1-7-10 6:42 am - - UPDATE!!!! The winner of the signed copy of SCOUNDREL'S KISS is Linda Henderson!!! Yay!!! Linda, please send us your mailing information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward it onto Carrie! Thank you, everyone, for coming by and visiting with us yesterday. And THANK YOU, Carrie, for blogging with us.
Please welcome Carrie Lofty as our guest blogger today. Carrier blends her love of history, romance and research by writing historical romances set in unusual times and places.
Two reviewers describe her work the best:
"Carrie Lofty [mixes] a skillful chemistry of intrigue, action, explosives and suspense with just the right touch of sugar and passion..."Audrey Lawrence, Fresh Fiction
"With its atypical setting and unique characters, Lofty's latest sweeps readers into a historical plot that tackles many contemporary themes in a meaningful and thought-provoking way. Kudos to Lofty for her innovative approach." 4 Stars Kathe Robin, Romantic Times
Carrier's first venture into historical romance began with her manuscript that was set in 1804 Salzburg. Shortly thereafter, she wrote what became What a Scoundrel Wants--her swashbuckling contribution to the Robin Hood legends--and an Italian time travel called "Sundial," which won The Wild Rose Press's "Through the Garden Gate" short story contest. Both stories were accepted for publication in autumn 2007. The Castilian-set sequel to What a Scoundrel Wants, called Scoundrel’s Kiss, features a warrior monk and an opium addict.
During the busy holiday season while keeping up with her two children, husband, three tabbies and a fish, we were able to chat about her interesting writing career.
You have a passion for history. What is your favorite period of history to write about? Why?
My passion for history means that I'm a complete sucker for the new and different. Sometimes I think that writing romance is simply a way for me to research to my heart's content! There are very few times or places I wouldn't consider for a story if the right inspiration came along.
How far do you deviate from historical facts in your romance novels?
I try to stay as true as I can to fact while still telling a wonderful story. My take on the Robin Hood myth in WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS was a little odd because so much of our image of that era is colored by legend and Hollywood. But whenever I can, I let readers know when I've intentionally deviated from history.
Most of your stories have unusual settings. Were you nervous about trying to sell stories that are in non-traditional romance settings?
Again, this goes back to my butterfly attention span. I flit from one period or setting to another, mostly out of my own curiosity. But I don't get nervous about the business part of it, not while I'm writing. I simply try to tell a story that's so compelling that editors and readers can't help but go along with my daring.
In December 2008, WHAT A SCOUNDRAL WANTS was released. This story is about Robin Hood's rakish nephew. Tell us a little bit about the book. What inspired it? Is there a deeper message in here for your readers?
In WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, Robin Hood's estranged nephew, Will Scarlet, rescues the alchemist who can clear him of murder, but she's blind, obsessed with fire, and sister to the woman he helped kidnap. I was inspired by, of all things, Christian Slater in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. He was such an unformed character--nearly noble, kind of selfish, borderline heroic. I amped up his heroism and gave him the spotlight.
As for the deeper meaning, I suppose that would go back to Meg and her blindness. She has a great deal of trouble trusting and depending on people, for fear of ridicule. She's very much a "no one is an island" parable, while Will's story is all about growing up and taking responsibility for one's own mistakes.
Do you have any advice for writers working towards publication?
Oh, keep working! I spent years fiddling with various ideas, never finishing anything. It was only once I took my own ambition seriously that I could expect my family to do the same. Just remember that your story is worth telling. Your job is to get good enough to tell it as well as you can.
Tell us your latest news?
My latest release is SCOUNDREL'S KISS, which makes me so happy. I love this book, and I'm excited to see how well it's being received.
What are the ISBN numbers?
ISBN-10: 1420104764 and ISBN-13: 978-1420104769
What's the book about?
SCOUNDREL'S KISS is the stand-alone sequel to my Robin Hood-themed debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. When last we saw Ada of Keyworth, she'd just been rescued from the Sheriff of Nottingham and had seriously burnt bridges with her family. She and a young admirer, Jacob ben Asher, head off to Spain together. But she's haunted by the unlawful and sickening torture she endured and turns to opium for relief...
Gavriel de Marqueda is a warrior on the verge of taking his vows with the Order of Santiago. Before he can do so, he must pass one final test: save Ada from herself. He's vowed obedience, nonviolence, and chastity, but Ada refuses to be held against her will, even for her own good, and vows to use every possible resource to thwart Gavriel's offer of aid.
Is it set in Spain? Why did you choose this location?
It's set in the Kingdom of Castile, which comprises part of modern-day Spain. Thinking back, I don't remember exactly what first started me thinking about Spain as a setting, but I knew I wanted to feature two elements to this story: a warrior monk and an opium addict. That meant I needed to find a place where their love could blossom. Spain was not only a hotbed of religious and military activity in the 13th century, but it was also along Arab trade routes. The Arabs traded with the Chinese, which mean that opium was available for purchase in Spain. Ta-dah! I'd found my setting.
What inspired you to write your book?
Ada, the heroine, inspired this book. She is a very selfish, terribly vulnerable and hurting woman at the close of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. I took her rather impetuous character to its natural extreme and thought her ripe for substance abuse--someone who doesn't want to look at past mistake and who'd very much like a quick end to pain. Then it was a matter of finding a man who was strong enough--and surprisingly, vulnerable enough--to set her on a path toward both recovery and love.
What, if any, obstacles did you encounter?
Oh, plenty! Writing this book was such a challenge. It was like tearing out a part of myself, then finding it completely inadequate to express what I was trying to convey. I wanted to give Ada a romantic happy ending, but first I had to make sure that I believed she would be strong enough to hold on to that happiness. And neither did I want to trivialize the struggle that is addiction. But in the end, I think it's the best story I've yet written.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
We can rely on others for aid and support, but the determination to overcome obstacles has to come from within.
Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?
I initially conceived of Gavriel, the hero, as a warrior monk. To my thinking, monks meant celibacy! However, the religious order that Gavriel joins was actually exceptionally liberal. They allowed monks to keep their own property, to bear arms against Islamic opponents, and to get married! They only practiced celibacy during Lent and other holy days. So I had to find a way for my hero to make the vows despite the liberal attitudes of his order. I think the results are very interesting, in that it's his own will--not the will of an outside force--that determines his very strict actions.
Launching a publisher
Your work is going to be released during Carina Press's launch in June 2010. I couldn't find a title on your site. If I'm not mistaken, this is the very first book you wrote. Tell us about it. What inspired it? Why Salzburg?
The book is currently untitled. I know, it's a little frustrating for me too! Set in 1804 Salzburg, a widowed violin prodigy begins a steamy affair with a renowned composer, only to learn that he stole the symphony he's most famous for.
Yes, it was my first completed manuscript. I was inspired by the movie AMADEUS, which is one of my favorites, and to a lesser extent by IMMORTAL BELOVED. I adore Gary Oldman, and his intense, slightly psychotic Beethoven fired up my imagination. I didn't want to set it during Mozart's time, but that's where I got the Austrian setting. From there I imagined what it would be like to have an amazing talent, only to hide it purposefully for fear of what society would think, The hero's secret, that he may not be as talented as people believe, was the flipside of that question.
What made you decide to go with Carina Press? How do you feel about this being a digital only book? Is there any chance that Carina may release it in print at some point?
I submitted this book to Carina when it first opened for submissions. The premise that they were looking for the stories that weren't being published really appealed to me. I mean, Napoleonic Salzburg? Really? I took a chance in writing it, and I was glad to get on board with a house that wants to take a chance on publishing it. With this being all digital, I think we're part of a big experiment. I'm curious to see where it goes from here.
Snakebite Scenes and Hollywood Plots: Writing Action with Heart
You have the beginning. You know how it should end. But what to do with those hundreds of pages in the middle? Use my so-called "snakebite scenes" to help characters acknowledge their deeper passions and bond over moments of danger--even when surviving everyday dramas--and analyze movie classics to see how Hollywood tells a rip-roaring story. For plotters, pantsers, and everyone in between, this course can unblock your creative process and help you add action and heart to every page.
Can you describe your writing process when creating a novel?
I start with the setting. Always. Then I research and brainstorm in tandem, trying to find my characters. What sort of people *could* have lived in this time and place? Are they native? Just passing through? There for the long haul? Bored and desperate to get out? Once I have the setting and the characters very firm in my mind, then I start writing and never look back. You could call me a prepared pantser!
What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?
When I start a book, I sit down and brainstorm every possible plot point that could go into that project. I don't care how ridiculous--for example, in SCOUNDREL'S KISS, Ada was supposed to a dancing girl at one point. I just write it down. I then save that list for when I get stuck. In going back to it, I get excited about what drew me to the story in the first place. I never use all of it, and many elements are radically changed along the way, but it's a way of jogging my memory and rediscovering my love for the story.
The theme for the month of January is writing workspaces. Please describe your special writing space. Pros/cons. What would you do differently? Do you have a picture? Do you have any special recommendations to writers just getting ready to set up their writing space?
I have a desk in the bedroom I share with my husband. We live in a small condo with our daughters, so that area is my office. Sure I'd love a room of my own, but that would mean cleaning it! However, I generally don't create while at my desk. I'm far too easily distracted by the Internet. I'll take my Alphasmart to the couch, or when I'm being particularly stubborn and unproductive, I'll go to a coffee shop or the library. The desk is for bringing it all together, for networking and screwing around, for revisions. I'd love a bookcase just for romance novels. Maybe one day! As for recommendations, do what makes you the most productive. I need few distractions, but others may work best with bits of inspiration gathered around. Don't feel obligated to do it any one way!
My best free reads are the two pastiche stories I contributed to:
"The Unfeasibly Tall Greek Billionaire's Blackmailed Martyr-Complex Secretary Mistress Bride"
And its sequel:
"The Italian Gourmet-Baby-Food Baron's Ironically Pregnant Virgin Mistress"
The other free reads can be found on the Freebie page of Carrie's Web site.
Carrie is giving away a signed copy of SCOUNDREL'S KISS. To qualify to win, leave a comment for Carrie. A random name will be drawn from the list of those who commented. If you are not in the continental U.S., Carrie will ship the book wherever the Book Depsitory ships to, but it won't be signed.
Carrie, thank you for joining us today. We have enjoyed the insight into your unusal approach to historical romances. I look forward to reading your novels.
To learn more about Carrie and her writing, visit her Web site: http://www.carrielofty.com/