Hey Pamela! Thanks for coming back to “A Scandalous Affair”! First off, we want to congratulate you on your All About Romance award where DEFIANT won Best Historical Romance! That¹s pretty awesome!
Thanks so much for having me here! I’m really happy to be here.
And thank you! I was thrilled when DEFIANT won. I almost didn’t get to write that book because the publisher who originally bought the proposal from me went out of business. I was able to get the rights to the entier MacKinnon’s Rangers series back thanks to my agent’s hard work, but what publisher is going to take a chance on a series that’s already halfway done and is set in
Colonial America? Turns out that Berkley Sensation bought the series, enabling me to write Connor’s story. To win an award for the novel after all of that is truly satisfying.
So let’s talk about RIDE THE FIRE and it’s reissue. What can readers expect from this book?
RIDE THE FIRE was originally published in 2005, as the third book in the Kenleigh-Blakwell Family series. The story, one of the most powerful I think I’ve written, took everything I had. When I finished the last chapter, I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I couldn’t face writing the epilogue. And so, alone of all my titles, I was published without an epilogue.
When Berkley bought the MacKinnon’s Rangers series, they also bought the rights to RIDE THE FIRE, which had been out of print for some time. I saw this as a chance to re-edit the story, revising a couple of scenes I wished I’d written differently and polishing the prose to bring it up to my current level of writing ability. It was also a chance finally to write the epilogue.
I’m so happy that the story is back on shelves. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten about it over the years. It will always hold a very special place in my heart as the book that led me to find my true voice as a writer.
Do you mind sharing the details of your Kenleigh-Blakewell trilogy? Why should readers give this series a shot?
The Kenleigh-Blakewell Family series ‹ it won’t remain a trilogy ‹ starts in 1730 Colonial Virginia with SWEET RELEASE, a story about Cassie, the daughter of a middling plantation owner, and Cole Braden, the convict whose indenture she buys, not knowing that he’s actually a landed English gentleman with another name who was abducted by someone who wanted him out
of the way. The book got a 4.5-star Top Pick from RT Bookreviews when it came out in 2003 and was a Desert Island Keeper on All About Romance. It’s pretty sensual and includes a shackling scene ‹ unusual for a historical at the time. The new cover hints at the shackling scene, which was huge fun for me and Jenn LeBlanc, who shot the photos for the covers. (I got to shackle
the model ‹ fun! I do love my job.)
The sequel is CARNAL GIFT, set in 1754 on the eve of the French & Indian War. The hero of the story, Jamie Blakewll, Cassie’s younger brother, who travels to Great Britain to plead with Parliament for military aid. While there, he visits an old friend from Oxford, a nobleman with estates in Ireland, whose help he hopes to enlist. His friend is a changed man, and his
horrible treatment of the Irish people living on his estates horrifies Jamie. Jamie’s dismay grows stronger when the lord gives him a young Irishwoman as a gift ‹ a sex toy ‹ expecting Jamie to ravish her and even share. Jamie has to make some very touch choices that night. Jamie and his
former friend are then locked in a battle, Jamie doing all he can to protect Bríghid, while the villain of the story tries to destroy them both, along with Bríghid’s family.
RIDE THE FIRE is the the last book in the series to date, with the hero, Nicholas Kenleigh, being the son of the lovers from SWEET RELEASE.
I spent a total of 3.5 years doing historical research for the books, doing my best to create a full three-dimensional historical experience for readers, one that would take them away to another time so that they could enjoy three very different love stories. The stories are not only very
different one from another, but they’re set during an unusual time and place for romance novels. As far as sensuality goes, they pushed the boundaries of mainstream historical romance at that time, including a little light bondage, sex games, that sort of thing.
I would recommend them to anyone who has ever said, “I wish there were more variety in historical romances these days.”
There are excerpts on my website and lots of reviews on Amazon.com.
When I reissued the first two books, I re-edited them, just as I’ve done with RIDE THE FIRE.
Would you consider yourself an avid Historical Romance reader? Who are your favorite Historical Romance authors and why?
Oh, absolutely! Until I began writing romantic suspense, I read historical romances exclusively. I had no interest in any other subgenre. I devoured historical romance, including Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Patricia Potter, Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Heather Graham, Rexanne Becnel, and so many others.
These days I read Anna Campbell, Kathleen Givens (who sadly passed on three years ago), Monica McCarty, Kaki Warner, Jennifer Ashley, Teresa Medeiros… I’ve got Jenn LeBlanc’s The Recluse and The Rake in my TBR. Bonnie Vanak’s Egyptian historicals are favorites.
I know there are others.
The MacKinnon’s Rangers trilogy is set during the French and Indian war. What was it about this time that inspired you to write a series about it?
RIDE THE FIRE is set at the end of the French and Indian War in a brutal conflict known as Pontiac’s Rebellion. In the course of researching that, I kept coming across references to Colonial Army Rangers. They were described in such amazing and heroic terms ‹ men who’d grown up on the frontier, who’d learned from the Native inhabitants, and who were capable of almost super-human feats of endurance and woodcraft. Many credited them with helping the British to win the French and Indian War.
Of course, I had to learn more.
So I got some rangers’ diaries and history texts and just went crazy researching them. I was utterly amazed and fascinated by what these men could do without GPS units, MREs, protective clothing, radios, etc. Marching 250 miles in winter through tractless wilderness wearing only wool and leather and eating “stew of boiled moccassin” ‹ that’s tough.
The Colonial Rangers were the first real special forces units. They are, in fact, the forerunner of our modern U.S. Army Rangers. The standing orders that Maj. Robert Rogers gave to his men so long ago are still, in modified form, standing orders for our Rangers today.
How could I not write about them? They are the ultimate Colonial American alpha males!
In the process, I felt completely in love with the history of the French and Indian War, in many respects the most brutal war fought on this continent. I steep myself in it.
How much research goes into writing one of your books? Care to share your research process with us?
Years worth of research. It’s onging.
History fascinates me. My undergraduate degree is in archaeology, and I did master’s work in archaeology as well. For me, there is nothing more magical than being able to step, even if just for a moment, into the mind of someone who lived long ago.
When I was a student, holding a potsherd, seeing the faint lines of a fingerprint on the clay, seeing a slight squiggle in a painted line, reminded me so strongly that this was the work of human hands. Whoever made the pot had been every bit as alive as I was in that moment, though they’d been dead for centuries. I never get sick of that feeling, of that connection to the past.
So when I sit down to do research, I start with primary sources ‹ documents, books, songs and other materials that were written DURING the period I’m researching. I used to keep a card file that covered everything from the obvious stuff like clothing and customs to less obvious things like their agricultural cycle, typical meals, the kinds of kitchen utensils they used when cooking. I had information about different classes, too ‹ ordinary people, merchants, landed classes, etc. What you ate/wore/did varied depending on what class you were from.
When I get the daily life down so that I can construct a day in my mind, there’s historical analysis, what everyone thinks of as history books. These are books written later that interpret the major events of the time. Events often provide a backbone to my stories, such as the big events of the French and Indian War, but it’s the research with primary sources that fleshes out the story for me.
I don’t have index cards these days. I keep stuff in my computer. Also, after writing so many books in the same era, I often don’t have to look things up any longer.
Songs are a huge source of vocabulary for me. I listen almost exclusively to traditional Scottish folk music when I’m working on the MacKinnon’s Rangers books so that the language and the burr are right there in my ears and fresh in my mind.
I try to be very specific with vocabulary, too, so that modern idiom and expressions don’t make it into the stories. That distracts me when I read it, and I don’t want it in my books.
I also try to write the gender roles in a historically accurate fashion. Women did not have the same rights, nor were they really seeking them. There’s not room for modern liberated/enlightened sensibilities in the female or male characters, and since I’m trying to write stories that are true to their times, I don’t artificially graft it into the stories.
What would you say is the most difficult thing about writing Historical Romances? What’s the most easiest?
I suppose the most difficult thing is keeping anachronistic language out of the text and yet writing it in a way that is accessible to modern readers. That’s a constant page-by-page challenge.
The easiest for me is taking the research and finding a way to make it breathe and come alive into wonderful characters whose adventures I get to share for a year. I love that so very much.
Your I-Team books were just released on audio and doing well. Are the historical books going to be on audio as well?
I hope so! I have this fantasy that they’ll soon be in audiobook and that I’ll get the amazing Kaleo Griffith to narrate them. He did a fantastic job with the I-Team, and I know for a fact that he does a wonderful Scottish brogue.
Of ANY book character, whom would you want to have a date with?
Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Elessar, the king of Gondor. Not sure how he would deal with going out for drinks and dinner. I’d probably have to pay because I seriously doubt he has a debit card or carries American dollars. And then there’s that Elf chick of his who might sic a
river on me for going out with her man….
Yes, I have a crush on Aragorn.
And which female character in ANY book would you take out for a drink?
Eve Dallas. She and I would have a lot to talk about.
If for some terrible reason your house was burning down, what would you risk life and limb saving from the flames?
Having had a house fire once, I know I would go only for those things that are living ‹ my kids and pets. If I had time and it didn’t involve risking my life, I’d go next for photo albums of my kids when they were little. Pretty much everything else is replaceable.
Last, we know you’re birthday is coming up this week. From all of us here…We wish you a Fabulous Birthday!
Aw, thank you! Technically, I don’t have a birthday this year, being a Leap Day birthday, but I celebrate anyway.
Thanks for the great questions! It’s been a pleasure to be here with you!
Sometimes survival isn’t just about staying alive…
Widowed and alone on the frontier, Elspeth Stewart will do whatever it takes to protect herself and her unborn child from the dangers of the wilderness and of men. Though her youthful beauty doesn’t show it, she is broken and scarred from the way men have treated her. So when a stranger wanders onto Bethie’s land, wounded and needing her aid, she takes no risks, tying him to the bed and hiding his weapons before ministering to his injuries.
But Bethie’s defenses cannot keep Nicholas Kenleigh from breaking down her emotional walls. The scars on his body speak of a violent past, but his gentleness, warmth, and piercing eyes arouse longings in her that she never imagined she had. As Nicholas and Bethie reveal to each other both their hidden desires and their tortured secrets, they discover that riding the flames of their passion might be the key to burning away the nightmare of their pasts.
Available from Berkley Sensation February 5, 2013
Pamela Clare is graciously giving away a copy of
RIDE THE FIRE to a lucky US maiden.