The Taming of the Rogue

 This week Risky Amanda is launching her latest Harlequin Historical title, The Taming of the Rogue!!  Risky Megan steps in as interviewer and talks to Amanda about all things Elizabethan….
 
There is only one woman who can tame London’s most notorious heartbreaker!
Anna Barrett is more comfortable filling tankards at the White Heron theater than shopping for corsets.  Her “take no prisoners” attitude has earned her a tough reputation.  Where she was once innocent and naive, now she’s vowed never to be ensnared by a man again.  Except Robert Alden is not just any man…
Gorgeous, dashing, and decidedly reckless, this playwright has left a trail of broken hearts across London.  He’s also a spy on a dangerous assignment.  Anna cannot help getting embroiled in his mission–even if this seemingly untameable rogue is the last person  with whom she should become involved…
“McCabe sweeps readers into the world of the Elizabethan theater, delighting us with a lively tale and artfully drawing on the era’s backdrop of bawdy plays, wild actors, and thrilling adventure” –RT Book Reviews
Megan:  Your books are so rich with history—but never overdone—that your characters seem as if they could only have existed at that time. You reveal bits of history and setting so well that it’s possible to know more than you did when you started the book, and yet the romance is primary.
What intrigues you most about the Elizabethan period?
Amanda:  Thanks so much!!!  That is the greatest compliment someone could give me about my writing (jn my mind anyway…)  Since I write in a variety of time periods, I love the challenge of finding the “tone” and atmosphere of each setting and figuring out what makes the characters people of their times (even if they rebel against some aspects of their surroundings, which they usually do!).  Anna and Rob couldn’t really be a Regency couple (unless they ran a Covent Garden brothel or something darker like that!), they are very 16th century in their thinking and their actions.
I think what draws me to this period so often is the incredible raw energy that surrounded the later 16th century, surrounding the charismatic queen.  The arts were flourishing in a whole new way, particularly with music, literature, and the theater, “new” people were rising up the social ranks, exploration was opening up the world in ways unimaginable a century before, and sex and romance was at a very honest and bawdy place (as well as a beautiful, poetic place)–it’s a very exciting moment in history.  And there’s lots of juicy conflict inherent in the times to throw at my characters!!
Megan: What is your most favorite obscure bit of history?
Amanda:  Wow, where do I start??  I’m such a history nerd–one of the most exciting things in my life is to read non-fiction books, especially old diaries and letters, and find weird events and people I could somehow make into stories.  One of my favorite real-life characters of this period is Penelope Rich, a cousin of the queen who was one of the most beautiful, intelligent, cultured, and rebellious women of her day, who lived a wild and eventful life.  I’m always surprised more people haven’t heard of her!  I’m hoping to write a historical novel about her one day…
But this particular story came about after I got to see play at the reconstructed Globe Theater in London!  I toured the great museum behind the scenes then watched A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It was amazing–as I sat there on the narrow little bench, laughing at the antics of the characters on stage and eating honey-roasted almonds (while the people behind me ate extremely stinky beef and onions–also authentic, I guess, since it would not have smelled pretty at Shakespeare’s real Globe!), I felt like I had almost stepped back in time and was seeing this play for the very first time.  I could really picture Anna and Rob there.  (Also I’ve always been intrigued by stories from the theater of the time, like that of Christopher Marlowe, the young, handsome playwright/spy who came to such a violent and weird end…)
Megan: Who’s your favorite actor? Which actor did you see as Robert?
Amanda: As you have probably figured out, my actorly obsessions change depending on what I’ve been watching or reading!  I have really been loving Michael Fassbender lately, and I decided after seeing The Artist that Jean Dusjardin is now my French husband.  But for this book I had to turn to one of my favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love, and Joseph Fiennes.  (though Anna is more Emily Blunt than Gwyneth Paltrow).  They even managed to make the cover hero look like him!
Megan: If Anna and Robert were contemporary characters, what would they be doing? Where would they live?
Amanda: Interesting question!! I imagine Anna would be one of those very efficient, sharply dressed  young women running a chic modern-art gallery or auction house in London, living in a sleek apartment on the Thames and thinking she will never marry.  She doesn’t have time to date.  Rob would be–hmm, something mysterious.  Spy?  Oil company exec?  He comes into town, driving around too fast in some ridiculously expensive car, showing up at her art openings to sweep her off her feet before vanishing again on that mysterious job–until he realizes he can’t live without her and pursues her relentlessly…
Megan: What role do secrets play in the Taming of the Rogue?
Amanda: I always love characters with lots of secrets!  Things that torment them so they think they will die if anyone finds out.  Rob has secret reasons why he does what he does (working as a spy for Walsingham, which usually meant a very short life expectancy), why he thinks he has to make amends, and Anna has secret reasons why she can never marry again.
 Megan: What do you think is the biggest secret one person can keep from another?
Amanda:  LOL!  I guess that could depend on the context.  I often do stuff like sneak in new purchases and then claim they are not new at all (that’s how I know I’m a shopping addict…).  I would imagine marrying someone (spouse number two) while still being married to spouse number one would be pretty bad–but that wouldn’t be the romance novel hero!  Maybe the villain…
Megan: And what’s next for you??
Amanda: My other half, Laurel McKee, is launching a new series next month!  One Naughty Night is the first book in the Victorian-set “Scandalous St. Claires” series, which also features the theater (in a whole different time period), as well as an ancient family feud, Dickensian backstreet villains, and a heroine who has pulled herself up from the streets and is trying to be respectable at last–if the hero would just let her.  I loved exploring this whole new setting!  Amanda’s next book will be out in October–The Tarnished Rose of the Court, set at the court of Mary Queen of Scots in the 1560s…
What I’m most excited about at the moment is the fact that I will soon have a third alter ego!!  Amanda Carmack will be writing an Elizabethan-set mystery series for NAL starting next year. Stay tuned…
Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Taming of the Rogue!!  Winner will be announced on Tuesday. You can read an excerpt at Amanda’s website

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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