Thanks for joining me today. To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
Thanks, Tammie! I'm always happy to visit with the NightOwl gang. I'm currently working on a novella for a Christmas anthology from Leisure Books. I'll be joined by USA Today Best Seller Jennifer Ashley and new author Alissa Johnson. All our characters will be attending the same Christmas Ball in London 1822. That will come out in October.
But here's what I'm really excited about now. On February 24th, VEXING THE VISCOUNT will hit the shelves! It's the story of Daisy Drake, an unconventional miss who is smitten with Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland. Lucian won't have anything to do with her willingly because his father holds a deep-seated grudge against Daisy's uncle. But what Lucian doesn't know won't hurt him and Daisy decides to masquerade as a French courtesan to get close to him.
But if she allows him too close to her, the masquerade will be a short one. Good thing Daisy has a real courtesan's very explicit memoirs to rely on for guidance.
If you could be one of the characters from Vexing the Viscount - Who would you be? And why?
Well, Daisy of course! We all read to walk in the heroine's shoes, don't we?
Daisy knows what she wants-Lucian. When Lucian refuses her help in his quest to excavate the Roman site he discovered on his father's estate, she poses as Blanche La Tour. Lucian agrees to take her on as a partner if she gives him lessons in love. "Blanche" sends Daisy to act as her agent on the site. That way, she can bedevil him as herself by day and as a French courtesan by night.
Who or what influenced you when you wrote this book? Did you have a CD, Songs, environment, etc?
I always do a lot of research into the time period before I start writing, so I'd have to say my research is the biggest influence. I develop plot twists based on historical events. Understanding period behavior and beliefs helps make my characters believable.
Roman Britain has always fascinated me, so I thought it might be fun to do a story within a story. Daisy and Lucian are trying to find a lost Roman payroll, so I decided to do a secondary love story set in the 5th century to motivate the ancient theft of the treasure Daisy and Lucian are seeking in the 18th century.
If you'd like a taste of some of my research, please visit http://www.emilybryan.com/The%20Courtesan%20Club.htm . I have pages dedicated to Roman Britain (with an excerpt of when my ancient thief first fell in love with a Druid slave girl), Courtesan's Closet (What's under all those yards of silk?) and Mlle. La Tour's Memoirs (what you always wanted to know about a "woman of pleasure" but were afraid to ask!).
What was your typical writing day like?
I assume the "writing position" with my two dogs, Susie and Mack. I have a desk, but it's just a storage unit. I write in a recliner with my laptop. You can see a picture of me and my "assistants" at http://www.emilybryan.com/Creating%20a%20writing%20space.htm
My writing goal, after I've done my research and written my working synopsis, is 10 pages a day.
Did you have writer's block? If so, how do you break free?
I don't believe in writer's block. When I sit down to write, I will write something, even if I have to redo it all tomorrow.
Occasionally, I will give myself permission not to write-for vacations and most recently when I was diagnosed with colon cancer (healing from surgery nicely, thank you). Starting Jan 5th, I was ready to write again, but not quite on my 10 page a day schedule.
Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
I thought you'd never ask. In this excerpt, Lucian has become suspicious that Daisy and Blanche might be one and same and he's trying to figure out how to know for certain.
As Lucian neared the pit, he heard the scrape of shovels and swish of brooms. Work had commenced without him and from the sounds of it, there were several additional men laboring. On the far side of the site, Daisy Drake was crouched down, pointing into the pit. Her sunbonnet was of such ridiculous proportions, she resembled an over-sized, be-ribboned mushroom.
"Careful, Mr. Peabody," Daisy said. "There's something protruding by your left foot. Switch to a broom till you've discovered what it is. Remember, carefully is better than quickly."
Even with the large bonnet, her exposed arms were pinking in the morning sun. Intent on her task, she hadn't noticed Lucian's approach. Lucian crossed his arms over his chest and indulged in looking at her unimpeded.
She might be trouble with feet, but there was no denying Daisy Drake was an eyeful. Even when ordering about a group of workmen, her pale hands gestured with unexpected grace. She was round where Lucian liked a woman round. He suspected her corset didn't labor too much to narrow her waist. A Roman sculptor would have no complaint if Daisy were his model. Except perhaps that she was too fully dressed.
"Ignore her," Blanche had advised when he asked how to go about showing a young lady he admired her. Daisy Drake was many things, but easy to ignore was not one of them.
Against his better judgment, Lucian did admire her. Too bad she was the niece of his father's bitterest enemy.
She tilted her head and the bonnet hid the upper part of her face, leaving only her mouth and jaw line in view. Lucian narrowed his eyes.
Was lack of sleep playing tricks on him? There was something about the full pout of her lower lip, the sharp point of her chin. He rubbed his eyes.
For just a blink, Lucian thought Daisy Drake could be Blanche La Tour's twin.
Or was he so besotted with the courtesan that he was seeing only what he wished to see?
Things are as one perceives them to be.
Surely he was mistaken. He searched his memory. Had he ever seen Daisy in the same room as Blanche? No, he hadn't. Still, that didn't prove anything.
He looked back over and found Daisy had dropped to her knees. She leaned over the lip of the pit, her posterior pointed to the sky.
A very un-maidenly pose. He'd wager his title she had no idea how erotically appealing she looked.
Blanche, on the other hand, would know full well what she was doing and milk the posture for effect. Daisy's attention was focused on something wedged in the strata of dirt below. She was so keen on whatever it was, she didn't concern herself with how she might appear.
Lucian had seen enough Roman art to imagine how she'd look with her skirt flopped up over her head, bare bottom smiling at the sun.
"Never a stiff breeze around when you need one," he muttered.
* * *
Daisy massaged the bridge of her nose. Both she and Lucian had been working all day translating the newly discovered tablets. They stopped briefly for tea and biscuits when Avery brought out the refreshment, but even then, Lucian had spent the time poring over his notes, hardly speaking three words to her.
She glanced over at him. He'd cleared a space on one of the benches and was bent over a tablet, quill in hand, transcribing the contents of the ancient Roman manifest. His brow furrowed and his tongue was clamped firmly between his teeth in concentration.
I swear the man's ignoring me, Daisy thought.
In her guise as Blanche, hadn't she advised him to ignore the young lady he wanted to impress? Could it possibly be that he . . .?
"Look here!" he said suddenly.
"You've found a clue about the location of the payroll?"
"No." His disappointment stripped an edge from his previous excitement. "But I have found another reference to our thief."
Daisy hopped up and skittered over to join him.
"Oh! This seems to be a court docket of some kind," she said as she skimmed over the text. "Plaintiffs, respondents, pleas. Ah!"
Lucian ran a finger beneath the line in question.
"Caius Meritus, freedman, requests permission to purchase the freedom of one, Deirdre, of the household of Quintus Valerian Scipianus," he read.
"That's the same name as the girl he bought for the proconsul's wife." Daisy settled onto the chair near Lucian and folded her hands on her lap. "Jupiter! Do you suppose he loved the girl?"
"The record on the tablet doesn't say anything about that," Lucian pointed out.
"Well, of course, it wouldn't, would it?" Daisy said, warming to the idea. "In the process of reconstructing antiquity, some things must be inferred."
"Why are you so certain he didn't love her?"
"My dear Miss Drake, you are assigning much more noble motivations to Caius Meritus than he may deserve. He was a thief, after all." Lucian's mouth curved in a crooked smile. "And a man doesn't have to love a woman in order to crave her company."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Just as you don't love Blanche."
"My relationship with Mlle. La Tour is not the subject under discussion," he said.
"And your motivations are ever so noble." Her tone dripped sarcasm.
His smile took a decidedly wicked turn. "Again, you infer that which is not in evidence."
Daisy narrowly resisted the urge to box his ears.
"You want evidence. Very well. Here is what we know. Caius Meritus bought the girl in the proconsul's name to serve in the ruling household. He subsequently attempted to purchase her freedom. It says here-" She stood and pointed to a row of characters on the ancient tablet-"that the request was denied. The only other thing we know about him is that he stole an entire Roman payroll. Is it such a stretch to imagine these events are connected?"
"There's only one problem with your theory," Lucian whispered, leaning toward her.
"What's that?" Daisy whispered back. She leaned toward him, subconsciously mirroring his movement.
And was shocked to her curled toes when he slid a hand behind her neck and pulled her down for a kiss. His mouth claimed hers in a warm rush and when her lips parted for an instant, he was quick to send his tongue in for a scandalously sexual exploration of her mouth.
She felt herself go pliant as a reed by the riverbank. She could no more stop her body from rousing to him than she could stop her finger from bleeding if she pricked it with a needle. Moist warmth pooled between her legs.
But she didn't have to let him know it. She pulled back her arm and sent him a stinging blow to the cheek.
He released her at once.
"Why did you do such a thing?" Daisy demanded. His taste was still on her lips, his scent all she could smell.
"Because I wanted to prove my point."
"I wanted a kiss, Miss Drake. So I did what most men would do given the opportunity. I stole one," Lucian said with smugness. "If Caius Meritus wanted the girl, why didn't he just take her and escape to the hinterlands? Why steal the Roman payroll instead?"
"Maybe she didn't want to go with him," Daisy said. "After all, I didn't want you to kiss me."
Her tremble damned her for a liar.
"Really? I could have sworn you didn't mind at first, but that's a discussion for another day, isn't it?" He stood and she stutter-stepped back to stay out of his reach. "Don't worry, Daisy. I'm not going to steal any more kisses to convince you." He strode to the open doorway, then stopped and turned back to her. His eyebrows hitched upward twice. "Not unless you ask me nicely."
His dark gaze was so knowing, she felt as if he'd suddenly caught her naked. Even though he taunted her, she realized she wanted him to kiss her again.
When she schooled him in kissing as Blanche, she'd created a monster.
A damnably attractive monster.
She pushed past him and stomped out of the shed, her shredded dignity trailing behind her like a broken pair of angel wings. Please tell us what you have planned next?
After I finish my holiday novella, I'm considering a ghost story-sort of a Heaven Can Wait/Ghost Whisperer meets Cyrano de Bergerac. As usual, I'm asking myself the writer's question. What if? I also have 200 pages of a paranormal that's screaming to be finished. My writer's plate is always full.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I read quite a bit about courtesans, about the South Sea Bubble and Roman Britain. I wish I could say I took a trip to London for it, but alas, no. I have however visited that lovely city several times in the past, so my travels have given me some good background.
Did you enjoy the research process?
Always. I think of it as tossing raw ingredients into the pot and hoping a tasty stew will emerge.
What would you like to tell your readers?
That I hope they will love VEXING THE VISCOUNT. I had a ball writing it. And if they have any questions, I love to hear from readers. Please visit my website at http://www.emilybryan.com and hit the Contact page to send me an email. Did you outline this book or just start writing?
I always write a working synopsis. This is my roadmap in case I get lost. Sometimes I take a permanent deviation from the original plan, but at least I know before I start how things will turn out. I can meander on the journey as long as I keep the destination in sight.
Thanks for joining us again. Before you go please tell our readers how they can get your books and how to keep abreast of your work. Do you have a website, newsletter, etc.
Readers can find my books at Borders, Barnes & Nobles and at independent booksellers. If they like to buy online, here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Vexing-Viscount-Leisure-Historical-Romance/dp/0843961341/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230945500&sr=8-1 . My website is http://www.emilybryan.com and my blog is http://www.emilybryan.blogspot.com . I do have a newsletter readers can sign up for on my website and I'm on MySpace, Facebook, GoodReads, etc. Please friend me! Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
On a more personal note, I mentioned earlier that I was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. This was a total surprise. I had no symptoms at all, but my sharp little GP insisted I "deserved" a colonoscopy screening. Far be it from me to turn down something I "deserved."
I was shocked to discover that I had a large mass on my colon, but fortunately my lymph nodes were clear after the mass was removed. However, because of the size of the tumor and my age ("You're so young!" my cute surgeon kept saying. See why I like this guy?) he referred me to an oncologist to consider chemo "just in case." My oncologist recommended that I be closely monitored for the next 5 years, but he did NOT want me to have. (And my mom had a wig all picked out for me! Bless her. She uses fashion to cope!) I count myself very fortunate.
I'm sharing this because if YOU are over 50 (some authorities say over 40) you too "deserve" a screening colonoscopy. Cancer is beatable. Both my parents are cancer survivors (breast and prostate) but early detection is the key. Colon cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths because frequently no symptoms show up until the cancer is very advanced. Don't wait. Give yourself a chance at a happy ending. If you fit the age criteria or have a family history of cancer, please schedule a baseline colonoscopy today.
Thanks for letting me visit with your readers, Tammie!
Thank you for this opportunity!