The Book Pushers: Can you tell us a little bit about Flawless.
Carrie: Flawless is the story of a debauched viscount and his estranged wife as they rise to the challenge presented in her robber baron father’s will. I’ve always wanted to do a story about a practical marriage that turns to one based on love, so this was the result.
Carrie: It stands alone, but it also kicks off a new Victorian series from Pocket, which follows all four of the Christie siblings as they tackle the challenges presented by Sir William Christie, their late father. Starlight will follow in July 2012, as well as a tie-in digital novella, “A Little More Scandal,” that will chronicle Sir William’s greatest romance.
The Book Pushers: Did you uncover any interesting or surprising fact did when you were writing Flawless?
Carrie: Oh, so much! Because it’s set in Cape Colony (modern day South Africa), I started with certain assumptions about the history, most of which were wrong. I had to dig and search for a moment in time where their romance might viably take place, preferably before the worst diamond mining practices were put into action. The amount of wealth in tiny, rustic Kimberley was astonishing. At one point it was home to the highest concentration of millionaires in the world. While in retrospect we can see the consequences of the diamond trade, at the time it was a chance for ordinary men to become legends–a time of tremendous social upheaval. I always find stories to be told in such a setting. So many possibilities!
The Book Pushers: Will the other books in the Flawless series have an unusual settings?
Carrie: It’s looking that way. Starlight is set in industrial Glasgow–think “North & South” with a straight-laced astronomer hero (big brother Alex) and a union leader heroine. The third book will follow younger sister Gwen to an Australian vineyard, while younger brother Gareth heads to the Caribbean. “A Little More Scandal,” featuring Sir William, takes place in London.
The Book Pushers: What project are you currently working on?
Carrie: I just finished “A Little More Scandal,” and will start on Gwen’s book next. I also sold a WWII historical romance to Pocket as well, set for a late 2012 release. It features a female civilian pilot and a US paratrooper medic who fall in love in England on the verge of D-Day. Otherwise, my alter ego Ellen Connor–the pen name I share with Ann Aguirre–will wrap up our “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy of hot-n-dirty paranormal apocalyptic romances in December with the release of Daybreak, available from Berkley Sensation.
Carrie: Drool. Shock. Happy jumping. Multiple quick forwards to friends. Squeeing. Astonishment.
The Book Pushers: Besides your partnership with Ann Aguirre, have you ever thought about writing outside of the historical romance genre?Carrie: I have, actually. I’m working on two projects that I can’t really talk about just yet. One is another co-writing partnership where our genre is contemporary erotica, and the other is a young adult. That’s all I’ll tease about right now!
The Book Pushers: What is it about the historical romance genre that you love writing most?Carrie: History has never been about facts and dates for me. It’s always been about the potential for real living breathing people to have existed. When I see something like Abraham Lincoln’s actual top hat, I get goosebumps. He really wore that! A real man! With all the foibles and dreams and fears of real men. So writing romance set in the past is a means of making those time periods live and breathe. People have fallen in love since the beginning of humankind. I have no doubt of that. It may have looked a little different than what we consider love today, but it’s what go us here as a species! I want to see those sparks, those moments when lives changed and they found solace in an unpredictable era. If I can explore new places and times while telling those stories, all the better!
The Book Pushers: How much research about the time period do you put into for each book?
Carrie: I start with a general grounding that takes a couple weeks–just to see what’s possible. Then I write the draft. Sometimes what I want to do alters drastically with the research and I have to revamp. But mostly I save the truly detailed historical layering for later drafts. I have a master’s in history, so my tendency would be to over-research if I let myself. I don’t want these to come across as history texts! The romance has to be there first.
The Book Pushers: Out of your hero and heroines, who have been favourites of yours?
Carrie: Heh, no way! I’m not going to pick! Although I have a serious weakness for Miles in Flawless. He’s such a damn scamp! And I can’t wait for everyone to meet Polly in Starlight. She’s a gorgeous blend of smart, innocent, strong, and self-deprecating. I find her utterly charming.
The Book Pushers: All of your titles can be read as stand alones. Have you ever considered writing a series?
Carrie: I have such respect for people who write series. It’s not something I could do easily right now. I think in arcs that have finite ends, if that makes sense. To have to look four, five, six books out…? I’d go crazy!
The Book Pushers: What challenges did you face when you transitioned from writing your historicals to writing a gritty post-apocalyptic series with another author?
Carrie: Sharing ideas is obviously the most challenging part of co-writing. Most authors are used to being masters of their own realms. But Ann and I learned very quickly that we needed to do what was best for the story. Sometimes we would go back and forth about an idea until “ta-dah!!” A moment of synergy. Everything came together. We came to trust that such moments would appear if we kept working at a thorny spot.
But the genre was challenging too. While history presents certain fixed boundaries, which can become roadblocks or at least headaches, I was a little adrift at the idea of simply…making everything up! Ann was great at guiding me through the complexities of worldbuilding without a history book to refer to!
The Book Pushers: Do you have a particular historical time period that is your favorite to write about?
Carrie: The Victorian era is my home. I did my master’s thesis on gunfighters in the American West, was obsessed with the Lincoln assassination, and other 19th century events. The world opened up to so many new places and adventures. But I also have a huge soft spot for the danger, heartache and romance of the WWII era. Hopefully my sale to Pocket will mean more of that in the future!
The Book Pushers: If you could live in any historical time period which would you choose and why?
Carrie: I really wouldn’t change! The more I learn about history, the more I like 2011 just fine. Hot showers, antibiotics, my iPod. I mean, I might be tempted for the clothing of the 1870s-80s, but that’s about it *g*
MinnChica has a copy of Flawless to giveaway!! Just leave a question or comment for Carrie to be entered. Open to US entries only, ends October 14th. Good Luck!!