Friday, September 19, 2008

Interview with Delilah Marvelle

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Delilah Marvelle. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Mistress of Pleasure. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

My book, Mistress of Pleasure is the first in the School of Gallantry series. All five books evolve around a very special school created by a retired French Courtesan, Madame de Maitenon. A school that educates men in the art of love and seduction. The quick pitch: Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle de Maitenon, has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction – in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent, free from men, and the shackles of marriage. But when her grandmother falls ill, forcing Maybelle to take over the operation of the school, she discovers that men are in fact creatures of habit and simply need to be re-educated. Then Edmund Wothington, the duke of Rutherford, dares to enroll, looking to alter not only her lesson plans, but her very heart.

Mistress of Pleasure is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Actually, the original title for the book was An Improper Education. LOL. For it is all very improper. But John Scognamiglio, my editor, wanted a different title. And I agreed with him. He wanted a title that would reflect not only the heat but playfullness of this book. We brainstormed but for the life of me I couldn't come up with anything good. He then e-mailed me with a what about “Mistress of Pleasure.” Which was PERFECT! So sadly, I can't take credit for the brilliant title. John is in fact the king of titles.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always, always loved reading historical romances. And if there is one thing I've learned and one thing that everyone keep repeating is “Write what you love to read.” After I read Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught, I was well and truly hooked. I had written stories before, but nothing that really fit into any particular genre. She defined what I loved.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

This particular idea came from the usual way I get my ideas. By reading out of print research books. I had the luck of coming across the biography of Ninon de L'enclos, a 17th century courtesan. Her approach to men, sex and life was unlike anything I've ever seen. She had a philosophy that was almost too modern for her time period. What was more, she kept her bedroom door open to aristocratic men for more reasons than sex. She actually held meetings and formal classes and discussions for the men that evolved around sex, love and philosophy. And it got me to thinking. Why not turn her actualy meetings into a real school. For men. That would teach them about sex and love. I laughed, wondering the sort of men that would enroll. Could they really be hero material? Well..yes, depending on their reasons for enrolling. At the time all of this was still bubbling in my head, my grandmother re-appeared in my life after 20 years of complete silence. Which is a whole other story altogether. Anyway, she became the perfect inspiration for the grandmother and creator of the school, Madame de Maitenon. My grandmother, you see, is a retired opera singer who speaks with a heavy accent and always refers to sex so matter of factly. She amused me so much, I couldn't help but fuse her characterstics with the idea of a French courtesan who would go on to create the School of Gallantry.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

My favorite research books are the ones you can't easily find in stores. Like Fashions in London by Barbara Worsley-Gough. If you can get your hands on this book, it's absolutely fantastic. It covers fashion, the Season, districts, houses, interiors, shops, hotels and restaurants and evening amusements. I have an obsession with collecting books that are from the 1800's, so I can't recommend anything that people can really “buy.” Although many of these books are expensive, I find that they are the most accurate in their depiction of history. For it was happening as they were writing. I highly recommend getting a dictionary from the early 1800's, if you can. It gives a true sense of the sort of words they used. An encylopedia from the 1800's is another recommendation. The way they set up their encylopedias had insights on everything from horse back riding, to courting, to everyday life. Again, not cheap, but well worth every penny.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved writing all my characters, but if there was only one I could choose, it would be the grandmother, Madame de Maitenon. She is everything you want out of yourself. Proud, intelligent and sexy, who doesn't give a damn about what society will say about a woman breaking all the rules. I think as women, we sometimes shrink away from being what we truly want to be because of how others will perceive us.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

My characters develop themselves. Sadly, I am a panster. I come up with an idea, take a board and whatever comes to mind, I start smacking sticky notes onto it. When I use the idea, it comes off the board. Sadly, not much comes off the board... I usually don't do character sheets or anything of that nature. Actually, I have a pretty photographic mind. So I don't need to write all that much down. This series, however, has been a challenge because all 5 books will be taking place at the same time. So in some books you'll have the same scene but from a flipped point of view. I don't do it a lot mostly because I want the reader to have a new reading experience every time, but enough for them to understand why certain things happened and who was thinking what. So needless to say, I had to start keeping calendars on who was where and why they were there. I can't have people wandering into a room who weren't there.... My research is key to character devleopment. Every time I read a book, I get something out of it that helps my mind go deeper into what I would want for my character given the time period. I have made a rule for myself to try to stick to the year 1830 until I grow bored. By sticking to particular time period, I can develop a real sense of understanding of the period without having to run to the bookshelf every time.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

What I love about 1830 is that it isn't Regency but it isn't Victorian. They are a beautiful combination of the two. Which obviously allows me for a bit more freedom. There are things that the Regency folks did that the Victorians didn't and things that the Victorians did that Regency folks didn't. I like to play with both. The time period itself was called the Romantic Period and I have to say for me, it is in fact truly romantic in my mind.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to fit in this post, LOL. Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to name a few.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Blogging my little heart out. It's free and more importantly, it's fun and I don't have to leave the house!

What do we have to look forward next?

The next book, which I've already completed and has been slotted for August 4, 2009, is Lord of Pleasure, book 2 in the series. Book 2 introduces us to Lord Hawksford, the cocky rebel rouser we meet in book 1 who enrolls in the school for all the wrong reasons. A have a sneek peak of that book on my website at

Thanks, Delilah!

Thank you!!

To celebrate her book release, Delilah Marvelle is offering a free autographed book of Mistress of Pleasure to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Delilah Marvelle spent her youth studying various languages (Polish and French), reading voraciously, and playing the pianofore. She confesses that here ends the extent of her gentle breeding. She was a naught child who was forever torturing her parents with countless adventures that they did not deem respectable. Confined to her room on many occasions due to these misadventures, she dicovered the quill and its amazing power. Soon, much to the dismay of her parents, she rather enjoyed being confined to her room where she could write. And so, her writing continues. An RWA member since 1998 and a two time Golden Heart Finalist, Delilah's debut book, Mistress of Pleasure comes out September 2, 2008 and is Book 1 in the five book School of Gallantry series.

Check out author's website at

Buy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, BooksAMillion, or anywhere else books are sold.


Kathryne Kennedy said...

Your books sound fabulous, Delilah! And I have to agree that the character inspired by your grandmother sounds intriguing. I'm looking forward to reading your book! And as a writer, I have to say that I'm envious of your research book collection. What a treasure!

Anonymous said...

Hi Delilah,
Thanks for blogging with us today. Now that I'm awake (as opposed to when I posted this near 5:00 am), my question for you is were there any scenes you loved but had to take out during the editing process? Have a great weekend.

Delilah Marvelle said...

My Dearest Kathryne,
Thank you for posting and for the marvelous kudos. Seeing you are a writer, if you should at any point in time have any questions about said research books, feel free to e-mail. I don't send them off, LOL, but I love sharing information and the sort of books I have.
My Drearest Kim,
Thank you so much for allowing me to blog! What a great question! I would have to say there were scenes I took out that needed to be tossed, but nothing I was in love with. So I guess the answer is no, I've never had to toss anything I was in love with. Usually I toss it because a.) I have no attachment to it whatsoever (I call that no loyalty...) and b.) because it slows the pacing or does not further the story that I am trying to tell. BTW, my favorite part of writing actually IS editing, so I have great fun tossing things out left and right :D

Doreen Pagliaro said...

Hi Delilah,
I've been in love with historical romance since the early 70's and am looking forward to reading your new book.
I'm always on the lookout for new authors and I wish you the best with this book!
As a history lover, I'd love to take at a peek at your research book collection too! By the way, in historical terms, your collection would be considered a "primary source" because it is a document that comes from the time you've researched.
Good Luck!

Delilah Marvelle said...

My Dearest Doreen,
Thank you for your wonderful post and warm wishes! And just so you know, my primary source is now your primary source. Do E-mail me anytime :D

Carolyn Matkowsky said...

Great interview, Delilah. Your books sounds absolutely amazing. I love the concept. Definitely one I intend to buy. Good luck with it.

Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

Delilah Marvelle said...

My Dearest Carolyn,
I am so pleased you stopped by! Thank you so much for posting with regards to both my book and my interview.

Liviania said...

Thanks for the link to this interview from myspace.

Wow, you experienced quite a bit of rejection!

Delilah Marvelle said...

My Dearest Liviania,
I was more than happy to supply the link and I thank you for following it :D And yes...ehm..
A LOT of rejection. I can wallpaper my entire house with them!

kimmyl said...

Hi Deborah, What are you writing now and what will we be seeing from you very soon?


CrystalGB said...

Hi Delilah. Your book sounds wonderful. Love the cover.