Monday, May 5, 2008

Claudia Dain Has a Secret!

by Caren Crane

Or perhaps it isn't her secret, after all. If you have been hanging out at Romance Bandits for any length of time, you know that we are always a-twitter when Claudia Dain posts a comment. If you know Claudia's work, you will understand our excitement. If not, you may wonder why we call her The Incomparable Claudia Dain (TICD for short). You're about to find out. I am thrilled to welcome Claudia to the Bandits' Lair once again. Welcome, Claudia!

You know I love it here, Caren. It's like my second home...and I'm that freaky guest that will not leave! Here I am again, proving the point. It's your own fault for creating such a warm and happy blog in the cyber universe. Yes, that's right. I just blamed you for my tendency to loiter at Romance Bandits. Deal with it, Bandita.

Claudia, I am a huge fan of your Courtesan series. I read The Courtesan's Daughter (Oct 2007) at a speed that shocked my turtle-paced brain. The scenes clipped along, the chapters sped by and I was left panted and breathless for more when I galloped to the end. I am thrilled to note that your next book The Courtesan's Secret will be released tomorrow. Claudia, for those who may not yet have enjoyed The Courtesan's Daughter, what should we know about the Courtesan who stars in the title of these books?

My favorite topic: Sophia Dalby. Those who've read The Courtesan's Daughter have asked me about Sophia, noticing that she's not typical for a secondary character. She isn't! She's what I'm calling my anchor character. The series twirls around her, she's the fulcrum of all the action, but each book has a hero and heroine who enjoy (or not) their journey to love, marriage, and baby carriage.

Sophia's backstory is what makes her so interesting as a character and it took me two years of research for her to develop into a full-blown woman. She's the daughter of an Iroquois warrior and an English noblewoman, raised in the woods of upstate New York, mysterious events ensue, she winds up alone in Georgian London as a teen, forced to make her way as a courtesan.

Being Sophia, she's very good at being a courtesan and at negotiating her way through London's underbelly. She marries an Earl, gives him two children, he dies, and it is her daughter's love story that is covered in The Courtesan's Daughter. Sophia, being more intelligent and more devious than anyone, and who can arrange difficult love matches with apparent ease, is quickly becoming the Go-To Girl for the pretty young things in Regency London. In The Courtesan's Secret, Lady Louisa seeks help from Sophia in bringing the skittish and scrumptious Lord Dutton to the altar. Louisa gets far more than she bargained for, which is typical for those who tangle with Sophia.

Claudia, Sophia is a fascinating character. At the risk of inciting a riot, I confess that I have already read The Courtesan's Secret. Yes, friends, I tore through the ARC as if I were being chased by a band of savage Iroquois. Okay, that's not true. If Sophia's brother and nephews were after me, I wouldn't run at all and I raced through The Courtesan's Secret! I can say for a fact that Sophia knew far better than the heroine, Louisa Kirkland, what Louisa wanted - or perhaps what she needed. Sophia is a master at manipulating people and events and she is building a reputation as a matchmaker. How many matches will Sophia get to arrange? I hope it's lots, since that will mean more books for me!

I hope it's a lot, too! That would be my dream career, to write Regencies with Sophia skipping through the ton, whistling merrily as she has her way with all of them. When I created Sophia, or rather, as she arose from my research into Georgian and Regency England, as well as Colonial America and the important part the Indian nations played in European politics, I knew I wanted to stay with her for as long as possible. Because of that wish on my part, the series is very open ended. I know what's going to happen to Sophia ultimately, but I can write as many books as I want, stretching her journey out for the conceivable future.

But as enamored as I am with Sophia's character, I think the hero and heroine of each book do stand on their own well against her. She is not the focus of each book and as more characters arise within each book, I get excited about writing their love story, their stumbling tumble into each other and into marriage. And while I'm thinking of it, I should probably mention that just because an appealing, gorgeous character is introduced in any of the books doesn't mean that character will ever get her/his own story. I'm not sure if readers will love me or hate me for that, but it will keep things interesting!

Of course all your heroes and heroines do a fine job holding their own against Sophia. At least, they believe they do! *g* But I understand we will get a glimpse into Sophia's past in a novella coming out this year.

Very true. In Private Places, an anthology coming out in August, the reader gets to see one night in Sophia's life as a working courtesan, the night she meets Lord Dalby, as a matter of fact. As in all the Courtesan novels, Sophia is a secondary character in this story, but as in all the Courtesan novels, she is pulling quite a few strings to make sure everything turns out the way it should. I wish I had a Sophia in my life! I could use someone like her in my corner.

Thank you for being with us today, Claudia. It is always a thrill! Now, dear readers, Claudia has a question for you:

Do you have a Sophia in your life? Someone who watches your back, who knows you better than you know yourself, who can see the important details that you miss? Of course, your mom, but anyone else? I'll be giving away a signed copy of The Courtesan's Daughter to a lucky commenter.


Gillian Layne said...

Here, little chickie....

Gillian Layne said...

I have the dearest friend; we were brought together by common work, but really had nothing else in common. Yet we are so close. We constantly call to talk about something and find we've had the same things happening in our lives. And she always knows just the right thing to say.

Claudia, I love your work! :) And congrats on the awesome cover.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Claudia, welcome back to the Lair! Your books are so delightful! Thanks for taking the time to come back.

Part of Claudia's interview was inadvertently dropped off so be sure to return in the morning for . . . the rest of the story!

Jane said...

I have an older cousin who is like a sister to me. She taught me all about fashion and make-up. She has always looked out for me even when I didn't think it was necessary. She also always knows what to birthday or Christmas present I desire.

doglady said...

Yes!!! Gillian brings the GR home to the Passion's Slaves lair!! WTG, Gillian! We'll show him a good time and there are lots of kitties and puppied and kiddies for him to play with at her house!

LOVE Claudia's books, especially the Courtesan series.

When he was alive, my dh was the one person who always knew what I needed before I knew what I needed. He was the person who made me take the risks and opportunities that landed me a singing career in Austria.

Now I have two guardian angels with whom I talk every day. I call them my "heart" sisters - as we are not sisters by blood, but by the heart. And since they have met each other online, they tend to gang up on me to get me to do things. They are the reason I entered the Golden Heart. They tag team bugged me until I said I would do it. Then when I got the finalist call and decided I could not afford to go to San Francisco they ganged up on me again and said "YOU HAVE TO GO!!" They constantly poke and prod me with "Are you writing?" "How many pages today?" "Do you even WANT to get out of Wal-Mart?"

I am also lucky enough to have people like La Campbell saying "You have to try for a scholarship for Nationals!" Of course her battle cry before that was "Finish the damned book!"

Gillian is another of my cheerleaders. As she and I both have full-time DDJs we try to encourage each other as much as possible.

And of course I have the ladies of the Goddess Blogs, Romance Bandits, Risky Regencies, History Hoydens and the Wet Noodle Posse in my corner as well.

I have quite a team on my side and I couldn't do without any of them!

Margay said...

What a great interview, Caren! I love that it revealed so much information in such a concise manner - perfect for the busy generation we have become, wouldn't you say? And Claudia, excellent job relaying all that info in such a concise manner. Your books sound amazing. As for whether or not I have a Sophia in my life - I wish! It would make things so much easier on me.

Helen said...

Well done Gillian

Great post I too love Claudia's work I have yet to read The Courtesan's Daughter but am really looking forward to it.
As for a Sophia in my life that was my Mum until I lost her 5 years ago but I have 3 great sisters and 4 wonderful children and a wonderful husband who are truly fantastic and of course my neighbour and best friend who I couldn't be without we are always there for each other whether it be a shoulder to cry on or a fantastic laugh. We all need a Sophia in our lives and I have a few so I am really lucky. And of course all the friends I have made here at the Bandits.
Have Fun

Maureen said...

Hi Claudia,
Congratulations on your latest book. I don't know that she is like Sophia but my mother has been a great support to me through life.

Caren Crane said...

Gillian, brilliant work on the rooster nab!

The disclaimer Jo posted is totally true. The Rest Of the Story is coming in a bit. Sorry for the technical diffies! (They are TOTALLY my fault!)

peggy said...

yes ,my couin always knows the
right thing to say or do one
step before i do.

PJ said...

Great interview! Claudia, the new book looks scrumptious. Can't wait to read it!

I have a very dear sister of the heart who came into my life 10 years ago when I stopped by her house to welcome the family to my neighborhood. We've since become dear, dear friends and the entire family (kids, hubby, parents, inlaws) have taken me into their hearts (and vice versa). She always knows exactly what to say and do and, often, just what I need long before I do. What's great is that I fill the same need for her.

Deb Marlowe said...

I have a secret too--Claudia is my Sophia! Although she's not a courtesan, :-) she is full of fabulous advice on everything from training husbands, raising kids, to career paths!

My life is so much richer because I have Claudia and Caren and my 2 critique partners in it.

Sophia and her family are some of the most fascinating characters I've run across in a long time! I've been dying to read TCS, I'm using it as a bribe--I can read it as soon as I finish the WIP!

Nancy said...

Gillian, congratulatins on the rooster!

Hi, Claudia--welcome back and congratulations on this continuing series! I loved the first book and am looking forward to reading this one. I don't have a Sophia, but it's great that so many of our buddies do.

Deb, you forgot wardrobe advice. Claudia once saved me from complete discombobulation at national after I packed in the dark and ended up with Suit A but accessories for Suit B.

Donna MacMeans said...

Darn it, Deb - I thought you were going to share a deep secret about the real nature of Claudia's research (very big grin).

Ahoy Cluadia - knowing that your next book is out makes my day a bit brighter. Can't wait to grab it.

Can't say I have a Sophia in my life at the moment, but I have the banditas and some wonderful writing buddies here so I feel blessed. Great interview, Caren. I'll stop by later as well.

Anna Sugden said...

Ah Claudia and Caren - you naughty girls - tempting me to buy yet more books when I'm trying to sort everything out for the Big Move!

Claudia - it is always a real pleasure to have you here with us in the Lair.

I'm blessed with the bestest of friends - who are there for me through thick and thin, giggles and tears. A wonderful sister, too. And, of course, my Bandita sisters, my Playmates on Writers at Play and the Struggling Writers (especially the Brit Pack!)

Claudia Dain said...

I love hearing about other Sophias! I knew they were out there, not to mention every mom who ever told her daughter how to manage the "mean girl" at recess.

Claudia Dain said...

Nancy, oh, I remember that wardrobe moment well. It was a creative challenge and I loved every second of it! What you have to know is that Nancy is not skimpy on the accessories---it's amazing how you can pull an outfit together with a brightly colored silk scarf!

Note to self: pack silk scarf for San Francisco in July.

Claudia Dain said...

Deb Marlowe, I'm tickled to death. I'm your Sophia? That's the best compliment EVER. Even if I don't have the (ahem) backstory to quite pull it off in true Sophia style.

Claudia Dain said...

Doglady, you have AWESOME Sophias! And look what they managed for you! I trust that now and forevermore, you'll do everything your Sophias say, no matter how impossible or embarrassing or weird it sounds.

Your Wal-Mart days are numbered!

Joan said...

Welcome TICD!

I think the Courteasn series rocks!

I have several "Sisters of the Heart" and both know me so much better than I know myself. I've grown a lot thanks to them.

Buffie said...

Great interview Caren and Claudia!! Claudia, I can't wait to read this book. Your stories are always fabulous -- keep them coming!

As far as the Sophia in my life . . . there are many. My mom, of course. My sister, who is 11 years older, is always good with the advice. My mother-in-love because she encourages me no matter what I am doing. My dh is always there cheering me on through those tough days at work and home. And my best friend, who always smiles, hugs me, and tells me all will be well again soon.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Welcome to the lair, Claudia! Your courtesan series sounds wonderful & since the book store just happens to be on my agenda today...

As for Sophias in my life, I have an omniscient mother & three sisters who (infuriatingly) not only know all my quirks & failings, they routinely call me on them.


Claudia Dain said...

Isn't it amazing how Mom is always the all-knowing one? I think that's why I started the Courtesan series with Sophia being Sophia with her only daughter. It's just a natural!

limecello said...

Hi Claudia,
Thanks for visiting with us today! Hm... a "Sophia" in my life... possibly my sister? Otherwise I'm coming up a bit blank. Sad. But I have a final in 6 hours, and another within 24 hrs. Ack. So the brain isn't working, unfortunately.
I haven't read your books yet :X - but I'm definitely adding them to my list! They sound absolutely terrific!

Anonymous said...

Hello Goddess Claudia!!! I have a sissy who does an incredible job of Sophia. She is far away though, and I wish I had someone a little closer. I might have not ended up with 2 bad marriages if I had a Sophia immediatly at hand...LOL I think it funny that I had so many people that were closer to me when I was younger and had fewer responsibilites. Funny how life gets in the way. I am lucky to have my sissy, and some dear freinds whom I now have to call, THANK YOU Claudia for a very terrific blog!! Looking forward to Tuesday!!!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

TICD, we are always excited when you are in the Lair! You always have delicious writing and fashion tips and other tidbits to share.

As for Sophias in my life...AHEM, Aunty likes to believe SHE fills that role rather than having someone else! :-P But seriously my two BFFs know me faaar too well, and I always have my 19 Banditas to guard my back, for which I am VERY GRATEFUL!

Can't wait to read your latest!


Sabrina said...

I have lots of Sophia's in my life--there's Claudia herself and Caren (the fashion duo) and Deb Marlowe and Liz Carlyle (both of whom know everything about the Regency) and Rexanne Becnel (my friend for nearly 20 years now, my cp for 19, and all-around motherly figure and advice-giver). I don't know what I'd do without them.

Fortunately, none of them has ever had to do any matchmaking for me. I was married by the time I met all of them. *G*

Eva S said...

My "Sophia" and dearest friend is my youngest sister ( I have two older), sometimes I do think she knows me better than I do myself! And sometimes I think she is much older...

Thanks Claudia for your great medieval books! The Courtesan books are on my wishlist...

Claudia Dain said...

AC, with 19 wise women at your back, you have more than enough Sophia Power! I'm not going to feel a bit sorry for you. In fact, I'm a bit envious.

Claudia Dain said...

Limecello, you are forgiven for not having read me. Totally. It is not possible to read every book we lust after, which breaks my heart! I've stopped calling it my TBR pile, it's just my library now. Book upon book, row upon row. I *will* read them all. Of course, I'd help myself out by not buying MORE books nearly every week.

Claudia Dain said...

Eva, I'm so glad you liked my medievals. I happen to love medievals, too. There's just something about a man in chain mail wearing a big sword.

Claudia Dain said...

Sabrina, thank you for stopping by!

Speaking of fashion...I mailed off my next Courtesan book today and to celebrate I bought myself the most adorable silver sandals with chunky globs of clear "jewels" all over them. Picture something Wilma would wear on a night out with Fred Flintstone. Hey, finishing a book calls for a little bling celebration, right?

Claudia Dain said...

Amy, now that you're older and wiser, you probably don't need a Sophia as much anymore. Now you get to be Sophia! It's a fun ride, I promise.

Cassondra said...

Welcome Claudia!

Always a pleasure to have you visit the lair. I've become an honest to goodness fan girl, and I'm NEVER a fan girl, so that's how much I enjoyed The Courtesan's Daughter.

So excited for the new release. There are not too many books that I actually "wait" for, but this is one of them.

As to a Sophia in my life, I fear I have not had one. I expect if I had a real Sophia I'd get all uppity at the manipulation, for my own good or not. But sometimes I wish for a wise ear to bend. The Banditas, in total or in part, sometimes fill that role for me, but other than the unwavering support of my husband, I don't have any particular person in that role.

Watch out in San Fran. I may adopt some of you.

Caren, thank you for another of your ALWAYS brilliant interviews, and for bringing Claudia to us!

CrystalGB said...

My cousin is my best friend and she fits the description. We have been close since we were children. I know she would do any thing for me.

Claudia Dain said...

Cassondra, you're my first fangirl! I'm so excited!!! LOL

As to Sophia, it would be hard (impossible?) not to get annoyed at someone manipulating you. I know I would. Oh, the lovely world of romance fiction where everything looks a bit blurry and pretty.

Anna Sugden said...

Buying shoes to celebrate - Claudia, you're a woman after my own heart!

I know what you mean about a library - the movers are shocked by how many books my hubby and I have (thank goodness they're going to be packing them all into boxes and not us!)

Claudia Dain said...

Anna, the *exact* same thing happened to me when I moved last. The movers came to give me a price and the rep couldn't believe the amount of books. It's such rotten luck that weight equals cost in moving. I hate to think what it would cost now! I have 50 times the number of books, and that's no exaggeration.

I can't wait to wear my new sandals! (Giggling gleefully.) They're so cute! Comfortable, too, and have that gladiator look that's so in right now.

That's me. I'm all about the 'in.'

Beth said...

Claudia, thank you for coming back to the lair to discuss The Courtesan's Secret! I read the excerpts on your website and am definitely picking these books up! They look so fantastic :-)

And how could I not love books by someone who names The Office as her favorite TV Show *ggg* I adore The Office - which is weird since I've never worked in an office ;-) But I did meet a real life Dwight Schrute just the other day (honestly, this guy was like a Dwight clone - too funny!)

As for having a Sophia in my life, well, I'm blessed with having such wonderful friends such as the Banditas and my playmates at Writers at Play :-)

Congrats on finishing your book and on buying bling!! I'm 60 pgs from The End and am already looking for new shoes for GH/RITA night ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Gillian! The chook goes to Kansas for the day!!!

TICD! Welcome back, Claudia! And congratulations on the release of your next Courtesan book! I'm sure it will be a huge hit.

Anna, I've recently moved and the packers couldn't believe the books either!

Joan said...

gladiator look that's so in right now.

Really? That's in right now?

Can I borrow them at conference? Put together with my HBO "ROME" shirt surely SOME editor/agent will pay attention! LOL.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Great interview! Can't wait to hear the "rest of the story". At present I don't have a Sophia (though my BF seems to be learning how to guide me), I think I might actually be Sophia to a few people (not even counting my daughter).
My mother of course was but I lost her in 2002 so since then I have been winging it.

Claudia Dain said...

Gladiator sandals very 'in' right now. I'd happily share mine with you, Joan; I'm sure I'm not going to get nearly enough wear out of them before the gladiator look is 'out.'

Sigh. Fashion.

catslady said...

Sadly to say, nope. My family seems to be the type that doesn't ever want to talk about things - I'm the blacksheep lol. I have different friends that are involved in only certain parts of my life and not the whole.

Caren Crane said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I'm so glad I received no death threats for having read the book weeks ago. Bwahaha...

*ahem* Suffice to say, if the first Courtesan book was a frolicsome picnic, this one is a veritable carnival of delight. If you were going to a desert island tomorrow, I would recommend taking The Courtesan's Secret with you.

Also, Claudia IS the Sophia in my life. She really is! Completely cool-headed and clear about what to do in any and every situation. As Nancy noted, Claudia can be depended on for exceptional fashion advice. And business advice. Oh, heck, any kind of advice. I always have a Claudia picture in my head when reading about Sophia.

I hope you're okay with being a mentor and role model, Claudia!

Missy Tippens said...

My good friend (who happens to be my critique partner) always has my back. And also the ladies on both my group blogs. Isn't it funny how writers have so many online friends? I think "normal" people must thing we're weird. :)

The book sounds fantastic. Actually, the whole series does! :)


Missy Tippens said...

Claudia, I also meant to add that I love the description of the sandals with bling!! I love bling, especially on shoes.

Of course, I usually opt for really comfortable ones, so to find both comfort and sparkle, you're a shoe shopper after my own heart! :)


Claudia Dain said...

Caren, thank you! Today's been a great day as a jobber Bandita. *G*

And if you see Sophia as me, I'm truly and deeply flattered. I'm going to ignore the fact that Sophia was a whore.

Missy, I'm with you; if shoes aren't comfortable, they're not worth wearing. If they're not cute in some way, they're not worth wearing. It's a tough assignment! Thankfully, I am up to the challenge. Or as I often say: I'm not buying clothes, I'm building a wardrobe.

Thank you, Banditas, for letting me chat about Sophia and The Courtesan's Secret. You guys are the best!

Christine Wells said...

I can't believe I missed a day and it happened when TICD was in the house! Thank you for being with us and wish you best of luck with The Courtesan's Secret. Sophia does sound like a wonderfully rich character. I can only say I wish I had one of her in my life;)

flchen1 said...

Ooh, bummers--I missed Claudia! I haven't read The Courtesan's Daughter yet, but am looking forward to it! And yes, we can ALWAYS use someone in our corner--that whole no person's an island thing, you know ;)