Interview & Giveaway: Lady Odelia's Secret by Jane Steen

Hello & please welcome Jane Steen to the blog today! She is currently touring the blogosphere for Lady Odelia's Secret and graciously stopped by to chat with us about it! I hope you enjoy the interview & don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Hello Jane and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Lady Odelia’s Secret!

I’m delighted to be here!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I published my first novel in June 2012, nearly ten years ago. I’d done a lot of writing in my various jobs, but it wasn’t till I found myself between jobs in 2009 that I gave fiction a try. I wrote a practice novel, which is still in first draft, but even before I’d finished it, the idea for The House of Closed Doors evolved in my head and quickly became a concept for a series. That was an obvious move for me as I love a good series, so I have always tried to write the kind of series I like to read. I was living in the States when I began my fiction career, but since then I’ve moved to England, the country of my birth.

Lady Odelia’s Secret is the second book in your Scott-De Quincy Mysteries series. What inspired you to write the series?

I had been binge-watching Downton Abbey, and I had just read Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave and loved Lady Julia Grey’s big family. I wanted to take a break from the House of Closed Doors series now that I’d written the first three books, and I was intrigued by the idea of writing a series with a large cast of characters. I had recently moved to Rye on England’s south coast, a town which just cries out to be fictionalized and indeed has been many times. So why not mash up Downton Abbey’s family saga elements with some lady sleuth tropes, pour a whole lot of crazysauce over it, and set the whole thing in a fantasy nineteenth century Rye? It seemed like a fun project, but honestly, I didn’t have huge expectations for the Scott-De Quincys. I aimed at selling 1,000 books in the first year and was quite surprised when I sold 23,500.

What research did you undertake when writing the series?

I’ve been reading Victorian literature (fiction and nonfiction) as well as histories and biographies about the Victorians for 40 years now, so you might say my research is continuous. As I tell my readers, I’m a storyteller not an historian; obviously I research specific points as well as I can, but I don’t run around libraries looking for primary sources or anything like that. What research I do is mostly eliminated from my pages as I progress through the drafts, since I dislike research dumps!

What was your favorite scene to write?

It’s hard to choose, but possibly the one where Helena and her lady’s maid, Guttridge, draw up a list of suspects and actions. First of all because I love any scene where Helena and Guttridge are interacting, next because I’m gently poking fun at the tendency of lady sleuths (and mystery main characters in general) to draw up lists that they then never refer to again. It’s a useful device for re-grounding the reader in the main points of the plot somewhere in the middle of the book (my more literal-minded beta readers loved it) but my emphasis is always on character rather than plot, so as a reader I’m always waiting for the writer to get on with the story rather than go over previous ground. But I was able to make it into a fun scene to write, and for that reason I’m fond of it.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The very first scene; I reworked it a lot.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always just accepted writing as something I did well, so it never occurred to me to want to “be a writer”! Besides, it wasn’t until self-publishing really took off that a career framework existed that really excited me. Let’s say I was late to the idea of becoming a novelist!

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Unlike most writers, I don’t like writing in the morning. I wake up with my business and information-gathering instincts at full volume, and it’s only till I’ve fed those beasts that I feel properly creative. So, an ideal day for me is business and/or research in the morning, writing in the afternoon and sometimes in the evening, depending on my energy and goals.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Getting each book done is a huge challenge, especially as the last few years have seen a lot of changes in my personal life. But there’s never a perfect time to write, and the only way you can overcome is to tackle the work. I always find that once I’m started, I want to finish because I’m that sort of person—so the trick is to make myself take that first step.

Who are your writing inspirations?

There are so many, but the biggest influence on me has been English Golden Age detective fiction writer Dorothy L. Sayers. She wrote such memorable characters that her books still draw in new readers nearly a hundred years later, and those readers still discuss her books with enthusiasm.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Désirée by Annemarie Selinko—my mother got it from the library and loved it, so she gave it to me to read. It’s about Napoleon Bonaparte’s first fiancée, and I’ve had a weakness for the Napoleonic era ever since.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. I don’t normally like the Tudor period much, but I love Mantel’s writing.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I’m terrified of heights, I have two left feet when it comes to dancing, and I once ran a marathon (well OK, I ran 18 miles of that marathon and walked the other eight but I’m still pretty proud of myself!) It was the 1985 London Marathon, and Princess Diana was standing on a traffic island in the middle of the road waving at us.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I can imagine murders and other dreadful events and somehow still be optimistic and upbeat. I would do badly with the gritty side of mystery/crime writing, I think.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

The late Victorian period and early twentieth century, because they established our modern world (in good ways and bad) and because they were times of enormous social change and huge energy.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love to walk, to work in my garden, to read (of course!), and to spend time with family and friends.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I want to write three short pieces that are all based on deleted scenes in recent books, but what I’m really looking forward to is starting on the next Scott-De Quincy mystery. It’s already writing itself in my head!

Thank you so much for stopping by Passages to the Past, Jane!

Lady Odelia's Secret by Jane Steen

Publication Date: March 7, 2022
Aspidistra Press

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, #2

Do you ever really know your family?

In the 1880s a sixth daughter learns not to ask for much, even if she’s the daughter of an earl. Even if she married the richest man in her corner of Sussex. Even if she’s now a widow with a splendid Georgian mansion.

Lady Helena Whitcombe is still trying to adjust to widowhood and reconcile her family loyalties with her desires when her artist sister Odelia makes a startling suggestion. Why not make her mark on the house that’s now all hers, by commissioning a magnificent work of art from one of London’s most celebrated painters?

Lady Odelia invites Helena into the seductive world of medieval fantasies and fairy tales she has inhabited since Helena was a child. But when a shocking series of events exposes the destructive reality of a great artist’s unusual lifestyle, Helena and her lady’s maid Guttridge are called on to help—or is it to interfere?

Looming danger, the risk of scandal, and competing loyalties force Helena to re-evaluate her relationship with the sister she’s always loved the most.

What is Lady Odelia’s secret? Find out in this gripping continuation of the Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, a story that blends mystery and historical detail with Downton Abbey-style saga as the truths about Helena’s aristocratic family unfold. Read it now before the secret gets out!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Jane Steen writes series set in the late Victorian period, with an unputdownable blend of mystery, family saga, romance, and the real-life issues facing women of the era. She is an indie author who began her career while living in Illinois, later moving with her American husband to her native England. When not working, she can be found walking through the green and muddy Sussex countryside, getting her cobwebs blown away on the nearby beaches, lovingly tending her garden, or sticking her nose into yet another book.

For more information, please visit Jane Steen's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 4
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Novels Alive
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Tuesday, April 5
Review at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Wednesday, April 6
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 7
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Friday, April 8
Review at Novels Alive
Review at View from the Birdhouse


9 winners will receive an eBook of Lady Odelia's Secret and the main prize winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift card & eBook of Lady Odelia's Secret.

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Lady Odelia's Secret

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