by Anna Campbell
Welcome to the fabulously talented historical romance writer Amanda McCabe. I met Amanda over the internet a couple of years ago when she judged the beginning of the book that became CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. She was the sort of judge you'd pay to have - oh, that's right, I did with the contest fee. Smart, savvy, empathetic, enthusiastic. We started a correspondence with my thank you letter to her - never underestimate the power of a thank you letter! So I'm delighted to lure her into the lair today.
Amanda, what amazing fortuitousness (is that a word? JoMama would know!) that you visit us just as the news breaks of your amazing three-book deal with Grand Central Publishing, previously Warner. Huge congratulations! It’s time for a party in the lair. Can you tell us about the trilogy, when we can expect to see the books on the shelves, and also can you share your call story? We in the lair love call stories!
I love call stories, too, but sadly mine is not very interesting. It was late on a Friday afternoon, and I was actually shopping. I had found a pretty party dress and was thinking, “Hmmm—this would look fab at RWA!” when my agent called. We had an offer, woo-hoo! And I now have a place to wear my new dress. I was so happy these stories found a good home. My family is Irish, and I’ve always wanted to do a book set in Ireland. It just took a while for the right characters to come to me. THE DAUGHTERS OF IRELAND is a trilogy about the three Blacknall sisters, and book one (titled COUNTESS OF SCANDAL, but you know how that stuff changes!) features the eldest, Eliza. She’s a young, rich widowed countess, but she has a secret—she writes seditious pamphlets for the United Irishmen, and hides fugitives in the cellars of her Dublin townhouse. She’s devoted to the idea of Irish freedom, but a serious problem pops up in the form of her childhood sweetheart, Will Denton, the son of her family’s neighbours. He left her when she was young to join the Army and go off to the West Indies. Now he’s Major William Denton, sent to Ireland to quell the growing unrest and track down the Irish rebels. One of which, of course, is Eliza!
That sounds great. Full of the wonderful meaty conflict you do so well. More news in the world of Amanda McCabe – you have a new book hitting the stands in April, the second in your RENAISSANCE TRILOGY. Can you tell us about A SINFUL ALLIANCE?
I am sooo excited about this book! (Quick note—please ignore the “Back to Disco Fever” cover. I swear no ABBA songs were involved in the making of this story!) Nicolai was the hero’s friend in my last book, A NOTORIOUS WOMAN, and I hadn’t actually intended to write a book for him. But, as so often happens with those pesky secondary characters, I really fell for him. And I found a very beautiful, but somewhat troubled and lonely heroine who needed his love—Marguerite Dumas, a French spy. Trouble was, she once tried to kill him. Bit of a rocky start. They meet up a few months later at the Court of Henry VIII at Greenwich, still on opposite sides of ever-shifting political alliances. This event was a real historical happening, a meeting in early 1527 between Henry and a French delegation seeking a marriage between Princess Mary and King Francois’s younger son. The weeks-long meeting was filled with lavish banquets, balls, jousts, and masques. The perfect setting for an illicit, dangerous affair. And some really great clothes!
I absolutely adored A NOTORIOUS WOMAN, which was set in 16th century Venice. The city is like another character in that story and I just devoured the stormy, dramatic, passionate story of Marc Antonio Velasquez and Julietta Bassano. What made you decide to write this story and what research did you do? Have you been to Venice? I have and I’ve got to say you captured the city just perfectly in your wonderful prose.
I’m very happy you liked it!I thought of this story because, 1) I also love Venice. I’ve only been there once, years ago before I even started writing romance, and I adored it. It’s mysterious, beautiful, unique, and really weird. Perfect for atmospheric romance! 2) I read a history book about a female alchemist in 16th century Venice, and started thinking “What if…” 3) I also loved the movie Dangerous Beauty with the delicious Rufus Sewell! I wish I could have gone back to Venice for research, but history books had to suffice. Maybe next year!
Is the third book in the RENAISSANCE TRILOGY about Balthazar? I live in hope! Can you tell us a little bit about the next instalment?
Tee hee! I’m actually finishing writing his story now. It’s set seven years after the action of A NOTORIOUS WOMAN, and he’s a ship’s captain in the Caribbean. He meets up with a woman from his (very complicated) past in a Santo Domingo tavern. He’s grown up quite nicely, I must say!!
I bet he has! Not only do you set wonderful books in the Renaissance and late 18th century Ireland, you also have a new series of Regency romances with Harlequin called THE MUSES OF MAYFAIR. The first book, TO CATCH A ROGUE (which is available here), was released in the UK in March. Can you tell us about this series and what else we can look forward to from the Muses?
Now that I look at all this, I’m stressing out wondering when I’ll have time to write and research it all! [ANNA: We live to serve. Bwahahahahahaha!] The Muses will be out in the probably in fall 2009, in consecutive months so you can get all their stories! Like the Irish books, these are about three sisters, Calliope, Clio, and Thalia Chase (I think I like sisters since I only have a brother!). They’re the eldest daughters of a famous scholar of (surprise!) Greek myth and art, and are also scholars in their own right, though of very different temperaments. Calliope (TO CATCH A ROGUE) is practical and serious—until she meets a free-spirited, half-Greek earl who she thinks is a thief. Clio (TO DECEIVE A DUKE) is the most intellectual and independent, and clashes with a mysterious duke in Sicily (more Italy, yay!). And Thalia (TO KISS A COUNT) is the most beautiful, and most insecure. She has to join with an Italian count to find a stolen antiquity in Bath. Scandal in the Pump Room!!!
What are the challenges and rewards of writing across different settings? Are there other settings you’d like to use but haven’t yet explored?
The challenge is to keep from getting confused! I always have to ask myself, “Is this a factoid from Tudor England? Or 18th century Dublin?" And I have to not indulge my deep love for Regency slang in a Renaissance book! But the rewards are that I don’t get bored, and I don’t ‘burn out’ on story ideas. As for other settings, I’m working in my spare time (Spare time? What is this strange concept??) on historical fiction set in 18th century France. I love this time period! And I have an idea for a romance set in 17th century Holland, which I’m not sure anyone would go for…
Amanda has very kindly offered one lucky commenter a copy of A SINFUL ALLIANCE. If you could travel through space/time, where would you go to research your dream historical romance? What period in history serves up the most dashing heroes? Hey, even more important, what period in history has the best frocks? Good luck!