We love to visit with repeat offenders...er... our favorite return guests, so please pull up a chair, pillow or cabana boy and get comfortable as we welcome NYT bestselling author and my dear friend, Lorraine Heath back in the Lair to discuss her newest release, MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A SCOUNDREL, which just recieved 4 stars from Romantic Times magazine!
Suz: MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A SCOUNDREL is the fourth in your Scoundrels of St. James series. While each is a stand alone book, each one has built upon the first and gives us a glimpse into the lives of Feagan's kids. In this story we get to see the life of James Swindler, the famed detective of Scotland Yard. (And one of my favorites.) Can you tell us about James and what he brings to the book that's different from his brothers and sister?
Lorraine: While Luke, Jack, and Frannie were favorites of Feagan's and spent a good deal of their youth under his care, James was a little bit older when he was brought into the fold and he skirted the edges of Feagan's world, never really feeling as though he belonged. He never embraced Feagan as the father figure that the others did because he had quite a strong father figure in his childhood, who we catch glimpses of during the telling of his tale. He considered leaving Feagan's den of thieves, but he'd fallen instantly in love with Frannie and couldn't bear the thought of never being in her company. Of course, as readers learned in Surrender to the Devil, Frannie was not his destined love.
Here is an introduction to Swindler and how he came to be part of Feagan's brood:
From the Journal of James Swindler
A darkness hovers inside me. It was born the day I watched my father hanged. A public hanging, with a festive air in the streets, as though I alone understood the loss, as though the object stolen was worth destroying both his life and mine.
I had been born a mere eight years earlier, and with my arrival had come my mother's parting from this world. So it was that with my father's death, I became an orphan with nowhere to go and no one to take me in.
Within the jubilant crowd of curious onlookers were two lads who recognized my plight-the tears streaming down my dirty face while others jeered and laughed no doubt telling my story. My father had told me to be strong. He'd even winked at me before they placed the black hood over his head. As though his standing on the gallows were a prank, a bit of good fun, something we would laugh about later.
But it wasn't a prank, and if my father is laughing now, it is only the devil who hears.
I was not strong that day. But I have shown strength ever since.
The lads comforted me as boys are wont to do: with a slug on the arm and "stiff upper lip, mate." They invited me to tag along with them. Jack was the older, his swagger one of confidence. Luke was wide-eyed, and I suspected it was the first hanging he'd ever witnessed. As we made our way through the teeming throng, their nimble fingers pilfered many a coin purse and handkerchief.
When darkness descended, they led me through the warren of the rookeries to the door of a kidsman who went by the name of Feagan. He had little use for the likes of me until he'd gathered the precious booty from his workers. Children all. Only one girl among them. A girl with vibrant red hair and gentle green eyes. Her name was Frannie. Once I realized that Jack and Luke had brought me to a den of thievery, I lost all enthusiasm to stay. I had no desire to belong to a place that was certain to lead me straight to the gallows. But I had a stronger desire not to lose sight of the young girl. So I remained.
I became very skilled at ferreting out information, helping to set up swindles. I wasn't as talented when it came to thievery. I was caught on more than one occasion and took my punishment as my father had taught me-with stoicism and a wink.
As a result, I became far too familiar with the fact that the legal system was not fair, and often innocence was the cost. I began to pay close attention when justice was meted out. Why was one boy given ten lashes for snitching a silk handkerchief while another was transported to a prison colony in New Zealand? How was evidence obtained? How did one determine guilt? More importantly, how did one prove innocence?
In time I began to work secretly for the Metropolitan Police. I did not fear the shadows or the darker side of London. Even when I worked openly for Scotland Yard, I traveled where others had no desire to tread.
I drew comfort in knowing I never arrested an innocent. Depending on the severity of the crime, I often sent the culprit on his way with a mere slap on the wrist and a warning that I was watching, always watching. Of what importance is a stolen bit of silk frippery when a man might have lost his life in the street? I was far more concerned with-and fascinated by-the grisly crimes.
They appealed to the darkness hovering inside me, and so it was that they garnered my ardent attention . . .
And eventually led me to her.
Suz: Mmmm...I love a hero who has his own sense of honor and justice! (See why he's my favorite?) What kind of heroine did you choose for Swindler? Why?
Lorraine: Ah, you give me far too much credit. I don't choose the characters; they choose me. For Swindler, I simply saw a particular scene (which readers will probably identify when they read it) and knew that the woman reflected in it belonged to Swindler. She worked for him because her strength was not always readily apparent, but more because neither was her goodness. She was complicated and it took someone with Swindler's skills at deduction and mystery-solving to figure her out.
Suz: Swindler and Eleanor both know the other isn't being honest with them, yet without confronting each other on this fact, they still manage to fall in love with the other. Why do you think this worked for them?
Lorraine: Because their hearts were honest with each other. And while each one was deceiving the other in order to gain something, or to further a goal, what they saw in the other person was a soul mate, a kindred spirit. What I loved about this story was the challenge it presented to me as a writer to show that the deceptions were only on the surface while the attraction was true and deep. It couldn't be ignored, even as each character fought it, knowing that it would in all likelihood lead to his or her downfall.
Suz: In MIDNIGHT PLEASURES James takes the time to show Eleanor the sites of Victorian London. Which was your favorite part of his courtship?
Lorraine: I enjoyed all of his courtship, although my favorite moment wasn't exactly courtship. It was when he was standing outside in the streets, watching as she brushed her hair in the window. Did she know he was there? Did her seduction begin at that moment? I think perhaps it did. Although I also enjoyed the balloon ascent. Not that I would ever travel through the air in a wicker basket.
Suz: I loved both those scenes, too! There is one member of Feagan's kids who hasn't had his story yet, William Graves. Will there be one for him, or is MIDNIGHT PLEASURES the last of the Scoundrel of St. James series?
Lorraine: Unfortunately, William Graves is still a bit of a mystery so when I pitched his story to my editor, it wasn't very compelling and another group of characters snatched her attention so I'm writing their stories now. However, because the new trilogy is set in the same time period, William Graves will continue to make the occasional appearance (as will the other scoundrels) as I continue to work out his true story. I know that it gets frustrating for readers when a character is left behind, but it's very difficult to write a story for a character when I don't know what that character's story is. James Swindler was much more complicated than I'd imagined but I always knew the most defining moment of his life was when his father was hanged. I'm not yet sure what defined William Graves, although I have begun seeing snatches of his story so I'm hopeful that it won't be too far in the future.
Suz: What is next for your historicals?
Lorraine: I am writing the stories of three brothers, and I'll leave it at that for now until I get book 1 finished, except to say that it is another Victorian set series. Because the brothers' widowed mother was married twice and provided each husband with an heir, the oldest brother is an impoverished earl, the middle brother, as the second son to her first husband, has no title but is a soldier returning from the Crimean War, and the youngest brother is an immensely powerful and wealthy duke. So the hierarchy in the family is slightly skewed, which creates undercurrents for devotion and resentment. It's a very complicated but intriguing-at least to me-family dynamic. They are extremely competitive and their playing field is the boudoir, where title, wealth, and position have little influence. They are judged solely on their ability to pleasure the ladies, and each has the goal of gaining a reputation as London's greatest lover. Okay, guess I didn't leave it at that, did I?
The first 2 books, presently untitled, will be released in October/November 2010.
Also an anthology that I contributed to in 2006, My Heroes Will Always Be Cowboys, was originally released in trade, but will be released in mass market paperback in February. My contribution, "The Reluctant Hero," was nominated for a RITA so I'm thrilled the story will be available again.
Suz: A competition in the budoir? Now that's my kind of competition! Can't wait to read about these three brothers. As our readers know, you also write under the pseudonym Rachel Hawthorne. What's going on in your YA world right now?
Lorraine: The 4th Dark Guardian novel-SHADOW OF THE MOON-will be released March 23, 2010. The heroine, Hayden, is new to readers. Because of her ability to experience other Shifters' emotions, she's run away to a winter resort populated only with humans, but the elders send Daniel, who was introduced in FULL MOON, to find her and bring her home because her full moon is approaching and she can't face it alone. Daniel is new to her pack, and no one knows much about him. He confuses her because she can't feel his emotions-and for the first time in her life, as she begins falling in love with him, she wants to know what someone else is feeling. But as their lives are threatened by an ancient enemy, she will begin to suspect that Daniel isn't all that he seems. Unlike the others, this story takes place during the winter so it provides a little different setting and it also brings more of the Dark Guardian history to the forefront. While books 1-3 dealt with the Shifters battling the worst of mankind, the Dark Guardians have always been in existence to protect against ancient paranormal enemies. In this story, we get a glimpse of one.
It's been interesting to see how much email I'm receiving from adult readers who are really enjoying the series. It's definitely targeted for an older teen and is a bit sensual (although how can it not be when Shifters can't transform while wearing clothes
Lorraine: I'm celebrating the fact the Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel is my 25th novel-not counting any anthologies or YA novels. To celebrate that achievement here with the Romance Bandits, I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to amazon, Borders, or B&N-winners' choice-to one of today's lucky blog posters. And for a chance to win another gift certificate, enter the contest at my website http://www.lorraineheath.com/. It closes Oct. 31, with the drawing held Nov. 1.
Suz: CONGRATULATIONS on this mile stone! We're always happy to have you here and enjoy celebrating your good news.
So, dear readers and friends, Lorraine and I want to know, of all the stories you've ever read by any author, which character are you still waiting--hoping--the author will one day write a story about?