So if you’ve been lurking around here awhile, you would have noticed my recent review of the historical romance novel A Dead Man’s Debt (Rating: A+ 5/5; Heat Level: 3/5). Well today, the author of that novel, Grace Elliot, has stopped by to answer a few questions so you can learn a little bit more about her. With out further ado….
OUAC: Your heroine Celeste was dead set against marriage. Celeste thought it confining, whereas woman of her time thought of it as security. I loved this quality for many reasons, but why do you think this aversion to marriage is a stunning quality for your heroine?
Grace: I suspect women in the Regency were not so very different from modern women…it’s just they had no choice but to be beholden to men. Everything was stacked against women; they couldn’t earn a living and so their only hope of a comfortable life was to be a dutiful wife and hope their husband was kind.
But how many of these women weighed up exchanging the parental home for the equally restrictive rules of marriage? What inspires me about Celeste is that she boldly decides to take another path and achieve independence, even if society doesn’t approve. I love her independent spirit and watching her dilemma as the very thing she is sworn against happens and she falls in love.
OUAC: I absolutely adored Ranulf…he was passionate and romantic and really just a fantastic hero. At the beginning he was portrayed as somewhat of a rake, others as a tortured hero…really I think he embodies aspects of all the best types of heroes. What did you like best about him?
Grace: What I like best about Ranulf is that he’s complicated, a true tortured hero, ill at ease with emotion and himself.
Ranulf is misunderstood; he tries hard to live by one set of rules whilst his destiny lies elsewhere. His upbringing as future heir to the Cadnum title slowly stifles his spirit which leads to his rakish behaviour as a safety valve, a means of lashing out against authority. For self-preservation he built around his emotions, so he doesn’t have to face up to what he really wants….
I just ached for someone to start peeling away the layers and reveal the real, romantic, loving Ranulf…and that’s where Celeste comes in!
OUAC: Part of your novel has to do with a scandalous painting. Was this inspired by a real piece of artwork you saw or just a plot device you created?
Grace: You are right! A real painting was the inspiration behind ‘A Dead Man’s Debt.’
I came across the picture whilst reading ‘England’s Mistress, the infamous life of Emma Hamilton’ by Kate Williamson.
Born into poverty as Emma Hart, in the late 18th century, her beauty captivated painters and she rose to marry Lord Hamilton and be celebrated as Horatio Nelson’s mistress. The famous artist George Romney was particularly struck by Miss Hart’s lush beauty and it was his portrait of her as an innocent, wide eyed woman, scantily clad, staring brazenly out of the canvas that caught my eye. It struck me as sensational for an 18th century work, that the sitter was not straight backed and starchy. It set me thinking about who would be bold enough to commission such a portrait, and what it would mean to the sitter as she aged and lost her beauty, so see the painting and be reminded of her lost glory…and how would her sons feel about seeing their mother in a scandalous state of undress…and what would be the consequences if one of those son’s wagered the painting…and lost.
OUAC: The villain or enemy in this story was an absolutely delight to read. I love the enemies that are truly heartless to the core and ones that you eagerly await the hero and heroine to defeat. Do you feel the same way? Was that what you had in mind when you wrote this villain…the badder the better?
Grace: In creating the villain, or rather villainess Lady Ursula Black, there is definitely an element of Ranulf’s past life catching up with his present. Ursula Black is a schemer and an opportunist, who always gets her own way except where Ranulf is concerned. Humiliated by his rejection of her advances, and with true cunning Ursula bides her time, waiting for the perfect moment to exact her revenge.
I liked the idea of Ranulf having made a bitter enemy from his past who threatens everything the new Ranulf comes to care about, including the life of his one true love, Celeste.
OUAC: Are we going to see any of the characters from A Dead Man’s Debt in any of your future work? Or is this a stand alone novel?
Grace: What a good question! I have delicious plans for both of Celeste’s sisters; the over confident Estella, and bookish Serena, but currently I’m feverishly writing another historical romance about three brothers, that just can’t wait to be written. The brother’s already have their stories mapped out …so Estella and Serena are going to have to be patient for a little while longer…
OUAC: If you can, without giving away any spoilers, tell us about your favorite scene in A Dead Man’s Debt.
Grace: That’s difficult to answer but on balance, my favorite scene is where Ranulf and Celeste meet for the first time. I love that it’s some where unusual (Ranulf is helping a cow give birth) and that the normal standards of decorum don’t apply. It is also a scene that reflects the subtly in a look and a touch, and promise such sensuality.
OUAC: Why write a historical romance? What is the appeal of traveling back into the past?
Grace: I write historical romance because it’s what I love to read.
For me immersing myself in the Regency is a form of therapy. I have a dream job as a veterinarian, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a horse mad little girl, but it’s also a very stressful job. When you break bad news to an owner, or help the passing of a much adored family pet, it’s a choking experience – that can happen two or three times a day. So that’s where writing and the Regency comes in. It’s my escape…and what’s more I think more people should lose themselves in romance, after all the real world is a hard place at times that bares a little distance.
OUAC: Summarize for us the pros and cons of being a writer. Basically, what do you love best and what do you hate the most?
Grace: I simply love writing, a bit of an addiction it in fact, and there are very few down sides to being a writer. The hardest thing is to find the time but it’s no great loss to watch less TV and write instead. At its best writing offers its own peculiar high; the satisfaction of reading a piece back and feeling excited about it. On the down sides it is frustrating getting yet another rejection, but anyone sending their writing out into the world has to expect this, it goes with the territory. But to be honest, even if I wasn’t published, I’d write for my own enjoyment.
OUAC: What’s coming up next for you?
Grace:My next novel, also a historical romance, is going through its final draft. ‘Eulogy’s Secret’ is the first of three novels about very different brothers…for more information watch this space or keep visiting my website!
OUAC: Anything else you would like to add?
Grace: I’d just like to say a huge thank you for hosting me today! It’s been a huge pleasure chatting about books, especially my beloved historical romance. If you or your readers would like to know more about me or ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ then please visit:
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