Q&A: Jen Turano (A Most Peculiar Circumstance)
When private investigator Theodore Wilder set out to find the sister of a good friend, he never expected to have to chase the fiercely independent suffragette all the way across the country. But what will Mr. Wilder actually find at the end of his journey? Just the young Miss Beckett? Or will he find more than either of them bargained for?
Odd as this may seem, this story actually came about when Mr. Theodore Wilder showed up on the page in my first novel, A Change of Fortune. He was just such a fun character – charming, handsome, and all too oblivious regarding progressive ladies. I knew he needed his own story, but I struggled a bit to come up with a heroine who would suit him. The idea flashed to mind to put him into direct contact with Miss Arabella Beckett, a strong supporter of the suffrage movement, and the story took off from there.
Q. How do you choose which story to write?
I always knew A Change of Fortune was going to be the beginning of a series, probably because the side characters were so much fun to write. Before I begin to start a new story though, I always clean the house, and during all the scrubbing, vacuuming, and dusting, ideas for stories begin to form, and that’s how I know which story I’m supposed to write next. A Most Peculiar Circumstance came about while I was steam-cleaning the carpets, but although some might expect my house to be spotless, given that I get inspiration from cleaning, hmm…I must admit that’s really not the case.
Q. What are some examples from the story where you drew elements from real life?
I’ve had numerous opportunities throughout my life to mingle with a wide variety of people. Some of those people have chosen paths that are hardly what anyone could call reputable, but even though they’ve made poor choices, they are still children of God and worthy of love and affection, or more importantly, compassion. The scenes with the ladies of ill-repute came about directly because of my association with people from all walks of life. I wanted to portray those ladies as humans, not simply by the stigma they suffer because of their circumstances in life.
Another example drawn from real life is when it’s revealed that Arabella likes romance novels and the color pink. Before I set aside my career after the birth of my son, I was a business woman, and people were always amazed to see me come back from the bookstore after my lunch with romances stuffed into my very feminine, pink bag. I do believe they thought I should prefer to read more serious works, but I’ve been reading romances since I was a pre-teen and it’s always been my favorite genre.
Q. What character in A Most Peculiar Circumstance surprised you most?
Ethel Wilder, Theodore’s grandmother. I didn’t even have her, or George, Theodore’s grandfather, in any of my notes, but then they just showed up on the page and Ethel took on a life of her own. She was a complete delight to write and I’ve even had a reader contact me, asking if I’d consider writing a book, something of a backstory so to speak, with Ethel’s life as the main focus. I don’t know if I’d be able to give her an entire book, but a novella might work sometime in the future…hmm…
Q. What project are you working on now?
I just turned in the galleys for book three, A Talent for Trouble, releasing in October, 2013, and book four is due to my editor July 1, 2013. I’m almost finished with the final edits on that, which is a good thing since my deadline is approaching rapidly. I also recently finished a first draft of a new book that’s somewhat of a rags to riches theme. All I can say about that particular story is the heroine, Miss Harriet Peabody, works in a hat shop, but when she’s ordered to make a delivery of hats to a surly client, she comes into contact with Mr. Oliver Addleshaw, one of the most wealthy and powerful gentleman of the times. An unlikely alliance is formed and mayhem begins almost immediately.