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Q and A with author Daniella Bernett
21st September 2019
Interview with Daniella Bernett, author of When Blood Runs Cold, mystery set in LONDON
We are really pleased to be chatting to Daniella….
TF: You have been working on a new book. Could you give us a little bit of an overview of the subject and location?
DB: I’m delighted to tell everyone about When Blood Runs Cold, Book 5 in my Emmeline Kirby / Gregory Longdon mystery series.
My novel, which is set in London, explores how one can never escape the past. Journalist Emmeline Kirby is reeling from the recent discovery that her parents were murdered while on assignment when she was five. She’s determined to find their killer. At the same time, she’s working on a story about the suspicious death of Russian national Pavel Melnikov, a man who tried to double cross Putin and Russian mafia boss Igor Bronowski. Her probing questions have attracted unwanted attention from those on the wrong side of the law. Along the way, two men are poisoned to prevent them from exposing these ugly machinations. If this wasn’t enough, Emmeline learns that everything she believed about her life has been a lie and she becomes a murder suspect.
Gregory Longdon, her dashing fiancé and jewel thief-cum-insurance investigator, has grave problems of his own. His past has caught up with him in the form of ruthless entrepreneur Alastair Swanbeck. Swanbeck has ties to the underworld and Putin. He has been waiting years to exact his revenge for Gregory’s meddling in things that should have been left alone. And now, he has found his perfect tool: Emmeline.
To add a bit more tension, I’ve included a Sotheby’s auction of the Blue Angel, a flawless 12-carat blue diamond that men are willing to kill to possess.
Have I captured your attention? I hope so.
TF: What is your typical working day like? How do you accommodate the writing process?
DB: I work on the weekends. I try to be disciplined about it.
TF: What prompted you to become a writer and what has the path to becoming a published author been like for you?
DB: For me, writing is like breathing. At heart, a writer is a reader who has given full vent to the story swirling around in his or her head. In my case, I’ve had a love affair with language and the written word since I was very young. I thank my parents for reading to me and my sister.
The spark that launched me into the writing world was my fourth grade teacher. Once a week, she had Creative Writing hour and gave us different assignments. I absolutely loved it. I started pursuing my dream by writing short stories (mostly mysteries). After I graduated from college, in the four months it took me to find employment, I wrote a mystery novel. My first job was as a copywriter at Penguin USA. One day, I plucked up the courage to show my book to one of the editors. She actually read it. She told me that it was better than what she usually sees from first-time authors. However, she said that I should think more in terms of a series. I tried revising the book and submitted it to several agents, who all rejected it. Thus, I chalked it up to a good exercise. But I didn’t forget the editor’s advice. The kernel of the idea for my Emmeline and Gregory mystery series slowly started swirling around in the back of my mind, until one day when all pieces fell into place and Lead Me Into Danger, Book 1, came to life on the printed page.
TF: Where do you find your inspiration?
DB: Inspiration is derived from all sorts of sources. It could be a newspaper article; a snippet of overheard conversation; a real-life crime; or a dream. I get a lot of ideas from the sights and sounds of a city or an area that has made a strong impression on me. You’re either going to laugh or you’re going to run very quickly in the opposite direction, but oftentimes I come across a place and think, “Wouldn’t this be the perfect setting to find a dead body?”
For me, setting is an important character all its own. One that helps to establish the tone and propels my stories. I’ve been an Anglophile since I was a little kid, so naturally my characters had to be British and London had to figure prominently in my books. I also adore Venice. That enchanted city’s history of intrigues was simply begging to be featured in Lead Me Into Danger, where Emmeline and Gregory become ensnared in a hunt for a Russian spy in the British Foreign Office. In terms of Deadly Legacy, Book 2, what set the story in motion in my mind was the 2003 heist at the Antwerp Diamond Centre. A group of Italian thieves stole $100 million in diamonds, gold, and other jewelry. Only one man was caught. The diamonds were never found. This captivated my imagination. From Beyond The Grave, Book 3, focuses on Emmeline and Gregory’s rekindled relationship. His recent resurfacing has thrown her safe world into turmoil. Therefore, I wanted to take them outside of London, where they wouldn’t be distracted by daily routines. I selected Torquay along the English Riviera in Devon. Gently lapping tides, a rugged coastline, romantic sunsets, and murder. A Checkered Past, Book 4, is back in London and deals with a looted Nazi painting, an IRA collaborator and, alas, a murder or two. I’m passionate about the issue of looted Nazi art, as everyone should be about injustice.
TF: Which novels have been particularly influential for you as a writer?
This is such a difficult question. There are so many authors that I thoroughly enjoy. I would have to say Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is one of my absolute favorites. I have always loved the sea and the rugged Cornwall setting immediately attracted me. Du Maurier masterfully ratchets up the suspense by writing the story in first-person. As with all such narratives, the reader only gets one viewpoint. But in this case, the narrator is unnamed which only enhances the mystery. She is known throughout the story only as Mrs. de Winter, the second wife of the brooding and attractive Maxim. It was a stroke of brilliance on Du Maurier’s part to have as her narrator a naïve young woman, who is timid and rather unsure of herself. She remains utterly in awe of the beautiful Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper who was devoted to Rebecca, never misses an opportunity to let the narrator know she is a pale comparison. All along, the reader suspects that something is wrong and is compelled to keep flipping pages in a race to find the truth.
The book left me breathless. I hope one day readers will say the same thing about my books.
Meanwhile, I also devoured all the Poldark books by Winston Graham. The Cornish setting, smuggling and the swashbuckling adventures of Ross and Demelza made for hours of reading pleasure. The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen was another wonderful book. It’s a poignant wartime story of love, human courage and betrayal. Bowen’s fluid, graceful style woos the reader and perfectly captures the tense atmosphere in occupied Italy. The Tuscan Child lingered in my mind long after I turned the last page. Another novel that delighted me was The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo. The emotive force and lyricism of the writing is breathtaking. The novel is a loving tribute to Venice and Vivaldi, two of my passions. I was also moved by The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel. It is a poignant and searing novel set largely in Paris just before and during World War II. A story of love and sacrifice, and daring to stand up for what’s right. The novel touches the soul with its humanity.
TF: When you choose to travel, what are the overriding priorities that make a trip particularly good for you as an individual?
DB: I adore traveling. It’s so agreeable to discover new places and to meet people from different backgrounds. It broadens the mind and also serves as a spark for my imagination. I enjoy visiting cities rich in culture and ancient off-the-beaten-track towns, which are scattered all over Italy, Spain and France. I soak up their history like the fine wines from these regions. On the other hand, I also love countries with dramatic landscapes. The trip that immediately springs to mind is Iceland. It’s a tantalizing feast for the senses. The landscape ranges from volcanoes and lava fields to glaciers and waterfalls.
My two favorite cities are London and Venice. I’m ready to visit either one in a heartbeat. There are so many beautiful places in the world that are beckoning my soul. However, I’ve always wanted to go to Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands. Mallorca is rich in history; lush; romantic; and surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean which capture the sun’s tempestuous brilliance. I also would like to take a trip to Australia and New Zealand.
TF: Which books in particular are you looking forward to reading in latter stages of 2019?
The Summer Country by Lauren Willig; The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen; Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer; The Other Woman by Daniel Silva; Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverinil; Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen
TF: What are your upcoming projects?
Old Sins Never Die, Book 6, will be released in fall 2020. I’m currently working on Book 7. As you can see, Emmeline and Gregory are always dragging me off on another adventure.
TF: Where can readers find you?
Thank you so much to Daniella for answering our questions. You can buy her novel When Blood Runs Cold thought the TripFiction database.