I’m so pleased to be hosting one of my favorite historical romance authors on the blog today. She’s Shana Galen, and she writes bestselling, Regency-set historical romance that’s both adventurous and sexy. One of my most enjoyable reads this year was Lord and Lady Spy, which is a great caper story and a wonderful romance with a huge amount of heart. I loved it!
Shana has a new book out, and she’s here to tell us about it.
Of Dukes and Downton Abbey
Like most of America and the UK, I fell in love with Downton Abbey last year. I’m not much of a TV-watcher, and my husband was so intrigued by my sudden interest, he took watched and was hooked. He’s not a writer, so when the weekly episode was over, it was over for him.
Not so for me. The cast—or at least their images—stayed in my mind. I was writing my September release, When You Give a Duke a Diamond at the time, and some of the actors provided perfect inspiration for my novel’s characters. You can see a few of my choices on my When You Give a Duke a Diamond Pinterest board.
I chose Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley on Downton, as the model in appearance for William, the sixth Duke of Pelham. Matthew and Will have almost nothing in common personality-wise. Matthew actually seems to enjoy some leisure on the weekends. Pelham does not know the meaning of the word leisure and does not care to. He’s rigid, staid, and adheres to his routine almost as though it were a lifeline. He has many secrets and a dark past.
And when he meets the Duchess of Dalliance, his routine will never be the same again.
Robin Wright Penn, who played Buttercup in The Princess Bride, has the look of my spontaneous, fun-loving heroine Juliette. Juliette has been dubbed the Duchess of Dalliance, and she’s one of three glamorous courtesans known as The Three Diamonds. She cannot afford to be cut by the powerful Dangerous Duke, but that’s exactly what happens at the Prince Regent’s ball. And then to make matters worse, Juliette witnesses a murder at the ball.
The apparent murder of the Duke of Pelham’s fiancée.
When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in a new series, and I introduce several characters who feature prominently in future books. The Countess of Sinclair is one such character. She’s the much pitied wife of the Earl of Sin, the protector (read: lover) of The Three Diamonds. But take one look at my choice for the countess—Maggie Smith in her role as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey—and you’ll know there’s more to the countess than it seems.
You’ll have to visit my other Pinterest boards for pictures of Juliette’s friends Fallon and Lily. They’ll each get their own books, filled with dangerous diamonds and dangerous men.
Do you like to picture “celebrities” as the characters in books? Who are some of your favorites?
He had a perfectly orderly life…
William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…
Until she came along…
Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…
There you have it, folks! The first book in Shana’s new series. For my readers today, Shana is giving away a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond to those of you in the U.S. or Canada. Just answer her question about celebrity inspired characters for a chance to win. And don’t forget to visit her website for more info about her books, and also check out her group blog, The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills.
94 thoughts on “Guest Author: Shana Galen & Givaway!”
Thanks for hosting me today, Vanessa!
So happy to have you visiting, Shana!
I don’t like to picture characters as celebrities, either when I’m reading or writing a story. When I hear/read a name, I instantly picture that person in my head, everything: hair and eye color, build, even sometimes a quirk or two, just to make things interesting! I can’t wait to read to your new series!
Cynthia, I totally understand that. I think it means you’re really able to conjure up your own image of the characters from the authors descriptions. Do you look at the cover of a book a lot or try to ignore the artist’s representation?
I like to see the authors idea of what the characters look like and who their inspiration was, but they don’t often match up to the image I get after reading the description of them. I like my “dream duke” to have dark hair, guess I’m partial to that 🙂
Diana, I’m partial to dark haired heroes too. In fact, I was editing my current work in progress today, and even though I gave him light brown hair, later in the book I describe his dark brown hair. LOL! Guess it’s my subconscious.
When I see the picture of whoever the author had in mind when she wrote the book, it seldom is who I see in my mind. Then I’ll look again and think “Perfect casting!” It’s like when you talk to someone on the phone for months and have a picture of them in your mind. When you meet them, the are nothing like that image.
I know just what you mean, Sue. I’ll see a picture of someone on Facebook and think, but that doesn’t look like them! And then sometimes people look exactly as you picture them.
It depends on description of the character. For Ava Stone’s A Scandalous Pursuit, I picture David Gandy as the Duke of Kelfield. I picture celebrities, because I imagine if this was made into a movie who would I cast as. It’s fun that way. 😀
It is fun, Melody. At this stage in my life, I don’t get to watch a lot of TVs and movies, so I tend to rely on older celebrities for inspiration. I just make them younger in my mind.
That’s ok. For the longest time I would envision dark hair and blue eyes it was Rob Lowe. Sigh.
I can’t wait for this book! Huge fan of Downton too.
Also, I too picture celebrities when writing – I have entire image docs in Scrivener just for help when I’m working.
Thanks, Erica. That’s smart to make a Scrivener file.
Hi, Shana! No, I don’t picture celebrities when I read a novel. I totally immerse myself in the descriptions of the characters as written by the author. The author has taken the time to create wonderful characters and I enjoy seeing them in my mind’s eye as portrayed in the novel. I’m not a huge follower of television or movie celebrities anyway. I get excited when I get pictures of my favorite authors not TV/movie stars. I’m weird that way, I guess! 🙂
I am so excited about “How to Give a Duke a Diamond” and I cannot wait to read it! I also enjoy chatting with you on The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills. It’s a daily haunt of mine and I hope others will join us!
Hi Connie! And you posted on my Facebook page. Thanks so much. Connie, to tell you the truth, I’d probably be more excited about seeing pictures of my favorite authors too!
I usually picture from the author’s description… and I’m terribly dense about most of the celebrities of today, unless they’ve been around for a number of years… But I’m looking forward to this series!
Cate, I see so few movies and watch so little TV that I pretty much have to choose celebrities from Downton! It’s the only show I’ve seen (well, besides Mickey Mouse).
I just finished ‘Lord & Lady Spy’ and just wanted to say that I SO LOVED IT! wondering if these 2 characters will develop into more books?
I prefer to read the description and let my imagination run wild!
And I think that’s great. I do try to write descriptions that allow the reader to use their own imagination too.
Some of my favorite celebs I picture as book characters are Hugh Grant, Sean Connery, Jim Caviezel (wow that guy is like the Timex watch, takes a licking an keeps on ticking, check out his bio to find out what happened during Passion of the Christ filming!), Chris Hemsworth, Brad Pitt, Daniel Radcliff, and even Alan Rickman from time to time. For the female characters I have often envisioned Kate Blanchett, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Green, Bonnie Wright, Emma Watson, Natalie Portman, and several others. I think I would have a field day if some of my favorite books were made into films (would LOVE to see the Bastion Club Series by Stephanie Laurens put to film)! Thanks for the chance to win!
Lora, wouldn’t the Bastien club be a great miniseries? I’d watch it. I like so many of the actors and actresses you mentioned. Now off to read the aforementioned bio…
I don’t picture celebs in the characters roles, when reading I’ll go by the picture on the cover or by the description in the book.
And so many readers do, Dianne, that it can be frustrating to authors when the cover artist gets it wrong.
I think it’s fun to be inspired by my favorite celebs. Not sure how I would feel about the book if I don’t like the celeb though…
Looking forward to reading this book. Such gorgeous cover!
May, that’s a very good point. I had a few readers who dislike Angelina Jolie reluctant to read my LORD AND LADY SPY until I told them the heroine was not modeled after her or ever her character in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
When I read a romance novel I usually wonder whether the author built the characters with a real person in mind. But most of the time the physical descriptions are sp accurate that I am able to create my own mental picture. Most of the times I visualize Matthew MacFadyen (Pride and Prejudice) for a dark haired character and Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion) for a.blond. They are my favorite.
Those are two of my favorite actors too, Mina!
The only person that I sometimes picture as the hero when I’m reading a book is Henry Cavill. Especially from his role as the Duke of Suffolk (The Tudors). 🙂
It’s great that you’re going to be incorporating characters from “When You Give a Duke A Diamond” into future novels. It’s nice to meet and follow characters from one book to another. I also think this heightens the excitement in waiting for the next book to be released. 🙂
Congratulations on your upcoming release Shana.
Thanks, Diane. It’s fun to revisit old friends in new books for me, too. I am 100% with you on Henry Cavill in The Tudors.
Oh Shana….I so can’t wait for this new book/series to hit the shelves! It sounds terrific.
I love to picture in my mind what the characters look like and I’m very disappointed if the picture on the cover doesn’t match the description. I like your choice for Juliette. She looks like she has a bit of the devil in her eyes. But I think of Thomas Gibson for the Duke. Of course, he’s probably too old for the part, but when he smiles, he’s drop dead gorgeous.
And I share your sentiments about Downton Abbey. I can’t wait for the next season to start. There are going to be fireworks between the Dowager Countess and Cora’s mother!
Karen, Downton Abbey needs to hurry up and start playing over here. have you seen the trailer for season 3? Oh, my! Yes, I am seriously disappointed when the cover artist doesn’t do justice to the author’s description–especially when it’s one of mine!
Hi Vanessa and Shana!
When I’m reading historical romance, which is my favorite genre, I don’t think of the celebrities of today but rather famous people who actually lived during the time period in which the book is written.
Have you every been inspired by a historical person when you’ve written on of your characters and social events of the time your stories are written in?
I’m also curious what actually historical event in history most influenced your decision for you to include something, whether am event or a historical person, in one of your books?
Hey Jeanne, I often put the Prince of Wales in my books. And once I put Lord Alvanley in a book. Otherwise, I tend to simply mention real life people in passing.
The French Revolution definitely influences my writing. I’d love to write a book with that setting. In my Sons of the Revolution series I was only able to put flashbacks of the heroes’ experiences in the Revolution.
Hello Shana Galen! I love picturing some of my favorite WWE wrestlers in most of the stories I read. It might be due to their strong body structures. I have also pictured one of my all time favorite characters and the actor who played him so well, Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfayden). I look forward to your new book and thank you for the opportunity to win it!
Raquel, that’s interesting. My next two heroes are kind of big, brawny guys, so maybe I should watch some wrestling.
Hello Again Shana! Yes, please do watch some wrestling and hopefully you will include a favorite character of mine, Sheamus. Maybe it’s the Irish in him but something about that man just clicks!
I’m always inspired by celebrities when I write and read. When reading The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe, I totally pictured Natalie Portman as the heroine, Rue.
I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds fabulous! Thanks for the chance to win!
One of these days, I’m going to write a character I can picture as Natalie Portman, Jennifer. She’s such a beautiful and interesting actress.
I also don’t use movie stars. I like to make up in my mind what the characters look like. For some reason my favorite are dark haired hero’s too. Unless it is a red head Irish hero. I really love those too. Not many in romance books for some reason. I really love the sound of your book. Thanks for the giveaway!
Thanks, Mary. There really are very few red-headed heroes. The only one I can think of is Jamie in Outlander.
I never picture celebs as characters as I read books. I really prefer the characters to take on a life of their own. In most cases, I don’t think there would be celebs who would look or act like the characters.
Kelli, that’s probably true, especially in historical romance where the men and women were so much more refined than we are today.
I too don’t imagine movie stars but like to make up my own character after reading the author’s description. As to covers, the partial faces are safer because there is nothing worse than not caring for the model on the cover (but usually they are great lol).
I agree with you, catslady, even though I know a lot of readers don’t like partial faces. But then the reader can fill in her own picture.
When I read romance novels no actual beings actually take form as a character. Rather the characters exist only in my imagination. I do think their features are inspired by people I meet, celebrities and the cover models though.
Those celebs seem to worm their way into our consciousness!
They do worm their way in. How can they not when we’re bombarded? But I also think it’s human nature to want to find similarities and reference points. Thanks, Na!
Sometimes I do picture ators as characters in books. 2 of my favorites are Gerard Butler and Hugh Jackman for the men and Kate Beckinsale for the lady.
Good picks, Debra!
Debra, those are great picks! Kate Becjinsale is the inspiration for the heroine of the book I’m working on now.
For someone who puts so much emphasis on cover art, I don’t envision anyone (with a couple of rare circumstances) as the character when I read, not even the models on the cover. Sure, I keep track of the hair and eye colors (and hair length, if applicable) of the characters, but that’s about it.
Sometimes my vision of the characters will also change on re-reading the book.
That’s really how I am when reading, too. I tend to get a kind of vague picture in my mind, and I really prefer covers with pretty dresses as opposed to people.
I prefer to develop my own visual of the characters of the novels that I read. So many celebrities have negative press at some time or another that it could influence the way I feel about a character in a book.
Very true, Marge!
Hey Marge. No author wants any reader thinking negatively about a character, which is why these posts always make me a bit nervous. But I know even if an author has someone in mind, the reader will develop their own image.
I have never been good at “casting” books, probably because I don’t watch many tv shows or movies (I would much rather read). And, although I love book covers, I don’t tend to pay much attention to the character descriptions most of the time. Most heroes end up looking the same in my mind (my dream guy I guess, lol).
Hey, I think that works great, June!
June, I often have to go back and add the hero’s description because I forget to put it. It’s like I think the reader should just be able to read my mind and “see” my dream hero!
I don’t usually use celebrities to visualize book characters because my imagination is usually better. 🙂 Loved Lord and Lady Spy!
Wasn’t that a great book, Breanna?
Thanks, Breanna. If you’ve got a great imagination, use it!
I don’t usually picture characters in books as real people, celebrities or otherwise. I just get a general idea in my head from the description and run with it. I do love Johnny Depp and Gerard Butler, among many, but haven’t really seen any characters that I thought resembled them. I like it when authors give me a visual of what they imagine their characters look like though, that’s always fun.
I like pretty detailed physical descriptions, myself!
It is fun, Barbara, and when you have an actor like Johnny Depp, it would be hard to write a hero modeled after him. JD is so unique.
I don’t picture celebrities in books.
Sometimes it’s best to rely on one’s own imagination!
I think it really varies from person to person. Thanks for stopping by bn100!
I don’t really picture celebrities as book characters. An exception would be where an author creates a storyline that sounds like it’s based on something that happened to a celebrity.
Hmm, that’s very interesting, Kim! I can definitely see that.
Oh, that’s a good point, Kim. I couldn’t not picture the real Vogue editor when I read The Devil Wears Prada.
In general, I don’t have a defined picture in my head. It is more like when you’re dreaming – you know their features when you’re dreaming, but once you wake up they’re fuzzy.
I do, however, see Matthew Bomer as one of Kat Martin’s Raines brothers. 😀
AquarianDancer at gmail dot com
Karin, I totally get that!
Karin, I think that’s actually a perfect way to describe it. Thanks!
I don’t like to pictures celebrities for my characters. I prefer to go by the authors decriptions and picture them in my mind as I see them.
Sometimes our imaginations are better than the real thing!
I need to step up my descriptions. So many of you are relying on them. Thanks, Joy!
while I think it’s interesting who the author pictured while creating her characters, I generally don’t match it up while I’m actually reading. in part due to the fact that I’m terrible at putting names & faces together and I’m not always particularly good at picturing a particular person in my mind either 🙂
Donna Ann, I’m terrible at remembering names for celebrities. My conversations with my husband are ridiculous, because I can never remember anyone’s name!
We three could do a comedy routine because I often forget names of celebrities too. Either that or I have no idea who everyone is talking about. I’m always googling.
No, I don’t picture celebrities as characters in books. I rather go by the picture the author paints for me.
It can definitely be more fun to use your imagination. Thanks for chiming in, Heather.
Vanessa, it was a pleasure as always. You have the best readers. Thank you so, so much for hosting me. Can’t wait to see who wins!
And I’ll try to check back tomorrow in case I miss anyone who posts later tonight.
Shana, I’ll be picking the winner on Wed. Thanks so much for being with us!
I actually don’t really picture celebrities as characters when I read a book. I guess I just let the visual come to me as I read and like others have pointed out, the hero might just be the same imagined guy over and over again, lol. However, there are instances where either the author has specifically said a character looks like a certain celebrity or other readers share the celebrity they visualize that I may start to visualize the same celebrity as the character.
Hi Winnie, Sounds like once someone puts the image in your head, it sort of takes root. That might be good, if you like the celebrity. but if you don’t…
Haha, I totally agree! Thank goodness I’m pretty good with reverting back to my imagined faceless guy if the celebrity is either one I don’t really like or just someone who, to me, just isn’t the character at all. 😛
another Winnie here. I usually don’t usually imagine celebrities as book characters. However I will think of Dan Stevens and Robin Wright Penn when I read this book. Also, Colin Firth will forever be Darcy whenever I read Pride and Prejudice.
Winnie, I totally agree about Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I even read P&P before seeing the movie, but now I can’t picture Darcy as anyone else.
I sometimes picture celebrities as the h/h In the book I read but other times it just a face that I’ve never seen. A couple of celebrities that often come to mind though are Matt Bomer, Henry Cavill, Paul Walker, Chace Crawford, Channing tatum … I think the theme here is HOTT men!! Hahahaha! 🙂
Nice theme! Those are definitely hero-worthy celebrities, Rissa.