Author Interview: Riana Everly



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Riana. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

RE- Thank you for having me here today. I live in Toronto, Canada, at the moment, but I started my journey in South Africa and have lived in a few countries across the world. It’s a beautiful planet!

When I’m not reading or writing, my other passion is music. In normal times I play with an orchestra and with a string quartet, but this last year has not been kind for musicians. Still, I love cooking and I’ve spent more than my share of time in the kitchen, whipping up everything from lemon bars to Thai curries.

As for a perfect day, that starts with perfect weather, not too hot and with a bright blue sky. I’ll start the day early with a long walk through one of our ravines, or perhaps a bike ride, although I am no athlete! Then coffee and a bagel, and probably another coffee, before starting to write or edit. I’m at home with my whole family now, so everything is punctuated by requests about what’s for dinner, what people can have for lunch, and what I think of the latest TikTok video. 

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

RE- This is a hard one. Every time period is entrancing in its own way. I mostly write about the Regency era these days. It’s a fascinating time period, that sliver between the permissive late eighteenth century and the Victorians, when society was in flux, art and architecture were flowering, the drawing rooms were oh so elegant, and science and technology were just about to explode and change the world forever. There’s Napoleon altering the map of Europe, America moving to centre stage, and ladies in Grecian-inspired frocks climbing over muddy stiles and sipping tea. It’s fertile ground for the imagination.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

RE- Another impossible choice! There are so many fascinating people in the history books. One such person is Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess who lived in the Rhineland in the 12th century. She was a composer, writer, mystic, political commentator, herbalist, and more. I first came across her through her music, but the more I studied, the more interested I became in her life. What would I ask her? I’d ask her about her visions and about what the music she heard really sounded like. Modern scholars assume her visions were migraine auras or the like, but perhaps there was something more to them.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

RE- I started as a reader. I love reading pretty much anything, and I love history, so reading historical fiction was natural. I’ve also always dabbled with writing, and the more I read, the more I wondered if I could do something like that as well. It took a while to find my era and my niche, that time and social space that suited the sorts of stories I wanted to tell.

Of course, if there is research to be done, then I’m a very happy person. I sometimes think I love the chase as much as the writing. What did Napoleonic cribbage boards look like? How were buttons made? What sorts of hunting dogs did they use? That’s like candy for me.

JMR- You have a degree in Medieval Studies and are a classically trained musician, how has this influenced your writing?

RE- Although my graduate degree is in Medieval Studies, I don’t write about that era. Still, I learned how to research. I discovered how to find sources, what sorts of sources are more or less valuable, and how to winnow out the information I need. And although my academic pursuits far predate the era I write about, having that historical background helps me to understand what came afterwards. Of course, Regency England is far closer to modern society than to the Middle Ages, but the foundations of that society are set in institutions that arose during the earlier time period.

As for playing music, there my background is more immediately tied to the period I write about. I specialized in Baroque and Classical performance practice, and I most often play exactly the music that my characters would have heard or played. I love having a sense of the little things, like what the cakes tasted like, how stockings were mended, and what sounds were coming from the other room, and being immersed in the music helps me to get my head into that aspect of my characters’ lives.

JMR- Riana, tell us about your books.

RE- I love romance and I love Jane Austen, and when I discovered the world of Austenesque fiction, I felt I had come home. My first novel, Teaching Eliza, is a mash-up and Pride and Prejudice and Shaw’s brilliant play Pygmalion. I had so much fun with that! In The Assistant, I tell an earlier story about some secondary characters, and set part of that novel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I enjoy stretching the boundaries a bit and shifting from London to the colonies let me bring my home country into my novels. I also stretched boundaries in a different way with Through a Different Lens, where my main character is what we would now call autistic. My more recent releases include two full-length mysteries, also based in Jane Austen’s universe, with minor character Mary Bennet taking centre stage as a sleuth.

JMR-Your books are an homage to Jane Austen whose fans are rabid, myself included. How did you immerse yourself in her world? Why do you think readers still adore her work?

RE- In a nutshell, she’s timeless. She was such a keen observer of character, we feel we know the people she writes about. And more importantly, we love those characters. We love Elizabeth Bennet, we love Mr. Darcy. They are, to an extent, the people we want to be.

Austen is a bit like Bach in a way. You can take a piece of Bach’s music and do all sorts of crazy things to it – play it on steel drums or set it for rock band or techno-pop or pipe organ, and the essence of the music shines through. It’s still brilliant. Likewise with Austen. Her stories are so essential that you can take her characters and know how they would act in different times or places or circumstances, and the genius of the original shines through.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

RE- I have several projects on the go right now.

I have two more mysteries in my Miss Mary Investigates series that are written and in different stages of editing. I hope to have at least one of these released later this year. The tentative title is Miss Mary Investigates: Death of a Dandy, but that might well change.

I also have two romances out with beta readers. One is another Pride and Prejudice variation, this time with a heavy dose of Shakespeare, and the other is a contemporary romance inspired by Austen’s novel Persuasion.

I am particularly passionate about this latter work-in-progress. Persuasion is my favourite of Austen’s six novels, and my reimagining of the story takes place in the world of classical music, which is my other love. I’ve set the story in modern day Toronto and as well as bringing music to centre stage, I’m also able to showcase the city that I now call home. This work has the tentative title Preludes.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

RE- Oh, I love meeting people! You can find me here:
Website and blog:

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

RE- You could ask me about how I get myself immersed in the worlds I write about.

The short answer is travel. I’m a visual person and I love seeing the places in my books. And wherever possible, that means going there in person. I write a lot about London, and I’ve spent enough time in that fabulous city that I can imagine how it might have looked 200 years ago. So much has changed, of course, but so much is the same. I can think back just a few years to when I was eating pizza in Covent Garden and picture my characters doing the same thing, although probably with eel and leek pies rather than pizza.

For The Assistant, I took myself on a historical tour of Halifax and wrote about the church that’s still standing, Government House that was being built at the time, the York Redout overlooking the harbour. And I have plans for a future for my sleuths Mary and Alexander in Montreal. I’ve lived there and know the city, and can well imagine it as the bustling cosmopolitan city it must have been in the early 1800s.

Likewise, another work-in-progress that takes place partly in Bermuda, and a non-Austen novel I have drafted that takes place almost on my doorstep, albeit 200 years ago. I can drive down to this village on Lake Ontario and wander through a cemetery dating back to the 1790s and feel some of the echoes of history through my feet.

This, by the way, is how I excuse my Wanderlust. It’s research. Pure research. All for the sake of my muse. Of course.

One more thing that might be of interest to readers. My mysteries have another sleuth alongside Mary, an investigator named Alexander Lyons. You can read about his first case involving the Darcy family for free in The Mystery of the Missing Heiress. This is a novella, and you can find it at Smashwords: Did I mention that it’s free? Enjoy!

Thank you for this fun interview. I enjoyed answering your thought-provoking questions.

JMR- Thank you, Riana for stopping by and chatting, we loved having you! Readers, I know you will want to check out Riana's fabulous books, so I've include a link to Amazon US below. 


  1. Thanks for this fun interview! I enjoyed answering your great questions.


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