Please help me in welcoming my guest author today, the fabulous, best-selling author in two genres, Eileen Dreyer.
Ella: Eileen, thank you so much for being here today. I am a huge fan of your Regencies.
Eileen: Thanks so much for inviting me. I’m delighted to be here.
Ella: Tell us a little about yourself and what prompted you to start writing.
Eileen: I’ve written stories since I was ten years old (I still have all of them. The ones I wrote in high school starring myself and my friends are in a locked box that goes to my high school friend unopened at my death). Anyway, when I was 10 I realized that I had read every Nancy Drew. Not only that, the next one wouldn’t come out for a year. I was devastated. Then, suddenly, the light bulb went on. I could write my own Nancy Drew stories. More important, I could make them turn out the way I wanted them to.
Ella: Oooh, I loved Nancy Drew. How clever of you. You were already a big success in contemporary romantic suspense before you started writing Regencies. What made you decide to write historicals?
Eileen: I’ve always read historical romance. I’ve always wanted to write them. But I’m very critical of lousy research, and when I began writing, I simply didn’t know how to research. I decided that it would be much better for me if I focused on the skills I already had as I learned how to improve on the ones I was weak on—like research.
Thank heavens for Google, it’s now much easier for me. I truly love the idea of writing within the strict social framework of the Regency era, because it gives my heroines another antagonist to push against. I do write strong women, and yes, in some ways they have modern sensibilities. But they do not flaunt the rules of the day. For instance, I just read an old regency in which a young virginal woman decides to become a man’s mistress, and it doesn’t seem to bother anybody. Especially his family, who welcomes her to their home as his mistress. I mean, come on!
I will never only write one genre of romance or fiction. I love writing what I read, and that’s everything. But I really love walking around in Regency shoes.
Ella: What have you found most challenging about historical and what do you love best about the genre?
Eileen: The most difficult part for me is fitting my fictitious plot line into actual history. I mean, it would be easy to say that my heroine met Wellington in America. Except that he was never there. I remember writing the scene in BARELY A LADY when Olivia and Grace travel to the Waterloo battlefield to rescue her father. I have read fiction where the rescuers pop down and back up again, as if it’s nothing. That battlefield was over twelve miles away, down roads that were clogged with wounded, carts, dead horses, discarded supplies. It would have taken hours, just to get there. And then, suddenly I thought, “Oh, hell. By the time the cannons stopped(around 7PM), it would mean they wouldn’t get down there ‘til dark. How can they possibly see well enough to identify who they’re looking for? Please, please, let there have been a moon that night.” Well, it just so happens that there wasn’t just a moon that night, but a full moon, which was why Wellington felt he could chase Napoleon off the battlefield. I actually dance around the house when I found that out.
It’s the little details that make a book for me. The color of a uniform, or the look of a battlefield under the silver half-light of a moon. It makes it all come alive for me. And I admit that I felt a great sense of relief that I didn’t have to change the plot (I simply can’t commit anachronisms just for the benefit of my plot)
What do I love the most? As I said, I love having a real wall to throw my protagonists against, especially my heroine. It offers another antagonist, above and beyond the human and emotional antagonists. I mean, the heroine has to step apart of her society while obeying the most important tenets. That’s what I love about Kate, the Dowager Duchess of Murther, in ALWAYS A TEMPTRESS. Kate danced right at the edge of respectability with the delicacy of a ballet dancer. She was outrageous, but she conducted herself so that nobody could really shun her. Other heroines have to overcome their lifelong relation to the society of the time to triumph. For an author, that’s fun.
Ella: I know you’re working on another Regency now. If we promise not to give away any secrets, will you tell us about it?
Eileen: Well, I just finished the fourth book in the Drake’s Rakes series, which begins a new trilogy (I’ve decided to separate the nine-book series into three trilogies. The first, already out, is The Three Graces, for the heroines who met in the medical tents at Waterloo. The new trilogy is called Last Chance Academy for the school the heroines all attended).
Titled ONCE A RAKE, it is Ian Ferguson’s story. I don’t think it will surprise any readers that after we left him shot and bleeding in the middle of the English Channel, he manages to reach shore to ultimately end up in the hands of Sarah Clarke, a woman struggling to hold onto the failing estate of her husband, who hasn’t been heard of since Waterloo four months before. Ian is wanted for treason, Sarah has secrets that could destroy them both, and the actual traitors are trying to stop them both. I’m glad to say that the Rakes have cameos, especially my buddy Chuffy, and Sarah’s friends who star in the next books reintroduced. I have to say, I adore Ian and Sarah. Talk about survivors. And who could not love a braw, brash Scot who appears in a kilt at least once?
Ella, thank you again for the invitation. This has been really fun.
Ella: Thank you, Eileen for coming on. I’m thrilled to have you here. Now what we’ve all been waiting for, an excerpt of Eileen’s latests release. If you’ve never read her books you’re in for a huge treat. Take it away Eileen.
Eileen: Well, the latest is a short e-story entitled IT BEGINS WITH A KISS introducing the new Last Chance Academy trilogy. Because the story happens four years before the Drake’s Rakes series begins, and because Sarah and Ian never met then, the story focuses on Ian’s sister Fiona and his friend Alex Knight. But you meet the girls, and can figure out how they all fit with their Rakes.
1811, Near Bath
She was incorrigible. That was what Miss Lavinia Chase of Miss Chase’s Finishing School in Weston said. It was what the curate said from All Hallows down the road. It was what the Charitable Gift Committee said, who traveled the few miles from Bath to oversee her education.
Of course, all of the girls at Miss Chance’s Finishing School in Bath were incorrigible. It was why they were there, at what was more vulgarly known as Last Chance Academy. But even in that pantheon of misbehaving, maladroit young women, Fiona Ferguson stood out.
She was always thinking. Not in matters of poise or etiquette, not even in the art of being agreeable. No, that would have at least done them all some good. It might have insured Miss Ferguson a place, however tenuous, in society. But Miss Ferguson preferred science over penmanship. Philosophy over etiquette. And, dear heavens preserve them all, mathematics over everything. Not simply numbering that could see a wife through her household accounts. Algebra. Geometry. Indecipherable equations made up of unrecognizable symbols that meant nothing to anyone but the chit herself. It was enough to give Miss Chase hives.
The girl wasn’t even saved by having any proper feminine skills. She could not tat or sing or draw. Her needlework was execrable, and her Italian miserable. In fact, her only skills were completely unacceptable, as no one wanted a wife who wanted to discuss physics, or who could bring down more pheasant than her husband.
Even worse than those failings, though, was the fact that Miss Fiona had a definite lack of humility. No matter how often she was birched or locked in her room or given psalms to copy out a hundred times, she couldn’t seem to drop her eyes, or bend her knee the appropriate depth. In fact, when her benefactors visited to inspect her progress, she looked them right in the eye and answered as if she had something to say besides “thank you for your benevolence to such an unworthy girl.”
Incorrigible. And if they could find her brother, they would deliver her back into his care.
But her brother, an officer with the Highland Brigades, was fighting somewhere on the continent, which meant they had no hands to deliver Fiona into if they showed her the door. Only her sister, but even the Charitable Trust knew better than to deliver any human into the care of Mairead Ferguson.
“It’s not that I don’t think Miss Ferguson doesn’t deserve to be left to that unnatural family of hers,” Lady Bivens sniffed at the board meeting to consider the latest crisis Miss Ferguson had fomented. “Plain, great gawk of girl. Why, she’d be nothing without us. Cleaning out pots or plying her trade at Covent Garden.”
Across the room Squire Peters snorted. “Not likely. Rather ride an actual horse.”
As usual, Peters was ignored. The rest of the board continued happily blackening Miss Fiona’s name until their carriages pulled up.
They wouldn’t do anything. They all knew it. Ian Ferguson might be poor as a church mouse, and he might have questionable antecedents, but Britain had made him an officer and a gentleman, and his timely rescue of the Duke of Wellington at the a place called Bussaco had made him famous. His sister was safe. For now.
* * *
Fiona Ferguson was safe because she was locked in the attic room where all misbehaving girls were sent to ruminate on their sins. After all, the board meeting had been called in response to her attempted flight from school with a groom from the local public stables. Fortunately, Miss Letrice Riordan had discovered the scheme in time and notify Miss Chase.
Fiona had said not a word when she’d been intercepted by the headmistress and John the footman on the back path leading to the mews behind Pierrepont Street. She hadn’t said a word all the way back in and up the four flights to her prison, or when they’d locked the door in her face. She had just stood there, white-faced and silent, as if they had been the ones in the wrong instead of her.
Not one person had asked why it was she had packed one small bag and run off, a crumpled letter in her hand. And not one person had thought to check on her throughout the long October night, to see if she was afraid or hungry. Miss Fiona Ferguson was in punishment, and that was enough.
To be honest, Fiona didn’t notice either. She lay atop a thin blanket on the narrow rope bed, fully clothed, staring at a water stain on the ceiling that over the years had taken the shape of Italy. But she wasn’t paying attention to that either. Fiona’s attention was on the paper she clenched in her right hand. The letter that had come to the Bath receiving office five days ago. It had taken her three days to sneak the money to the cook to claim it without Miss Chase finding out. It had taken a day to prepare her escape, and another three hours to be found out and dragged back.
She was still lying in the frigid room thinking of how to manage a more successful flight when she heard the scrape of a key in the lock.
|New York Times bestselling, award-winning author Eileen Dreyer, known as Kathleen Korbel to her Silhouette readers, has published 28 romance novels, 8 medico-forensic suspenses, and 7 short stories.|
2012 sees Eileen enjoying critical acclaim for her first foray into historical romance, the Drake’s Rakes series, which follow the lives of a group of British aristocrats who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their country safe. After publication of the first trilogy in the series, she has just signed for the next trilogy, following the graduates of the aptly named Last Chance Academy, who each finds herself crossing swords with Drake’s Rakes. Eileen spent time not only in England and Italy, but India to research the series (it’s a filthy job, but somebody has to do it).
A retired trauma nurse, Eileen lives in her native St. Louis with her husband, children, and large and noisy Irish family, of which she is the reluctant matriarch. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.
Dreyer won her first publishing award in 1987, being named the best new Contemporary Romance Author by RT Bookclub. Since that time she has also garnered not only five other writing awards from RT, but five RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, which secures her only the fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Since extending her reach to suspense, she has also garnered a coveted Anthony Award nomination.
A frequent speaker at conferences, she maintains membership in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and, just in case things go wrong, Emergency Nurses Association and International Association of Forensic Nurses.
Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She’s also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn’t see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn’t pan out.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org