Brenda Hiatt & Giveaway!!


I’m so thrilled to have Brenda Hiatt visiting the blog today.  Brenda is a talented author, writing teacher, and romance industry advocate who’s had a successful career and written truly wonderful historical romances.  She’s also just published a mystery, which I’m really curious about.  Let’s find out about it, shall we?

You’re mostly known for writing historical romance, but you’ve just published a mystery with Bell Bridge Books.   Why the switch?

I cut my writing teeth on traditional Regency romances, publishing six of them with the Harlequin Regency Romance line (now long defunct, alas). When that market dried up, I tried a few other things, including one time travel, eventually published by Harlequin Superromance as BRIDGE OVER TIME. But it wasn’t until Mary Jo Putney took me aside at a conference and told me I should try Regency-set historicals that I took that step, which got me back into the game with SCANDALOUS VIRTUE at HarperCollins. I went on to write seven more single title historicals for HC and Avon, most of them Regency set. Unfortunately, after several tight deadlines in a row along with a couple of difficult life events, I frankly burned out. I didn’t write at all for more than a year, and when I did start writing again, I decided to write something just for me, about a woman having the kind of mid-life adventures I imagined myself attempting if I only had the nerve. That book became OUT OF HER DEPTH, which just came out in March from Bell Bridge Books.

I never thought of it as a mystery while writing it, but that’s what they’re calling it, and I guess it fits. It’s about a woman reinventing herself, with lots of action and suspense and a big dose of humor along the way–along with a bit of romance, of course! It grew out of a vacation to Aruba and my own love of scuba diving, and was a heck of a lot of fun to write. Best of all, it got me writing again!

There have been rumors lately that historical romance is dead (again!).  Do you think readers are less interested in historical romance than they used to be?

All genres and subgenres have their peaks and valleys, as one thing or another becomes the “hot” genre or type of story. But historical romance has always had a strong following, and I personally believe it always will. It’s true that some settings–time and place–are more popular than others, but one of the extremely cool things about the new publishing paradigm is that it allows even authors of the offbeat, “unpopular” (at least by traditional publishing standards) stories to find their readers, the people who love those exact books. It would be a boring world if everyone liked to read (and write) the same thing, wouldn’t it? For example, while my Regency-set books have tended to be my best sellers, I’ve gained some passionate fans with my American-set, “Titanic”-style romantic historical fiction novel, SHIP OF DREAMS, which relies heavily on the real events of the sinking of the steamship “Central America” in the 1850s.

You have so many wonderful historicals, but The Saints of Seven Dials series really caught my attention.  What can you tell me about those books, and do you have a favorite?

 I confess, these books were originally inspired by two movies: Disney’s “Aladdin,” and “The Princess Bride.” Luke, the hero of the first book in that series, ROGUE’S HONOR, was my vision of the lad Aladdin (as portrayed at the beginning of that movie) all grown up–a gleeful, daredevil thief with a heart of gold, who had a special way with the ladies. By the time I finished writing that book, I had concocted the idea of a series, borrowing from the idea of the “Dread Pirate Roberts” in “The Princess Bride”–how everyone believes the legend is just one man (in this case, my Regency Robin Hood, the Saint of Seven Dials) when in fact there’s really a series of men going by that moniker, with each secretly handing over his mask to the next in line. A favorite? Hm. It’s always hard to choose a favorite book, since I tend to be in love with whichever one I’m writing at the time, but my first Saint hero, Luke, will certainly always have a special place in my heart. Though Noel is pretty yummy, too. And Marcus. And Lord Peter. Then there’s Jack, in SCANDALOUS VIRTUE . . . Nope, can’t do it. Sorry.

 What’s up next in Brenda’s writing life?

At the moment, I’m hard at work on a young adult series, just finishing up the first draft of book 3. It’s contemporary, but with science fiction creeping in as it goes along, and I’m having a blast channeling my inner 15-year-old as I write these books! My Bell Bridge editor has hinted she’d like to see a sequel to OUT OF HER DEPTH, so that will likely be my next project when I finish this series. Meanwhile, I finally have the rights back to the last of my Harlequin Regencies, so I’m hoping to get those formatted and available as e-books in the very near future. If only there were more hours in the day!

I’ll be looking forward to reading your backlist!  And Brenda is graciously giving away a copy of Rogue’s Honor, one of her historical romances to one of my readers today.  If you could only take one historical romance with you on a trip, which one would it be?  One person who comments will win Rogue’s Honor!

Guest Author: Shana Galen & Givaway!

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.

The Duke

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.

The Diamond

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.

The Jewels

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.

Guest Author: Kate Noble & Giveaway!

Those of you who stopped by the blog last week know that I did a feature on historical romance writer, Kate Noble.  I’m pleased to say that Kate is back on the blog today with an interview.  Pull up a chair, and let’s get to know her a little better!

What drew you to the Regency period as the particular setting for your novels?

I’ve always loved the Regency. I read Pride and Prejudice at the impressionable age of 15 and haven’t looked back. Since the Regency Era was mainly what I was reading, it makes sense that it would be what I started writing, right?

Also, the Regency is just jam packed with so much goodness. From Prinny to Beau Brummell to the Napoleonic Wars to Byron to Austen herself, the era is such a fascinating time for London – a sprawling city that was as old as Hadrian’s Wall but felt new, like it was bursting at the seams to grow.

Your new historical romance is out, and it combines passion, adventure, romance, and a little danger, too. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What gave you the idea for this book?

The idea from this book sprang from a slightly sad tale. Once upon a time, I got dumped. Don’t worry, I survived it, but recalling that time got me thinking – what would it take for someone in the Regency Era to survive getting dumped? What if it was a broken engagement? What if it had been to a duke? How could you ever go out in society again?

Well, Miss Sarah Forrester goes through all that (her heart cruelly broken at the end of my previous book Follow My Lead) and she not only survives, but she thrives! Reinventing herself as the Golden Lady, Sarah becomes the most sought after young lady of the ton, and the façade not only saves her socially, but keeps her vulnerable heart safe. The only person who can see through the façade is her childhood friend, Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher. And he will do anything – even dressing up as Sarah’s girlhood crush, the mysterious spy known only as the Blue Raven – to bring her out from behind the mask and back to the sweet and loving girl he once knew.

Too bad the real Blue Raven isn’t nearly as amused by Jack’s costume. Although he does need his help in solving a murder…

When you were writing the book, did anything surprise you? A bit of research, characters going off in an unexpected direction?

I’m always surprised by what my character end up doing and saying to each other – but sometimes the most interesting things are in the development of my secondary characters. Sometimes one random line makes the light bulb ding over my head and I think “Oh, that would make an excellent storyline for this other character’s book, next!”

Was there a model for your dashing hero, or did you pull him straight from your mighty brain?

Well, I sort of modeled him on Wesley from The Princess Bride with a dash of Captain Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World. Although, in my head, he looks exactly like Taylor Kitsch.

Thus he sprang forth from the depths of my mind and, after a quick lesson, began to swashbuckle with aplomb!

Thanks so much for being with us today, Kate!  And since you gave away books last week, I’d like to return the favor today.  I’ll give away two copies of my first book, Mastering The Marquess, to two folks who comment on the blog today.  I was thinking the other day about dinner parties and fun guests.  If you could sit next to anyone in the world at a dinner party, who would it be?  Feel free to select from the past or present.  I mentioned on facebook the other day that I’d love to sit next to Ellen DeGeneres at a dinner party.  I think she’d be a hoot!