What inspires me is that I love spending time with my characters. I love chuckling when one of my Royal Spyness characters says or does something silly. I also love the historical research. AND I love going on tour and meeting my readers.  I realize how lucky I have been to have become more successful every year for twenty years.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I had a previous agent and things were not going well. She had moved to Singapore and thought she could take care of my career from there. So I was at Malice Domestic and on a panel with Dorothy Cannel. Afterward her agent said, “Who was that British lady next to you? She was really funny.”  And Dorothy, bless her heart, said, “She’s looking for a new agent.” And the rest is history.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am halfway through next year’s Royal Spyness novel. It’s called Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding. Lots of fun.
But before that I completed my second by stand-alone novel for Lake Union. This one is called The Tuscan Child and takes place in WWII and in the 1970s. it’s the first book I’ve written in two time periods. Quite a challenge.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I write every day. Up early and do my social media then settle in by about 9 a.m. I write until I’ve done about 5 pages. Some days that’s easy, some it’s hard. But if you know you can’t quit until you’ve done the required amount it makes you keep the behind to the chair! It takes me about 3 months to do the first draft, then I polish, give to other readers, re-polish and off it goes.
  • If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
That’s hard. The first one is cheating: The Lord of the Rings. It has been a favorite all my life. Something meaty that I wouldn’t otherwise read because it involved too much time and effort: maybe George Eliot’s Middlemarch or a Dickens novel. And something to make me laugh. An old favorite: Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Read. Read. Read.
And then write, write, write. I can’t tell you how many would-be writers I have met who tell me they plan to write a book some day. I ask what they are writing now and they say they don’t have time right now. I tell them if they were going to give a concert at Carnegie Hall one day but didn’t practice the piano at all now it would never happen. You only get better when you learn to manipulate the words on the page.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Taking a chance on marrying my husband, leaving Australia with him and moving to California was pretty crazy. Also I hitchhiked around Greece for 3 months with a friend when I was a student.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I used to sing in London folk clubs with Al Stewart, and Simon and Garfunkel.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What’s the most exciting thing that you are looking forward to next year?
And my answer: I’ve been invited back to be writer-in-residence in Tuscany. It’s a fabulous hotel in the vineyards and we work hard but also eat fabulous meals, go to wine tastings, excursions and generally have a good time. The details are on my website.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Twitter @rhysbowen
Thank you. Great questions


Penguin has donated a copy of CROWNED AND DANGEROUS for one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. US entries only please.  Contest ends midnight, Oct. 21! 


  1. Wow love your books and i followed the blog but cant tweet i am a friend and i will share on facebook! would love to read and then write reviews!

  2. The Royal Spyness series sounds fun. I like the story of how it began, too. Thanks for the chance, ROCCO! Marla:

  3. Thank you for hosting Rhys Bowen's book on your blog today. I am a friend on facebook and shared information about your blog on facebook. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. I haven't read this series yet, but I really liked the description of the book. Looking forward to reading the book. Rocco, I follow your blog and on Facebook and Twitter. Shared on Facebook and Twitter.

  5. I agree. The 1930s is a fascinating time period.

    Following your blog
    Following on Twitter
    Tweeted about the contest
    Following on Facebook
    Mentioned the contest on Facebook

  6. Simon and Garfunkel?! Wow!
    Great interview.
    I've read this delightful book and don't need to be entered to win.
    Love your books.

  7. Just ordered your book and looking forward to the read..My grandparents were born and raised in England and came to WV and met here and married..I always loved to hear them talk with the beautiful accent although sometimes it was hard to understand far as what I've done, really nothing exciting, I live my live and adventures through the books I read constantly. Sounds sad but I love my life and my books and my