Library Week Highlight: Deanna Raybourn

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Library Week Highlight: Deanna Raybourn

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The Veronica Speedwell series talked about the inspiring series that has touched millions of people nationwide.

Deanna Raybourn just finished her book tour for the book, A Unexpected Peril, the sixth book in the Veronica Speedway series. Raybourn was excited about USA Today’s Bestseller’s sixth book release and sharing that excitement with her readers. The author said that the tour was bittersweet; holding virtual events, learning to set up the ring light, and running a tech check was great. However, it didn’t compare to the energy of a bookstore or auditorium filled with avid readers. 

“I hope future tours are hybrid so that I can have the best of both worlds,” she said. 

Author Deanna Raybourn
Picture by Deanna Raybourn

The Veronica Speedwell series has come a long way since the publication of the first book in 2015. After the hard decision to leave her publisher, the Texas native found herself in a wonderful yet terrifying position. “I didn’t feel like I was finished exploring the Victorian era,” Raybourn said. “There is so much scope. I could find inspiration for dozens of projects. Still, I wanted to develop the main character who wasn’t aristocratic, made her own living, and challenged Victorian society’s accepted rules. I’ve been studying 19th-century explorers for almost thirty years, and it just seemed so fitting to use them as my launching pad for creating a natural historian who has seen the world.”

Thus the creation of Veronica Speedwell-an adventurous woman living in England who is into world travels and in love with scientific inquiries. The mystery unfolds around her as she goes on the most daring escapades throughout the series. Raybourn mixed her love of Victorian history with her mixed background. The author is a 6th-generation native of Texas on her mother’s side, hailing from Fort Worth. “This means there is a lot of storytelling and indomitable will from that part of the family,” she said. But her paternal grandmother was a British war bride, so there is also a comfort level with Veronica’s identity as an Englishwoman.
The mix of US and UK cultures can be seen within the Curiosity Club in the book series. Veronica fits in the society in the latest book of the series, where she becomes a member of the women’s group. Strong, bold, and intelligent women make up society. The Curiosity Club comprises women of accomplishment consisting of mathematicians, musicians, mountaineers, and more. “It’s a place where women are celebrated for their achievements, especially in fields where men could not only be unwelcoming but actively work against their inclusion,” Raybourn said. “The women of the club share a sisterhood. They are brilliant and audacious and intrepid, and the club exists to give them a place to gather with other like-minded souls. As a well-traveled, fearless lepidopterist, Veronica is right at home there.”

In the sixth installment of the series, An Unexpected Peril, released last month, Veronica must pretend to be a princess to uphold a peace treaty. The mission holds a difficult revelation for the character, as she grabbles with the thought of who she is after finding out she comes from royalty from the first book.

“She defines herself by her work and her abilities, her courage, and her candor, but there is also a lingering shadow over her identity,” Raybourn said. “It’s complicated by her “family” occasionally pulling her into their problems without being willing to accept her as one of them, and she has a lot of internal conflict about whether she even wants that.”

Masquerading as a princess allows Veronica to see what her life might have been like if she had been officially recognized as royalty.

Raybourn is grateful for the constant love for the series and the new ones joining the adventures. Especially during the pandemic, when escaping to another world seems apparent more than ever.

“I’m enormously grateful to the readers, librarians, booksellers, reviewers, and bookstagrammers who have taken Veronica in and made her their own,” she said.

Check out more of Veronica Speedwell‘s adventures. 

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