by Anna Campbell
It is with great pleasure that I introduce one of my favorite people in Romancelandia - and a gal who's basically a neighbor in world terms! - Emily May.
Emily is a brilliantly talented writer from New Zealand. She writes romantic fantasy as Emily Gee - her debut novel THIEF WITHOUT A SHADOW was nominated for a RITA in 2008 which is where this very happy photo of the two of us was taken. And she writes breathtakingly good Regency historicals as Emily May which is the persona in which she visits us today.
She's here to tell us about her latest release, THE UNMASKING OF A LADY, which I read in one sitting last week. It's one of the best historicals I've read all year, just perfect!
Here's the blurb:
It's common knowledge that Miss Arabella Knightley spent her early years in London's slums. But what the Ton doesn't know is that Arabella has a secret: by day she is a lady, but at night she helps the poor--stealing jewels from those who court her for her money but disdain her for her past.
Adam St. Just--one of London's most eligible bachelors--is bored by polite society. Uncovering the altruistic thief's identity is an interesting diversion--but unbuttoning her proves to be even more diverting. There is far more to the infamous Miss Knightley than he had ever imagined...
You can find out more about Emily and read excerpts from her books on her website. She also blogs regularly with a number of Australia's best romance writers on Love Cats DownUnder.
So here's Emily!
Emily, welcome to the Bandit lair! Please, don’t trip over the cabana boys! They’re tired, poor things! We’ll get one of the gladiators to make you a margarita! Although, watch out, they have a very heavy hand with the tequila. It’s all that sword practice!
I had the great pleasure recently of reading your brilliant Regency historical romance, THE UNMASKING OF A LADY. It kept me glued in my place until I finished it! Can you tell us about this story?
Anna, thanks for inviting me, it’s wonderful to be here. I do love a good margarita (especially if it comes with a sexy gladiator!).
I’m glad you enjoyed reading THE UNMASKING OF A LADY – I had a lot of fun writing it! The heroine, Arabella Knightley, is an earl’s granddaughter and heiress who spent several years in London's slums when she was a child. Arabella has a secret: by day she’s a lady, but at night she helps the poor--stealing jewels from those who court her for her money but disdain her for her past. The hero, Adam St Just (one of London's most eligible bachelors), is bored by polite society; uncovering the altruistic thief's identity is an interesting diversion. But he discovers there’s far more to the infamous Miss Knightley than he ever imagined!
I loved the rich Regency detail in your story and you ventured quite a way off the beaten track in parts of THE UNMASKING OF A LADY. So we get the ballrooms of Mayfair but we also visit the slums of Whitechapel. Can you tell us a bit about your research?
To capture the flavour of the slums, I read a lot of excerpts from Charles Dickens. He had first-hand experience of London’s slums, not long after the Regency, and described them vividly! For example, this description of a kennel (gutter) from OLIVER TWIST: The kennel was stagnant and filthy. The very rats, which here and there lay putrefying in its rottenness, were hideous with famine. You can practically smell it!
You are a woman with an alter-ego, a bit like your heroine Bella in THE UNMASKING OF A LADY. By day, you write Regency historicals for Harlequin Mills and Boon as Emily May and by night, you write fantasy novels as Emily Gee. Is there a difference in your two incarnations? What do you get out of each genre?
The main difference is that with the fantasies I can make up everything (although I still research many things, e.g. weaponry), whereas with the Regencies I’m writing about an established world that is beloved by many people. I adore the Regency period and I do my absolute best to get the details right!
What’s coming up next?
I’ve just started a new Regency, about a penniless spinster who writes titillating tales in order to earn money. The hero (who’s recently returned from Waterloo) sets out to discover the anonymous author’s identity. What’s fun about this project is that I get to write some of those titillating tales myself!
How interesting! It's another hidden identity story (I love those too!). Can't wait to read it. Can you tell us about your writing journey?
It was long and slow, Anna. I didn’t sell until my sixth book (a fantasy novel). I subsequently sold the fifth and fourth books, but the first three will never see the light of day. All part of the apprenticeship!
Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Short, but simple: Don’t give up!
You’re an avid traveller! I was particularly fascinated by reading about your stint in Antarctica (wow!). Do you have any favorite destinations and have you found any of your travels have specifically inspired your stories?
There are so many places I’d like to go back to, Anna! Italy, Syria, and Egypt jump to mind first, along with Scandinavia, but I’d also love to go back to the American southwest—the scenery there is stunning! Bits and pieces of landscapes have certainly found their way into my fantasy novels, as well as details from European medieval towns. I think all experiences are useful for an author!
Thanks so much, Emily! Love your answers. Is there anything you'd like to ask the Bandits and Bandit Buddies to get the conversation started?
The heroine of THE UNMASKING OF A LADY could be called a female Robin Hood: she steals from the wealthy to give to the poor. What’s your opinion of Robin Hood? Was he a hero, or a villain? (And do you like his tights?) One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive a copy of THE UNMASKING OF A LADY!
Wow, that's great, Emily! OK, people, get commenting and may the best Bandit Buddy win. You'll LOVE this book!