Her stories are traditional romps – light-hearted and witty, with bags of emotion. When not looking after her two hairy ponies, three cats and boisterous Staffie X, or frowning over a keypad or notebook, she likes nothing better than taking long walks and curling up with a good book. Welcome Heather. I've asked you here today to talk about your latest release, The Missing Duke. I'm having a great year of historical romance reading, so you're right up my street. Tell me, is this book part of a series? And if so, who else should we expect to come to know?
The Missing Duke is one book in the Heart of a Hero series, which features eight other authors. Each book is a stand-alone novel, but all are linked to a secret intelligence-finding ring created by Sir Arthur Wellesley. There is a free prequel which sets up the series.
As for a series of my own, I plan to write Robert’s (the missing Duke) story at some point in the future and there are other characters who might demand their own story. We’ll see!
I think you should.
Thank you! I like my covers to reflect the style and content of the book. It is a public domain painting of Vincent Lunardi’s first manned balloon flight in Britain in 1784, which I modified. The text was done by For The Muse Designs.
I lost several days down research rabbit holes when I should have been writing this one. There were so many questions. I spent hours trying to find the answers. I needed to know what the early balloons were made from, filled with, waterproofed/fireproofed with, how far they could fly and when advances were made and so on. My original idea was for the hero to fly across the Channel, so I needed details of distance, winds, where they flew to, etcetera. I later decided (well my characters told me) something else would happen, so I then had to research plausible methods of proofing which would be innovative for the time, so a character could ‘invent’ them. Since my heroine travels to Paris, I needed to know all about the journey in 1814… and that added a further problem – the war in France and when the English were able to return to the Continent. Another plot query required information about prisons where the English were incarcerated by the French Government.
I love real books. One beauty of the internet is all those thousands upon thousands of wonderful old books which are now available online, so I try to find answers to my questions within tomes written at the time I am researching. I put a tremendous amount of work into the historical aspects of my books in order to make them as accurate as possible, even down to tiny details like naming the actual landlord of an inn and describing its’ furnishings. I like my readers to walk beside my characters and experience what they are experiencing.
Having already read some of your books, I can say that you absolutely do.
How many books have you written and what draws you to the genre time and again?
Ignoring old manuscripts shoved in the back of a cupboard, I have nine published works, seven of those being Regency romances. The other two are paranormal, Devil’s Hoof being a contemporary Shape Shifter romance about a man struggling to make sense of life after war, and Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and other Stories, a romantic anthology under my pen name Vandalia Black.
I have loved the Regency era since I was a child of eleven, when I discovered Georgette Heyer’s novels. It could be argued she invented the genre, since Jane Austen was writing about her own time. Georgette Heyer’s novels are pure escapism, to be returned to again and again. They are full of wit and humour; they are finely crafted and draw you into her world. I love her descriptions; she can give a sketch of a character in just a few words. She truly did write word pictures. I dream of one day inspiring readers in the way she still does all these years after her death.
I think Georgette Heyer has a lot to answer for - in a good way - don’t you? I read historical, but I write contemporary. Do you read the same genre as you write?
These days I don’t have a lot of time for reading, and because I also edit, I find it hard to switch hats. I do love a good Regency, but it has to be in the tradition of the genre, with plenty of historical detail, and, above all, it has to be well written. Georgette Heyer is a hard act to follow! I enjoy reading other genres too. When I have time, I read Vampire Romance, any Elizabeth Chadwick novel I can lay my hands on and Dick Francis racing thrillers, to name but a few.
You see I am hopeless at history, so I can read them, good or bad! ;-)
Is it the story or the characters that come to you first?
Good question. It varies. Sometimes they grow together. A germ of an idea will come to me, or perhaps a name will trigger something. I tend to be an instinctive writer and ideas can pop into my head seemingly from nowhere! I don’t usually have more than a bare outline when I begin to write. The story evolves as the characters take over.
What is the best part of writing a story for you?
Oh, golly. The ending?! No, being serious – and also a confirmed softy – I love the build-up of the romance, especially as I get to know the characters and even more especially if they banter with each other. Witty (hopefully) banter is such fun to write. I also love describing settings, hopefully creating word pictures of my own. I like my readers to walk with my characters through the world they inhabit.
My favourite is when you get that ‘yes’ moment. When you’ve been wrangling with a plot point for a long time and then all of a sudden you realise what you need to do and finally the story works.
Is your favourite story (can I even ask that?) also your best selling?
To date, my best selling story is last year’s Christmas novella, Carpet of Snowdrops. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a considerable fondness for that one! It can be truthfully said that the most recent work is often the one closest to an author’s heart and I will confess to being pleased with The Missing Duke. I think he came out quite well. Nevertheless, I shall always love my first published novel, A Sense of the Ridiculous and the as-yet unpublished Marquis of Avebury, my mother’s favourite. Perhaps, of all my books, though, the one nearest to my heart is Devil’s Hoof. A lifetime’s experience and love of horses has gone into that one, not least all the knowledge of Laminitis accrued through years of owning and caring for the equine species. Of all my books, it is probably the closest to my ‘baby’.
When his father dies, Lord Adam Bateman refuses to succeed to the dukedom which rightly belongs to his missing elder brother. Whilst performing secret and sensitive missions for the Duke of Wellington, he continues his efforts to find his twin. The search has become Adam’s all-consuming passion, leaving no time for affairs of the heart.
Miss Lucy Mercier is also seeking answers. Her father, a tailor, had been used to make hot air balloons for various noble patrons, including Lord Adam’s sire. Believing the deceased Duke of Wardley had been involved in her papa’s failure to return from the Continent, she takes employment in Lord Adam’s household in order to discover the truth. Then she accompanies him on an important commission for the Allied Army, and finds herself having to guard against a growing attraction for a man she knows she can never have.
Are the two disappearances connected and will two heads prove better than one in the pursuit of answers? Will Adam and Lucy find true happiness together or will the past – and their different stations – rise to keep them apart?
Buy link Amazon.uk
Buy link Amazon.com
Well thanks for coming on, Heather. Best of luck and I hope the series does really well. :-)
And if you would like to hear more from Heather, you can find her somewhere on the links below:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I04PYPE
Amazon Author Page (US): http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00I04PYPE