Interview with Historical romance author Brita Addams

BritaAddamspicQ: You write primarily historical romance in both gay and het. Your latest series, the Sapphire Club, is a historical erotica which includes LUCIEN & SERENITY and PRENTICE & DESIREE. Tell us about this series. While erotica isn’t my primary focus when I write, the Sapphire Club series is indeed erotica, set in the Regency era in England, at a sex club in London, where members of English aristocracy let their hair down and give in to their baser instincts. Each generation likes to believe it invented sex and all the various kinks, but research tells us something quite different. Within the walls of the Sapphire Club, we see a side to history that might have truly existed. In Lucien & Serenity, Lucien Damrill owns the club. Ten years before, Lucien’s wife left him, afraid of the sexual aspects of marriage. Between her fear and Lucien’s youthful ineptness, their marriage was doomed. When she returns, she brings with her a new attitude and a secret that could destroy them both. In Prentice & Desiree, which comes out September 12th at Musa Publishing, a grieving Prentice, the Marquess of Wycroft, must come to terms with his past and the one woman that might see him past the loss of his family and his wayward past. The third book in the series, Thornhill’s Dilemma, is under contract at Musa Publishing, though it doesn’t have a release date yet. In this book, Phillip Allard, Duke of Thornhill, finds like-minded partners for his sexual pleasures. There he meets Alexander Chilton and together they embark on a quiet relationship of several years, until a young woman inadvertently prenticeanddesiree-300dpisteps into the middle of things. Complications put their lives in turmoil and Phillip confronts the toughest decision of his life. This is a story of love, deep and enduring, the kind we all want in our lives. There is also tragedy, redemption, and the lingering hope that we are all meant for someone and when the combination is right, anything is possible.

Q: What is the difference between a costume drama and a historical novel? In my opinion, the characters in a costume drama or period piece, dress in period clothes, but the story could take place in any time period. There isn’t anything to anchor the reader in a particular period—no historical events or historical figures. Instead, it is more a general idea. Usually, in costume dramas, there isn’t a lot of attention to specific detail, and there is no flavor of historical language. A historical is set in a definite period and has defining factors to anchor it to that timeframe, such as actual historical events Historical author Brita Addams

TarnishedGoldQ: You have another book that takes place in the 1920’s and is a Rainbow Award Winner for Best Historical, TARNISHED GOLD. What led you to dive into this time period? When I was a teenager, I read movie magazines and in them, there were ads for signed photos of stars. Signed, probably not so much, autopenned, but I wrote to movie stars and asked for signed 8 x 10 glossies. When I received them, I papered by bedroom walls with the photos. I’ve had an intense interest in Old Hollywood, the years from the early 19teens through the 1940s since I was a young girl. I love old movies, silent and early talkies, and have watched them throughout my life. That period was very different from Hollywood today, the glitz and glamor, a mystery that simply doesn’t exist anymore. Stars were stars back then, and sadly, they had to keep many secrets from their public. Tarnished Gold is actually the first book in the now two book Tarnished series at Dreamspinner Press. I do intend to write several more, from different aspects of life in Old Hollywood. Tarnished Gold is a gay romance that spans many years. The book starts in the early 19teens, when Hollywood revered gay and lesbian members of their community and goes through the mid-1930s, after which the Hays office stepped in and implemented morals codes into every Hollywood contract. Those codes demanded that Hollywood clean up its act. Consequently, studios set down ultimatums to gay actors, instructing them to marry (lavender or beard marriage – a shallow way to give the impression that those under contract had “changed their ways,”) and gave up their gay life or lose their employment in the burgeoning movie industry. Overnight, gay actors, costume people, directors, etc., were persona non grata, relegated to the closet for many years to come. In Tarnished Gold, Jack Abadie’s integrity is threatened. Tarnished SoulsOne real actor, William Haines, told Louis B. Mayer told him to ditch his lover, Jimmie Shields, and marry to a woman. Haines’s reply – “I’m already married.” Jack Abadie is patterned after Billy and Tarnished Gold is dedicated to Billy Haines and all those who lived through the transition in Hollywood. The second book in the series is Tarnished Souls – Frankie and Gent. Gangsters “ran” Hollywood from its inception. Frankie is the Hollywood “Don,” but he’s failing the New York faction that set him up there. Gent, a hitman and Frankie’s former lover, goes to Hollywood to bring Frankie back to New York to answer for his neglect, and from the first page, the tension builds between them. This was a fun book to write, filled with slang and it has the film noir feeling I wanted. Film noir is something I can’t get enough of.

Q: How much research goes into writing a period piece like this?  The onus is on the author when they embark on writing a historical. Research is vital to producing a successful book, to put the reader into the period and give them the true experience of historical fiction. I have a vast library of books from many historical periods. I read extensively. I absorb myself in the time. That could mean I watch many movies, read many books, search online for specific facts. From the time I conceive a story, I research everything involved – clothing, food, historical events, names, language, manners, customs, forms of address, music and everything in between. The research doesn’t stop. I’m forever checking facts, throughout the writing. I believe in the old adage that if you’re going to do it, do it right. For Tarnished Gold, I researched for six months before I ever set one word of the story down.

Q: Do you read the same genre you write? I read a lot of historical romance and historical fiction – in many different sub-genres. I also read a ton of research books on many topics. For me, that is recreational reading. All history interests me. I never know when I might find the germ of an idea from the reading.

Q: You’ve done a lot of research on the Civil War and the American Revolutionary War. Can we expect books from those eras as well? I have a Civil War novel started and truth be told, I have a burning desire to finish it, if other things would stop insinuating themselves in my plans. ☺ I also have a work in progress that takes place in 1754, during the French and Indian War, with plans to do a series, involving the lives of several generations of one family, using various wars as the backdrops—Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War (a different story from the Civil War I mentioned before.)

Q: Have you had an interesting experience in the research of one of your books? Actually, the most interesting experience came after I wrote the books. In 2013, my husband and I went to England and visited the estate I used as inspiration for the Sapphire Club. I can’t tell you the thrill it was to spend an entire Sunday touring the estate and the grounds. Little did I know when I first found that estate online that I would actually visit it.

Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? What keeps you writing? The answer: the encouragement of my husband, who is the reason I started to write. After years of discouragement from a person who shouldn’t have had dominion over my writing, my husband pulled me out of the worst place for a writer—in doubt. For that, I owe him everything. Without him, there wouldn’t be a Brita Addams.

Q: Which fictional character would you like to be friends with in RL? I’d have to pick one of my own characters, Phillip Allard, the Duke of Thornhill, from the third Sapphire Club book, Thornhill’s Dilemma. Phillip’s personality and character revealed themselves in layers. He is a complicated, yet endearing character, one that proved a pleasure to write. Phillip could teach me about the aristocracy as well as his difficulties as a gay man in the Regency era, when homosexuality was against the law and a death sentence for those unfortunate enough to be discovered. For more information on my work, please visit britaaddams.net. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Review – The Time Between by Karen White

The Time BetweenThe Time Between by Karen White

New American Library Trade Contemporary Fiction

Karen White’s books explore the complicated relationships within families, within friendships, between strangers. The Time Between, explores all of these with the assurance that there is hope. The primary setting of this particular book is in one of my favorite places on Earth, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast—Edisto Island where the sand and sea beckon peace of mind. White isn’t squeamish in her topics and absolutely is not saccharine in her resolutions. White doesn’t disappoint as she weaves an intricate maze of secrets and possibility through her fully developed characters and always intriguing settings (Sea Change). My favorite character in this book is the ancient Helena, who lives and plans to die on Edisto. Full of grit and old time spit-and-vinegar, she keeps everyone on their toes.

As with most of Karen White’s books, the story involves a continuum of ages and invokes childhood memories, incorporating lost dreams and new strengths. It reminds us who we were, who we are, and who we can be. It reveals that families strangled by the past can untie the knots and achieve a new life.

The Time Between will make you laugh out loud, burn with anger, shout with frustration, feel the rip in your heart, long to be a part of the developing romance, and fill you with hope for the future. The pain of chronic loss, chronic injury, and chronic illness are portrayed with acute intimacy and juxtaposed against a circle of warmth and love. Damaged people who long for redemption and forgiveness can be an exhausting and dark read, but White’s story rises above that. It encourages you to turn the page to experience where she will take you next.

Interview with romantic comedy author Margaret Cunningham

0067 01 .camera raw-2An interview with Margaret Cunningham

Q: Your latest novel, DESIGNING STELLA, is releasing in August. What can you tell us about it?

Like my previous three novels, DESIGNING STELLA is a romantic comedy set on our lovely gulf coast and filled with the kind of charming characters we all know and love. I’m especially excited about “Stella” because it’s also a murder mystery – of sorts. A first for me! Our heroine is Stella Gray, one of the most sought-after interior designers in Washington, D.C. She is known for giving her clients what they didn’t know they wanted. Along with the death of her beloved mentor and the betrayal of her long-time love, the color has gone out of Stella’s life. So what does a forty-six year-old woman on the run from her troubles do? She heads for home. Back in the south, Stella dives headfirst into a pile of new business ventures, hitting the road between New Orleans and Biloxi with her quirky, childhood friends. Then there’s her very attractive but equally mysterious next door neighbor, Sam Poole, who hasn’t exactly taken a shine to her. There’s also a voodoo nanny to deal with and a murder to solve. But sometimes, in the end, a second chance is in order. And just sometimes, that second chance can bring a woman on the run what she didn’t know she wanted.

cover (1)Q: What inspired you to write this book?

I grew up on my father’s nursery with a mother who loved reading, gardening and decorating. I have a thing for houses – especially old ones, and a house and/or garden always figure prominently in my stories. I also grew up watching old romantic comedy/mystery movies and just love the genre. My protagonists are all women in the 40 to 55 age group who are facing transitions in the middle of their lives. We all know women who manage – with good friends, determination and a sense of humor – to navigate these category five domestic disasters. And come out the better for it! They are my inspiration. I love writing stories for them and about them, taking them from that dark place and following them to the other side – and giving them the happy endings they deserve. Besides, romance in mid-life is way more interesting to me than the first time around.

Q: You now have two books set along the gulf coast. Why is that area special to you?

OTP - front cvrWrite what you know, right? And I’ve never lived anywhere else! Besides, what better place is there for a writer than the south? The settings – especially here along the coast – are lovely, sultry, haunting…. The area is full of authentically quirky characters who love to tell and hear stories – especially funny ones. It’s a gold mine of inspiration. And actually I have three other books set along the gulf coast: LILY IN BLOOM, ONE TRUE PLACE, and ALWAYS CHARLIE.

Q: What books have most influenced your life?

I have to give credit to Nancy Drew. I started out devouring those books as fast as “Carolyn Keene” could write them.  They got me reading which led to the idea of writing. Then I moved on to Agatha Christie. But like so many of us, To Kill a Mockingbird made a huge impression. Also, The Great Gatsby. Year of Wonder is a wonderful book. Lately, I’ve been just blown away by the writing in The Goldfinch and a funny, little book called Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore that illuminates the struggle between print books and ebooks – an interesting time to be a writer. But really, I read everything. Books in general have enhanced my life. I can’t imagine a life without them.

Q: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?

My books are light fare. Someone said that if literature were a meal, my stories would be dessert. I agree with that. I like to think of women (and men – I do have a few male readers) putting their feet up, glass of wine in hand, meeting characters like themselves who have friends, fun, adventure – and of course, romance. I hope they see everyday heroes working through mid-life crises and realize they can, too. As one of my characters told me, “Happiness isn’t a gift. It’s a choice.”

Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

I’m always surprised at the great questions interviewers come up with. Figuring out the answers is often a big help in my writing. I guess one would be: What has surprised you the most about writing/getting published? How the characters – and the story takes on a life of its own. How attached I get to the characters. What a thrill it is to set them free when something is published. (I hate to think of them languishing in a folder.) The idea that though it takes a long, lonely, frustrating time to write a novel, when it’s published it becomes as many stories as there are folks reading it because every reader envisions characters, settings, even plot and themes in their own way. I love that idea! A book is a gift from writer to reader.

It also cracks me up (and warms my heart) when people think they or someone they know are the characters in my books!

 

Review – School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino

51XisAZqejL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino

MuseItUp Publishing, May 2014 ~ 5 Stars

Blurb: Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

Review: This YA fantasy has an unusual setting and a somewhat bizarre plot. At the beginning of the story, Suzie struggles to deal with an illness that mystifies doctors. No matter how much she eats, she continues to lose weight and nobody can tell her why. Then, a stranger arrives and tells her that she is a “Death” – she needs to travel with him to a new school and learn to deal with her powers or she’ll die in the mortal realm.

Suzie reluctantly begins this adventure only to find herself enmeshed in a world that doesn’t welcome or accept her. Everyone, students, teachers, and administrators tell her that the last female Death was a disgrace. Of course, they think Suzie will turn out to be just like her and this means she has more than one enemy. She also has a few allies. And of course, she wants to go home back to the family that loves her although she doesn’t want to die.

Not all of the characters in this story are likeable, but they are consistent. The ones who hate Suzie do their best to balk her search to discover the truth about why she is there. They aren’t afraid to attack her and she finds herself grateful for her new friends. They believe in her and trust that she has a plan even if she isn’t sure of what she wants, much less needs to do. It took a while to establish the rules of this world, but that made sense. How often does a person go to the School of Deaths?

While Suzie struggled with unsympathetic teachers, tough assignments and learning how to handle a scythe, characters such as Billy and Cronk helped make the story come alive. They not only felt like they needed to help her, they also had terrific motivation. Cronk felt guilty for finding her and bringing her to the school. Billy found himself falling in love with his new room-mate. On the one hand, he wanted to protect her – but on the other, he didn’t want to lose his status in the school.

With a well-developed setting, strong characters, a fairly fast moving plot, and snappy dialogue, this novel should keep readers engaged from the beginning to the end. The pace picks up in the middle – no sagging – and the resolution was totally unexpected. Since Suzie is only in her first year at the School of Deaths, it will be hard to wait for her to continue her education. She may be the first female “Death,” but hopefully she won’t be the last.

This review was provided to The Book Breeze by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space.

Long Live Longmire

I was thinking the other day about all the great memories I have of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Remember Willow’s resolve face?  Zander’s Snoopy dance?  The musical episode, band candy episode, and Hush?  

I can’t help but wonder how many wonderful memories I would have if FOX had not been such an idiot and cancelled Firefly.

Well, there’s been another bad decision by a network – A&E cancelled Longmire.  If you are as irate as I am about this you need to view this video on YouTube http://youtu.be/95SEnwsfOcs and fight for your tribe!  I am.