We have the lovely Carrie Lofty here today at The Book Pushers for an interrogation interview and to chat a bit about her newest release in January.
Carrie’s up and coming novel, Scoundrel’s Kiss, features the heroine Ada – who is the troubled sister of the heroine, Meg, in Carrie’s début novel: What a Scoundrel Wants. Both books are gritty and realistic medieval historicals and have memorable but unconventional heroes and heroines.
Has: In your début book: What a Scoundrel Wants, your hero is Will Scarlett. I loved your take of his character – especially in contrast with Robin Hood who has been depicted numerous times in books and movies. What inspired you to write around the legend of Robin Hood and especially Will Scarlet?
Carrie: I must admit to a sick and twisted crush on Christian Slater. His portrayal of Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was whiny and rather adolescent, but it got me to thinking about what sort of man he’d grow into. There was cowardice in his performance, as well as the potential to be self-sacrificing. He was almost a leading man. I wanted to give that sort of Will Scarlet the chance to be the real hero!
Has: For new readers to your work, and in your own words, can you tell us a bit about a Scoundrel’s Kiss?
Carrie: SCOUNDREL’S KISS is the stand-alone sequel to 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 sickening torture she endured at the sheriff’s hands 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.
Has: You have unconventional female characters; both Meg and Ada have roles which are different from the norm during that time period. Was this something you had in mind specifically to shake things up?
Carrie: I knew I wanted to write something different, but the form that “different” would take remained a secret to me for some time. I started writing Meg as a rather pathetic creature. She was a sighing, wishy-washy thing with no backbone. Then I realized: she’s blind in medieval times *and* she practices alchemy. That’s a recipe for witchcraft–suspicion at the very least. And then how would her blindness and that suspicion from the local community affect her sister? It all snowballed from there. They are outcasts, both of them. And because of that, they don’t start out as very nice people!
Has: I really loved the setting in both books; it was gritty and realistic in tone. It was fascinating to see that time period and all the political intrigue that went on – especially as the over-all premise of the story and characters of Robin Hood is based on a legend. While doing research, did you find it challenging incorporating and combining what was done in that time period, and adding your own unique twist about the legend?
Carrie: Yes! I’m an historian by training, so giving up on hard facts to work in the field of legend was tricky. At first. The more research I did, the more confidence I had in saying this: “A wily medieval troublemaker once lived in the north of England.” That’s all we know about the supposed Robin Hood! But I didn’t want cheese. I didn’t want Men in Tights or Errol Flynn or even “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”. I wanted to stay true to at least some of my historian roots and portray their medieval world as one that would’ve tested–and whipped–most of us!
Has: Gavriel and Ada’s story is much different to What a Scoundrel Wants. Their inner battles with their personal demons, past, and I think their early confrontations with each other was a highlight for me in the book. What was your favourite part of the book in writing this?
Carrie: Oh, geez–I didn’t like much of anything about writing it! Can I say that? I think creating Fernán and Blanca were the only highlights. I was convinced that I got everything about Ada and Gavriel completely wrong. Only after setting it aside for a while, then coming back to it for revisions, did I realize how close I’d come to hitting at the heart of them both: their hurt, their vulnerability, and their utterly desperate need for one another. I absolutely love when the little concessions they make to one another, as if they’re doing it through gritted teeth. Ada asks please, Gavriel says thank you. It’s like taming two beasts, only neither is more civilized than the other!
Here’s a little example. A physician and his assistant, a nun, are trying to convince Ada that she needs a bloodletting to aid in her withdrawal from opium. But because of the torture she endured at the hands of the Sheriff of Nottingham (in What a Scoundrel Wants), she won’t have any of that. Her only hope is appealing to Gavriel.
The nun lunged after Ada, fleeter of foot than Gavriel would have guessed, but she landed on her side, arms empty. He caught Ada and twirled her down to the floor. She hugged closer, a mass of shaking limbs and sobs.
“Give her to me,” the nun said, standing and rubbing her hip. “Or I shall call in the guards.”
Gavriel denied her demand with a dark glare. “Wait. Both of you.”
“Don’t let them,” Ada whispered. He had a difficult time understanding her, between the shivering and her unusual accent, but her fear was tangible. The sweat on her skin even smelled different–potent, almost corrosive. “I would rather die tonight than bear his cure.”
“Inglesa, if it’s for the best.”
Feverish eyes met his. She panted, briefly managing to quell the tremors. “Have I begged anything of you? I’m begging now, Gavriel. Please.”
He closed an arm around her shoulders, angling his body between her and the red-faced physician. The nun stood as tall as she could muster and looked ready to pounce. Whatever frustration or confusion he had felt only moments before was replaced by a single, instinctual demand: protect.
Has: On your site you mentioned that you had plans for a silent movie era book – which sounds great. Are there any details or definite plans that you can give information on regarding the book?
Carrie: If I had nickels for every idea I have! I think I need a little more industry clout before I can go there, but I just accepted Carina Press’s offer to help launch their line in June 2010. They’ll be publishing my historical romance set in 1804 Salzburg, in which a widowed violin prodigy begins a steamy love affair with a renowned composer, only to learn that he stole the symphony he’s most famous for. Yay for more unusual settings in romance!
Has: I also heard a little rumour that you are teaming up with Ann Aguirre, and planning a new Paranormal series? Could you give us some tidbits about this? Lou told me about this team up. And as a fangirl of both of your books, I had a fangasm when I heard this! (Lou: She squee’d. Very much so.)
Carrie: That “little rumor” was probably just the echo of Lou squeeing! Yes, Ann and I have co-written a hot-n-dirty apocalyptic paranormal romance called NIGHTFALL, the first of our “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy. We took our penname, Ellen Connor, from the two most kick-ass old skool sci-fi chicks of all time: Ellen Connor and Sarah Connor. (Thanks to Syndey Croft for the idea!) No word yet on a release date, but Penguin will have the deets for us soon. Until then, you can troll our mega-pretty website for blurbs and excerpts: http://EllenConnor.com
Has: Do you have any plans, individually, to write books in a different setting or genre?
Carrie: *rubs hands* I always have plans, my dear! I’m wrapping up two historical romances with the goal of seeing them published in 2010. Just don’t mention the settings, ok? People get excited when I mention WWII and Victorian South Africa, and I wouldn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up
Has: What inspired you to become a writer and which authors have influenced you in your writing?
Carrie: I’ve written since I could string sentences together. I see what my mom meant when I watch my older daughter do the same thing: it’s all about expressing what’s inside of us. Some people do it through dance or song or art or theater. My girl and I, we do it through words. So I always had it in the back of my mind that this is what I wanted to do, even when I was pursuing my master’s degree in history. All of those ambitious colleagues wanted to publish their research; I wanted to have an embossed cover with a half-nekkid dude on it!
As for influences, I love lush, beautiful writing, so my favorite romance authors are Candice Procter, Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale, and Patricia Gaffney. They all craft such amazing stories, not simply packed with emotion and fascinating characters, but with poetic language to describe every aspect of the hero and heroine’s lives. I read those books and knew that’s what I wanted to write. Those are the kinds of stories I love to read, so why not give them a try in my own style with my own unique voice?
Has: And finally ( we have to include a smuttified question at The Book Pushers) if both Gavriel and Will existed in this time frame: boxers, briefs or commando?
Carrie: Hmmmm…Will would do briefs. He revealed a slightly vain streak that suggests he’d wear designer label undies that showed off his, well…his hero potential. But I think that Gavriel, after so many years of servitude and self-restraint, would be all about commando!
Has: Thank you for coming onto the The Book Pusher’s site Carrie, and I am so looking forward to more of your books in future!
Carrie: Thanks for having me. I look forward to writing them for you!
And because I loved this book so much – I am going to giveaway a copy to a lucky reader. All you need to do to enter is comment here.
Giveaway is open to everyone where the Book Depository ships to and will end next Wednesday!