Publication Date: September 20, 2014 | Madison Street Publishing | Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency/Romance
I’m not quite sure there was one thing. All I know is that I had this idea for an angry, impetuous heroine who was annoyed at someone who had jilted her. I had the ballroom scene, which is at the beginning of the book, in my head and I just had to write it as, quite frankly, I felt indignant on Julia’s behalf!
Then as the first scene was written down I just carried on until it was like I was bowling along in Hyde Park on a high perch phaeton!
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m afraid you’ll have to ask my readers that one. A lot of authors talk about having your own voice, and finding it when you first start writing. I’m not quite sure I’ve found mine yet. I’m not quite sure I know what that means. All I know is that I love writing, and when I write my characters and edit them until they feel real, I get thoroughly excited and start feeling all their feelings as the story progresses. It’s rather delightful!
How did you come up with the title?
Haha! The truth? Well, when it comes to titles I usually have a working title which I think is simply splendid. This time I didn’t. It was called, quite unremarkably, Miss Rotherham, a title which my publisher thought wasn’t quite the ticket.
So I did what I did with my last book (although last time I had a better working title to start off with!) and I thought about the key elements of the book and wrote out different variations on those themes. I usually come up with dozens of them and then narrow them down. This time my publisher helped and I think it may have been their brains that eventually came up with The Unexpected Earl. It all sounds very unromantic doesn’t it? Well, I think it is romantic, because the title perfectly encapsulates the book. Earl Wolversley comes crashing into Julia’s life six years after he jilted her. It is all rather dramatic. It is all rather unexpected.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think I just want them to really enjoy it. Perhaps there is a small part of me that wants to let people, who are like me and my heroine, a little quick-tempered but with good intentions, know that they can still do good not just get themselves into trouble! And of course, that there are dashing heroes to love us!
What books have influenced your life most?
Oh, Jane Eyre has to be the first one I mention. It is such a powerful love story, I really felt the ache Rochester had for Jane, and I loved the way that it didn’t have intimate scenes in it, because it simply didn’t need them. Charlotte Bronte is masterful in her portrayal of their love.
Then there’s Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a Christian and this book is an adaptation of the biblical book of Hosea set in the American West. Don’t let that throw you off; it’s a beautiful love story between a prostitute and a farmer that will have you hooked.
And then there are so many others—Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, and fantasies like Alison Croggon’s The Gift, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Brian Jacques’s Redwall series. I have quite an eclectic taste!
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Most definitely M. M. Bennetts. She is the author of two very beautifully written books May 1812 and Of Honest Fame which I highly recommend. She was a good friend of mine and passed away only recently. I miss her very much. She shaped my view of historical fiction and history itself. She constantly challenged me in my writing and was so helpful and encouraging. She proofed my manuscript for my first novel The Widow’s Redeemer and upon getting halfway through it she sent it back to me along with a book of Oxford Grammar that she heartily recommended I read. Only a good friend would do that.
What book are you reading now?
A Tale of Two Cities. I will be honest, it’s taking me some time, since I’m a notoriously slow reader. I like to mix reading modern books with classics as it’s good for one and it also means that I can mix quick reads with more in-depth ones.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Well, if truth be told, Veronica Roth has very much grasped my interest. I don’t know if she’d be considered new, probably not, but I am so bad at keeping up with things, one of the by-products of having your nose shoved between the pages of a book or manuscript!
She writes young adult fiction and I’ve recently read Divergence while on holiday which had me absolutely hooked. Her writing is really good and her storyline so interesting. I’d recommend reading it (I got the last two books for my birthday and am looking forward to reading them), but make sure you have several days free!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh, don’t ask me that! I make a point of not looking too closely at my stories when they’re published. I figure, I wrote to the best of my ability and I just hope everyone likes it. I wouldn't want to worry myself over things I can’t change. ;-)
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was younger and read fantasies like Narnia and Redwall, and series like Animal Ark, I just got inspired to create my own world. As I’ve gotten older, it’s changed to more to feeling I want to read something, not being able to find it, and then deciding I’ll just write what I’m in the mood for!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Editing. It’s hard work and takes lots of time. Then again, even though it’s hard, I do find it enjoyable. It’s like that when you’re passionate about something—it can be a hard slog but if you’re passionate, you love it.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Ah, I can’t pick! Maybe Georgette Heyer. She wrote Regency romances and, in fact, her Devil’s Cub which I mentioned above made me think I could write my own. I just love the word sparring in her novels. She has intelligent, witty characters that fight with their words. She’s quite simply always amusing.
Other than her I like Alison Croggon’s amazing ability to create a fantastical world, and I love Jane Austen’s storylines, and the way M. M. Bennetts could write sentences that melted in your mouth. I love it all!
Who designed the covers?
Ah, that was Masha Shubin. She designed the covers for both of my books. She has done a lovely job of creating covers that both display elements of the story and fit well with the period.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Definitely receiving my first edits from my publisher. It’s not that they were mean, or unneeded— believe me, they were definitely needed. But it always hits me when I receive my first round of edits that I have a lot of work ahead of me and—shock, horror!—my manuscript isn’t perfect!
It’s a great humbling moment, usually involving a few tears, and then after some nice words from the husband, I climb back on the horse and away I go with my best friend “Microsoft Word Track-changes”!
Julia Rotherham thought she would never see Lucius Wolversley again after he jilted her years before. However their paths cross again at her sister's coming out ball. As much as she hates Lucius for the hurt he caused her, she also still loves him despite of everything in the past. In spite of her affection, she knows that she can't trust him. Besides she still doesn't know what made him run for the hills all those years ago.
Lucius Wolversley is an earl but he is quite reserved and not anything like a true earl in that time period should be. He doesn't enjoy parties, he can't stand socializing and he makes it clear that he isn't a playboy at all. Quite by accident he runs into Julia at her sister ball, he doesn't even realize it is the Rotherham's house until he steps out of the coach to enter. This is the last thing he wants to be attending. However, he decides to make the best of it and enters hoping to gage Julia's anger of years in the past.
This was a great historical fiction read. The language was perfect for the time period and the characters were well developed and likable. I just loved the wit and banter that is portrayed between Jules and the Earl. They are not your typical love birds at all. In fact, there isn't a real love story in this story. I thought this was so refreshing. A historical novel that isn't about love but instead is about family, relationships, honesty and up-ringing.
The Unexpected Earl takes awhile to get going. You really need to hang in there though, because the beginning explains a lot about each character and what brings them to where they are today. Then the story can really begin.
Jules is strong but not in a frustrating way. She is ahead of her time in a lot of ways. She doesn't believe that woman should be seen but not heard. This brings some laughter within the book because she tends to tell others how it is even if it sometimes is not her place. I loved that fact that the author took this chance for the female protagonist and felt it worked really well.
Lucius is mysterious, confusing and aloof. He is a man who doesn't believe in fixing his carnal urges with harlots. He drinks at the local club but won't participate in the nightly games like his friends do. He has a certain air about him that makes him a favorite from the beginning. Even though I knew he left Jules, I still found myself drawn to the dark, and handsome gentleman.
Over all this historical fiction novel was a perfect read. I was compelled to finish and the novel was not long by any means. I suggest you give this author your time and patience because her characters and writing style will quickly win you over.
Win one eBook, Kindle for US residents or PDF for international residents.