The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Welcome romance and mystery writer, Amy Corwin...

Thrilled to welcome Amy here today - Amy is a prolific writer who has many titles out there in the big, wide world. Be sure to check out her website and backlist. Glad to be part of your new blog tour, Amy - here's to lots of new sales!!

Inspiration for The Vital Principle

Like most authors, inspiration is an odd beast. I rarely get a single idea that will generate an entire novel. Instead, I get bits and pieces that I file away in the back of my mind. After a while, some demon rifling through the detritus suggested that if I combine some of those disparate notions, I might have a story.

For The Vital Principle, several things came together to form the story.

The first element was the hero, Knighton Gaunt. He developed over a number of years, as a man who is dedicated to The Truth. He is the founder of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency. He’s the second son of a baron who was murdered and Knighton was blamed. He eventually found the true killer, but this experience reinforced his belief that there is a single Truth and that finding it, regardless of how painful the process, is essential.

The Second Sons Inquiry Agency itself was an idea I had since I have a love of the old gothics and mysteries where the hero and heroine solve a mystery and find happiness together at the end. I’m helplessly addicted to happy endings. So, I wanted a “vehicle” or unifying element that would allow me to develop stories with a variety of heroes or heroines who could act in Knighton’s stead when he was not available. Having the agency allowed me to incorporate other characters in mysteries. I also was fearful of getting locked into one character, such as Knighton, and never being able to expand to other characters. (We’ve all heard the story about Doyle trying to kill off Sherlock because he got so sick of writing about him. LOL Not that I would ever reach that point, but….)

While those ideas were all brewing, another character occurred to me, a woman named Prudence Barnard. Her life was one irony after another. She was of a “good family” but her mother died when Pru was young and her father was a bit of a nutter. He was fascinated by the occult and rather than settling into his own home and raising Pru, he dragged her around investigating stories of hauntings and ghosts. Pru ended up doing the legwork for his investigations and invariably proved the spirits were in fact prosaic things like drafts or bugs in the wainscoting.

However, when her father died, he left Pru with an income too small to rent rooms or support herself, and she really didn’t want to become a governess. When friends began inviting her to stay with them, she leapt at the chance as she could essentially live as a “professional guest” by moving from one house to another. She soon discovered the downside to this arrangement, however, because her hosts hoped she would contact the spirits and relay messages to them. They indicated her past experiences with her father gave her a unique entre into the spirit realm, completely ignoring the fact that she never actually found any proof of a spirit realm. So she was caught in the position of pretending to contact spirits in order to maintain her lifestyle as a professional guest.

And you can see how a man who believes in The Truth would have a bit of a conflict with a woman who pretends to speak with ghosts. Despite their differences, they perfectly complement each other. It may take them a while to realize it, however.

For the mystery, the final element was some obscure information I found in some Regency-period medical books. I won’t talk about that because I don’t want to spoil it for readers. J

Once I had all the elements available, the real work began of writing the story. It’s never easy to successfully meld mystery and romance, but the two do work well together to give readers a more satisfying story. For Pru and Knighton, I’ve got the second story for them written, so like Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence, readers will get to peer over their shoulders as they meet again and their romance deepens.

Thank you for this opportunity to visit you!

The Vital Principle

An inquiry agent seeks to expose a spiritualist as a fraud only to uncover a murder.

In 1815, inquiry agent, Knighton Gaunt, is asked by Lord Crowley to attend a séance with the express purpose of revealing the spiritualist as a fraud. When the séance ends abruptly, an unseen killer poisons Lord Crowley, leaving Gaunt to investigate not fraud, but murder.

Suspicion turns first to the spiritualist, Miss Prudence Barnard. But as Gaunt digs deeper into the twisted history of the guests at Rosecrest, he discovers a series of deadly secrets. Long-time friends soon turn against one another as the tension mounts, and Gaunt is challenged to separate fact from fiction before another death at Rosecrest.

The Vital Principle is the first mystery in the Second Sons Inquiry Agency series and features coolly intellectual Mr. Knighton Gaunt, the agency’s founder. This witty, historical whodunit in the tradition of Bruce Alexander’s Blind Justice will keep you guessing until the unexpected end.

“Murder, mystery, and a dash of romance combined with witty dialogue and unforgettable characters make The Vital Principle a book that will definitely go on my keeper shelf!” —Lilly Gayle, author of Into the Darkness and Slightly Tarnished.


In this scene, Lord Crowley is poisoned in front of a roomful of guests, leaving inquiry agent Knighton Gaunt with a murder to solve.

Lord Thompson stiffened and put his snifter back onto the table with a snap. The pinched skin between his brows and two spots of color staining his cheekbones betrayed anger, but he replied with a cool drawl, “I believe I’ll say good night. It’s well after midnight. And don’t forget our plans to leave early tomorrow for Scotland.”

“As you wish. Good night then, Thompson.” Lord Crowley held his brandy up in a dismissive salute to the Howard ladies. “I hope Miss Howard is not too badly injured by that girl’s clumsiness. If you need anything, just ask.”

“Thank you, Lord Crowley,” Lady Howard replied, hovering over her daughter.

Crowley took another sip of his brandy and then coughed wetly. Sputtering, he placed his glass on the table in front of him. He coughed again into his fist.

As Knighton watched with growing concern, Crowley’s face darkened, flushing with a deep, bluish-purple color. Crowley swayed, wavering unsteadily then gripped the back of his chair. Blinking and coughing, he crashed to the floor, pulling the chair down on top of him.

“Lord Crowley!” He pushed past the other guests and pulled the chair off Crowley. He rolled him over on his back.

Crowley gagged and choked, gasping for air. He clutched Knighton's lapel and jerked him closer. His reddened eyes widened as Knighton worked to loosen Crowley’s neckcloth. But before he could unwind the complicated material, he heard the terrible, unmistakable sound of a rattling exhalation.

“Henry!” Lady Crowley said. Eyes fixed on Knighton’s face, Lady Crowley blindly grabbed Miss Barnard’s forearm and clung to her. “What’s wrong with my son? Henry—Henry! What is happening to my son?”

A Brief Bio

Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years. She writes romance, historical and cozy mysteries. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.

Amy’s books include the three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; Regency mysteries, THE VITAL PRINCIPLE, and A ROSE BEFORE DYING; and her first cozy mystery, WHACKED!, will come in in 2012 from Five Star.

Join her and discover that every good romance has a touch of mystery.





Amy will BE GIVING AWAY a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host with the most comments (excluding Amy's and the host's).

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. I loved your comment (from your Hero) that there is only one truth. Then to read how you incorporate that into your stories is fascinating.

  2. I noticed you have a contemporary mystery coming out in 2012. Do you find it difficult to switch between genres. What is your favorite genre to write, historical or contemporary? All of your historicals are mysteries. Did you find a ready market for this sub-genre or was it difficult to get it published?

  3. Thank you all for dropping by. I really appreciate it.

    MomJane - yes, when I was young, I actually believed in The Truth. As I've gotten older, I've been dismayed to find that there is also interpretation of that. LOL So it was easy to think my hero might honestly believe there is one, knowable truth. A lot of people do.

    Karen - Those are really good questions. I like writing in both genres and some characters and plots just fit in a specific period. Both time periods present problems, so I don't really find one easier than the other. I will say that it is easier to get a contemporary published than a historical. And I do often get plots that seem more "at home" as historicals, which is why I've written so many of them.

    Thank you again for visiting with us!

  4. I know what you mean about getting ideas in bits and pieces that might not all fit together in the same story. I recall hearing author Isabel Allende speak about all of the different characters and stories mulling around in her head, waiting for their place.

    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  5. Writing is alot like working on a puzzle. It's all there in your mind waiting to be pieced together on paper. Deb P

  6. Regency Romantic Mysteries: it does not get any better than that.