Romancing History

Tag: author interview

Interview with Karen Witemeyer & a Giveaway

I’m so thrilled to welcome historical romance author and sweet friend, Karen Witemeyer to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of meeting Karen at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2016, but I’d been a fan of her books way before that. In fact, meeting Karen in person was similar to a little girl meeting her favorite Disney princess.

Karen’s newest release, In Honor’s Defense, released June 7 and is the 3rd book in her Hanger’s Horseman series. Here’s a link to my review on BookBub.

And don’t forget to visit the Giveaway section below and enter to win a print copy of In Honor’s Defense and a pair of bookish socks (sorry, giveaway open to U.S. residents only). Many thanks to Karen for her generous donation for our drawing.

Before we chat with Karen, here’s a little bit about her and her new book.


About Karen

For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Voted #1 Readers’ Favorite Christian Romance Author in 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, Karen is a multiple award-winning author and a firm believer in the power of happy endings. She is an avid cross-stitcher, tea drinker, and gospel hymn singer who makes her home in Abilene, TX with her heroic husband who vanquishes laundry dragons and dirty dish villains whenever she’s on deadline.

Connect with Karen:

The Posse (Karen’s FB Group)     Amazon     BookBub    Inspired by Life & Fiction Blog


About the Book

He’s Faced Countless Perils on the Battlefield, but Nothing so Dangerous as Falling in Love.

Luke Davenport has been fighting all his life–for respect, for country, and for those unable to fight for themselves. But now that his Horsemen brothers are domesticated, he’s left alone to battle the wildness within. When an opportunity arises to take a job on his own, tracking down a group of rustlers, he jumps at the chance.

Damaris Baxter has mastered the art of invisibility. Plain and quiet, she hides in books and needlework, content to be overlooked. Until her brother dies suddenly, leaving her custody of her nephew. She moves to Texas to care for Nathaniel, determined to create the family for herself that she never thought she’d have and to give him the family he desperately needs.

When Nate finds himself knee-deep in trouble, Luke’s attempt to protect him leaves Damaris feeling indebted to the Horseman. But suspicions grow regarding the mysterious death of Damaris’s brother. And the more questions they ask, the more danger appears, threatening the family Luke may be unable to live without.

Purchase at:

Amazon         Baker Book House        B&N         Christianbook.com


Interview with Karen Witemeyer

 

Fast Five

1. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? (I should warn you, there is only ONE right answer, LOL!)!

Colin Firth – He was my first Mr. Darcy and remains my favorite. (Excellent answer, Karen!)

2. Night Owl or Early Bird?

Early Bird. It’s rare for me to stay awake past 10:30 pm.

3. Dark or Milk chocolate? Dark.

4. Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife

Downton Abbey – although I only watched the first few seasons.

5. Kindle, Audio book, or Paperback?

Tough call – I use all three. I’ll go traditional, though, and say paperback.

Me, too, but I tend to listen to more audio books these days.

Q & A

RH: You’re a pretty well-known author to Romancing History readers. Rather than giving us the typical back of the book author bio, please share something quirky about yourself?

KW: Here are a few random quirks you might not know about me:

  • I love groan-worthy puns
  • I’m super competitive when it comes to board games (though my sweet disposition masks my desire to stomp my opponents into the ground)
  • I can’t start writing for the day until I’ve cleared out all the unread email in my inbox.
  • My feet are perpetually cold, so I always have a pair of socks on when lounging around the house.
  • In keeping with the previous item, I collect book-related socks.
  • I am a horrible horticulturist. Only the hearty survive.
  • I love avocados but hate guacamole.

RH: Those are absolutely fun quirks! As a member of the Posse, I’ve learned about your propensity for puns, which by the way, I also find very punny. I also knew you loved board games but had no idea you were so competitive. You are too sweet so I’m finding that very hard to believe. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your hubby meet?

KW: We met at church my freshman year in college. I recognized his roommate from a church camp reunion I attended back in California where I was from, and the three of us became good friends. My husband often led singing at our church, and one Sunday I happened to be sitting in the pew next to him when he was leading singing (we were not yet dating). After services, an elderly member came up to shake his hand and asked to be introduced to his wife – indicating me! It became a joke with us until the day we went out to lunch to celebrate our faux anniversary and Wes admitted he had true feelings for me and wanted to change our faux dates into real ones. Things progressed from there, and this month we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. The happily-ever-after is still in full swing.

RH: Aww, that is such a sweet story. Friends is the best way to start. It’s the foundation of everything. Speaking of love—well, book love anyway—I have LOVED the Hangar’s Horseman series. Matt and his compadres are swoon worthy heroes. Can I be terribly indiscreet and ask if you had a favorite horseman?

KW: That’s such a hard question! I love them all for different reasons. Matt for his courage, leadership, and dependability. Mark for his ability to tease and laugh while still being a man of depth. Jonah for his quiet strength, compassionate nature, and the way he never shirks away from something just because it’s hard. Luke for his protective nature, sacrificial spirit, and dedication to God’s Word. If I had to pick, I’d probably pick Luke because he is freshest on my mind, and because I’m a sucker for a wounded hero. Luke’s backstory made me ache to write him the sweetest happy ending I could.

RH: Hahaha! Aren’t I mean? I agree that was a hard question and I would’ve answered the same—with a wonderful reason why each would deserve the title of  “My Favorite Hanger’s Horseman Hero.” That’s probably because you excel at writing swoon worthy heroes. That brings another question to mind. What do you think is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

KW: I love writing the male point of view. Maybe because I like believing that I know what a man is thinking. Ha! However, it can be challenging to make the male POV sound authentic. I’m a natural explainer. I love giving lots of details and rationales. I like to look at things from all angles. Yet, when I’m writing in the male POV, I have to curtail these more feminine tendencies. Sentences must be shorter. Decisive. To the point. Fewer descriptions. More action. My cowboy heroes are not likely to be thinking in long, poetic phrases about their ladies, and they sure won’t be talking that way. Finding the balance between giving myself and my female readers the romance we want from our leading men while still being authentic to their characters requires a deft hand, one I’m constantly working to perfect.

RH: I think those are excellent points. While I love your humility, it would be hard to imagine anyone better at writing the male POV than you. Preach was a favorite of mine throughout the series and I was anxiously waiting to see who he’d “ride off into the sunset with.” Preach and his leading lady, Damaris Baxter, are very different characters in everything except faith. Does that make a romance easier or harder to write?

KW: I love to explore what brings people together, and while it’s a common idea that opposites attract, I’ve always believed that there must be some core commonalities beneath the differences to bind a couple together for a lifetime. So, while Luke and Damaris seem to be stark opposites—he an adventure-seeking soldier used to solving problems with guns and fists; she a quiet, proper lady used to escaping problems with books and needlework—they actually have several core commonalities. They both seek belonging and family, they both value God’s Word, and they both have a strong, protective instinct toward those they care about. This core common ground is what serves as the foundation for their relationship.

RH: Speaking of Damaris, she seems by far the most timid of all the ladies in the Hangar’s Horsemen series. Why did you choose that personality type for her?

KW: It’s challenging as an author to create fresh characters for every book. Each heroine needs to be unique. I love strong, feisty heroines, yet I believe there are different types of strength. Damaris has a quieter strength. She’s introverted and shy, content to be invisible in most situations, yet she has a steel core when it comes to family. She will never give up on them and do whatever it takes to keep them safe and heal their emotional wounds. Luke looks like a mountain of a man from the outside—tall, muscular, good in a fight—yet deep down he carries hidden vulnerabilities that convince him he is not worthy of being loved or having a family. Damaris is timid on the outside, but she is an emotional lioness inside. The two fit together perfectly, each having what the other needs to be whole.

RH: I love that. Do you have a favorite quote from In Honor’s Defense?

KW: This is one of my favorites:

“He’s a Horseman…As opposite from my quiet bookish existence as one can be. Yet he actively seeks my opinion. Not only seeks it but honors it. Honors me. He looks at me as if I were a rare treasure he’d never thought he’d find, and when I look at him…It’s as if all my odd, misshaped edges finally fit somewhere.”

That is a great quote, and fits in perfectly with what we’ve been talking about—how opposites attract but need a common foundation to support the relationship, often fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle only the other can complete.

Just for fun, here’s one of my favorite quotes from In Honor’s Defense:

“I’ll stay as long as you need me.” The promise he made days ago reflected in his eyes.

Her heart thumped out the question she didn’t have the courage to ask out loud. What if I need you forever?

RH: Sigh. That quote still gives me goosies! This is the final installment of the Hangar’s Horsemen series. Did that make it bittersweet to write? Or is there a certain satisfaction in bringing their stories to completion?

KW: It’s always hard to say goodbye to favorite characters, yet I find great satisfaction in bringing a series to its conclusion. I loved bringing all the Horsemen back together in this story, giving them all a final moment to shine and celebrating the special bond of brotherhood they share. I like to imagine them continuing to live and love and adventure together as they raise their children and overcome the obstacles of life. They live on in my heart, hopefully inspiring me to be brave, to stand up for those the world dismisses, and to hold tight to the relationships that matter most.

RH:  Dang, Karen, you’re gonna make me cry. Whenever I tell my husband that a character’s story is making me teary, he asks if we should pray for them? LOL! But, I suppose that’s because the author has skillfully made them come to life, made them our friends and we’re deeply invested in their lives (a.k.a. stories). Any chance we can get a sneak peek at what’s next for you?

KW: I’m starting a new series where I will take familiar fairy tales and give them a Texas twist. I’m working on a version of Snow White first, featuring a Texas Ranger hero, a villainess with a fondness for mirrors, and seven retired drovers at the Diamond D ranch. Should be fun!

RH: That’s such a great idea! I loved how you did you put a Texas twist on A Christmas Carol in your novella, Under the Texas Mistletoe. I’m looking forward to your new series.

I had so much fun chatting with you, Karen. Thanks for visiting with my readers today.


Giveaway*

Karen has graciously offered an autographed copy of In Honor’s Defense and a pair of bookish socks to one Romancing History reader.** To enter, tell me your first Karen Witemeyer story.

*Giveaway ends at midnight, June 29, 2022.
**Sorry, giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Author Interview with Heidi Chiavaroli and a Giveaway

If you’ve been following Romancing History for a while, you know I”m a huge fan of timeslip (also known as dual timeline) fiction and no one does it better in my humble opinion than by guest today, Heidi Chiavaroli.

Heidi’s latest release, The Orchard House, will not only appeal to fans of timeslip novels but also to fans of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women.

Now that I’ve got your curiosity peaked, let’s learn a little more about The Orchard House before we chat with Heidi. Oh, and don’t leave without entering to win a print copy of The Orchard House by leaving a comment (see giveaway section for guidelines).


About Heidi

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Her latest dual timeline novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott’s life. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Website     Facebook     Instagram     BookBub     GoodReads


About the Book

Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women.

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

To purchase The Orchard House, click here.


Author Interview

Fast Five

  1. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? Considering I had to look up what Get Smart was, I’d have to say I Love Lucy!
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chip…chocolate anything. 😉
  3. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen (RH: If I’d known this it may have been a deal breaker for the interview, just sayin’!)
  4. Football or Soccer? Football, only to watch of course, and likely only on Super Bowl night. ;0
  5. Run, Bike, Hike, or Swim? Hike!

 

Author Q&A

RH: What five words best describe Heidi apart from being an author?

HC: Introvert, grace-clinger, nature-lover (hyphenated words count as one, right?), contemplative, creative.

RH: Hyphenated words, definitely count. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

HC: This answer probably changes often for me, but this year it’d definitely be Louisa May Alcott. I’ve done so much research about her for the writing of The Orchard House that I would love to meet her. Maybe she could mentor me in my writing! 😉

RH: I think my answer would change as well. I think it would be very inspiring to meet Louisa May Alcott as well. What is your favorite historical romance novel and/or author? Why?

HC: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I loved this book because it didn’t ignore the gritty and the hard. Hadassah is the most admirable heroine I think I’ve ever met. Love her!

RH: Redeemeng Love, also by Francine Rivers, is my all-time favoirte story and one of the few novels I’ve read more than once. The Orchard House is your fifth book to release in five years. Can you give us a glimpse into your day? How early do you get up? Do you have dedicated writing time each day or is each day different? How do you juggle your writing life with work and raising a family?

 HC: I’m usually up by six and I spend some time reading and in prayer, followed by some yoga (spending all day at the computer is physically hard!). After my two teen boys are off to school (or these days, off to their rooms for classes), I get to work either writing, editing, or marketing. I have a trusty calendar with tasks to accomplish, and so I try to get something from each category accomplished each day, though that doesn’t always happen. Thursdays are designated cleaning days. I actually don’t schedule any writing-related things on Thursday so whatever I get done feels like a bonus!

When I’m on deadline, I will add in a word count for each day, and that always gets done first. (At least that’s the goal!) Before email, social media, etc.

I think the major key to juggling writing, family, and work, is to take my writing seriously. It is work. Then again, it’s just work. Family is more important and I try to set time aside (like Sundays and nights) where I don’t write. When I first got a contract, I didn’t do that. I would be on my computer trying to market in every conceivable way every night of the week. It was too much. Carving out time during the day while everyone else in my home is either at school or work and thinking of it as my “office time” at home is truly helpful. So are a lot of hikes in the woods. It’s downtime, but I’m still writing a story in my head. 

RH: True Confession: I’m very good about making schedules, but not so good about sticking to them. That is something I’ve been working on lately. I love to read time slip fiction. I’m curious to know, is it more challenging to write the contemporary or the historical thread in your novels? How do you weave them together so seamlessly?

HC: Each novel seems to be different. There’s no question the historical thread is more work, as it requires more research, and yet at the same time the research makes the writing easier because I’ve been immersing myself in the setting and characters for so long!

Weaving them seamlessly is definitely the hard part! I think starting off with an object that will connect the two time periods (like a book of poems in The Orchard House or like a tea chest in The Tea Chest) that definitely helps for me. It also helps to have my characters wrestling with similar inner struggles. So even though they may be centuries apart, they are coming alongside one another in their common problems.

RH: I’ve wanted to try my hand at writing timeslip fiction. Thank you for those tips. What is the inspiration behind your recent release, The Orchard House?

HC: Like so many girls and women around the world, I’ve always been captivated by the story of Little Women—a seemingly simple domestic tale that, with its timelessness, explores the complexities of family, friendship, and love. But there was something else that made this tale come alive for me—a childhood visit to the very place where Louisa wrote her beloved story. Orchard House brought Louisa and her novel alive in a new way. I remember being completely captivated by this place where these fictional (and real life) heroines lived, of beholding the very desk where Louisa wrote her masterpiece. For a child who loved this story, and books in general, this made a real impression on me.

Setting out to write a story involving Louisa and Orchard House, I dug through her biographies, journals, and letters for some interesting, lesser-known morsel about this famed author. When I learned about her time as a nurse in the Civil War, her experiences nursing a certain young blacksmith for whom she held strong feelings for but who would end up dying, and her subsequent near-death experience with typhoid shortly after, I knew I’d stumbled upon something. I thought it might be interesting to have my historical heroine, Johanna, be the sister of Louisa’s “prince of patients.” What if these two women struck up a friendship? What if Louisa offered her a way to Massachusetts? What if Louisa became a mentor to Johanna, who found herself in a difficult marriage?

From this storyline came the idea of women helping women, both in a contemporary story and a historical story. Themes of sisterhood, friendship, forgiveness, and helping the downtrodden—all themes in Little Women—were brought to the forefront of the book to further tie in and give honor to this much-loved story and author.

RH: I confess, seems I’m doing a lot of that in this interview, I haven’t read Little Women. I’ve only watched movie adaptions but I do love the characters. Hmmm, I better add that to my ‘to do’ list. Which scene in the The Orchard House was the hardest to write? Which was your favorite?

HC: The one hardest to write was at the end of Johanna’s storyline. I can’t really say more without a spoiler, but when readers get to it they will probably be able to understand why. I don’t often shy away from the hard, and that scene was definitely hard.

My favorite was actually the epilogue. Even though I knew how it would all come together, I felt it in that scene and thought it was special how Louisa played into it all.

RH: Oh I’m glad you didn’t give us any spoilers. I hadn’t thought of that when I posed the question and I’m currently listening on audio book,  which I highly recommend. Which secondary character in The Orchard House do you think will resonate most with readers? Why?

HC: I’m hoping Louisa May Alcott will resonate with readers! I did so much research, and really tried to do her character justice. I found out some little-known facts that I attempted to bring to light in the story, and so I hope readers find her as the interesting woman she was.

RH: I’m enjoying getting to know this literary icon as a woman. You are doing her great justice. Do you have a favorite quote from The Orchard House you’d like to share with Romancing History readers?

HC: I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but here’s one of my favorites from Louisa that is included in the book:

“When tired, sad, or tempted, I find my best comfort in the woods, the sky, the healing solitude that lets my poor, weary soul find the rest, the fresh hope, or the patience which only God can give.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

RH: That is a fine quote and one I whole-heartedly agree. I love to walk my dog and pray while enjoying His creation. What have you learned from writing The Orchard House? What do you hope readers will take away after finishing this book?

HC: I think this book has made me think a lot about my own spiritual walk. I’m hoping the themes of forgiveness, friendship, helping the oppressed, and finding a place to belong will resonate with my readers as these are all aspects found in Little Women and all things I’ve wrestled with over the last couple of years myself.

RH: I think those are timeless, universal themes that benefit us to visit over and over again. Thank you for visiting with us today, Heidi.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Taylor!

Heidi is graciously offering a print copy of The Orchard House to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell us which March sister (Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy) was your favorite and why?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, February 17th, 2021**

Interview with Author Jen Turano and a Give Away!

I’m so thrilled to welcome historical romance author, Jen Turano, to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of meeting Jen at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat last spring. I think my jaw nearly came unhinged when she sat down at our table. I distinctly remember telling myself to “play it cool.” LOL! I don’t know if I managed to pull that off or not, but I did manage not to fall out of my seat so at least there’s that!

Jen’s newest release, Diamond in the Rough, released September 3rd and is the second book in her American Heiress series. Before we chat with Jen, here’s a little bit about Jen and her new book.


About Jen

 

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at www.jenturano.com or https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.


About the Book

 

 

To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble


Interview with Jen

 

Fast Five

Dogs or Cats? Dogs because, well, I don’t think that needs explaining.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee, but only one cup, two cups can make me rather…edgy.

Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth

Puzzles or Board Games? Board games – Clue being my favorite, although Al (husband person) is notorious for messing up the clue cards, which makes it all the more interesting.

Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music – I once sang the title song in a choir competition – had to dress in an outfit that looked exactly like Maria’s when she was twirling around in that grassy field.

Q & A

RH:  Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era(s) do you write in?

JT:  I’ve been married to Al for thirty years, and yes, of course I was super, super young when we got married – okay, not really, but that’s what I tell people. “Diamond in the Rough” is my twelfth full-length novel with Bethany House, although I do have two novellas with them as well, but I usually don’t count those. I write Gilded Age Historical Rom-Coms (romantic comedies) and have discovered that I’m a complete history nerd.

RH: I’m a huge history nerd, too something else we have in common. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

JT: I don’t like bacon.

RH: You don’t like bacon? Really? What about book boyfriends? Who is your favorite literary heart throb?

JT: Is it weird that I don’t have a favorite book boyfriend? Hmmm…

RH: Uh, yeah! LOL! Nah, its probably wise. Then you won’t have drool and ruin your book! LOL! Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your hubby, Al, meet?

JT: We met in a bar in Buffalo, NY – although I didn’t agree to go out with him at first. I actually accepted a date with one of Al’s friends instead. That date was only okay, but then I ran into Al at another event a few weeks later. He gave me this great smile, and we’ve been together ever since.

RH: Poor Al. You made him sweat a little. Your books make me laugh out loud. Are any of the funny incidents in your novels based on events from your real life?

JT: I seem to have a lot of run-ins with animals – I’ve gotten chased by dogs, peacocks, and had to rescue my son from a beaver pond when he sank in the silt. Horses are not my friends, they tend to like to chase me, and don’t even get me started on chickens – can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stalked by chickens.

RH: My, you really have had quite a few misadventures where animals are concerned. That definitely sounds like fodder for your one of your future heroines. What was the inspiration behind Diamond in the Rough?

JT: When I decided to write an American Heiress series, I knew it would be tricky to keep each story fresh, which is why I thought it would be amusing to include a heroine who was an unexpected heiress, and then throw her into New York high society.

RH: I love that twist. Who would you cast as the hero and heroine for your story?

JT: Hero would probably be someone like Clive Owen, while the heroine could be someone like, ah…Jennifer Lawrence? I don’t normally use images when I’m writing a story, nor do I give too many details about appearances because I want the reader to form their own image of what they think my characters look/act like.

RH: What fun! I can totally see Clive Owen as Reginald and Jennifer Lawrence as Poppy. I think its pretty cool that you don’t overload your readers with the physical description of your characters. I often see characters differently than an author paints them. Sometimes I’ll be reading along and the author will mention that the heroine is a brunette and I’m like, what? I could’ve sworn she had red hair!

In Diamond in the Rough, your heroine, Poppy Garrison, interacts with New York high society. What did you learn about the New York Four Hundred during your research?

JT: I do a ton of research about the Gilded Age, and with each book, I always learn something new – in this book, I ran across this mission house, The House of Industry, in Five Points. That establishment offered immigrants classes in English, while also offered school to children. They placed orphans when needed, provided job opportunities, and helped those immigrants transition to life in America.

RH: I’m such a history nerd and I’d never heard of The House of Industry before. That’s really interesting. I do know that etiquette was an important aspect of life in the Gilded Age. In Diamond in the Rough, Reginald Blackburn, agrees to give etiquette lessons to Poppy. Can you share some of the societal expectations for meals or balls that would’ve been part of his instructions?

JT: The quadrille dances were incredibly intricate – the young ladies and men who were chosen to participate in these were required to practice for hours on end, and then they had to go for fittings because each quadrille was really a stage production if you will, complete with costumes and makeup. As for the expectation for meals, it was not uncommon to have twelve courses served, which meant cutlery was excessive, and one had to learn how to properly negotiate around a table setting.

RH: Twelve courses? I can’t even imagine! I loved the opening scene in Diamond in the Rough when Poppy snags her tiara on her dance partner’s jacket. It must have been a challenge for the young women of Poppy’s day to learn all those intricate dance steps. What was your biggest challenge in writing Diamond in the Rough?

JT: Oddly enough, this particular book didn’t give me as much trouble as some of my books have in the past. Yes, the characters didn’t want to behave at first, but all in all, it was an easy write.

RH: Diamond in the Rough is the second book in your American Heiress series. Will any of the characters from Flights of Fancy make an appearance in book two? If so, who can we look forward to seeing again?

JT: Miss Beatrix Waterbury is seen throughout the book, and then she’ll get her story in book three, “Storing Up Trouble.”

RH: I really like it when characters reappear throughout a series. What do you hope readers will take away from Diamond in the Rough?

JT: I always hope readers will take away a few chuckles with any of my books, as well as enjoy a few amusing hours spending time with my quirky characters.

RH: I had so much fun chatting with you, Jen. Thanks for visiting with my readers.

JT: Thanks for having me Kelly!!  Always fun.


Giveaway

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

Congratulations to our winner, Mandy Bentley!!!

Jen has graciously agreed to give away a paper copy of Diamond in the Rough to one Romancing History reader. To enter the giveaway*, tell us if you’ve had the opportunity to read one of Jen’s novels, and if so, which is your favorite.

*Giveaway ends midnight, September 11, 2019.

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