I've been looking forward to bring Allison Chase to the lair. After sharing a couple of emails, I feel like I've found a kindred spirit. I think you'll feel the same. We're talking today about Allison and her latest novel MOST EAGERLY YOURS. Romantic Times Magazine calls this "A smart mystery with slight gothic overtones, this romance has an intelligent heroine and sexy hero, plots against the queen, intriguing twists and surprises at many corners." My kind of book!
So let's get to know Allison. Do you have a dreaded day job? Any interesting hobbies? What got you started into writing? Who are your influences?
Thanks Donna. I've been looking forward to spending a day with the bandits. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I don't have a day job. I have in the past, usually some form of writing, either editing for a reference book publisher, or ghost writing for a little company that published memoirs -- which is kind of ironic when you think about it, since I went on to actually write ghost stories in my Blackheath Moor books.
LOL, I'm guessing that explains the "gothic overtones".
Right now I'm writing full time and loving it, although knock on wood because you never know what the future will bring. But even when I had a day job and my kids were young, I found, or rather made, time to write. I remember getting up before dawn to write for an hour before getting my daughters up for school. That's dedication, because I am SO not a morning person.
But I digress. What got me started writing? Well, learning how, for one. Seriously, as soon as I learned how to make sentences, I started writing stories, usually romantic ones. At least as romantic as my little fairytale-infused mind could conjure! Luckily, I got over the fairytale thing, but not the romance. Although having said that, I wasn't really a "romance reader" until after my first daughter was born. Confession: I was once one of those college-bred literary snobs who believed there was nothing of substance to be found in a romance novel.
I know!! What a dope! But don't worry, a good friend finally set me straight and my love affair with the genre began -- as a reader and as a writer, because suddenly I'd found my focus and my passion. I've never looked back! Some of my favorites over the years have included Teresa Medeiros, Laura Kinsale, Julianne MacClean, Connie Brockway, Mary Balough, Judith Ivory -- to name a few. Their amazing talents have inspired me to always push myself and dig really deep to produce my best work. You can never stop learning. There's always room for improvement.
Hobbies, you ask? History nerd here! Yes, I am a historical version of a Trekkie (I'm actually kind of one of those, too), and I do things like collect period costumes and occasionally find excuses to wear them. We also collect period weapons (replicas - I'm afraid of the real thing!) and on nice days we'll take our bows and arrows out to the backyard for a little target practice. Just my way of keeping things historical. Other than that I love nothing more than reading a good book.
You've written some great historicals as Lisa Manuel and, of course, the Blackheath Moor books, so why switch to Victorian?
I decided I needed a new challenge. So I went time-shopping! Victorian made a fabulous fit.
The Victorian Age has the reputation of being staid and boring, but not so! Enormous changes were happening during those years -- economically, socially, politically, you name it. This was a society in flux, in ways the world really hadn't seen previously. A lot of it had to do with the major shift from farming to industry, which started spreading the wealth around a lot more, as well as to the revolutionary notion that it might be a good thing to start educating more
than just the very wealthy. The result was a surge in business and technology -- and tons of material for subplots and setting. How could I resist?
But to really understand the age, I started off reading about the person who gave it its name: Victoria herself. As I learned about her childhood, my heart completely went out to her. If you saw the movie, The Young Victoria, you'll have an idea of how alone and under her mother's thumb she lived, but there's even more to the story. Initially not expected to wear the crown, she grew up forgotten and neglected in cramped apartments in Kensington Palace, amid shabby furnishings and often less-than-adequate food. She had NO friends to speak of -- her mother simply didn't permit it. The Duchess of Kent was determined to keep her daughter emotionally dependent only on her, in the hopes that if Victoria ever did wear the crown, she -- Mom -- would have full control over royal policies. Often at odds with her mother, the only person Victoria considered a true friend was her governess, Louise Lehzen. How sad is that?
So this inspired your series?
As I read, I thought, Oh! This lonely little girl needs some real friends, confidantes she could depend on through thick and thin. But how? She wasn't even permitted to speak to the servants who waited on her. All right then, they would have to be secret friends...with some kind of connection to her family, yet not important enough to be openly acknowledged once Victoria became heir apparent.
That's how Her Majesty's Secret Servants were born! The four Sutherland Sisters, Laurel, Ivy, Holly and Willow, have
known Victoria since she was a toddler, due to their fathers' military connections. Even after the fathers died, Victoria's mother continued to allow occasional visits, until it was finally revealed to Victoria, at age 11, that she was next in the royal sucession. That day the sisters swore their allegiance to their distraught future monarch, pledging to be her secret servants if ever she needed them. The Sutherlands saw little of the princess after that, until one rainy night shortly before her coronation, when the young queen shows up at their modest London home with a huge favor to ask. A dangerous one...
In Book 1, MOST EAGERLY YOURS, Laurel, the eldest, is the first to be called. The Queen is threatened by her jealous cousin, George Fitzclarence, who is known for speaking treason. She asks Laurel to pose as a wealthy widow and use her charms to win George's trust, then find out what he might be plotting. Laurel is prepared for the risks of acting a part, but not for the formidable obstacle she encounters in the Earl of Barenforth -- George's friend and a notorious rake, whom Victoria has warned her to avoid...
An undercover agent for the Home Office, Aidan Phillips, Earl of Barensforth, is on the trail of a financial hoax involving alchemy, murder...and George Fitzclarence. When a lovely young widow wanders into his path and turns his well-laid plans on end, he senses she is hiding something. Aidan is no stranger to seduction, or to the wiles of beautiful women. And he intends employing a few wiles of his own to uncover the lady's secrets...
MOST EAGERLY YOURS is available now.
This really sounds awesome. I'd encourage everyone to check out an excerpt at www.allisonchase.com. So what comes next?
Next up will be Ivy's story in OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS, where Victorian physics and the powers of electromagnetism bring her face to face with a dashing but reputedly mad scientist. Simon de Burgh's sister has stolen something of great importance from the queen -- and Ivy must get it back before anyone finds out! Ivy is willing to set propriety aside and risk all for her queen, but is she about to enter a laboratory of horrors, or discover her heart's desire in the arms of the Mad Marquess of Harrow?
OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS will be out in December.
So now it's your turn. As this series involves childhood friends and secret clubs. Tell us about your childhood clubs. Did you have a secret club? Were boys allowed? Did you have a special name? Allison has offered a copy of MOST EAGERLY YOURS to one lucky commenter. Hopefully, she'll make her new release most eagerly yours (grin).