Home » Author Interviews » Interview with Deborah Hawkins, author of Dance for a Dead Princess

Interview with Deborah Hawkins, author of Dance for a Dead Princess

Dance for a Dead Princess Final


Wall Street Attorney Taylor Collins, has something Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham, has been searching for since the death of the Princess of Wales: the videotape Diana made in January 1997 before her death in August, naming her assassins.

Determined to avenge Diana’s death by exposing her killers, Nicholas lures Taylor to England with his promise to sell his ancestral home, Burnham Abbey,  to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls.   But Nicholas, who has dated American actresses since the death of his beloved wife, ten years earlier and who has vowed never to fall in love again, is immediately overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.

Taylor, unaware that Diana’s tape is in the estate of Mari, her long-time friend and client, and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish and is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York.  But while working in the Abbey’s library, Taylor uncovers the Tudor-era love story of Thomas, the first duke and founder of the Carey family.  As she reads Thomas’s agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine.  But just as Taylor’s own feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana’s voice from the grave, she is confronted with evidence Nicholas may be responsible for a double murder.  When Nicholas is arrested and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth once and for all about Nicholas Carey and the death of the Princess of Wales.

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Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Dance For A Dead Princess is actually a novel with two separate stories woven together around the theme of the importance of family.  The book begins with the modern story of Nicholas Carey, Eighteenth Duke of Burnham, and Taylor Collins, a beautiful and independent Wall Street attorney, who unknowingly has possession of a videotape Princess Diana made before her death.  Diana names her assassin in the tape.  Nicholas wants it so he can expose Diana’s killer, in memory of  Diana, who was his closest friend, and also in memory of his dead wife, Deborah, who was Diana’s school friend at West Heath.  As the book opens, Nicholas is a sad and bitter man, saddled with a sixteen year old ward, Lucy, who is heavily into partying and drugs and so cynical about his inheritance that he is selling the Carey’s ancestral home, Burnham Abbey, to Taylor’s client, who intends to turn it into a girls’ school.  Nicholas intends never to remarry and father an heir.

Nicholas is immediately drawn to Taylor’s beauty and independence.  She is the only woman he has ever met who has no interest in becoming the Duchess of Burnham.  Women always fall at his feet, but Taylor does not return his interest.  She sees Nicholas as a supremely selfish and arrogant man, and she wants to finish the sale of the Abbey and rush back to her law practice in New York.

But while researching the title documents at Burnham Abbey, Taylor becomes attached to the peace and safety of the house that has been a refuge for Careys since Henry VIII’s time.  And Taylor finds a diary in the library written by Thomas Carey who became the First Duke of Burnham.  As Taylor reads this inner story of Thomas’s great passion for Elizabeth Howell, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light.  Like Thomas, he is capable of a deep and lasting love; and like Thomas, he became bitter and distant when his wife died.  Reading about Thomas’ struggle to thwart Henry VIII, who sought to make Elizabeth his mistress, leaves Taylor with a lasting love for the family Thomas and Elizabeth risked their lives to create.  She no longer wants the Abbey to become a girl’s school, and she is passionately in love with Nicholas even after Lucy disappears, and Nicholas is accused of her murder.  The mystery storyline of Dance For A Dead Princess solves the murders of Princess Diana; Nicholas’ ward, Lucy; and his wife, Deborah.

Did something specific happen to prompt your to write this book?

I wanted to be a college English professor but had to go to law school instead.  I drifted into doing court-appointed appeals for indigent criminals here in California, so I have to read about murder on a daily basis.   I had always felt Diana’s death was not an accident, and when I read she received a threatening phone call in January 1997 and made a video tape naming the person she believed would be responsible for her assassination, the idea for Dance For A Dead Princess was born.  She gave the tape to a close friend to take to America.  It has never been found. 

Who or what is the inspiration behind the book?

Well, first Princess Diana, of course.  I loved following her adventures in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I took my first bar exam on the day of her wedding, and I got up super early to watch it before going to sit for the exam for eight miserable hours.  I loved her clothes and her style, but most of all I loved the way she loved being a mother.  My children were just a little younger than hers; and I, too, adored motherhood, even though it was the hardest work I had ever done.

The second influence for the book was my lifelong wish to be part of a family.   The Careys and Burnham Abbey are my fantasy about what it would be like to be part of a real family that has endured for generations.

Do you have any advice for readers or writers?

Before I published my book, I started leaving book reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Now I see how much it helps an author to have review feedback from readers.  Even a few lines can say a great deal about how the book came across.  So my advice to readers is write book reviews.  Even short ones help.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

First, I would say the complexity of the book.  It really is two separate love/mystery stories woven together.  Second, Nicholas Carey is not a superficial alpha male.  One reviewer called him “complex, brooding, romantic.”  And I love that description.  He has weak points.  He can be vulnerable.  His wife only married him because he had a title even though he worshiped her.  He doesn’t have a clue about Lucy, and he blames himself for the way she’s turned out.   He races cars, but he would rather sit up late playing the piano.  He is so much more than a dominate male figure, and Taylor doesn’t fall in love with him as long a she thinks he’s just one more alpha male.  Third, Taylor herself is not a typical romantic heroine.  She already has her own money and her own success from day one of the story.  In fact, these are the qualities that draw Nicholas to her.  She is always a strong woman, like Elizabeth Howell in the inner story.

 What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

Not to give up on my dreams.



Deborah grew up in the South, wrote her first novel at the of age thirteen, and has been writing ever since. In graduate school, she studied Irish Literature and came to believe all Irishmen and Southerners are born storytellers. In addition to writing, she loves music and plays the clarinet. Now that her children are grown, she devotes her time to law, music, writing, and her two Golden Retrievers, Melody and Rhythm.

Deborah taught college English and worked as a technical editor before going to law school. She worked for several large East Cost firms before coming to California in the mid-1980’s where she developed a solo practice as an appellate attorney while raising her three children as a single parent. She is admitted to the bar in two states and the District of Columbia, is a certified appellate specialist, and has a Master of Laws in addition to a Masters in English. She believes that even a legal case always begins with a story.

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Pump Up Your Book and Deborah Hawkins are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.

This promotion will run from July 1 – September 27. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2013.

Each blogger who participates in the Dance for a Dead Princess virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.

Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.

If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at)gmail.com.  What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Dance for a Dead Princess Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule


Monday, July 1 – Book reviewed at The Phantom Paragrapher

Tuesday, July 2 – Book featured at Cindy’s Love of Books

Wednesday, July 3 – Book featured at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Thursday, July 4 – Interviewed at Read 2 Review

Friday, July 5 – First chapter reveal and review at Mom in Love with Fiction

Monday, July 8 – Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers

Tuesday, July 9 – Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book

Wednesday, July 10 – Interviewed at Review From Here

Friday, July 12 – Book trailer reveal at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, July 16 – Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life

Thursday, July 18 – Interviewed at Literal Exposure

Friday, July 19 – 5 Things post at Literarily Speaking

Tuesday, July 23 – Book reviewed at Miki’s Hope

Wednesday, July 24 – Interviewed at Beyond the Books

Thursday, July 25 – Interviewed at Broowaha


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