Between the Pages Past
By Susan McBride

Interview with Rosemary Stevens
Review: The Tainted Snuff Box

Success on a Silver Tray
An Interview with Rosemary Stevens
By Susan McBride
May 2001

Rosemary Stevens obviously has good taste.  The author of the historical mysteries featuring Regency-era fashion plate, Beau Brummell, has even traveled to conventions with a butler in tow.  Yes, it’s true.  Robinson, Brummell’s valet, appeared with Rosemary at the RT Booklovers Convention last year.  Though the fastidious servant need not worry about Rosemary’s attire as she’s already dressed for success.  The debut of DEATH ON A SILVER TRAY last year earned rave reviews as well as Agatha and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award nominations for Best First Mystery.  The second in the series, THE TAINTED SNUFF BOX, hits the stands in May, poised to further entertain her cozy-loving readership. 

Curious about why the author would choose to set her plots in long ago England, I begged an audience with her and was rewarded with answers to my questions.

Susan McBride:  You're obviously a fan of the Regency era. What inspired you to set a mystery series in the period? 

Rosemary Stevens:  One night while I was sitting innocently in my office, a picture I have of Brummell on my wall started to glow. Then his eyes turned to me, and he spoke, "No one’s been talking about me since that awful Stewart Granger movie, unless you count that clothing line that cannot even spell my name correctly. Make me famous again!"  I ask you, what could I do?

SM:  George "Beau" Brummell seems an odd choice for an amateur sleuth.  How did figure he’d fit into your mysteries? 

RS:  He's such a fascinating character from English history! Plus, so little is really known about him. Yes, because he was a "celebrity" of the time, people have written about him, but their sources are dubious. I wanted to get to the heart of what he was like. Once I got to know him, it seemed quite plausible to me that this very intelligent, resourceful, innovative man would be drawn into solving murder mysteries. And then, like I just told you, he made me do it.

SM: How much time do you spend on research prior to sitting down and writing a book? What type of research do you do to ensure accuracy of period details and of Beau Brummell's character?

RS:  Hahahaha. How much space do we have here? Lots and lots of research is done for this series--I use primarily first sources--because I am passionate about what I'm writing and, um, a bit of a perfectionist. Research is ongoing. It never stops. I even have a consultant/research assistant. At the same time, I am also passionate about telling an amusing, engrossing story. So after I know all the technical details, I have to move forward and write the story so that I can entertain my readers. I dislike historical mysteries that come off as dry, technical and boring. As Proximo says in Gladiator, "I'm an entertainer."

SM:  Did you always love words? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 

RS:  I was Vocabulary Student of the Year in my hometown back in my senior year of high school (a year that shall remain a secret). Does that count? I've wanted to be a writer since the late l980s, but didn't have the courage to sit down and write a book until much later. Completing a book takes guts and determination. Being a masochist

SM:  What was your path to publication like? 

RS:  Well, I expect the Karma Gods will get me on this one someday. I sold the first thing I wrote without any rejections. I was very lucky.

SM:  How does it feel to get the recognition from both an Agatha Award and a Reviewers' Choice nomination for DEATH ON A SILVER TRAY? 

RS:  Quite jolly!!!

SM:  What do you have in the works? Another Beau Brummell?

RS:  There is another Brummell mystery, THE BLOODIED CRAVAT, coming in May, 2002. I'll know this year if the situation will be favorable for me to write more. I do have ideas for other books. We'll see.

SM: What's your favorite part about being an author? Least favorite?

RS:  My favorite part is when readers tell me I've entertained them. Least favorite is dealing with computer problems.

SM:  How do you balance your career with family?

RS:  My son is upstairs as we speak putting Brummell labels on teabags for promo at Malice!  My family is supportive of me, and they know they come first with me. We try to all work together to make sure everyone's needs are being met. It's challenging.

SM:  What is the best advice you've ever gotten (about writing or life in general)? 

RS:  About writing: Place fingers on keyboard. About life: Hey, I'm still trying to figure that out.

SM:  What would define success for you?

RS:  To be able to read OVERKILL in my newly-purchased castle in England.  (Interviewer’s note:  Good answer!)

SM:  How can readers reach you?

RS:  On the web at or snail mail at P.O. Box 414,
Midlothian, VA 23113


THE TAINTED SNUFF BOX by Rosemary Stevens
A Beau Brummell Mystery #2 
Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks
Berkley Prime Crime - May 2001 
ISBN: 0425179486 - Hardcover 
304 pages pp - $21.95 US

In Beau Brummell’s second mystery, he meets up with the Prince of Wales at Brighton. After being threatened, the Prince has fled to his sanctuary by the sea.  He has even taken the precaution of a food taster -- a distasteful Baronet with bad manners. Victims appear pretty quick and suspects are many. Bow Street is brought in on the case and Beau meets up with the unfriendly detective from his last sleuthing experience. Despite this intimidating reunion, Beau risks his life, but not his fashion, to help his friends. 

It’s witty, imaginative, and entertaining. Beau Brummell tells the story in first person and often lets the reader in on the mystery in a more personal manner. The regency era and historical facts are strongly presented. Many of the characters in the first mystery are back for a second appearance. They are well defined and consistent throughout. There are mentions concerning the first mystery, so I recommend you start the series at the beginning. And as luck would have it, the first Brummell mystery, Death on a Silver Tray, is coming out in paperback in May 2001. 

Expect a fun, light read. 

2001 Past Columns - Susan McBride


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