Giveaways,  Interviews

The Riskies Welcome Gail Eastwood!

I’m delighted to introduce today’s guest, Gail Eastwood.
Gail worked as a journalist, theatre critic and PR consultant before she penned her first romance novel, A Perilous Journey. Since then, she has written six more Signet Regencies which have been nominated or won awards including the NJRW Golden Leaf, the Holt Medallion, and Romantic Times Book Club’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She also teaches writing and takes an avid interest in theatre, historical dance and costuming. Her books are known for their emotional depth, mystery and adventure and innovative characters and plot elements, such as a hero who is a French prisoner of war (The Captain’s Dilemma).
But the real reason I’m so thrilled to welcome Gail is that like me, she is making a comeback after having to take a break from writing to deal with serious family health issues. Starting sometime last fall, we have been emailing each other regularly to cheer each other on and help each other balance our creative lives with the continued challenges of caring for our loved ones. Gail has been a wonderful support to me; she is not only talented, but one of the kindest writers I know.
Today we’re going to talk about Gail’s upcoming ebook reissues, A Perilous Journey (available now) and An Unlikely Hero, coming in July. Enter a comment or question for the chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of A Perilous Journey (winner to be chosen by the Riskies).
Praise for A Perilous Journey and An Unlikely Hero

“A scintillating debut…(Gail Eastwood) charms us with her sparkling storytelling.” – Romantic Times Book Reviews (A Perilous Journey)

“The brilliantly versatile Gail Eastwood changes pace once again to bring us a frothy Regency delight spiced with touching emotion…. beguiling characters and zesty interplay.” – Romantic Times Book reviews (An Unlikely Hero) 
Tell us about these two stories.
These two books tell the related-but-separate stories of twins Gillian Kentwell and her brother Gilbey, Viscount Cranford. When we first meet them in A Perilous Journey, headstrong Gillian has run away from home after finding no other way to avoid the marriage to an elderly neighbor her guardian has arranged. She has romanticized ideas about Scotlandand is heading there, hoping to find refuge with an aunt she has never met. Gilbey has come along to try to protect her, knowing that she will never give up the 400-mile path she has chosen. Young and inexperienced, they are already in trouble their first night out. That’s when they meet up with Julian Rafferty de Raymond, the Earl of Brinton, still one of my favorite heroes. Brinton rescues them twice in less than 12 hours, and by then is hopelessly ensnared by his own curiosity, not to mention his attraction to Gillian.
Their progress north through western England (including a stopover in Bath) includes misadventures and detours as they try to evade their pursuers, always driven by the question of whether or not they will be caught before they can reach their destination. Anyone who travels, even today, knows that it can test the best of relationships, but it can also forge strong bonds. The journey these three characters undertake certainly does both! A surprise awaits them in Scotland, however, and they must face more challenges before Gillian and Brinton can earn a happy ending.
Gilbey’s happy ending is that he is going to be sent off to university. An Unlikely Hero  takes place after he has been there three years and is the story of what happens when one of his Cambridge pals, the son of a duke, convinces him to attend a house party at the duke’s estate. Gilbey is a reluctant guest enlisted to help keep watch over his friend’s sisters, identical twins known as the Lioness and the Lamb. They are notorious for refusing marriage offers and testing their suitors, but this time their father has drawn a line, declaring that they must finally choose husbands from among the assembled guests.
The twins’ behavior is not all capriciousness and mischief—they have a dark secret, and one of the guests is trying to use it to blackmail them into a marriage. Gilbey, fighting his attraction to the beautiful twins, finds trying to meet the expectations of everyone around him challenge enough for his wits. The Duke has made it clear that Gilbey is not eligible and must keep his distance. The suitors have made it clear they don’t appreciate any perceived competition from Gilbey. But Fate keeps landing him repeatedly in the twins’ path and the center of attention. How can a hero worth his salt not step up to help them? What help is there for his heart, irretrievably lost to a twin he can never have?
What inspired you to write each?
A Perilous Journey, which was my first novel, was stuck in my head for many years before I finally realized no one else would ever write this story—only I could release it! Does that sound completely weird? I always wanted to be an author, and I worked as a journalist for many years, but I just somehow thought someone else would think of this story and write it. LOL! Writing an entire novel is a daunting prospect when you first begin—even for an experienced writer. Maybe I was avoiding the reality of that, or the time just wasn’t right, or the story needed all that time to percolate.
An Unlikely Hero, on the other hand, was a story I never planned to write. Gilbey is such an antithesis of your typical romance hero—he wears glasses, he’s so fair he blushes, he’s a little accident-prone and he’s a total geek! I was surprised when readers wrote to me and approached me at booksignings asking when I would do his story! As soon as I said, “He isn’t really a romance hero,” he started kicking me and protesting the way I had pegged him. He is unfailingly loyal and sweet. I realized that, like all good Beta heroes, he had what it takes underneath, and that stripping away his outer layers to reveal the hero inside would be so much fun to do. But I didn’t have a lady for him, and that makes it pretty hard to have a romance!
Venetia and Vivian St. Aldwyn walked up to me in a dream, and I knew immediately one of them was meant for him. But they were smart, beautiful, rich daughters of a duke—what was their problem? You know, no conflict, no story! I muddled over that for a few days before I saw an article in my local paper that totally sparked the idea for the secret that drives them. I loved the idea that underneath the romance in this book there might also be a social message. I love that a little history always gets taught with each book, too!
Were there any particular challenges you encountered in your research? Any new or surprising historical information that you discovered?
I love, love, love to research. Stopping to actually write the story can be the challenge! A Perilous Journey required a ton of research because of all the locations in the story, not to mention understanding methods of travel in 1816, and so much more. I did some of my research “on location” in England, and at least one incident in the book, at Morecambe Bay, was inspired by the delightful and purely serendipitous discovery of the Hest Bank Hotel and its long history as a rescue station for people caught by the bay’s tidal bore. Who could resist?
Settings are important to me as a “world-building” element of story. The location of the duke’s estate in An Unlikely Hero was carefully chosen and researched. The surname I gave the duke’s family also derived from the local area where the story is set, and that led to a surprise. Five years after the book was published I got an email from the Earl of St. Aldwyn, a modern-day English peer, asking about the book characters’ names. Yikes! I always research my made-up title names to be sure they don’t actually belong to anyone, and I was in the clear, since the title names I used were Roxley and Edmonton, not St Aldwyn. But I hadn’t checked on St. Aldwyn, since I only used it for a family name! As I reassured the earl, that name came “straight off the map” and most certainly was not intended to reflect any connection to his family. He asked for a copy of the book, which of course I was happy to send!
We pride ourselves in writing Risky Regencies. Tell us what is risky about your books?
Wow, there are so many answers to this! One risk now, of course, is whether or not the freshness in these stories still holds up after all this time, or if the stories can still charm readers anyway. I suppose the greatest risk is the chance of writing something that readers won’t want to read or won’t “get” when you write against type, which I like to do. I recently described what I write as “kind of off-beat sweet Regencies with a twist of suspense.” When my books were first being published (1990’s), I was lauded for pushing the genre’s boundaries. I was nominated for RT’s Career Achievement Award twice, and people asked me if I was trying to invent a new sub-genre, the “Regency Intrigue”. We were just beginning to break out from the “drawing room comedy” style of traditional Regency that many readers still love and prefer. The genre has expanded so much since those days, I doubt anyone would think my stories are ground-breaking now, but at the time I wanted deeper emotion and more plot. Mary Jo Putney and Mary Balogh and a few others were heading that way, too. I wanted to be able to do some darker stories. I wasn’t sure if I was writing Traditional Regencies or Historicals—what I wrote was something in between! That was a risk, and I will always be grateful to Signet for going along with it.
I am drawn to write about things that I haven’t seen done. Venturing off the path can be a great way to risk falling on your face, though, LOL. For instance, when I tackled The Captain’s Dilemma (1995), I wasn’t sure a romance between an English miss and a French prisoner of war could even be successfully done, given the depth of the conflict. I hunted and hunted for other stories that tried this idea and found almost none (and those I found did not really succeed as romances). That was scary! Yet my research showed that there really may have been some true-life cases, and I really wanted to do that story. For The Lady from Spain I wanted to do a story where the heroine was seeking revenge, instead of the man. (That’s not so unusual to find now!) In The Rake’s Mistake, I wanted to do something with pleasure sailing on the Thames, totally charmed by an engraving I saw. I like to take my characters out into an expanded Regency world not limited to the ballrooms and Almack’s. I am so grateful that readers have been willing to go along!
I haven’t even touched on book-specific “risky writing” and if this wasn’t already too long, we could also talk about the emotional risks characters face. I’m sure we could talk about this stuff for hours!!!
What is it that most excites you about the Regency setting?
I think Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne started my love affair with England long before I found Jane Austen, but it’s also in my blood –a raft of English ancestors must surely influence me, because I always feel like I’ve come home whenever I have the privilege of visiting over there. Of course there’s another theory –a psychic once told me I lived during the Regency. Do you believe in past lives? It’s a shame I can’t recall any of it –think of all the research time that would save! Despite my tendency to expand beyond them, I do love the clothing, the balls, the glittering lifestyle of the upper reaches of society in this period. The aristocracy were the celebrities of their day! I love the elegance, and the elegant language. But I also think part of the appeal is that it was a transitional time, bridging the 18th century “Age of Enlightenment” and the more modern Victorian era when the world became industrialized and much more recognizable to us. Regency people were living in a time when things were changing at a much faster pace than ever before in history, and I think that resonates with us today—we all face the challenges of adjusting. Challenges make good stories, and when we write about this time period, the challenges of the changing society are always at least part of the background if they are not part of the primary plot!
Historical costuming and historical dance are among my hobbies, and although I first got into those through the medieval and Renaissance periods as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (in which I am still active), I quickly expanded into the 18th century and Regency periods as well. Here’s a picture of me in the second Regency gown I have made (my first one now gets loaned out to ladies much thinner and younger than I am!). It was taken at a local “Jane Austen Birthday” dance. Some folks may recall me teaching historical dance at a couple of RWA national conferences, and leading the dancing at our Beau Monde mini-conferences a few times—many years ago at this point! I also still participate in English Country Dancing in my local area.
What are you working on next?

I am busily preparing the ebook edition of The Lady from Spain to be my first self-pubbed reissue, and The Captain’s Dilemma will follow it soon. But I am also working on a new book, which I hope to have out next year. It features Harriet Pritchard, who has appeared as a secondary character in two of my previous books –she was a younger sister in one, and then turned up as a friend of the heroine in another one. She actually is referred to at the end of my last book, but not by name! Although readers have asked for this, too, I couldn’t do her story until I found the right man for her –to my surprise he turned out to be the best friend of the hero in that last book, The Rake’s Mistake, which should be reissued next year. Harry and Peter are such opposites (at least on the surface), but I know they are meant for each other! I’m having great fun with the new story and hope readers will too.
Thanks for talking to us, Gail!
Thank you so much for having me as a guest on the Risky Regencies blog, Elena! I really enjoy the blog and it’s both an honor and a pleasure to be here.
Ask Gail a question for the chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of A Perilous Journey.
Void where prohibited. You must be over 18. No purchase necessary. Post your comment by midnight EST on Thursday, May 31st.  Either include your email address in your comment or make sure to check back Friday for the announcement post.
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10 years ago

Awesome interview Gail! It’s so fun to hear the “story behind the story”!

Margaret Evans Porter
10 years ago

Gail, so great to see you here! Best of luck with these releases, from a former Signet stable-mate.

Louisa Cornell
10 years ago

What a lovely interview! And so much of what you say resonates with me, Gail! My father is three-quarters Welsh and a quarter English. His ancestors didn’t arrive in American until 1892 and he grew up hearing Welsh spoken in his home. The three years we lived in England when I was a child (Air Force brat) were some of the very best of our lives and my brothers and I long to go back.

I have to agree with you on the lure of the Regency as an age that stood on the cusp between the Old World and the Industrial World.

Having taken a break from writing, do you see any new trends in Regency romance you find appealing?

And what are some are your favorite research resources?

Jeanne M
10 years ago

Riskies –

I’m thrilled that you have Gail here with you today. I first read Gail’s books back in the 1990’s when I worked at Waldenbooks in Wakefield, RI and our wonderful store manager told me I just had to read her books because she drew you into the story and made you feel like you were part of it.

I didn’t realize that she had new books being released and I’m so excited find about her new release!

I loved the interview and am looking forward to once again be able to have the pleasure of reading her stories!

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Gail. It is so wonderful to have your books back among us!!!

10 years ago

Gail, do you plan to write some new Regencies, after you have re-issued all your backlist titles.

Cara King
10 years ago

Great interview, Gail! I love hearing about the research you did, and what parts were considered risky when you were writing them. The genre changed so many times over the decades, and I think when you came in was definitely one of the more rigid periods…glad you help open it up for the rest of us!


10 years ago

I enjoyed the interview and finding out more about the inspiration for the books. The books sound good.


Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments! I wish we could give away free copies to everyone who posts!
I’m delighted that you enjoyed the interview, Anonymous and bn100. Doesn’t Elena do a great job with her questions? She makes it easy.
Thanks for the welcome, Diane –waving hello to you and to Margaret Evans Porter!!

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Louisa, you had a very interesting childhood! Did you get to know any of your Welsh-speaking grandparents? I envy you your three years in England!

I am excited to be coming back to my writing life, and I do see new trends. I’m thrilled to see all kinds of Regencies out there now, of every sort, from paranormals to erotic to the sweet traditionals and everything in between. There are all kinds of writers and also all kinds of readers, so I love seeing the field wide open!!

As for research, I have to admit I still prefer books (and museums) over Internet research. For a Perilous Journey I used a fabulous set of books describing the roads of England from a 19th century bicyclist’s perspective, which gave so many landmarks and described every hill and valley –much more detail than I could use, of course. I can’t remember the author at this point –would have to dig back into my stored materials –maybe someone else has also come across the series?

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Jeanne M. –waving hello to you, also!! Are you still in R.I.??
I miss the bookstore so much!

Thanks for your kind words! Just a note –these e-books are reissues of my early titles. If you didn’t catch them the first time around (or even if you did), I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Susannah, yes, I am definitely looking at a bunch of new stories, all awaiting their turns, after the one I am working on now. And to tell the truth, I’d forgotten that Lord Brinton had some unmarried sisters. So we may see some more stories that will be related to A Perilous Journey in the future!!

Cara –we know we are research geeks, LOL! I was lucky to come in just at the time when the genre was “ripe” to be opened up, and I was not the only one who pushed the envelope, but I’m glad we did!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

It’s so wonderful to see you here, Gail, and to hear all about your “new” releases! It really is such an exciting time to be writing again…

10 years ago

Congratulations on being able to get back into writing. It is interesting to see how ahead of the times you were with the direction your stories took. It is a bit risky and probably scary using story lines and settings that stray from the popular format. As a reader, it is nice to find an author who gives us something just a bit different to enjoy. I am glad you got your stories back and can release them for those of us who missed them the first time around. Now that I have an e-reader, even if I am still reading directions and not books, I will be able to take advantage of the rereleases. Who knows, I may have them somewhere in my massive TBR mountain.
I’ll have to go check. (I did find one, THE RAKE’S MISTAKE. I’ll have to dig deeper.)

Best of luck with the rereleases and I hope the new books just flow so we get more good stories from you in short order. I can’t remember if you mentioned it in your post, but will your new books be released in print for, e-form, or both?

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Amanda, I am so excited to be coming back, and to visit here with you “Risky” ladies! I have to tell you I LOVE the covers on your new books!

LibraryPat, thank you so much for all your good wishes! And it warms my heart to know The Rake’s Mistake is in your TBR pile. 🙂

Re: the format for the re-issues –the three that NAL/Signet is reissuing this year are only coming out as ebooks, unfortunately. However, the two that I am doing myself will come out first as ebooks, and then I hope to also release them in print form as well. The jury’s still out on what will happen with my last two next year. I’d like to see how these first ones do before I decide! Great question –thanks for asking!

10 years ago

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10 years ago

I’m so glad to see you here and to be able to get your backlist electronically. I’m thrilled you’re doing that.

I’d like to add to those reading that Gail is also an excellent and selfless teacher, She gave me detailed advice on the Royal Ascot chapters I entered when she was RA coordinator. It is advice that I have internalized and used ever since.

Jeanne Paglio
10 years ago

You have such a wonderful background, Gail. Perilous sounds like a winner to me. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Norato
10 years ago

Thank you for the interview, Gail. It was so interesting to read the background on your stories, esp. after having read A Perilous Journey when it was first released. You really put the reader back into the Regency period, and I love that! I highly recommend A Perilous Journey and all of Gail Eastwood’s books!

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Myretta, Jeanne, and Lisa –thank you so much! Your kind words are making me blush… 🙂

Cathy P
10 years ago

Hi Gail! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview! You are a new author for me, and your books sound like must reads. How exciting to hear about the Earl of St. Aldwyn!

How did you start your writing and what made you choose the Regency period? I know you knew your stories would never be told if you didn’t write them, but was there something else that drew you into becoming an author? Also, how long did it take for your first book?

10 years ago

Can’t wait to read Harriet’s story. I love when characters from one book show up in another. Great interview on this site!

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Cathy P -so nice to “meet” you! Great questions, too! I started writing stories from the time I first learned to read and string words together on paper. My first carefully hand-printed “books” even had illustrated cardboard covers –which my mom saved, of course!

I wrote an assortment of things through my early years and detoured from fiction into journalism, but I have always loved history and historical fiction. When I discovered the entire Regency genre beyond Jane Austen, I was hooked, and seemed to find my niche. You know what they say –write what you love to read! I also say, write what is given to you. I don’t seem to get story ideas for other eras, except contemporary. I admit I have some of those on a back burner!

I spent more than a good year working seriously on my first book. I was feeling my way along, and I think I knew instinctively that I might never have as much time to spend on one again if I did sell it! If you have a good story, it is worth investing the time it takes to try to do it right. Once you sell, there is pressure to produce faster. I’m still not a very fast writer!

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Ruth, I’ll try to get cracking on Harriet’s story! It’s always a great motivator to think someone’s waiting for the next book. 🙂

10 years ago

Ooo, a new to me author. I am marking these titles. The Captain’s Dilemma sounds great. In every military conflict there are romances between opposing sides… They just tend not be talked about or widely condoned.

Author Gail Eastwood
10 years ago

Dee, that’s just what attracted me to tell that story! When you read it, I hope you’ll feel I did the idea justice. 🙂

Cray Auchtin
10 years ago

I have to say, regency is not usually my genre but I just found A PERILOUS JOURNEY to be riveting!! Such a fantastic story of romance and adventure!

(And, yeah, I don’t need a free copy as I already purchased it — give that to one of the other fine, deserving people here!)

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