by Anna Campbell
Miranda Neville is such a favorite in the lair, she hardly needs any introduction - but she'll punch me if I don't say something and while she punches like a girl, it's still not the best look for authors at their professional best (snork!).
Miranda is an international explorer and conservationist who has been known to give Bear Grylls tips. She can whip up a three-course cordon bleu meal from two cans of baked beans, a bottle of Coke and an onion. When she's not advising the CIA on their undercover missions or showing the Queen how to wave, she can be found rescuing puppies from fast-flowing streams and wrapping Christmas presents for local orphans.
If you want to discover more about the wonder that is Miranda, please visit her website: http://www.mirandaneville.com/
Miranda, as you know, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my hands on THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON. THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT was one of my top handful of reads last year and I feel like it’s been a long while between drinks (impatience is my middle name). Can you tell us about this story?
May I mention how much I love you, Anna? (And thanks for inviting me to schmooze with the Banditas: it’s always a blast).
If you’ve been following the Burgundy Club series, you will have met Tarquin Compton, the snooty dandy. Among the victims of his biting tongue is Celia Seaton, whose suitor was scared off when Tarquin compared her to a cauliflower. After the unfortunate vegetable incident, Celia went through hard times, culminating in the loss of her job as a governess. Then she’s kidnapped, robbed and left in a cottage attic, stripped to her shift. Being an enterprising girl, like any good heroine, she manages to escape.
The door to the humble structure was blocked, by a body. The body of a man lying unconscious, wearing nothing but breeches and a pair of riding boots. It had been some years since Celia had seen the bare torso of a grown man, and never a white man. He was pale, as befit a man who was always dressed up to his neck, but the smattering of dark hair, covering the chest and descending in a vee over his flat stomach, didn’t disguise the fact that the skin covered well-formed muscles. This interesting masculine form distracted her only a few seconds from the astonishing fact that she knew him.
And although he was one of several men who had bedeviled her life, she did not actually wish him dead.
Kneeling on the ground she set her fingers to his temple and found a pulse. “Mr. Compton,” she said. “Mr. Compton, wake up. Are you well?”
Nothing. She rested her head on his chest. Judging by the strength of his heartbeat, Mr. Tarquin Compton would live to cause further distress to awkward arrivals on the London marriage mart. She supposed she’d better try to revive him. And much as she detested the creature, she was curious to discover why the ton’s most fashionable gentleman lay half-naked next to a deserted Yorkshire cottage.
So what is Tarquin doing half-naked in the middle of nowhere? He certainly doesn’t know, because he’s suffering from amnesia. So Celia decides to go for a little payback by claiming that he is her fiancé, glorying in the name of Terence Fish. Together they set off across the moors, pursued by desperate villains.
Terence Fish!!!! I laughed out loud when I read that. You specialize in delicious different heroes. Sebastian in THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT was, shock, horror, a male virgin. And now we have an even rarer bird in Romancelandia, a dandy in the acid-tongued Tarquin Compton. Did you have any difficulties turning a dandy into a hero? What lessons has Tarquin learned by the end of the book? Seriously, he’s so due for his comeuppance! What makes an unusual hero appeal to you?
Since a dandy is all about external appearances, I decided to strip Tarquin of his clothes and his memory so we could see the man underneath the façade. Turns out he’s brave, honorable, affectionate, sexy, and good at catching fish. And then he gets back his memory and reverts to his snooty ways. He has to reconcile his social exterior with the man he was as Terence Fish. And Celia, who hates Tarquin and adores Terence, has to fall in love with him all over again. By the end of the book he has examined what made him a dandy and is no longer wants to be the disdainful leader of the ton.
I’d really love to write an uber-alpha rakish nobleman with an angsty past – I love to read about them – but somehow my heroes don’t turn out that way. Perhaps it’s because when I write I’m always looking for the unusual twist and it takes my characters into unexpected places. I also like to write about very strong, very smart heroines, who don’t take any crap from their men.
What’s next for you? More wonderful Burgundy Club books?
Minerva Montrose, Diana’s little sister from THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT, was a reader favorite. Her book, CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, will be out in April 2012. Minerva is very smart, very ambitious, and wants to marry an up-and-coming politician whom she can push up the greasy pole to be Prime Minister. Suffice to say, the best laid plans always go wrong.
Ooh, yum! Can't wait. Minerva was one of my favorite characters in THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT. I always ask you about interesting tidbits of research that turned up when you’re working on your books. Did anything unusual take your fancy when you were researching THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON? Did I see a mention of an erotic manuscript on your website?
Celia’s “amorous education” comes from a bawdy novel (and from Tarquin, of course). I used a real 1796 book that I read in the British Library. Here’s a snippet from where Minerva (remember Minerva? She reappears in THE AMOROUS EDUCATION) has discovered Celia reading the book.
Minerva slid down from the bed, carried The Genuine Amours off in triumph to the far side of the room and settled on the stool next to her dressing table. Celia waited in dread as the girl opened the book to the bookmark and began to read aloud.
"A man who seeks pleasure in casual f… Oh my goodness. I can’t say that word!”
“Then don’t. Stop now.”
“Never! This is fascinating. He can never find it but in the senses, while he who has love on his side, is stretched on the rack of delight, by those able ministers of pleasure, passion and imagination.” She looked up. “That seems a proper sentiment. The author advocates the act of you-know-what only when love is present.”
“Believe me,” Celia said. “He does not practice what he preaches.”
Miranda, a little birdy tells me you’ve set up in competition to the Bandits by joining a group blog! The cheek, I say! Would you like to tell us about this new endeavor? Wanna rooster?
We couldn’t ever hope to emulate the Bandits. A group of Regency authors (Tessa Dare, Katharine Ashe, Gaelen Foley, Sarah MacLean, Sabrina Darby and moi) have started The Ballroom Blog. (www.TheBallroomBlog.com). We don’t need a rooster (and c’mon, you guys would miss him!) because we have a very rude parrot called Albert who belongs to our hostess, Lady Beaufetheringstone (pronounced Batman). We’re posting Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and hope everyone will stop by to join the dance.
I’ll be giving away a copy of THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON to a commenter on the blog. You can say something about my post, ask me a question (I promise to answer anything that won’t totally compromise me) or give me a recipe for a really great summer salad dish. It’s hot times in northern New England and I need cool inspiration!
Sounds great, Miranda! Get commenting, people. Good luck!