I’m happy to take part in the Kismet Book Tour for THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR! Check later back for my “Romancing the Read” review!
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Would you want to be involved with one of your heroes in real life, or are they better suited for fiction?
I’d be happy to be involved with any of my heroes. I’m of the firm opinion that if I don’t find them sexy, neither will the readers. Thomas Ramsay, the hero in “The White Swan Affair” is so staunch and determined to do the right thing. He’s brave and he’s adventurous but most importantly, he’s broad-minded. Given the situation Hester finds herself in – the danger that her brother’s arrest for sodomy represents to both siblings – that’s really important.
What, if anything, do you think your romantic heroes have in common from one book to the next?
I was actually talking about this with a friend of mine who’s read all of my books and trying to articulate it, it boiled down to the fact that my heroes are men who like and respect women. Sometimes, I get the sense that alpha heroes in traditional romances don’t actually like the women they fall in love with. They want to sleep with them. They want to sweep them off to their private island/exact revenge/take over their company but they don’t actually *like* women.
I like men who like women. Capable women. Funny women. Strong women. That doesn’t mean the heroines don’t love or need the men but they’re not helpless or crippled without them. Loving each other makes their lives fuller, it doesn’t simply paper over some gaping emotional void. So those are the types of men I write about in my stories. I suppose it’s not surprising, since those are the men I choose to spend time with. My father. My male friends. My husband.
Do you have a favorite hero or story that you’ve written? Which one and why?
Gee, just ask me which one of my kids I like better, why don’t you? I don’t have a favourite. I fall a little bit in love with each one as I write them, though.
What made you decide to make Hester’s brother, Robert, homosexual?
Robert Aspinall is actually based on a real character, who was in fact gay. In real life, Aspinall was a tailor, who lived in Great Wild Street, and who was amongst the more than twenty men who were arrested in the raids on the White Swan. So it wasn’t so much that I made him ‘gay’ as I knew that he was and I imagined what that would mean for a man of his time. I asked questions like “What would it be like to support someone who was suspected of being gay?” “How would the larger community react?” “What personal sacrifices would the suspect and his family endure?” “What sort of person would support them?” That’s how Hester and Thomas came to me. Answering those questions, their characters, and Robert’s since almost no biographical information was provided in the newspapers, came into focus.
It’s unusual in historical romance (but more common in historical fiction) to meld the fictional and the actual. When I became interested in the events that happened during and after the raid on the White Swan, I wanted to explore them because I thought that they deserved to be talked about. When unpleasant history is covered up, it cheapens the experience of the people who lived through it and makes it difficult to gauge how far we’ve come.
What’s the strangest setting you’ve ever had for a scene in one of your books?
In “The White Swan Affair”, the setting that was the most challenging to write was Newgate Prison. It really was a hellish place – fetid, violent and full of despair. Balancing that grim reality with the development and experiences of the characters was a challenge – after all, Robert and Timothy fall in love while in prison and Hester and her brother reach an understanding there, too. I didn’t want the inherent drama and threat to overwhelm the people themselves. They had to be front and centre but still convey the horror and grim reality to the reader so that they could experience it as viscerally as possible.
Thank you for having me today. I’d love a chance to give a reader a signed copy of my e-book “The White Swan Affair”.
Discussion: Elyse would love to know what readers think makes a great hero in a romance? What makes them fall in love with the character? Their appearance? Their outlook? Their sense of humour?
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Monday, June 18th – Peace, Love, Books
June 19th – Endlessly Bookish Wednesday
June 20th – Unwrapping Romance Thursday
June 21st – I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read Friday
June 22nd – Romance Book Junkies
Monday, June 25th – Librarian Mouse Tuesday
June 26th – Sweeping Me Wednesday
June 27th – Ex Libris Thursday
June 28th – Books Are Magic Friday
June 29th – Romancing The Darkside
July 2nd – That’s Swell!
July 3rd – My Reading Room Wednesday
July 4th – Snowdrop Dreams of Books Thursday
July 5th – A Bookish Libraria Friday
July 6th – Books and Things
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