A very good friend of the Bandits, NYT Bestselling author, Lorraine Heath, is joining us in the Lair once again. Excuse me while I pull the cork on this bottle of Chardonay. (pop) So y'all pull up a chair and join us for some conversation about Dukes, Scoundrels and Werewolves!
Suz, handing Lorraine a glass of wine, then stretching out on the chaise: Welcome, Lorraine! The Bandits and our buddies are so glad to have you with us again. It's always a grand day in the Lair when you're visiting. SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL is the third book in the Scoundrel’s of St. James series. Can you tell us about the book?
Lorraine: SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL is the story of Frannie Darling, a child of the streets. She is now a bookkeeper at Dodger’s Drawing Room, one of the more exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in London in 1851. When her best friend Luke marries Lady Catherine, Frannie meets the Duke of Greystone. Greystone immediately wants Frannie in his bed, but she has little tolerance for the idle and self-centered. She is far too busy gathering orphans from the streets. But when danger lurks, Greystone will be the man she turns to.
Suz: Was Frannie Darling based on a specific character in Oliver Twist, like Luke and Jack Dodger were?
Lorraine: Not really. At one point, I thought maybe she was based on Nancy, but I think she was simply herself.
Suz: How does her childhood as one of Feagan’s kids affect her life as a grown woman?
Lorraine: She’s always mothered Feagan’s lads. They’ve always watched out for her. But as a woman she wants to stand on her own, make her own way, do things her own way. When she begins to search for orphans, she runs amuck of Bob Sykes (yes, he’s based on Bill Sikes). She tries to handle him on her own, without involving Feagan’s lads—and that, of course, simply leads to more trouble.
Suz: Sterling Mabry, Lord Greystone is the hero of SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL. Have we met him before?
Lorraine: You caught a glimpse of him in IN BED WITH THE DEVIL. He’s Catherine’s brother who arrived from his world travels shortly after her father died.
Suz: Frannie wants nothing to do with the Lords and Ladies of London Society, while Sterling sees no need to help the poorer members of society? What do you see as the turning point in their relationship?
Lorraine: I think the turning point in their relationship came about when Jimmy came into their lives. Because he was such a slender-framed boy, he assisted Sykes in burglarizing homes and as fate would have it, one of those homes was Greystone’s—and the lad’s luck ran out. He was caught. But rather than send ’round for a constable, Greystone sent for Frannie in an effort to bring her back into his life. Jimmy allowed Greystone to understand more clearly what life was like for the children on the street who Frannie wanted to save and Jimmy allowed Frannie to see a very tender side of Greystone as he befriended the lad.
Suz: How do Feagan’s lads come to play in this story?
Lorraine: They do what they’ve always done: work to protect Frannie from hurt and in so doing, they smother her. Luke explains to Greystone how protective they are of Frannie: “So yes, the four of us circle around her the way one might an injured butterfly, never touching it for fear of damaging it more, forever hoping that a day will come when it will again fly.”
To which Greystone replies: “In my world travels, I saw a good many varieties of butterflies. They’re incredibly delicate creatures, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Observing them as I did, I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes if you surround a butterfly too closely, it couldn’t fly if it wanted to.”
He believes she’s stronger than they give her credit for being. As he’s drawn into her dangerous world, he begins to admire her courage and determination even more.
Suz: We’re going to switch gears now. I don’t know if many of our readers know this, but you are not only a NYT bestselling romance author, but you also write YA stories under the name Rachel Hawthorne. You’ve recently started a new YA series about teenage werewolves, which you are very excited about. Care to tell us about this project?
Lorraine, with a twinkle of mischief in her eyes: Would love to! The Dark Guardian series is about a group of werewolves (or Shifters as they refer to themselves) who live in a national forest. The teens of the group serve as guides—or sherpas—to ensure that no campers stumble across their village. I got the idea after watching a special on TV about the sherpa program in Glacier National Park. Each summer, college students work there hauling equipment for campers. And I thought, “What if they were werewolves?”
Suz: MOONLIGHT is already out, FULL MOON is coming out later this month, and DARK of the MOON debuts in August. Was it hard building a new parallel world for these books? Do you see the series continuing or is it only to span the 3-books?
Lorraine: The idea for the werewolf sherpas was just a shadowy concept when I sent my editor the storyline for a book. She wanted that story and 2 more with an overriding arc that connected all 3. Coming up with the mythos was a challenge. I’m not even sure I was totally comfortable with the world I’d created until the 3rd book. But then it was also the book that ended the threat they faced and so all the loose ends were tied up, whereas with 1 and 2 I was trying to determine which questions to leave unanswered.
I would love for the series to continue, but presently I don’t have a contract to write more.
Suz: So, tell us what’s next for your historical series?
Lorraine: Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel will be out Nov. 1. This is James Swindler’s story. Scotland Yard has charged him with determining why a certain young lady—Eleanor Watkins—is following the Marquess of Rockberry. It has quite a few fun twists and turns.
And now to segue into something that has nothing to do with MY books – I recently worked to arrange my bookshelves in some sort of order, putting all my keepers on one 1 shelf and all my to be read on another (and okay, the TBR take up way more than a shelf so I now have a “top shelf” TBR stack which are books that I dearly want to read before the year is out). Obviously I buy way more books than I’ll ever read. How do you keep chaos off your bookshelves? Or do you? Should you? How do you decide which book to read next when there are so many wonderful books out there?
And to add to the chaos of your bookshelves, we’ll draw three lucky winners from among the posters today and they can select one of the Scoundrels of St. James books or one of the Dark Guardian books as their prize. If the book hasn’t yet been released, it’ll be sent as soon as it’s available.