Author Interview and Spotlight for UPON YOUR HONOR on Belinda Y. Hughes' Blog!
Author Interview: Marie Lavender (Upon Your Honor)
Leaving had proven to be very difficult. Chloe had no allies in the house. All of the servants worked for Lamonte now, so she couldn’t enlist the help of any maids. Her own nursemaid, Veronica, had quickly become controlled by her fiancé after her father’s bout of pneumonia. He made it clear that it was better to be loyal to him than to Chloe. Therefore, when she began planning her escape, she did it alone. She had to wait until Veronica had gone to her own quarters and everyone else in the house was asleep as well. Of course, as she’d assumed, Lamonte would be preoccupied with his own pleasures and so he wouldn’t notice her leaving.
She gathered what she could and wrapped it in a makeshift sack that she slung over her shoulder on a pole. She had retrieved the items while observing the gardeners a few days before. That was also when she had discovered the extra men’s clothing lying about. They were clean and simple, but they would do. She hid everything under the bed so that a maid wouldn’t find them. She had left the house tonight and had taken one of the spare horses to the docks. Luckily, the boy who guarded the stable was asleep.
Chloe chose a ship called La Voyageur. It was large enough and it appeared to be a cargo ship of some kind, but she could not be sure. She figured she could hide easily enough among the shipments or pretend she was a sailor at least for a while until she could find a way off.
Now, on the ship, she tried to look busy or move out of the way of the sailors moving crates around. She ducked her head to avoid eye contact with any of the men. She feared that if enough attention was drawn to her, they would notice she was not who she claimed.
Chloe moved towards the back of the ship and went down the companionway below only to shrink back when a massive form came into view. His dark auburn hair was rakishly drawn in waves over his head and he had the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. Her heart raced, and her breath came in small gasps. Stunned, she tried to get control of herself, but she came to the realization that she wanted to drown in that gaze.
Today I’m interviewing Marie Lavender, about her new release, Upon Your Honor. We’re going to cruise back into the New York City and New Orleans of the late 1800s. Please be sure to check out Upon Your Return, another fine work in this historical romance series. Marie is a dear writing friend of mine from G+. She is also a prolific, best-selling and award-winning multi-genre author and blogger. I highly recommend subscribing to her writing blog and keeping up with her books, if you want to see how a professional author does her job, while carrying on a real life with a family and job outside the home. Welcome, Marie.
UPON YOUR HONOR
Please introduce us to your latest romance, Upon Your Honor. What inspired the concept for this particular book?
I guess you could say that one day the first scene of the first chapter came to me. Chloe Waverly, in non-descript costume, goes aboard La Voyageur, the ship that was also mentioned in the previous book. Suddenly, I knew that I wanted to write sequels to Upon Your Return.
How did you choose the period and location settings?
I had to do some math to figure out what date I wanted it set in, a date that would coincide well with Chloe’s introduction into the series. As for locations, I did some research to figure out possible routes the ship might take and I explored everything I could about the ports in that time period.
What gave rise to the characters?
As aforementioned, Chloe’s character automatically came to me. More of the facets of her personality and background came out as the book progressed. I did have to explore Gabriel Hill, the hero, a little more. He was introduced in the first book, as were other characters. Some new characters came along in Upon Your Honor as well, and it was fun to create names for them and go into more detail about who they were.
She thought it was morning when she woke for the light streamed bright through the porthole, casting sunrays over the bed. She sighed and turned over only to squeal. Gabriel Hill was sitting beside her on the bed. “What are you doing? Are you mad?” For a moment, she was reminded of Lamonte and how he’d entered her bedchamber once or twice without permission. And she did not know this man. What if he was just as bad? Good Lord, he’d nearly seen her unclothed, hadn’t he? Of course, he had sworn it was platonic, but some men were prone to lying. Her heart raced erratically, and her cheeks grew warm under his steady gaze.
He chuckled. “No, chére. Just concerned about you.”
She took a deep breath. “Well, your concern could have knocked, you know.”
Gabriel laughed at her, amused for some reason. “Perhaps you’re right. It might be remiss of me, however, if you were lying here unconscious and no one knew.”
“And if I were not decent? How would you explain yourself?”
“The benefits would outweigh the consequences, of course.”
His eyes narrowed. “Saving your life would be more important than your maiden’s sensibilities, I assure you.”
Chloe was miffed by his comments, but tried to calm down. He meant well, she supposed. “I am well enough. You may leave.”
He cocked his head, as if he didn’t think she had the authority to dismiss him. Well, she had usurped him. It was his cabin. But, it was hardly proper to allow him that kind of behavior.
“How can I be sure? Perhaps you are just saying that to be rid of me. Perhaps you are not well at all.”
She frowned. “I am not foolish either.”
“Did I say that? I am simply saying that you might be gravely injured, yet you wish to save me from the truth.”
“Don’t be daft. If I was truly unwell, you would know.” Was the temperature in the room warmer now? Perhaps she did have a fever after all.
“Would I? I’m not so sure, Chloe Waverly. You are a mysterious lady.”
Marie, how long have you been writing now?
I’ve been writing for over twenty years. I started when I was nine years old.
What is your writing space like and how do you settle into it when you’re ready?
I try to get as comfortable I can, but it is not out of the ordinary for someone to find me sprawled across my bed or hunched over a notebook when I’m sitting somewhere. When the moment comes, when I am in the “zone”, there’s no stopping it.
Why do you favor the romance genre?
I love “love”! There is something completely appealing to me about romance. I love watching the characters fall in love in books and movies. As a child, I was fairly obsessed with it. Even my childhood fantasies included princesses being whisked away by knights. I think it’s even better to find out that it’s not all pretend, that there are actually good men out there, though they are hard to find. I found one of them, and he has been very inspiring to me. I wrote love stories way before I met him, but truly loving a man has helped me to understand romance better.
How do you juggle your outside job, home and family with your writing life?
Good question. It is very hard to do. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. I guess I just try to make time to get everything done. If I know I can’t do a task right then because something else has taken priority, I write a note to myself as I reminder. It is not out of ordinary for me to have post-its everywhere. Also, if I am working on a writing project, I try to keep myself organized with major outlines or notes on what sections I need to work on next. That tells me if I need to tackle research first or just start writing. I do run three blogs, and I moderate different groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Would I like to write full-time? Of course. But, that’s not feasible right now so I just do what I can. Sometimes tasks get put off until the next day, but as long as it’s not something with a deadline, you do what you have to do to get it all accomplished. A virtual assistant would be nice though! LOL.
Do you have a dedicated time and place that you regularly set aside for your writing career?
Two or three locations stick out to me. I write in a journal before I go to bed, I compose on my computer or I write in a notebook while sitting on the couch. The couch is a really dangerous place because my cats get curious and want to sit on my papers. LOL. As for time of day, anytime I can is good. Some of my best writing comes at night as I’m settling in bed, however. I have to write to get my mind to shut off sometimes. I also love to write outdoors when I can.
How do your cats relate to your writing activities? Help you access your Muse?
Their names are Emma, Smokey, and Katerina (or Kit Kat for short). I have written about cats occasionally in my stories, but as for how they relate, I would say that they like to keep me from writing by being dramatic or causing trouble. Emma likes to start fights with the others to draw me away from what I’m doing. Or, she will climb in my lap and act her cutest, which sometimes tears me away from writing. If I am really in the writing zone, I will sit her on a pillow next to me so that she feels comfortable being close to me, but won’t distract me too much.
Do they help paper come out of the printer? Play with discarded crumpled pages?
You asked about the printer; that’s funny. Yes, Emma will sit on the printer and mess with the buttons. There have been many times where she forces a print or copy of something. If paper comes out, it usually scares her and she runs away. Yes, they love discarded pages. I have one cat who likes to bat paper balls around. She also lays across my desk and takes up the space so I can’t use it. She also enjoys knocking my speakers over.
Keep you company once the house is quiet?
If the house is quiet though, they are very comforting. Actually, I would have to say that a cat is a great companion. When you don’t feel well, they want to be near you to make you feel better. It is very calming to have a pet.
Chloe was charmed further when Gabriel stopped her beneath a tree, bent to pluck a lavender flower and placed it into her rarely pinned up hair. “Thank you,” she murmured.
“How can anyone resist such a picture?” he said in accented English. There was a bright quality to his eyes that she wondered about, but he reached his hand out to her.
She took his offered hand. Her breath caught when he lifted her hand to his lips in the ancient gesture of respect. Even through the fine material of the glove, she could feel the brush of his lips over the surface of her hand. His eyes were trained on hers, and she could not look away. There was no denying the man had done it well. But, what was more compelling was the fact that his steady gaze made her want to press her lips to his. She briefly entertained it, despite the fact that it was so wrong of her. How much that would shock him. He was utterly proper most of the time. But, she sensed an untamed quality to Gabriel as well, that perhaps he was not driven by propriety always, that he might be compelled by something else at times.
She imagined leaning forward, raising her mouth in invitation, waiting for him to kiss her. Would he do that? She could not be sure. In her dreams he would lower his mouth to hers, move his lips moderately over hers until she opened to him. He would band his arm around her back to draw her closer, so close that she couldn’t remember who she was. There was only Gabriel.
Chloe leaned forward without meaning to, and Gabriel’s gaze dropped to her mouth. His eyes became very dark, and the rapid thud of her heart against her chest was unnerving. And it happened so swiftly she had no time to react. He drew her to him and set his lips to hers. On a confused breath, she opened her mouth. Their tongues danced gently. His kiss was so compelling and she blinked when he quickly drew away.
“Forgive me,” he whispered. “You did not ask.”
She opened her mouth to protest, then thought better of it. He had no idea how wanton her thoughts had been. Perhaps it was better not to voice it. She nodded. “No harm done. Shall we go to dinner?” she asked, noting that the park had grown a bit dark.
“Of course.” He led her back to the hansom cab, where he handed her in.
Who does your editing and cover art? How did you find them?
With my self-published books, I did my own editing and cover art. I purchased royalty-free images and gave credit to each photographer. I used sites like Stock Xchng, Pixabay, Fotolia, MorgueFile, 123RF and others. As for my traditional books, released through Solstice Publishing, the publisher hired editors and cover artists to handle the work. Kayden McLeod did the cover art on Upon Your Return. Select-o-Grafix did the cover for Magick & Moonlight. Deborah Melanie was the cover artist for Upon Your Honor. The editor for Upon Your Return was Shawna K. Williams; she also did the editing for the Discreet Gentleman series by Kris Tualla (I totally recommend that series if you love historical romance). And my other editors were Cynthia Ley (for Magick & Moonlight) and Kathy Collier (for Upon Your Honor). I also had numerous critique partners and beta readers for all three of those books; I found them on Yahoo! Groups, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Exactly how do you work with them to accomplish these optimum results?
In most cases, the results were achieved by suggestions. With the manuscripts, the editors made suggestions and I corrected them. If there were occasional typos, I fixed that. If there was something that needed more description, I fixed that as well. With the cover art, most of the covers came from a simple method. I put out my initial thoughts of what I might like, the artist came up with something and I approved it based on what I knew the characters should look like or the theme I wanted to convey.
Do you have any favorite authors or fellow authors you look up to?
I have a lot of favorite authors: Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts, J.R. Ward, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks, Chloe Neill and Kris Tualla. The list goes on. As for anyone I look up to, I admire any writer out there who has made it through the tough publishing journey and come out a success. Some such writers I have met on my journey, just to name a few, are Linda Lee Williams, Aubrey Brown and CJ Heck.
What are you presently working on?
Right now, I am working on a paranormal romance about a woman who stumbles into the world of vampires. In the process of falling for one of them, she learns more about herself.
Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 18 other books. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She
has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress
than she can count on two hands. In college, she published two works in a
university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online
student journal. Marie has published nineteen books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her work and her life. She is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
A list of her books and pen names:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things
Please connect with Marie on your favorite social media channels. Thanks again for joining us, Marie Lavender, to discuss Upon Your Honor. We look forward to seeing you again when you get the chance.
MARIE LAVENDER LINKS