We are excited to welcome back one of our very favourite authors on to Under the Covers; Lisa Kleypas! She has been charming us with her fantastic historical romances, and her sojourn into contemporary, for years and we got the opportunity to fire some questions at her regarding her latest release, the fourth in the Ravenel series, Hello Stranger. Which by the way, you all need to have pre-ordered because it’s oh-so-good!
Welcome to Under the Covers, Lisa! We are excited to talk about HELLO STRANGER. In this book, your heroine is a doctor at a point in time where women being that educated was rare. Did you draw inspiration from any real historical figures?
I did! For me, one of the best parts of researching the Victorian Era has been learning about the remarkable Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain. Her list of accomplishments is incredible—she was also the first woman appointed as a dean of a British medical school, and eventually she served as the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain. And she did all this in a time when women had very few legal rights and limited access to education. After Dr. Anderson entered the British Medical Association through a loophole, they changed the rules so no other women could join for the next twenty years. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of Dr. Anderson before—I think everyone should know her name! I was so inspired that I named my character Garrett in honor of her.
What was the most interesting thing you found out during your research?
It was important to make Garrett appear authentic as a highly skilled surgeon, so I read a several 19th century surgical textbooks, medical equipment catalogues, and issues of The Lancet. (Since I’ve always been a little squeamish about this stuff, I had to overcome my personal euw factor.) One thing I learned was that blood transfusions were attempted back in the late 1800s, but no one could figure out why fewer than half were successful. It wasn’t until 1901 that an Austrian doctor, Karl Landsteiner, discovered there were different human blood types, some of which were incompatible.
I also discovered something fascinating when I had to figure out how to sneak a severely injured character out of London by train. I was reading about a cemetery railway called the London Necropolis, with its own branch line and station, and trains running to a huge graveyard in Surrey. The station had mortuaries, a chapel, and waiting rooms for the mourners, separated into first, second and third class areas. But what amazed me was that there were also first, second and third-class compartments on the train for the bodies of the recently departed. This was so upper and lower-class corpses didn’t have to mingle as they were conveyed to the graveyard. Now that’s a rigid class structure!
What can you tell us about Ethan Ransom and what is your favorite thing about him?
Ethan is a British government agent who uncovered a government conspiracy and has now been targeted for elimination. Although his background is Irish, he also has a secret connection to the Ravenel family. The book starts with Ethan covertly watching over Garrett as she goes on her rounds in a dangerous part of London. It turns out that he’s been doing this for two years . . . protecting Garrett without her knowledge . . . because he’s secretly in love with her. I loved the idea of this worldly, soul-weary man worshipping Garrett from a distance and wanting only to keep her safe. Since men in Ethan’s profession don’t tend to live long, he has no expectation of ever being with Garrett. It’s only when she’s in danger that he’s forced to step out of the shadows and reveal himself. He’s an incredibly chivalrous character—and as a man with a “particular set of skills,” he’s also pretty sexy!
If Garrett and Ethan met in modern times, where would they go on a first date?
I think it would be similar to the scene in the book when they meet at a London fencing club, so Ethan can teach Garrett some self-defense moves. They’re both very athletic and fearless characters who enjoy pushing their limits. Ethan has been trained in several forms of combat, and Garrett is accomplished in the art of cane-fighting, so they have a lot of fun challenging each other physically. Nowadays, they would probably go work out together, or go mountain biking or for a swim at the beach, and they would definitely have a dinner al fresco at some great restaurant.
What did you find most enjoyable about writing this story? And what was the hardest part?
I loved the all-out romanticism that Ethan brought to the story. Knowing that he probably has very little time left, he holds nothing back when he’s with Garrett. I read a lot of beautiful Irish poetry and literature to get a feel for his dialogue, and I think it helped to create some really heartfelt and dramatic moments. The hard parts of Hello Stranger were the medical research, and the plotting. I’ve never written a novel with a tight suspense plot before, and it took so much research to make the details of law enforcement, detective work, science and medicine as accurate as I could for the time period. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out, but my next story is going to have a lot more ballroom scenes with light banter!
What’s one book you read and loved in the past year?
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare was pure, delicious fun. I wasn’t able to do nearly enough pleasure reading this year because of all the research, but my friend Eloisa James insisted that I make time for it, and she was right! There’s a vivacious quality to Tessa Dare’s writing, but also depth and tenderness that make her stories an incredibly satisfying emotional experience.
What are some of your must haves while sitting down to write? Do you need complete silence, music, drink?
Silence is mandatory—which is frustrating, because it didn’t used to be! When I was younger, I could write with a baby sitting on one knee, Sesame Street in the background, and people constantly coming and going. Now I can’t sink into a productive writing trance without quietness and privacy. I think part of it is that I now have the ability and desire to think more deeply about what I’m writing, and part of it is just that as we get older, everything is a little higher maintenance!
What is it about historical romance that calls to you and keeps you coming back to write in this genre?
There are infinitely more plot possibilities when a story is set in the times before smart phones, emails, DNA evidence and rapid transportation. Life used to be more mysterious and uncertain, not to mention slower-paced, and there’s a kind of romantic magic in the idea of having to wait for things. (Although personally, I hate having to wait for things.) The characters I’m most often driven to write are outsiders trying to find their way in . . . and that was especially difficult in the Victorian Era, when people didn’t even want your lower-class coffin riding in the same train compartment as their upper-class coffins. But most of all, I love what this genre does. A good historical romance can take you on an emotional journey that leaves your soul in a better place.
Can you give us any hints about your next book?
Yes, here are the first two sentences of the book:
Phoebe had never met West Ravenel, but she knew one thing for certain: He was a mean, rotten bully. She had known it since the age of eight, when her best friend Henry had started writing to her from boarding school.
The novel is titled Devil’s Daughter, and it’s the story of Phoebe, Lady Clare, and West Ravenel. Phoebe’s late husband Henry went to boarding school with West, who browbeat him and made his school years a misery. Now Henry is gone, and Phoebe is facing a new life as a widow with two very young sons. She’s about to move to the Clare estate in Sussex, but first she has to attend her brother’s wedding. And she’s dreading it—because her brother is marrying into the Ravenel family, and she’s just about to meet West, the man she’s loathed ever since childhood.
For the West fans out there, he plays a significant part in Hello Stranger, and he adds a lot of fun and humor to the story. I think he’ll turn out to be a great hero in his own right.
So exciting! We can’t wait to read that. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us today. 🙂
Thanks for letting me do this—it was fun!
Available February 27, 2018!
by Lisa Kleypas
Released: February 27th 2018
Series: The Ravenels #4
Published by Avon
A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.
A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett's skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he's ever known.
Under the Covers is graciously giving away
all five books as pictured here (one is a March ARC)
Week-long giveaway – International
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