Deanna Raybourn Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Deanna Raybourn
Photo: © Holly Virginia Photography

Deanna Raybourn

An interview with Deanna Raybourn

Deanna Raybourn discusses her latest novel, the thriller Killers of a Certain Age.

Tell us about Killers of a Certain Age! What inspired you to write this story?

My editor called up one day and said they wanted a book about mature women doing kickass things and would I be interested in writing something like that. They gave me carte blanche on the specifics—whatever time period I liked, however many women I chose, doing whatever I wanted. I was free to write the story of my dreams. It was almost TOO much freedom ! I quietly panicked as I tried to figure out where to start. But I knew immediately I wanted to stretch myself and write something contemporary. And I wanted to write a quartet. Something about that dynamic of four different personalities and how they would relate to one another really appealed to me. All that was left then was to decide what sort of kickass things they would be doing. I could have made them spies or detectives, but there's really nothing more kickass than assassins.

Killers of a Certain Age centers on four women who also happen to be elite assassins by profession—and who find their agency targeting them to be taken out, just as they are about to retire. Your story resonates all too well in a world that often doesn't value age and experience over youth. What made this story resonate with you?

Once I hit fifty, I realized I was far more comfortable in my own skin than I ever had been as a younger woman. I have so much more confidence in my abilities, in my experience, and that's come right as I've hit the age where society starts ignoring us. Women over fifty seem to get more invisible with each passing year, and that's a startling thing to navigate at first, but it's also our superpower. The more other people look past us, the more we can get away with, and that ability to fade into the background is a key component to what helps my four assassins literally get away with murder.

Each woman brings her own unique skills and personality traits to the job. Did you identify with any one character in particular?

Hands down Billie. The book covers all four of the assassins, but Billie is the main focus, and she has qualities I relate to. She does her homework, but she operates largely by instinct. She's absolutely not interested in dealing with anybody else's bullshit. She can also be a little too certain that she knows best, which is one of my worst qualities.

Your past Edgar-nominated mystery novels, including the Veronica Speedwell series, have been set in the historical past. What was it like making the transition from writing a historical fiction series to a standalone contemporary novel?

It was a ludicrous amount of fun. It was a tricky adjustment—after a dozen and a half historical books, my Victorian voice is honed and familiar. But finding my contemporary tone was just pure joy. Every draft of the book got more authentic as I got more comfortable letting down my guard and just writing from my gut. My husband says the voice of this book is very similar to my Twitter feed, and he's right.

What kind of research was required to write this book?

I paid a visit to the International Spy Museum for a little undercover inspiration, and I read memoirs of secret agents to get a feel for how they operate. And then there was a lot of research into how to kill people. Some of the methods I used were straightforward, but I had to be a little more imaginative for a few of the hits, and that took a bit of ingenuity. I was lucky enough to travel to every setting described in the book, so that helped when I went to set the scenes.

If Killers of a Certain Age were made into a film and you could choose your dream cast, who would play your characters?< br>
I usually hate to dream cast because I want readers to be able to picture who THEY like in a role, but I will admit I kept a picture of Diane Lane taped to my computer monitor while I wrote.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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Killers of a Certain Age jacket
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