Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Interview with Emily Brightwell

By Pamela James

MM2: Emily how many book have you written? In how many genres?
  Emily:  I’ve written a total of forty four books in three different genres: romance under the name of Sarah Temple, young adult novels under the name Cheryl Lanham and of course my mysteries as Emily Brightwell - to date I’ve done  thirty four books in the “Mrs. Jeffries” series and I’m looking forward to doing more!

MM2: I love Mrs. Jefferies and her cohorts. The Victorian period is one of my favorite periods in history. How much research went into this series? Is there a part of the research that is particularly difficult?

  Emily:  I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series.  The Victorians are a fascinating bunch and I’m always finding something interesting about them.  I do a lot of research and I generally use primary sources like newspapers and journals.  However, there are   occasionally details that are almost impossible to track down - and in that case, I  just keep digging…for instance, in the book I’m currently writing, I’m trying to find out how long evidence of a crime was preserved at the local police station.  Nowhere in the literature can I find out how long a local precinct hangs onto crime scene evidence when there hasn’t been an arrest.  

MM2: Tell us about your latest book? 

  Emily: “Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize” will be published in March of 2016.  This one was a true pleasure to write as it involved characters from India during the Raj, a Ladies Orchid and Exotic Plant Society and of course, a host of back-biting suspects!

MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?

  Emily:  I have an office where I do my writing on a desktop computer, but I’m considering buying another laptop so I can be portable.  I had a notebook for many years and I liked that - being able to take my work anywhere was very liberating and I miss it.

MM2: Give us some backstory on your career and your life?

  Emily: I came to California as a child and grew up in Pasadena.  After I graduated from college, I went abroad where I met my husband.   We eventually made our way back to California and settled in Long Beach.  After our children were born, I decided to get   serious about my dream of being a writer.  I was in International Shipping so I worked during the day and did my writing early in the morning.  After getting published in romance, I tried my hand at my mysteries and found that I loved working in that genre, but don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoyed writing romances as well.  Apparently, though, my personality is much better suited to killing people rather than making them fall in love!

MM2: What would Mrs. Jefferies tell us about you?

  Emily:  Mrs. Jeffries would say that the reason I love what I do is because I’m obsessed with justice.  She’d be right too.

MM2: What advice do you have for writers who want to write historical mysteries?

  Emily: Writing historical mysteries is wonderful, but whether it’s Victorian England, medieval France, the Joseon dynasty of Korea or the Incas of Peru, people are always people.  As a species, we are and always have been a mixture of good and bad; kind, cruel, loving, hateful, jealous, or self-sacrificing - it’s precisely because of our human characteristics that writers can create stories that readers love.  Good stories are always about people, the setting and time period is just frosting on the cake.

MM2: Your titles are great so my question is do you get to stay with the working titles or does the editor have you change some of them?

   Emily:  I usually come up with the title, but not always…I must admit, when my editor has given me a suggestion for a title change, it’s always better than the one I’d come up with.

MM2: Now for some fun questions: What is your favorite meal, movie, dessert, place to vacation and do you have a favorite television series?

   Emily:  A favorite meal is tough - I’m a foodie so I’ve rarely met a meal I didn’t like.  I love a great carnitas though, especially when washed down with a margarita or two.  My favorite movie is a romantic mystery, an Argentinian film called “The   Secret in Their Eyes”  As for dessert, I adore cream brûlée and a good bread pudding.  England is a wonderful vacation spot as is the coast of Northern California.  As for a TV series, goodness, there are so many great ones - I loved ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, also, ‘The Good Wife’, ‘Mad Men’ and Masterpiece Mystery (especially Inspector Lewis and the new Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch).

MM2: What would you like to say to your readers?

   Emily:  I’m so grateful my readers continue to like the series and I sincerely hope I never disappoint them.

MM2: What are your future writing and traveling plans?

  Emily:  Future writing plans include more “Mrs. Jeffries” and hopefully, if I have time, a three book mini-series set in WW1..but we’ll have to see about that.  For travel, my husband and I are going to try to get to Hawaii this fall.

MM2: Take us thru a typical writing day?

  Emily:  I get to my desk by 8:30 and then put in four to five hours of writing…I don’t edit as I write, but do a whole draft of the book before I start the editing process.

MM2: Today if there were two of you. What would you have the other you do and what would you be working on?

  Emily:  The other me would be working on the WW1 mini-series while I worked on the next “Mrs. Jeffries”- which, by the way, has a working title of “Mrs. Jeffries Saves the Season”.

MM2: You have great characters so what would Inspector Witherspoon like to add to this interview?

  Emily:  Inspector Witherspoon would like to tell you that though he is one of nature’s gentlemen, he can also be a pretty tough guy when the chips are down.  Plus, one of these days, he is going to kiss Lady Cannonberry!

MM2: Lastly leave us with your favorite writing quote?

  Emily:  It’s a quote from the wonderful writer, Octavia Butler, who is sadly no longer with us.  “You don’t start out writing good stuff.  You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually, you get better at it.  That’s why I say one of the most
valuable traits is persistence.”


  1. I love this series!

    And on another note - LOVE BTVS too! Actually got to see James Marsters, Amber Benson and Emma Caulfield at Awesomecon earlier this year as well!

  2. I have taken your books to the doctor's office, the bank, to my daughter's house while staying months. As you can see your books have been with me thru thick and thin. They are my comfort reads. I am with you on Masterpiece Mystery Inspector Lewis is one of the best television series. I hope you enjoy Hawaii and don't forget to send plenty of pictures.

  3. I actually like Lewis much better than Morse!

  4. I am an avid Mrs Jeffries fan. I just finished the India one which was quite a coincidence as my granddaughter is on a vacation in India for a month. It was a connection to her... so thank you. I thought I had read them all and Voila! last summer I discovered an old one I had missed... the one where Blimpy Groggins asks for help. Such a delightful surprise. I hope you write another Christmas one. Thank you for the many hours of pleasure you have given me.


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