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Category: Interviews

Interviews with authors and industry professionals

imgresToday our guest is my good friend, Lisa Chaplin. Lisa and I “met” on an Australian/American writers group that came about because of our interest in Romance writing. Some of us have gone on to other ventures, including Lisa, but we’re still in touch by email several times a week.

Lisa’s first Historical Fiction, The Tide Watchers, will be released June 30, just a few days from now. The Tide Watchers has already earned some rave reviews:

9780062379122A Starred Review from Library Journal
In this brilliantly complex novel, Australian author Chaplin…tightens the suspense at every moment while exploring sympathetically the motivations of republicans and aristocrats alike and highlighting the allure and danger of families, secrets, and false identities. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a “ripping good yarn.”

Four and a Half Stars from RT Book Reviews
…incredibly strong and moving tale….A fast-moving pace and a wonderful melding of accurate historical events with honorable, passionate characters make this book impossible to put down.

New Books in Historical Fiction
…a fast-paced story that will keep you riveted in your seat as the pages turn.

You can listen to an interview with Lisa here.

To celebrate Lisa’s Historical Fiction debut, I’m giving away a copy of The Tide Watchers to one lucky commenter here.

Tell us about The Tide Watchers.
Here’s my one-minute blurb: In early Napoleonic France, Lisbeth’s husband abandons her without her papers, without her child. She’s determined to be reunited with her baby and return home. The English baronet’s daughter makes a desperate deal with mysterious British spy, Tidewatcher: she will move in with brilliant American inventor Robert Fulton as his housekeeper, learn how to use his submarine, and charm him into giving it to her. Then she must teach Tidewatcher in turn so they can infiltrate a blockaded French sea-town, find Napoleon’s secret invasion fleet, and somehow disable it just before its launch.

You have written fabulous books for Intimate Moments and Harlequin Romance as Melissa James. How is it you came to write a book of Historical Fiction like The Tide Watchers?
Funnily enough, in a way The Tide Watchers is a natural extension of my old Intimate Moments Nighthawks series. When the line closed, I wasn’t invited to write for the new Romantic Suspense line. I was lucky enough to be asked to write for Harlequin Romance, which I happily did for 6 years. But I never stopped loving espionage novels, and my favorite reading was always historical. I’d read a biography called The Terror Before Trafalgar, which awakened a hunger to write a historical espionage book. Eight years later, The Tide Watchers finally sold, and to my perfect publisher.

The Tide Watchers has already been making a big splash. What’s been the most exciting part of this experience so far?
The whole thing has been an amazing ride for me! William Morrow is a fabulous publisher to write for, and my editor and agent have made it almost like a dream. Getting the power of choice over my cover, my back cover copy, and the like has been wonderful. But the sales rep from Barnes & Noble, a Napoleonic history buff, loved the book – and recent reviews I’ve received from American Library Journal and Romantic Times, it’s all really blown me away. I received the former at the NY office of HarperCollins, and I had to blink back tears of joy. To know others that love history and know history really like my book…I can’t describe it.

What is risky about The Tide Watchers?
The whole book throws the characters far outside their comfort zone. Most of them are seasoned spies, and in a position to save Britain in this time of terror, but ultimately each major character pays a terrible cost. Brilliant, unconventional Lisbeth risks life, reputation and family to save Britain, and to save her child, but she cannot reconcile her sacrifice with what she loses after. Duncan risks the family he always craved to stop Napoleon’s invasion, and loses everything. And his half-brothers risk life and career to save their brother – and the cost to them comes in book two!

Tell us about one piece of research for the book that surprised you or that you did not know before.
The one that surprised me the most, I suppose (there are two), was that brilliant American inventor Robert Fulton was not only in France at the exact time I needed him to be, but was working on early submarine and torpedo technology – and, biggest of all, he seems to have disappeared from the record in the exact months that the book takes place! He turned up again a few months after, which again made it perfect for my second book. The other (sorry, I love both) was the intervention of Lord Camelford at this time, the man called “The Mad Baron”. His attempt to kill Napoleon, and its repercussions for both France and Britain, led to the most bizarre discoveries! But that’s for book two J

You just attended the 200th Anniversary Battle of Waterloo Reenactment. Did you see our fellow Risky, Susanna Fraser there???
Haha…sorry, but I did meet, purely by chance, a Napoleonic military expert walking off the station at Braine l’Alleud! We walked to the battlefield together, and spent the day with him. He pointed out which uniforms were from what battalion, country and where those men fought on the field that day, where they were in earlier battles, etc. He also told me about the role some women played, as victuallers, nurses etc. He gave me his email address and said he’s available for any military question. He’s one of several knowledgeable people I’ve met on this trip that are willing to share their knowledge, so I feel very fortunate.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently on a research trip for the next book in the series (current title Blind Winter). When a past mission gone horribly wrong catches up with Alec Stewart, he puts his brothers and cousin in danger of their lives, as well as his ex-lover and her family. With bounty hunters chasing them all, a fledgling nation fighting for its independence, and Lisbeth’s baby’s father after his son, the vicious power games being played by leaders and spymasters alike change their world forever, including “The Mad Baron”, Lord Camelford. You won’t believe what happens to him! As they say, real life is stranger than fiction…

Thanks, Lisa!

Remember, everyone, comment here for a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s The Tide Watchers. Tell us what you like about Historical Fiction. How is it different than Historical Romance, in your opinion? Or just say hi to Lisa or ask her a question.

Please Welcome Brenda Novak to the Riskies!

Carolyn: I want to start out this post by telling all of you what an amazing, nice and wonderful person Brenda is. I’ve been reading her for years and have always enjoyed her books, as I’m sure is true for many of you. But it wasn’t until Brenda and I were roomies at Bouchercon a couple of years ago that I learned she’d started out writing historicals. Even two years ago, when we were at the San Francisco Bouchercon, self-publishing had only just begun to take off. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to track down her historical.
But now? Things are different, and readers and authors are the winners. Not only has she self-published that first historical, she’s released one that had never been published. Until now.
I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to one commenter, so be sure to check the rules and comment!

Read on to find out more about Brenda’s writing, her current and upcoming projects and learn about how you can support her Diabetes Auction.

When I first started out, I wanted to write historicals. They were what I most enjoyed reading. I loved all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books (especially Come Love a Stranger), Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice, Zemindar, Dear Amber, Rebecca and many others. But I soon learned that I’d set myself a difficult task. No only did I need to learn the craft of writing, I had to become familiar with the time period I’d chosen as a backdrop for my story (Victorian England). Today, the Internet would make such a goal far easier to obtain, but this was nearly twenty years ago. The Internet didn’t have the research materials it offers today. I remember waiting impatiently for my husband to come home from work so he could watch our four children (I now have five) while I hurried to the Sac State Library. There, I’d race the clock to find the information I needed before closing time—and spend a fortune trying to get those pages photocopied before the librarian turned out the lights.

I wrote my very first book, OF NOBLE BIRTH, under such circumstances. When I finished, it was 800 pages long, but I was so proud of reaching The End. Then I found Romance Writers of America, which I needed to be able to figure out how to market my manuscript, and learned that my beloved story wasn’t a romance so much as it was a historical with romantic elements (and as such would be much more difficult to sell). I also learned that it was far too long. So I spent several months crafting it into a true romance while trimming it to a svelte 430 pages and managed to sell it to HarperCollins. I was so over the moon when I receive The Call on August 26, 1998. I thought I had launched my career and was off and running. I had another historical finished and ready to go, and a third halfway complete.

But then Harper merged with Avon and let its romance editors and most of its romance authors go. My first book wasn’t even out yet (it debuted 11/99), and here I was, orphaned. Fortunately, I had also started writing some contemporary novels, which I was able to sell to Harlequin, who has purchased everything I’ve produced since (go Harlequin!). But in the back of my mind, I always wondered if the time I’d spent on the historicals (the second historical, in particular) would be wasted. My career had taken a different path—but would I ever get back to my first love?

The opportunity, when it came, was quite unexpected. With the advent of e-readers, I started hearing about authors who were acquiring the rights to their backlist and self-publishing those titles on Amazon. The rights to OF NOBLE BIRTH had just reverted to me, so I figured I’d do the same. Then I thought of that other manuscript that I had loved so much—HONOR BOUND—and realized that if I revised it and had it professionally edited, I could publish that, too.

New Contemporary Romance series!

OF NOBLE BIRTH hit Amazon in August. HONOR BOUND was published in November. It’s been so great to see these stories reach my fans at last. OF NOBLE BIRTH had been out of print for over a decade. And HONOR BOUND had never before been published. Together with the new series I’m writing for MIRA (a small town contemporary series sent in the fictional town of Whiskey Creek which will be out in the fall), these projects have kept me very busy. To make my life even more complicated, I’m writing a new suspense series, too. And I’m also working on another project. This one doesn’t include dreaming up stories but I’m definitely hoping it will have a happy ending.

Ten years ago, when my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I wanted to do some fundraising for research, to help him and everyone else in the same situation. I just didn’t how to go about it—or where I’d find the time. I had five kids at home and some very tight book deadlines (Ha! Sounds like now—except that some of the kids have moved out to go to college). Then I attended a silent auction at a local elementary school and realized that I could do a similar event on my Web site, where I could invite the people who visit me there to join with me.

So far, I’ve managed to raise $1.3 million, and the 2012 auction looks as if it might set a new annual record. This fundraiser is a shopper’s paradise with plenty of items to fit every budget, including trips & stays, one-of-a-kind jewelry, paintings, Native American jewelry donated by Mae Nunn, lunch with world famous author Diana Gabaldon (or Suzanne Brockmann!), and much, much more. And that’s not all. For those who are aspiring to become a novelist or to advance their writing career, there are AMAZING opportunities. Many of the most powerful agents and editors in the business have donated evaluations—some with the promise of a 24-hour response (which is unheard of in the publishing industry).

How does it all work? Just like eBay, except this auction is running at www.brendanovak.com. Visit that URL to register. The fun begins May 1st and runs throughout the month. When the bidding is over, you can pay with Paypal or credit card. In most instances the donor even picks up the shipping. And the person who places the highest number of bids over all, even if that person doesn’t win a single item, will receive a fabulous prize package including a brand new iMac, Your Name in My Next Book, and an autographed copy of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, Book 1 in my new Whiskey Creek series.

Check out the auction, and while you’re at my website, enter to win a romantic beach getaway to the Hilton in Destin, Florida!

What cool items have you won in past charity auctions? Do you prefer on-line shopping to brick & mortar shopping? Do you think this “wave of the future” will eventually overtake traditional fundraising?

Here’s to making a difference!

Brenda Novak

 

Carolyn again: I’ll start us off with my answers. I have won insanely cool stuff in previous diabetes auctions, and one of them actually, and I am NOT KIDDING, led to a making a friend and to a day or so of fame after a twitter typo that involved Barry Eisler.
I won lunch with author Barry Eisler. It happens he lives in Northern California, though I had to wait a bit since he was in Japan for a while, but when he came back to the States, he came the San Francisco Bay Area RWA chapter meeting and afterward, we had a wonderful and informative lunch. (I had chili. It was good.) We keep in touch to this day. In fact, we recently chatted on the phone about self-publishing and gender, and that was a really, really interesting conversation. If I hadn’t bid on that lunch, I would never have made his acquaintance and I’d be the poorer for it. I know Barry feels the same way, right Barry? (Yes, because he paid for lunch.)
Other items I’ve won include a hand carved wooden chess set, which I bid on as a gift for my son. It’s gorgeous! I’ve also bid on and won some beautiful crystal glasses and a whole series of hand-made Russian items, including an apron that is too lovely to wear.
Do NOT miss out on this auction. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s for a great cause.

Buy Brenda’s Books for Your Kindle

Honor Bound

Of Noble Birth

See a list of all of Brenda’s books on Amazon

Contest!!

I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to a random commenter who answers one or all of Brenda’s questions.

Contest Rules

Must be 18 or older. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Leave your comment by midnight Pacific, April 27, 2012. You must either leave contact information in your comment or commit to checking back to see if you won. The winner will be notified by email (the format: blah AT blah DOT com is fine!). A new winner will be selected if there’s no reply from the winner after two weeks.

Today, author Isobel Carr visits the Riskies to talk about her new book, Ripe for Seduction, answer some questions, and give away some books. Check it out, because she’s being very generous. Details on how to enter at the end of this post.

About Isobel Carr

A photo of author Isobel Carr. She has dark curly hair, a pretty smile and she is wearing black. Behind her, there are books.

Isobel Carr

Isobel grew up participating in a wide variety of historical reenactment clubs (California Renaissance Faires, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Heyercon, Dicken’s Faire, Gaskills, etc.). On top of these clubs, she and her friends recreate 18th century fashions just for fun. Isobel has spent large parts of her life studying the manners, customs, and clothing of multiple periods (most specifically Renaissance England and Germany, Georgian/Regency England and France, and Victorian England), and she has firsthand experience creating and wearing the clothes of these eras (including the correct underwear and corsets!). Because of her interest in living history, and that hobby’s strong focus on the details of daily life, she hopes she has an unusual and intimate perspective on history that gives extra life to her books.

Find Isobel at her website: www.isobelcarr.com
On Twitter: @isobelcarr
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/isobel.carr

Ripe for Seduction

A cover in which a hunky dark-haired man is embracing a lovely blonde woman. His shirt is falling off. omg

Cover of Ripe for Seduction

After the scandalous demise of her marriage, Lady Olivia Carlow knows the rakes of the ton will think her fair game. So when a letter arrives bearing an indecent offer from the incorrigible Roland Devere, she seizes the opportunity. Turning the tables on the notorious rogue, she blackmails him into playing her betrothed for the season. But no matter how broad his shoulders or chiseled his features, she will never fall prey to his suave charm.

When Roland boasted he’d be the first into Lady Olivia’s bed, he couldn’t have imagined that behind those brilliant blue eyes lurked a vixen with a scheme of her own. Still, Roland is not about to abandon his original wager. If anything, learning that the lovely Olivia is as bold as she is beautiful makes him more determined to seduce her into never saying “never” again.

Get your hands on Ripe For Seduction: Amazon

What they’re saying about Ripe For Seduction:

Starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

Carr is sure to balance her characters’ roguish antics with genuine heart, making the double love story a delightful and erotic page-turner.

4-Stars (RT Book Reviews)

For her third in the League of the Second Sons, Carr delivers not one, but two love stories that will charm and titillate readers. It’s intriguing that, at times, the more mature romance overshadows the younger couples love story, but it is the underlying passion in both, as well as the marvelously crafted backdrop, that holds readers’ attention. You will be easily drawn into the naught and bawdy era through Carr’s deft prose.

Five Fun Facts

The indecent offer my hero, Roland, makes to my heroine was based on one a real one made to Lady Mary Coke. The real-life lord got off easier than my hero, LOL!

Giant dogs, this time Scottish Deerhounds, once again put in an appearance. Deerhounds were a very rare breed by this point in history. It’s doubtful that most people had ever even seen one, but luckily for us all, a few people kept the breed alive. I am lucky enough to know several Deerhounds, as they frequent my local dog park. Watching them run across the field is truly a sight to behold. The Wolfhounds and Great Danes can’t keep up with them, and the Greyhounds are simply dwarfed by them.

RIPE FOR SEDUCTION features a shallop race on the Thames. The Queen’s Jubilee, with its display of historical boats, couldn’t have been more timely.

I based the house they all end up at in Paris on one that I stayed at in the Marais. Just down the street is my favorite Parisian café, Le Bouledogue, where you can meet Didier and his adorable French Bulldogs. Order the duck. You won’t be sorry.

After you’ve finished RIPE FOR SEDUCTION, you can read the reconciliation scene for the secondary couple on Ripe for Seduction’s page on my website. I deleted it from the novel to keep Margo and Philip from taking over, but it’s a scene I really love, so I kept it as a bonus for readers.

Excerpt!

You can download the first three chapters here (Word doc).

Q. Tell us about the series:

The League of Second Sons was a writers’ lunch burst of inspiration. I knew I wanted to write about a group of younger sons, men who would be hungrier, less secure, and have entirely different issues to wrestle with than their elder brothers. After the passage of the Marriage Act in 1753, the easy path of heiress abduction was essentially cut off (marriage under duress now being voidable) and this created even greater scope for setting up interesting plots. Add into it their banding together in the fight to claim what they can in a world that gives everything to the eldest brother, and you have a solid, interesting subset of the ton that most would be essentially unaware of as a force.

Q. We are all about author pet pictures. I understand you have a dog. A very large dog. Can you tell us about him? Does he help you write? Do you have a picture of him?

Clancy: Photo by Isobel Carr (All Rights Reserved)

Clancy: Photo by Isobel Carr (All Rights Reserved)

Oh, Clancy is perhaps the most well documented dog that doesn’t belong to William Wegman. He has his own gigantic Flickr page (along with his sisters, Slag and Tallulah, who belong to my sister and best friend respectively). http://www.flickr.com/photos/49097059@N00/3283805430/sizes/s/in/set-72157607307911869

He’s half Neapolitan Mastiff and half Bullmastiff and 175lbs of cuddly sweetness. Mostly, it’s like living with a lion. Mostly he’s napping (bed, couch, dog bed), but he’s defiantly aware of what’s going on around him. As for “helping” me write, not so much. He like likes to lay on the couch behind me and sigh gustily as I ignore him in favor of “petting” the evil glowing box. But he and his sisters were the inspiration for Pen, the dog in the first League book, so I guess he does help after all, LOL!

Q. Based solely on clothing alone (that is do not account for the status of women or minorities etc.) What time period would you most like to live in and why?

Mid to late 18th century. I love the clothing from about 1750-1790. Love, love, love it! The hoops and silks and hair (ok, not the 1770s hair). There’s a reason I set my books in the 1780s (my all time favorite decade for fashion).

Q. I have heard you say you like men with big noses. Like who?

Oh, I do. There’s nothing like a really nice, distinctive nose. Julian Sands, Joe Manganiello, Adrian Brody, Richard Armitage.

Q: Red-headed heroes. Go.

I love red-heads. Love ‘em. I can’t wait to write one (Leo, in Ripe for Pleasure is a red-head, but my editor made me change all the references to “auburn”). But I see Eric Stoltz, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wenham. Yum!

Q: Fill in the blank:

You walk into an antique store and you get short of breath because right there is a Limbert rocker. When you look in your wallet, you have enough money to purchase it. What is the item and why does it make you short of breath?

Well, mostly because we’re going to pretend I have that kind of money in my wallet. I own a 1916 Arts and Crafts bungalow, and one of the pieces of furniture I COVET for my living room is a genuine rocker from that period. The Stickley ones are nice, but there’s a Limbert one that I saw once in a local antique store that just called to me. The clean lines, the amazing quarter-sawn grain of the oak, the heft and solidness of it. That beautiful chair could hold up to being knocked about by my giant dog. Unfortunately, it was six grand.

Q: Corset vs. brassiere. Go.

Corset! I really do loathe the way a bra digs into my ribs. Corsets don’t do that, and if you lace them just snug, they’re really very comfortable. But I’m not yet ready to be the eccentric author who wears a corset every day…

Q: Your book is going to be a movie! Who do you cast?

Roland was based on Hal Ozsan. He played the witch in Supernatural “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester” and I just found him mesmerizing to watch. I love how dark he is, and how his hair curls. And yes, he has an amazing nose! Evidence that Isobel is right?

For Olivia, I pictured a young Rosamund Pike. I loved her as Lady Harriet in Wives and Daughters. There’s something really strong about her, but also a hint that she could shatter under the right circumstances. She’s an actress I just really enjoy watching.

Q: What’s next for you?

Next is Marcus Reeves’s book, Ripe for Revenge, which will be my first foray into self-publishing:

Running has always served Caro Frazier well. It worked when her parents disapproved of her chosen groom, when her husband took umbrage at his young wife’s social success, and when circumstances forced her to flee London altogether. But when her past comes back to haunt her—in the delicious form of Marcus Reeves—running is the last thing on Caro’s mind.

Marcus Reeves never expected to see—never wanted to see—Caroline Frazier again, not after he saved her when her husband cast her off and then she abandoned him too. He certainly never expected to discover her living in a quiet, rural hamlet with a child who is unmistakably his. Whatever her reasons for betraying him, she’s his now, and Marcus is ready for a little revenge . . .

Giveaway

Isobel is giving away 3 copies of her new book and one full set of the series for a new to her reader! Yes. That’s four winners. Woot!

Rules: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. International is OK, provided The Book Depository ships there. The winner will be picked at random from among qualified comments. Leave a comment on this post by midnight Pacific Thursday December 20. To be eligible for the full set of the series, mention whether you are new to Isobel’s books. Feel free to tell us about your pet, or the antique store item that would have you palpitating.

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