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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mayhem-Making With Janet Mullany, A Most Lamentable Comedy

I am so excited to welcome as my guest today the talented Janet Mullany, author of The Rules of Gentility and the new book, A Most Lamentable Comedy. I had the extreme pleasure and honor of interviewing Ms. Mullany for Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem, and of reading her newest book. Below, I offer a review, but I promise to keep it brief so we can get right to the interview!

A Most Lamentable Comedy: My Review

Just one look at the cover to this book is enough to tell you that you are in for something different. A simple brown cover with baby blue lettering harkens back to a day when things were less flashy and stories did not rely upon shock factors to set themselves apart from the rest. But do not let the simplicity of the cover fool you; this book is anything but simple. It is a complex, intriguing tale of two people scheming to out-do the other in their desperate bid to achieve financial gain before their pasts - and creditors! - catch up with them. Throw in a cast of characters worthy of the masters and you have one rollicking tale of missteps and deliberate miscommunications on the path to Happily Ever After.

A Most Lamentable Comedy tells the tale of Lady Caroline Elmhurst, who has had her share of questionable relationsips on her quest to find financial sustenance, and who is fleeing from her ever-expanding list of creditors as fast as her scheming can take her. It also tells the story of Mr. Nicholas Congrevance, a man living off of his good charm and other assets, who finds himself in desperate need of a financial infusion and so is on the hunt for a well-endowed mark whom he can separate from her fortune with said charm. And in a twist worthy of her forefathers and foremothers of fiction, Ms. Mullany sets these two upon each other with what one can only call a devilish delight. Throw in a house party, a rendering of a Shakespearean play, and a congregation of quirky characters, all scheming for their own benefits, and you have a tale that will delight you long after the last page is read. If Shakespeare and Austen had a literary child, her nname would be Janet Mullany.

And now, without further ado, here's my interview with Janet:

1. Janet, can you give us a little background on yourself and your writing?

I was brought up in England and had a varied career as an archeologist, draftsperson, classical musical radio announcer, arts administrator and editor/proofreader for a small press. I now live in the US near Washington, DC. I’m a late bloomer. I think one of the smartest or luckiest things about my writing career was that I waited until later in life when I’d read very widely and then started to write fiction when I had few outside commitments—my daughter was old enough to handle burned dinners, for instance. I’d always written but it was generally work-related.

2. Why did you choose the genre that you write in? Do you have plans to write in any other genre? If so, what one?

I call my current genre Regency chicklit, because I think that best defines it in a few words, and it has some of the technical aspects of chicklit (first person, present tense narration). I started writing it to entertain myself and first Harper Collins (who published The Rules of Gentility in 2007) and the UK publisher Little Black Dress became interested. I'm Little Black Dress's only historical writer and I have another book coming out next year and then a third to write (I have no idea what that will be)! I’m also contracted to write two paranormals starring Jane Austen for HarperCollins (speculative historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in) and also erotic contemporaries for Harlequin Spice under the name of Liz Diamond.

3. Can you give us a blurb about your latest book, A Most Lamentable Comedy?

The heroine is a Bad Girl—she’s on the run from creditors and meets up with the hero, who’s looking for his next victim, preferably a pretty, rich, gullible widow. They successfully persuade each other they’re rich, but are then confounded by falling in love. They do end up with each other, but their HEA is equally dependent on finding friendship and community as well as love. And it’s funny!

4. The title sounds very Shakespearean. Was that deliberate? What do you think is the significance of that title?

Yes, it’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, taken from the full title of the play Bottom’s troupe performs—The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe. The first half of the book revolves around an amateur performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and toward the end there is actually a scene where Caroline and Nicholas (h/h) become lost in a wood that assumes an identity of its own.

5. You chose to write A Most Lamentable Comedy in first person point of view, from the heroine and the hero's perspective. What were the challenges of getting into the mind of Nicholas and making his character ring true?

He was fun to write but I thought I’d created a sex-machine monster! I had to work at making him more likeable and giving him other attributes—he’s nice to kids, for instance, and is good with his hands (in the sense of being able to fix things!).

6. Is it fair to say that this book is a comedy of manners in the tradition of Shakespeare and Austen?

I don’t know if it’s fair but I’m certainly flattered! I’m influenced by Austen, as is everyone who writes romance, and Shakespeare seems to creep into my writing quite often.

7. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

A guilt-free good time and the urge to tell their friends about it!

8. What are you working on now?

I’m working on my first book for Immortal Jane Austen (HarperCollins) which is scheduled for release for next summer. We don’t have a title yet although my editor has already turned down my suggestion of Blood Bath--it's set in the city of Bath--and my brother’s suggestion of Austen Powers!

Thanks for having me visit, Margay, it's been fun!

Janet, it has been an absolute joy to have you with us today! I can't thank you enough for spending the time with us and giving us such a wonderful insight into your world of writing.

If you would like to learn more about Janet and her books, here are some links:


where I blog (Thursday, usually)

Link to buy Comedy with free shipping worldwide (the book doesn't have US distribution)--

Note: There is a possibility that Janet will be giving away a copy of A Most Lamentable Comedy today to one lucky reader, so be sure and leave a comment for her. Believe me, you will be glad that you did; this is one entertaining book! I'll keep you updated.

7 Moonbeams (comments):

Janet Mullany said...

Wow, what a great review, Margay! Thanks so much and for the great interview questions.

Margay Leah Justice said...

It was my pleasure, Janet!

Molly Daniels said...

Oh this sounds good! Darn it list keeps GROWING from this blog!!! I hope my royalty check is able to cover most of them, ha ha ha!!

Sheila Deeth said...

Loved the review and the questions. But those two suggested titles for the Jane Austen book... I wish you could use them! They're just so neat.

Margay Leah Justice said...

Hey, Molly, I hear you. My tbr pile became a mountain long ago and I don't want to even get into my wish list! But, what can I say? Just doing my part to promote literacy.

Margay Leah Justice said...

Sheila, I'm so glad you liked the review. I was afraid I wouldn't do the book justice. Oh, and incidentally, for anyone who's playing along and has gotten an inkling from my mutterings around the web, my muse is at it again. While writing that review, I was struck by yet another idea for a story that is presently in development in my twisted little head, but I'm going to leave you to wonder what it could be. If anyone cares to venture a guess, I'd be happy to tell them if they're right.


Janet Mullany said...

Hi Molly and Sheila, thanks for dropping by! I'd love to use Blood Bath--it's my working title, and much of the book does take place in Bath, so it's not like it's only a bad pun.