Welcome to our first Harlequin Historical Duck Chat! It’s Harlequin Historical Month, so we have several HH authors visiting us over the next couple of weeks to talk about their books and a lot of other fun stuff. Deb Marlowe is our first, so welcome Deb!
With her first book, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss, publishing a little more than a year ago, Deb has continued her success with her lovely historical stories ever since. An Improper Aristocrat released in December 2008 and Her Cinderella Season will be out soon through Mills and Boon. Currently Deb has a novella in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology, which is titled Regency Summer Scandals in the UK.
Deb is married; she and her husband live in North Carolina with their two sons. She loves to bake and do some scrapbooking now and then. Be sure to leave us a meaningful comment or question because Deb is giving away two copies of Welbourne Manor and a copy of An Improper Aristocrat.
So let’s chat!
DUCK CHAT: Let’s talk first about The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology that just released that features only your story, Annalise and the Scandalous Rake, but also stories by Diane Gaston and Amanda McCabe. All three works feature members of the Fitzmanning family. Please tell our readers how this idea came about and finally evolved into its final form.
DEB MARLOWE: I have to say, it’s a fun story! The three of us were so excited when Harlequin offered us the anthology. We were given full freedom to come up with the idea/theme, which was exciting and also a little scary. We met in Williamsburg, VA for a plotting, shopping, touring weekend. Over lunch we were discussing mixed families in the Georgian/Regency eras, such as those of the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Bessborough, and a similar family in the Elizabethan era that Amanda had been reading about. We wondered what might happen if a Duke abandoned his wife to live happily for years with his vivacious, also married mistress? The consequences for their families and especially their children, his, hers and theirs together, would be profound and far-reaching. The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor chronicles the stories of the three daughters of this blended family and the difficulties they face as they reach a marriageable age.
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
DM: Um, I’m assuming you mean an interview question? Because the real answer is that I’d love if my Mom—love you, Mom!—stopped calling during the day and asking what I’m doing. Answer: I’m working, Mom!
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
DM: There are a lot of surprises in writing. When I am really ‘in the zone,’ I’m gone. I’m far away, in someone else’s head. It can be a shock to wake up again. Sometimes I read over what I’ve written and I’m totally surprised. Those are good days!
DC: Nel Milford and Annalise Fitzmanning are the lead characters from your novella. Can you tell us a little about them?
DM: Annalise is the middle Fitzmanning sister. She’s the sensitive one, an artist who prefers hiding away in her studio, pouring her emotions into her painting, to dealing with society’s scorn. She’s tempted out when Mr. Ned Milford is invited to a Welbourne house party. But what no one knows is that Ned is also Prattle, an infamous, and anonymous, caricaturist, and he’s come to Welbourne to search out her family’s scandalous secrets.
Excerpt from Annalise and the Scandalous Rake:
“Miss Fitzmanning, surely you don’t think that Lord Peter will be your one and only chance at marriage?”
Ned recoiled from the sizzle of her scornful look. “I’m the illegitimate daughter of notoriously scandalous parents, Mr. Milford.” She gestured towards his sketchbook. “And in the words of Lord Peter’s mother, I have the amazing cheek to fancy myself a painter. Candidates for my hand are unlikely to be lining up at the gates.”
“Don’t be so quick to discount your charms, my dear. Or the charm of your substantial dowry. Or even your brothers’ influence. There are as many reasons to marry as there are marriages.”
She snorted. “Oh, yes. Perhaps I shall marry for dynastic reasons, or perhaps for property or influence. After all, my mother entered a loveless, practical marriage the first time, and it worked out so well for her.”
He clapped his mouth shut. “Well, you’ve routed me on that one. I can think of no suitable rejoinder.” He rose to his feet and extended his hand. “And since that is the case, let me be the first to wish you a long and happy spinsterhood.”
Her mouth gaped open. And then she laughed.
And he froze.
This was the first time, Ned realized. The first time he’d seen her eyes light up and her mouth curl. The first time he’d witnessed her features melded together in glorious accord to produce exquisite beauty.
Unbelievable, what a change came over her face. Unheard of, what effect her throaty, rasping laughter had on his body. It pounded a beat upon his ear which was quickly taken up by his pulse. It echoed through him, finally taking up residence in his stirring nether regions.
So easily she did it, awakened these sensations within him—without any apparent effort at all. And she had called him potentially dangerous? Clearly the intelligent thing for him to do would be to steer clear, to leave her to the tender ministrations of Lord Peter Blackthorne.
“You were right.” She smiled up at him as she took his hand and climbed to her feet. “I do feel better.”
Ah, well. When had he ever chosen the intelligent path?
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
DM: No, I can’t say I’ve argued with my characters. Sometimes I stall a little, but it’s usually because I’ve taken a wrong turn, and I have to stop and figure it out.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
DM: I get the majority of my writing done while my kidlets are in school. If they are home, they are a major distraction. The most tempting thing is when one of my writing buddies wants to go to lunch—it’s hard to say no!
DC: The UK version of the anthology is titled Regency Summer Scandals. Have you ever figured out why different titles for the same book?
DM: This is the first time a UK release of one of my books has had a different title, although they’ve all had separate covers for the UK and North American releases. This book is a little different because it’s being released as part of Mills and Boon’s Regency single title series.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved over your career? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
DM: I think it’s a little easier for me to delve deeper into my characters now. That takes practice! Some things I don’t think will ever change. I love strong heroines and sexy, confident heroes who appreciate them that way.
DC: I enjoyed your Deleted Scenes page on your site. Are those dropped scenes your idea or your editor’s? Have you ever really fought for a particular scene to be kept? Were you successful?
DM: For my first book, I was asked to remove a couple of characters, as it was felt my world was a little too populated. That was easily done. It was a little bit of a different story with An Improper Aristocrat. I had written that manuscript for a longer market. In order to sell it to Harlequin Historicals/Mills and Boon, I had to remove 8,000 words. Wow-that was a little more painful!
I’ve had my sex scenes toned down a couple of times, and I’ve yet to win that battle.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
DM: I’ve had a turn-of-the-century American book in my head for a long time. I’d love to have the opportunity to write that one some day. I’ve flirted with several ideas for a contemporary, but I have no idea when I’ll have time to experiment!
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
DM: Take better care of yourself. Travel more. Learn to say no earlier in your life.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
DM: I’d probably still be working in the medical field and wishing I could be an author.
DC: What’s on the horizon for Deb Marlowe?
DM: In October comes the North American release of Her Cinderella Season. Jack Alden was the scholarly brother of the hero in my first book, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss. He played a significant role in solving the mystery of the Pharaoh’s Lost Jewel in An Improper Aristocrat. In HCS he finally gets his own book! He was shocked to find himself in the midst of the action at the end of AIA. It shook him up, and shook loose a few demons too. The last thing he needs is to tangle with Lily Beecham, a daughter of Evangelical reformers who is determined to finally experience something of life—even if she has to drag Jack Alden along with her!
After that comes Tall, Dark and Disreputable. Mateo Cardea is a merchant ship captain and former privateer. The cousin of Sophia Westby, he was also introduced in Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss. He finds himself back in England, fighting to get his shipping company back from the woman he refused to marry years ago.
I hope Stephen Manning’s book is coming soon too.
– dark or milk chocolate? – Dark. Yum.
– smooth or chunky peanut butter? – smooth—Skippy Natural creamy
– heels or flats? – Flats
– coffee or tea? – Iced tea, unsweet.
– summer or winter? – Summer! I love the South and don’t miss snow at all.
– mountains or beach? – Beach. Love the sound of the surf and the feeling of being small, but absolutely a part of a bigger, beautiful picture.
– mustard or mayonnaise? – Both
– flowers or candy? – Flowers
– pockets or purse? – Purse
– Pepsi or Coke? -Coke, although I’ve had to largely give it up
– ebook or print? – Print. Too much screen time already!
And just because they’re a lot of fun:
1. What is your favorite word? – Flabbergast
2. What is your least favorite word? – Can’t
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Nature. Kindness. People with open minds and open hearts.
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Intolerance, selfishness, manufactured drama
5. What sound or noise do you love? – The unrestrained laughter of my kids.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? – Bickering kids.
7. What is your favorite curse word? – Bollocks
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – The only one I can think of would be travel writer. Paid to travel, learn, experience? Sounds like a good gig!
9. What profession would you not like to do? – Any one other than my own, really! I love this job.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Then I’d like to get a high five for a life well lived.