I began by asking her:~
You write Contemporary Romance and historical Fiction - do you have a favourite? And if so, why? Is one easier to write than the other?
One of the first pieces of fiction writing advice I received was to ‘use my senses’. To be honest, I had no idea how. As an academic of the absent-minded professor variety (as my students will attest) I often didn’t notice what was around me, wandering around campus lost in thought. So, one by one, I decided to ‘romance my senses’ in my own backyard, by exploring the region where I live and writing about each sense in a series of contemporary romances (published by Harlequin). What an adventure! The first in the senses series is Black Diamonds, set in the world of delicious truffles. It focused on taste. Hide and Seek, number two in the ‘senses series’, is all about sight and sound. The third in the senses series is a novella called Wild Flower. You guessed it – all about scent. And touch? Well, all romances are about exploring the sense of touch!
My first writing love is historical fiction and romance. There’s more research to do than for contemporary fiction, but I enjoy exploring the past. NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva the first of my ‘Lady of Legend’ series was released internationally by St Martin’s Press in New York in 2015. Harlequin Historical (London) have also published two of my Victorian historical romances – and I still might write more of those. Meanwhile other Ladies of Legend are calling …
Without giving too much away, can you set the scene for your 1066 story?
My story 'The Needle can Mend' features Lady Godiva's grand-daughter, Queen Edith. I wanted to capture the strength and power of women and the tales they weave. No more is this revealed than in the mysterious fabric of the Bayeaux Tapestry, a woman-made work of political art, secret and imagination that has stood the test of time and twists my tale ... I hope readers enjoy it.
In your novel, Naked, you tell the story of Lady Godiva. What attracted you particularly to this character?
Well, I do like Godiva chocolates! Seriously, I got the idea while writing an academic article about the popularity of the word ‘lady’. The legend of Lady Godiva intrigued me and I became inspired to write my own version of her story. To look for Lady Godiva I made a trip to Coventry. It was difficult to find remnants of Godiva’s life, but I definitely experienced a spooky feeling near the place where Godiva and Leofric are believed to be buried. Their spirits are in the air. It was in Coventry I became convinced there was an untold story. In most of the Godiva stories, Leofric of Mercia is definitely the villain of the piece, ready to impose heavy taxes and to force his wife to carry out her daring ride. Yet by the end of his life, I discovered historical documents reveal Lord Leofric was a changed man and I became determined to clear his name. I think fell in love with him – and I know some readers have too.
What are you working on at the moment?
This year I’ve been working on a non-fiction project The Secrets of Mindful Beauty coming in March 2017 with Skyhorse Publishing, New York. I teach mindfulness as part of my university lecturing and my students love it. There’s a big link between mindfulness and creativity. I’m so excited about this book, as my co-author is my daughter!
I’ve also completed the next fiction book in the Ladies of Legend series. ‘Lost voices. Lost lore. Lost love.’ That’s a clue… who is the next Lady of Legend? Get in touch and let me know who you think it is…
Is there another event in history that you wish had had a different outcome, another "What if"?
Anne Boleyn is a favorite historical figure of mine (she makes a glimmer of an appearance in my next Ladies of Legend book). She’s fascinating, if not bewitching, but what appeals to me most is that by historical accounts she adored her daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth 1st, even though she needed to have a son. At Greenwich Palace in England I saw a Tudor exhibition that displayed a locket owned by Queen Elizabeth. She kept it with her always. Inside the locket is a portrait of a dark-haired woman, presumed to be her mother.
What if Anne had lived?
Thank you so much for dropping by to talk to me Eliza.