Jen: Please help me welcome Elizabeth Boyle to Book Talk! Elizabeth, will you please share a short bio with us?
Elizabeth: Short? Remember, I write looooong historical romances, so I am never very good with short. But if I must, I was born and raised in the Seattle area. Having lived around water all my life, it was normal that I would become a pirate hunter, as in a paralegal for a software firm hunting, what else, software pirates. This training ground proved to be a perfect place to gain my qualifications for writing about rakes, spies and privateers. I currently write full-time, have been married forever to the same wonderful man and have two busy heroes-in-training to keep up with.
Jen: Tell us about How I Met My Countess and where it’s available.
Elizabeth: How I Met My Countess is the first book in a small spin-off series from my popular Bachelor Chronicles books. It all revolves around three widows who all married the various heirs to the Duke of Hollindrake. So they all have the same dowager title, Lady Standon and none of them get along. So the current Duchess of Hollindrake has them banished to live in the same house. If they want out, they have to get married. So it tells the story of how the best revenge is to marry and marry well—though of course by falling in love.
The fun part of this story is of course, the heroine. Because the hero is so positive what sort of lady he will eventually–marry, refined, aristocratic, elegant—and then he meets Lucy, who is anything but. At first they cannot stand each other, but of course, they fall in love. The other interesting part was bringing back two characters I’ve always found fascinating—The Earl of Clifton and his illegitimate brother, Malcolm Grey, who both worked as spies during the Napoleonic wars. We last saw the two of them in This Rake of Mine, and the fun part (or tragic, depending on if you’ve read the other book) is that How I Met My Countess takes place before This Rake of Mine and years later. So you see the two men before they became spies and then what the longs years of war wrought.
How I Met My Countess is available everywhere now. So watch for it in your local grocery store, favorite bookstore or order it online for convenience.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Elizabeth: I’ve been scribbling and telling stories since I was a child. Starting with imaginary friends, to bad teenage poetry, to short stories in college. I got serious after college when I discovered that you have to get up to go to work. Every. Day. I thought writing would provide a way to sleep in. Eventually I had kids and ruined that fairy tale.
My call story? Oh, I have a very unique call story. I sold my first book, Brazen Angel, in a writing contest in 1996. Now first I got the call that I was one of five finalists—out of 200 entries, then I had to wait five months for the winner to be announced at a luncheon at the RWA National Conference. The problem was, when I got the call, I only had three chapters, not the entire book finished as the contest required. So I had about eight weeks to finish the book. The entire story of this remarkable tale makes up what I call, My Favorite Hero (http://elizabethboyle.com/fave-hero.html), which is truly the story of how my husband saved my writing career.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Elizabeth: Family legend says I am related to Mark Twain, so I suppose that counts. But I am the first in recent memory, though storytellers abound in my family. We all tell stories, about family history, people we meet and the madcap things that happen. They all get embellished and enlivened and it makes family dinners a real adventure for the uninitiated. As for sitting down and typing out all those tall tales, I have a nephew who is an aspiring writer, and from the small amount I have seen, he has talent, so watch out for him.
Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Elizabeth: My folks couldn’t be prouder, and my mom is the biggest booster of my books—she pushes them everywhere. My dad likes to go the grocery store and move my copies into the bestseller slots. My husband likes that I get to stay home and work, while my oldest son loves that fact that I travel from time to time and can often be convinced to take him with me. Now around deadline time, they all avoid me, which is probably for the best.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Elizabeth: Adventurous, passionate, and surprising.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Elizabeth: Plot. I don’t believe in the flow or pants method. I liken that to taking a trip by showing up at the airport and expecting the entire adventure to be waiting for you in baggage claim.
Jen: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to your experience? If so, how?
Elizabeth: I think it has, but I’m not sure how. I would like to think it has matured, only because I started writing in my early thirties and I am now starting to get closer to fifty. Time flies, things change subtly and overnight. It is rather like how those ten or so pounds of weight creep up on you. I mean, you know how they got there, but not really. Make sense?
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Elizabeth: I love names. I collect them like some people collect snow globes. There are names I find by meeting people who have a great name, (I love nametags on salesclerks, and am not above asking people about their name). I’ve also taken names from street signs, in fact, I built the entire Bachelor Chronicles series off a freeway exit sign! (Sedgwick, Tremont and Clifton, Right in half a mile). And some times characters just sort of arrive on the page, all named and ready to get busy.
Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Elizabeth: Some do, some don’t. Depends on the book. Secondary characters seem to haunt me more than the primary characters. I love my secondary characters cause they can be such characters in the true sense of the word. I tend more to dream about living people, like Matthew Perry. Not sure, but I spend a lot of time with him in my dreams.
Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Elizabeth: Oh, I would love to spend a year at Queen Elizabeth’s court or Henry the VIIIth court. But during the early part of their reigns, when they were young and the court around them thrummed with excitement. And what would I take? Well since there would be no electricity, I suppose my espresso machine would be a waste. So probably antibiotics, my alphasmart—since it will run for a good year on AAs– and instant coffee.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Elizabeth: Currently I am reading Silent On The Moor, by Deanna Raybourn. I love this Victorian series. I am also a huge fan of Georgette Heyer, having discovered her late in life—but lucky for anyone who finds her, she wrote a vast number of books so the shelves of her stories are taking me a while to get through. I also love Laura Joh Rowland, who writes the Sano Ichiro mystery series set in feudal Japan, as well as Margaret Frazier’s Dame Frevisse mystery series. I love historical mysteries, as well as romance. Picking a romance author I love is hard, because I read all over and love most of them.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Elizabeth: Knit. And then I cruise Ravelry (ravelry.com), which is Facebook for knitters, and then I knit more. But I also love to cook, garden, hang with the kids, watch movies and knit. You can probably see a theme here.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Elizabeth: Finishing up the widow books. I am just putting the final touches on Book Two, Mad About the Duke, which is a mistaken identity story (I love these) and then will write the third one, which hasn’t got a title yet, but is spinning around in my head like a cross between The Thin Man, with a bit of mystery and one of those fabulous 30s screwball comedies.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Elizabeth: At my website, on Facebook and MySpace, as well as Ravelry, if anyone is a knitter.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Elizabeth: Because I love having big goals, and lists and ideas that I am working toward, what are the ten things you want to do in 2010? Also check out the free 2010 calendar (http://www.elizabethboyle.com/books/main.html#calendar) you can download from my website.
Jen: Elizabeth, thank you for being our first guest of the new year. Readers, one lucky winner will receive hard back, special editions of Confessions of a Little Black Gown and Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. To enter the contest, you first need to leave a comment or question for Elizabeth. Then to complete your entry, either include your email address in your comment or send a message to email@example.com. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, January 10.