I was so excited when I was asked to interview my friend Katharine Ashe here at Romance at Random! I adore Katharine and her delightful Regency romance adventures. She has a wonderful new book coming out just in time for Halloween called Captive Bride. A handsome hero, an innocent miss and a dark, sexy, tortured ghost—who could ask for more from a gothic romance? Let the interview begin!
1. Why Regency historical romance? What drew you to this time period?
The marvelous contrasts. On the one hand there was the decorous, highly structured order of high society with all its rules and do’s and don’ts that could make courting such a challenging adventure. On the other hand there was the vast, dangerous, richly textured empire Britain built during this era. I can write about everything from balls, gowns, gossip, carriage rides in the park, romantic strolls down country lanes and pistols at dawn to pirates, intrigue, battles and vast sums of gold changing hands across the seas. My heroes and heroines steal kisses in the shadowy corners of ballrooms as well as on ship decks, and get locked in embraces beneath both snowy mistletoe and wind-swept palm trees. The opportunities for dalliance — both deliciously familiar and delectably exotic — are endless.
And, also . . . I have a thing for lords. And captains of tall sailing ships. And tight coats stretched over broad shoulders. And grand country estates with orchards and spectacular views. And horses. And the expletive “Blast!”
2. Your new book, Captive Bride, is a ghost story. Is Halloween your favorite holiday? How do you celebrate?
I adore All Hallows’ Eve. Ever since I was a girl I’ve had a soft spot for ghosts, especially tortured ghosts. They’re so evil yet it’s all because they’re trapped. The villain in Captive Bride is a tortured anti-hero, sexy and dark and absolutely miserable — though he won’t admit that to anyone; he pretends to be wicked. So I couldn’t resist giving him the task of bringing together a handsome lord and the country miss who has always loved him. It was too fun.
I celebrate Halloween by reading lots of spooky stories, watching spooky movies, and baking chocolate chip pumpkin bread.
3. Do you often work on different books simultaneously, as you did while writing Captive Bride?
When I’m writing a book I get intensely, emotionally involved in the hero and heroine’s romance. It’s the same as when I read a book: I don’t want to stop until I reach the Happily Ever After. So it’s wrenching to switch back and forth between different couples. When I’ve needed to write a book in the midst of writing another, I’ve always put one aside and finished the other before returning to the first. Then I can give my entire heart to one couple at a time, just as my heroes and heroines give their hearts entirely to each other.
That said, I do write snippets of books when they come to me, whatever else I’m doing. It helps me get to know characters and couples over months and sometimes years, as was the case with Bea and Peter in Captive Bride.
4. In your letter to readers you mention that Captive Bride came together on a foggy hillside in Wales. You’re a bit of a world traveler. Tell us some places you’ve been, and if they inspired other stories.
I traveled to Wales twice doing research for Captive Bride, on the northwestern coast of the country, and for How a Lady Weds a Rogue, which is a road trip adventure along the eastern border of Wales. I’ve spent a great deal of time in both Italy and France, and the book I’m writing now actually begins in France, though it makes its way to wonderful London in the end. I’ve been here and there elsewhere, England and Scotland first and foremost (which has inspired all the British settings of my books), and places like Greece, Slovenia, Austria, the Caribbean and the Czech Republic.
And like all readers I’ve traveled almost everywhere in my imagination. Dr. Seuss said it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Now it’s my turn to ask questions of my lovely interviewer, Samantha Kane!
1. Why Regency historical romance for you? What drew you?
I’ve always loved to read Regency romance, so when I began to contemplate writing romance it was a natural fit. I loved the glamour of it, the language, the clothes, the etiquette. And I loved the idea of creating a passionate, tempestuous love affair within the confines of that very structured world. I started out writing erotic Regency romance, where that contrast is even more evident. And you can stretch your characters so wonderfully in a Regency romance. Things that in a contemporary romance would make readers roll their eyes are acceptable in a Regency romance. The rake’s fall from grace and redemption in today’s world might elicit a shoulder shrug, but in a Regency novel represents a dramatic arc. The same can be said of the innocent heroine’s introduction to worldly passion and her acceptance of our hero’s flaws. I see great similarities between paranormal and Regency romance in that sense.
I also find it easier to sound clever and witty when writing Regency dialogue.
2. Your sexy and exciting The Devil’s Thief will be out soon. The heroine was wonderfully daring. Where did the idea for her to steal a prized pearl come from? Are you a jewel lover?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? lol The idea gradually morphed into a pearl. Originally the story was planned as girlfriends from school who steal from different rakes to keep the school open. But that idea was shelved. Then the Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey, Jr. came out and I got the idea for the character of Sir Hilary St. John, the unofficial leader of The Saint’s Devils in the series of the same name, and one of the hero’s best friends in The Devil’s Thief. Sir Hilary is an amateur sleuth of sorts, brilliant and hedonistic, who helps his friends solve a mystery in each book. So I took the two ideas and merged them. The central core of the series became a group of male friends from school, all rakes. Alasdair and Julianna took shape, and I had to find something for her to steal from him. I decided it should be a jewel and began looking for something with historical as well as monetary value. When I found a little snippet in my research about the largest pearl ever farmed from the River Tay in Scotland, I knew I’d found my priceless treasure. The Stewart Pearl is fictional, but it’s based on that research.
3. I adored the rapport between your hero and his two best friends, and I’m hoping you’re writing their stories as well. What inspired that gentlemanly trio?
Thank you! Anyone who is familiar with my previous books knows I love to write male camaraderie. I have such fun writing male friends bantering back and forth. I knew Sir Hilary and Alasdair would be friends from my initial plotting, but I had to come up with another friend for the two of them. A character they could play off of, who could provide comic relief when needed, and who could be an unbiased, casual observer of Alasdair’s plight. I wanted a character who somewhat resembled those playboys from the old black and white screwball comedies of the 1930’s. And so Roger Templeton was born. Roger’s story, Tempting a Devil, is the second book in The Saint’s Devils series and will be out in July, 2013. I’m working on Sir Hilary’s book right now.
4. What are your plans for Halloween? Any ghostly activity around your house at this time of year?
My kids love Halloween. As a matter of fact, my 9 yr. old son wears Halloween clothing, t-shirts and socks, all year long. Not surprisingly Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of his favorite characters and is all over his room. But all my kids take their Halloween costumes very seriously. They’ve been planning them for months. We’re going to buy pumpkins this weekend and we’ll carve them, too. They have a big Halloween carnival at their school and we enter their carved pumpkins in the pumpkin contest every year. They’re a little disappointed because we’re moving in less than a month, so I’m not putting out all our Halloween decorations this year. I don’t want to have to pack and unpack more boxes than I have to!
Question for our readers: What do you love best about novels set in the Regency era? Just say yes in the comments if you’d like a free preview of THE DEVIL’S THIEF from Net Galley & we’ll randomly choose winners to obtain a preview copy!
WINNERS ANNOUNCED IN POST – Copies in route – thanks for commenting!
Upon the publication of her debut novel in 2010, the American Library Association named Katharine Ashe among its “New Stars of Historical Romance”. Reviewers call her books “thrilling,” “breathtaking” and “lushly intense.” She is a two-time nominee and 2011 winner of the Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Historical Romantic Adventure, and her novella A Lady’s Wish launched HarperCollins Publishers’ newest imprint, Avon Impulse, in 2011. Her latest book, How To Be a Proper Lady, was an Amazon Editors’ Choice for Top 10 Books of the Month.
Find Katharine on her website | Twitter | Facebook
Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband of fifteen years and three children, two boys and one girl. She spent seven years as a high school history teacher before becoming a full time writer and mom. Ms. Kane has a Master’s degree in American History.
She loves to hear from readers, so please email her today.