I understand you have a new release out called VEXING THE VISCOUNT. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
VEXING THE VISCOUNT is the story of Daisy Drake and her fascination with Lucian Beaumont (the vexed viscount of the title!). She won’t let his father’s deep hatred of her uncle stand in her way when she decides to help him find the lost Roman treasure he seeks. Daisy masquerades as Blanche La Tour, a French courtesan by night, forming a partnership with Lucian in his venture in exchange for “lessons in love.” (Of course, Daisy only knows what she’s read in the real Blanche’s very explicit memoirs and Lucian is a rarity for his a time—a male virgin! Their love scenes were delicious fun to write!) Then she bedevils him as herself by day, acting as “Blanche’s agent.” Poor Lucian finds himself drawn to both of them!
VEXING THE VISCOUNT is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
My previous titles were DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS (a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nominee—BEST HISTORICAL K.I.S.S.!) and PLEASURING THE PIRATE (featured on the Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day website as a must read for would-be scallywags everywhere!). So the “XXXing the XXX” pattern had been set. VEXING THE VISCOUNT seemed a natural progression. But I think this is my last XXXing the XXX style title. A girl has to draw the line somewhere. DIDDLING THE DUKE is just too silly.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
That’s easy. I write what I enjoy. Nothing takes me away quite like a historical and if I can add some sexy fun and a laugh or two, I’ve done my job.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
I was already well acquainted with my heroine Daisy. She is one of my PIRATE hero’s orphaned nieces in that story. As the 10-year-old ring leader of that ‘gang of five,’ Daisy was in and out of one scrape after another and had enough courage for all the Drake sisters combined. I knew she’d need her own story once she grew up.
Her adventure sprang from one of my own. In the opening of VEXING THE VISCOUNT (see http://www.emilybryan.com/Vexing%20the%20Viscount.htm for an excerpt) we find Daisy scrunched down, trying to get a better look at a piece of Roman antiquity under museum glass. It’s a lamp designed in the shape of an erect phallus!
Believe it or not, the Romans regarded representations of the male member as good luck! (Hence the phrase “getting lucky?”) When I was in Germany once, I visited the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne and they had an entire room filled with these little objects—some of them winged and used for windchimes! (I kid you not!) As a writer, I filed this bizarre discovery under “oddments to use at a future date” and forgot all about it until I decided to write Daisy’s story. It seemed just the sort of unusual item that would pique her interest and jump-start her relationship with Lucian in a wholly unorthodox way.
What are your favorite historical research books and why?
I always start with THE TIMETABLES OF HISTORY by Grun. Once I know the year my story lives in, I research the scientific, political, religious, artistic and philosophic developments of previous years so I’ll know what will inform my character’s way of thinking. I listen to the music of the period. I visit museums and try to view its art. I chat with re-enactors and feel the fabrics of their costumes. Because my books involve all the senses, its makes sense that my research should too.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Oh, dear. That’s like asking a mother to choose between her children. I’ve already told you a good deal about Daisy, so let me pick Lucian for now. He’s not your typical pasty-face English lord. His mother was an Italian contessa and he inherited her dark good looks and passionate nature.
But he’s strong-minded enough not to let passion rule him. Surprisingly enough, when the story opens Lucian is a virgin. Taking a willing serving girl to his bed never satisfied his sense of fairness, since those liaisons always end badly for the girl. He’s in no hurry to wed. His father lost the family fortune in the South Sea Bubble (the London exchange crashed in 1720, so you see we aren’t the only generation to suffer market dives). Lucian doesn’t have the funds to establish a relationship with a “woman of pleasure.”
So he’s thrown his energies into rebuilding the family fortune by tracking down a lost Roman payroll. Developing a “business” relationship with the infamous courtesan Blanche La Tour is heady stuff for him and he’s a willing pupil.
If only he wasn’t also drawn to that infuriating Daisy Drake as well . . .
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?
Oh, that sounds far too well-organized for me! I spend more time “listening” to my characters. Daydreaming and hearing voices are a writer’s perks, you know. I’m more likely to write down a few salient points for secondary characters than my principals because by the time I start telling their story, I know my h/h pretty well.
Yes, my research affects character development. My characters are creatures of their time. If they behave in ways that are at odds with the common world view for their day, I have to motivate that action very well.
What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?
I was surprised to discover that beneath the yards of fabric, the wire and horsehair panniers and cork bumrolls, Georgian women (early 1700’s) wore NO undergarments from the waist down (except garters and stockings—this is my DH’s dream fashion statement!) No knickers, no pantaloons, nothing at all. They all went commando. With their skirts draped far from their legs (some panniers extended a woman’s hips by several feet on either side. They actually had to turn sideways to make it through doorways.), I suspect it felt like running around naked from the waist down.
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
So many that it would be difficult to list them all here. But perhaps I should tip my hat to Louisa May Alcott. She wrote about women and for women when it wasn’t at all the womanly thing to do.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I have no earthly idea. Since I have no way to quantify results, I don’t know if advertisements or my website or speaking engagements do any good. I just started a WebHunt in conjunction with 13 other authors and NightOwl Romance (details and prizes on my website!) Bookmarks, newsletters, radio and tv interviews—who knows?
But I do know that one of the most fun (and most tiring) promos was my 50day/50blog VEXING THE VISCOUNT tour. I made lots of new “cyber-friends” and had a ball doing it.
But effective? Who knows?
A writer’s best promo, I think, is to write the next book.
What do we have to look forward next?
Coming September 29th, my holiday anthology will hit the shelves. I’m joined by USA Today Best Seller Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson for A CHRISTMAS BALL! In this totally fun anthology, all our characters are attending the same gala event, Lord and Lady Hartwell’s annual Christmas Ball. Everyone who’s anyone will be there and YOU are invited too. I just posted an excerpt on my website! My story is called MY LADY BELOW STAIRS and my heroine is not a grand lady. Jane is the Earl of Somerville’s bastard daughter, but she’s going to this ball regardless—only not by her choice!
Thank you, Much Cheaper Than Therapy! I feel more relaxed already.
To celebrate her book release, Emily Bryan is offering a free copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT 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...
Bio. Award-winning author Emily Bryan learned much of what she knows about writing from singing. A classically trained soprano, she gleaned the elements of storytelling while performing operatic roles. She and her husband have lived in nine different states, but she now makes her home in the heart of New England. Emily is available for signings, readings and writing workshops. To schedule events or for more info, please visit http://www.emilybryan.com/
Check out author’s website at http://www.emilybryan.com/
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