Rachel McMillan: A Writer and her Book

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The Writer

Which TV talk show host would you like to be interviewed by? Why?

Definitely James Corden because I want to do carpool karaoke. BROADWAY carpool Karaoke

Please describe yourself in three words (ask your best friend or family if you are struggling!)

Anxious, Loquacious, curious

What’s your favourite season, and why?

It’s a tie between fall and winter. I love fall: the leaves changing and the pumpkins and thanksgiving ( Canadian Thanksgiving is in October just as the leaves are in their prime). I love winter because I am the biggest Christmas fan ever! I start celebrating Christmas November 1. I love Christmas. I also love snow. In A Lesson in Love and Murder, my Mountie Benny Citrone, is talking about why he loves the arctic climate of the Yukon so much and one of the reasons is because it is so clean—snow makes it clean. I agree with him!

What is the best part of your day?

I really really love the moment when I am finished my day job work and my writing goal for the day and have a big exhale moment before I climb into bed. Finally. I leave my house pretty early in the morning ( I have a subway commute to get to my office job) and I love my morning stop at Starbucks en route. My neighbourhood baristas are like my friends. They know me. I know them. It’s a great interaction and I get an Americano out of it :)

What do you miss most about your childhood?

I think I miss how much time I had. And how time stretched. For example, summer holidays lasted forever and the lead-up to Christmas seemed like years. Everything seemed bigger and longer. Now, I cannot find time to do anything. I also miss the people I have lost along the way due to death. In particular, my aunt Sylvia who I was very close to as a child and who has since died of breast cancer. She was the cool aunt who lived in the big city Toronto (I grew up in a small town hours north of the city) and I loved visiting her and seeing her city. My love and passion for Toronto and my desire to move to Toronto as an adult are largely part of her influence.

You are at a fruit market – what do you reach for first?

I love this question! Probably raspberries.

What was the first Christian Fiction novel you read?

Vienna Prelude  by Bodie Thoene. Also, John Murphy (the brash reporter) was my first crush.  It was then that I decided I wanted to write Christian novels when I grew up.  Also, Murphy was a huge influence on me. I became very interested in how journalism impacted historical events and…. Lo and behold…. Ray DeLuca is a result of that interest.

What is one author and/or book you always recommend?

Christian Fiction: usually Christy by Catherine Marshall because it asks a lot of hard questions and is a lot deeper than people think.  Yes it is a historical romance ( with a rather swoony doctor), but Christy asks the questions all of us think as we dig deeper into spirituality. And Miss Alice has become a bit of a sage voice. I return to the book quite a lot.  A non-CBA book I often recommend is The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It’s probably my favourite novel of all time and gets overshadowed by Anne of Green Gables.  I love it so much.

What book character has stuck in your mind from a book you have read this year?

I am a huge Elizabeth Camden fan, largely because I identify with her heroines so much: usually strong, educated women who are passionate about their careers and who question how to balance their pursuits and passions with their desire for romance. Stella West in From This Moment, was a character I very much identified with. She’s curious and comes across as intimidating whereas really she is just compensating for insecurities. That is me to a ‘t’!

The Book

A Lesson in Love and Murder

From political danger to personal drama, life is about to get explosive…

The legacy of literary icon Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in 1912 Canada, where best friends Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts continue to develop their skills as consulting detectives.

The city of Toronto has been thrown into upheaval by the arrival of radical anarchist Emma Goldman. Amid this political chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police arrives at Merinda and Jem’s flat, requesting assistance in locating his runaway cousin—a man with a deadly talent.

While Merinda eagerly accepts the case, she finds herself constantly butting heads—and hearts—with Benny. Meanwhile, Jem has her hands full with a husband who is determined to keep her out of harm’s way.

As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they’ve tracked from Toronto to Chicago, they uncover a sinister plot to assassinate presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Will they be able to save the day and resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it’s too late?

What was the working title?

A Lesson in Love and Murder  was initially called The Price of Anarchy. My editor wanted something that streamlined the brand we began with The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder and to put “murder” in the title. I would like to thank my DVD shelf and the Foyle’s War episode “A Lesson in Murder” because it is seriously where I got my title one evening.

Describe your book in 5 adjectives

Romantic. Hopeful. Challenging. Convicted. Searching.

Which character took you by surprise?

In the series as a whole, Ray DeLuca.  When I first started brainstorming the series and the characters, Ray was going to be a secondary character but then he just started budding in and taking over. I am happy the response to him has been so warm and positive because I am absolutely madly hopelessly in love with him.

In A Lesson in Love and Murder, Jonathan Arnasson. He really turned into an emblem of what happens when you submit to something other than God, despite your best intentions. I really wanted a counterbalance to Benny who follows the law of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and is obsessed with his guidebooks. What I found was a man who truly thought he was doing right but blindly fell into a band of violence. I think he is representative of so many of the anarchist sects of the early 20th Century. In theory, they promise so much and at core have some wonderful values of equality for all. But, without the Highest Power involved, even the greatest man-made schemes become distorted. Jonathan’s desperate attempts to redeem his lost ways were something that really, really depressed me.   I was in a bit of a funk writing the second half of the book.

What was the latest you stayed up working on this story?

Oh man! I swear during the month of February of this past year, my work colleagues at my day job called me Zombie Rachel.  I spent any moment I wasn’t at the office working on this book. I spent most of my Christmas holidays and thereon using every evening and weekend I could. The amount of research that went into this book and the books I read on Roosevelt vs. what went into the final product is a staggeringly unequal ratio.   Even my birthday.  I actually finished the first draft late the night of my birthday.  I think it was about 3:45 a.m.  (Fun fact: the next day, was a holiday Monday in Canada, I went to the movie theatre and watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. When it was over, I bought two more tickets for the same film and just absolutely became a zombie— gapped out in the same chair…for hours. I was literally brain-dead LOL)

Thanks Rach!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder
Character Spotlight on Jem & Merinda
Rachel’s Author Alert
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Buy from Amazon: A Lesson in Love and Murder or Koorong

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One Response to Rachel McMillan: A Writer and her Book

  1. I completely enjoyed The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. I look forward to reading A Lesson in Love and Murder soon.

    Rachel and I are twinning on our first CF book. Mine was Vienna Prelude as well. So loved that series!!

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