An Exclusive Interview with Katherine Cowley, Author of The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception – Austenprose

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Comfortable Monday Pricey Readers!

Summer time is blazing right here in my neck of the woods. It’s time for raspberry lemonade, having fun with hydrangea blooms, and sitting within the shade with new books!

I’m happy to have a particular visitor with us right now. Creator Katherine Cowley has a brand new historic thriller novel arriving in September that instantly caught my eye, The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception. Cowley did an incredible job persevering with the story of awkward center sister Mary Bennet from Pleasure and Prejudice within the first novel within the collection, The Secret Lifetime of Miss Mary Bennet, and the second, The True Confessions of a London Spy. Remember to try our 5 star evaluations by following the hyperlinks.

I used to be curious to know extra about her new novel and Katherine generously agreed to be interviewed. The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception is a continuation of Mary’s life as a British spy, and along with the thriller and espionage, she finds romance. Right here is our tete-a-tete revealing some fascinating particulars. Take pleasure in!


Welcome, Katherine. Congratulations on the forthcoming publication of The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception.

Lucy Briers as Mary Bennet within the 1995 miniseries of Pleasure and Prejudice

Mary Bennet’s persona in Pleasure and Prejudice is priggish and judgmental. These should not very interesting traits for the heroine of a novel. Are you able to share your ideas on Austen’s canon Mary Bennet, and why you wished to proceed her story?

Mary is certainly not the type of character who is generally the protagonist! As you mentioned, in Pleasure and Prejudice she is usually judgmental and priggish. I like to consider her pronouncements as “Maryisms.” She lacks consciousness of what’s acceptable for various contexts, and she or he finds herself uncomfortable in some social conditions. Due to all these attributes, she’s typically ignored and dismissed by her relations and others in the neighborhood.

But would Mary actually stay mounted, with precisely these traits, ceaselessly? I feel it might be horrible if all of us had been destined to be precisely who we had been throughout our teenage years. I wished to present her a narrative of her personal, and the chance to develop. I like tales like Depraved that take an surprising character and inform the story from their perspective.

I spotted that a few of Mary’s struggles—like being ignored and dismissed—would really be a bonus to her as a spy. And whereas she by no means really outgrows a few of her struggles with social conditions and understanding the expectations of others, she learns to handle them in a manner that permits her to make use of issues that she’s good at to unravel issues.

The Waltz, by Thomas Rowlandson (1806)

What’s The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception about, and what was your favourite scene to write down?

Napoleon Bonaparte has escaped from the Isle of Elba, and Europe is getting ready to conflict. Mary Bennet and different British spies are despatched to Brussels, the place the Allied forces are gathering. One of many Duke of Wellington’s most trusted officers is murdered, and Mary and Mr. Withrow are given the duty to unravel the case. The e book can also be about Mary’s sophisticated relationship together with her sister, Lydia Wickham. And at last, this story is Mary’s likelihood to seek out her personal romance.

My favourite scene to write down was when Mary learns to bop the Viennese Waltz. I discovered a e book written in 1816 by dance grasp Thomas Wilson titled A Description of the Right Technique of Waltzing, the Really Trendy Species of Dancing. It’s extraordinarily detailed and divulges superb insights into views of the day. (Like the best way to flip your waltz from acceptable to inappropriate! It’s all in what number of fingers you placed on you place in your companion’s again.) In 1816, waltzing relied way more closely on ballet methods, and of all of the Bennet sisters, I believed Mary can be the most certainly to seek out it troublesome. In reality, she struggles a lot that the romantic curiosity presents to modify and be her companion. Immediately, studying the waltz is not horrible.

Adrian Lucis as George Wickham within the 1995 Pleasure and Prejudice miniseries 

Why does the thriller style match so effectively into Jane Austen and her world?

This has been mentioned by others earlier than, however in some ways, Jane Austen’s tales are literally thriller novels. Her heroines are attempting to know the true characters of these round them. There’s a relentless quest for discovery—what actually occurred between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham? why did Mr. Bingley go away and never contact Jane? the place is Lydia? Like in thriller novels, the stakes of Austen’s novels are excessive: characters threat their livelihoods, their futures, their likelihood at happiness. I’ve discovered that the misdirections, the misunderstandings, and the makes an attempt by characters to hide their true motives translate completely into the thriller style.

Portray of The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, by Robert Alexander Hillingford, in Brussels on 15 June 1815, the night time earlier than the Battle of Quatre Bras. 

Your analysis of Regency instances actually shines. What’s the most compelling historic reality that you simply found whereas researching this period in historical past?

For me, what was probably the most compelling was studying what number of ladies had been really on the Battle of Waterloo. Not solely had been there ladies again in Brussels, ready for information, however there have been ladies on the fringe of the battlefield, utilizing opera glasses to look at their husbands. There have been ladies on horses and on foot, going into battle with the lads (some in disguise, some not). And after the battle, a whole lot of ladies might be seen on the battlefield. Some had been looking for a cherished one; some had been robbing the useless of valuables; others had been caring for his or her our bodies.

Members of the forged of the TV miniseries of Self-importance Honest (2018)

What different literary or historic inspirations fueled your creativeness whereas writing The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception?

The novel Self-importance Honest by William Makepeace Thackeray was my preliminary inspiration for placing Mary in Brussels earlier than the Battle of Waterloo. I like how Thackeray portrayed Becky and Amelia’s tales, and I wished to write down my very own depiction of the well-known ball held by the Duchess of Richmond. By way of historic inspiration, I drew closely on the e book Dancing into Battle: A Social Historical past of the Battle of Waterloo, in addition to on biographies of the Duke of Wellington.

I used to be additionally impressed closely by The Scarlet Pimpernel. I like the fixed donning of recent disguises and identities, and in writing The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception, I wished to present Mary the prospect to attempt to pull off difficult new identities.

The Secret Lifetime of Miss Mary Bennet collection

The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception is the third e book within the collection. Is it essential to learn the primary two mysteries to know the backstory of Mary and her new life?

My favourite thriller collection assist you to enter at any level, and due to that, I wrote The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception so it could actually stand alone. For those who simply need Mary Bennet as a spy with a romance, begin with the third e book.

Nevertheless, if you’d like a full collection expertise, I like to recommend beginning with the primary e book. Mary does develop and alter throughout every e book—the primary novel is about how she turns into a spy, and the second novel is her first case in London. In these first two books, she learns about herself and what she needs, she begins creating significant relationships, and she or he develops abilities as a spy that can assist her on her journey.

What’s up subsequent in your in your writing profession?

I might love to write down extra within the Mary Bennet spy collection or write a spin-off novel about her sister Kitty. Nevertheless, I’ve been engaged on this collection continuous since 2017, and I actually felt that it might assist my storytelling to remain recent if I labored on one thing new. My present secret mission is a thriller novel set in Paris within the latter half of the nineteenth century.


Katherine Cowley’s debut novel, The Secret Lifetime of Miss Mary Bennet, was nominated the 2022 Mary Higgins Clark Award.

Different books in her Mary Bennet spy collection embody The True Confessions of a London Spy (March 2022) and The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception (September 2022).

Her weblog Jane Austen Writing Classes was chosen by The Write Life as one of many 100 Greatest Web sites for Writers in 2021. Katherine teaches writing courses at Western Michigan College.

Katherine lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, together with her husband and three daughters.



What’s a spy prepared to do when each her coronary heart and her nation are in danger?

Life adjustments as soon as once more for British spy Miss Mary Bennet when Napoleon Bonaparte escapes from the Isle of Elba. Mary rapidly departs England for Brussels, town the place the Allied forces put together for conflict in opposition to the French. However shortly after her arrival, one of many Duke of Wellington’s greatest officers is murdered, an occasion which threatens to interrupt the fragile alliance between the Allies.

Investigating the homicide forces Mary into precarious ranges of espionage, role-playing, and deception together with her new companion, Mr. Withrow-the nephew and inheritor of her outstanding sponsor, and the spy with whom she’s typically at odds. Collectively, they courtroom hazard and discovery as they play twin roles gathering intelligence for the British. However quickly Mary realizes that her rising emotions in direction of Mr. Withrow put her coronary heart in as a lot hazard as her life. After which there’s one other homicide.

Mary might want to unmask the assassin earlier than extra individuals are killed, however can she achieve this and stay hidden within the background?


  • The Woman’s Information to Demise and Deception: The Secret Lifetime of Mary Bennet (E book 3), by Katherine Cowley
  • Tule Publishing Group, LLC (September 6, 2022)
  • Commerce paperback, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1957748566
  • Style: Austenesque, Historic Thriller


Cowl picture courtesy of Tule Publishing Group, © 2022; textual content Laurel Ann Nattress & Katherine Cowley © 2022,

Hi there Pricey Readers,

What did you consider the 2 earlier novels in The Secret Lifetime of Miss Mary Bennet mysteries by Katherine Cowley?

Haven’t learn them but! For those who get pleasure from mysteries or fiction with well-researched historic particulars, witty dialogue, participating plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose extremely recommends them. 

Drop us a line beneath and share your ideas on this interview and what you might be presently studying. We might love to listen to from you!

Laurel Ann Nattress, editor