Jen: Today we welcome Brita Addams back to Romancing the Book. Brita, will you share a short bio with us?
Brita: Born in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. Brita’s home is a happy place, where she lives with her real-life hero, her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee.
She writes, for the most part, erotic historical romance, both het and m/m, which is an ideal fit, given her love of British and American history. Setting the tone for each historical is important. Research plays an indispensable part in the writing of any historical work, romance or otherwise. A great deal of reading and study goes into each work, to give the story the authenticity it deserves.
As a reader, Brita prefers historical works, romances and otherwise. She believes herself born in the wrong century, though she says she would find it difficult to live without air conditioning.
Brita and her husband love to travel, particularly cruises and long road trips. They completed a Civil War battlefield tour a couple of years ago, and have visited many places involved in the American Revolutionary War.
In May, 2013, they are going to England for two weeks, to visit the places Brita writes about in her books, including the estate that inspired the setting for her Sapphire Club series. Not the activities, just the floor plan.
A bit of trivia – Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, like the woman’s name, and oddly, not like the famous water filter.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Brita: My newest release is Tarnished Gold, which is set in the very early days of Hollywood—the 19teens, through the early 1930s. It’s the story of Jack Abadie, a young gay man from Louisiana and his quest for stardom.
In 1915, starstruck Jack Abadie strikes out for the gilded streets of the most sinful town in the country—Hollywood. With him, he takes a secret that his country hometown would never understand.
After years of hard work and a chance invitation to a gay gentlemen’s club, Jack is discovered. Soon, his talent, matinee idol good looks, and affable personality propel him to the height of stardom. But fame breeds distrust.
Meeting Wyatt Maitland turns Jack’s life upside down. He wants to be worthy of his good fortune, but old demons haunt him. Only through Wyatt’s strength can Jack face that which keeps him from being the man he wants to be. Love without trust is empty.
As the 1920s roar, scandals rock the movie industry. Public tolerance of Hollywood’s decadence has reached its limit. Under pressure to clean up its act, Jack’s studio issues an ultimatum. Either forsake the man he loves and remain a box office darling, or follow his heart and let his shining star fade to tarnished gold.
I also have For Men Like Us, which takes place during the Regency in England. You can find it at Dreamspinner Press. Just click the title to be magically transported.
After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.
The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.
When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.”
For the fans of Sapphire Club, old and new, I have a completely rewritten and re-edited Serenity’s Dream, which just came out in February.
Blurb for Serenity’s Dream – Lucien and Serenity
Serenity Damrill has returned to her husband, Lucien after a ten-year absence. She carries with her a secret that could destroy her life and possibly all that Lucien has built.
Lucien was quite happy in his life running the Sapphire Club and has no need for the frigid wife who deserted him the day after they were married.
Can Lucien teach Serenity that her fear of the marriage bed is unfounded? Will Serenity’s secret be the death knell for their marriage?
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Brita: You mean in the shower? Or while we take our afternoon walk? Or in the middle of the night? Or in the movie theater? Yes, I usually remember them or at least I remember that I have something that I need to remember. I keep pen and paper close at all times, save for in the shower, that gets messy. I always try to give myself a trigger so I can remember and usually it works. Usually.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Brita: In a word—intense. I read parts or all of a couple dozen books on every aspect of early Hollywood. From the creation of the studios to the parties the stars attended. I also studied the clothing, the inventions available at any given time, the modes of transportation and the time it took to get from here to there. What kind of restaurants existed and what did they serve. Cars and all the upgrades available. What theaters existed in what cities. The difference between a two-reeler and a six-reeler (depended upon the actor’s popularity, in part,) what décor was popular.
I combed websites concerned with grave sites of celebrities, watched endless YouTube videos of premieres in the early days, while I took notes on clothing, speech, surrounding, the crowds, etc. I studied the process undertaken in the conversion from silent films to talkies. I learned why some actors made the cut to talkies and others didn’t. Regional accents, squeaky voices, thick foreign accents, and the actor’s unwillingness to change all contributed to the success or failure of an actor to transition.
I read books on scandals, such as the deaths of directors, William Desmond Taylor and Thomas Ince. About Wallace Reid, Mary Miles Minter, Mabel Normand. I studied Sid Grauman and his famous theaters, including the Million Dollar Theater, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. I spent a lot of time reading about the 1929 stock market crash and all the ins and outs. This I did early on as it figures prominently in the story.
Lots of study, lost of reading, done over the course of six or seven months. Then, as things came up in the story, I’d research them as well—hospitals, train stations, street names, materials homes were made of at the time, distances from the train station to a particular locale. The research certainly didn’t end when the writing began.
Not only did I have to get the early days of Hollywood right, but each era has a certain atmosphere to it and I wanted to capture that as well.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Brita: I pull names from many different places. I keep a list of names—generic names that fit into any era—Charles, John, James, etc. You have to be careful not to give our modern names to characters in historicals. I’ve seen some of that done, and it will ruin a story very quickly.
Being a genealogist, I have combed old census reports for names and have a file of them. The uglier names I reserve for minor or mean characters, while the more attractive names are definitely lead character material.
In Tarnished Gold, for instance, I used some names from my family tree—Eric is my brother’s name, while Matthew is his son. Jack’s father is Wilfred, my husband’s grandfather’s name, while Jack’s brother is Andrew, Wilfred’s middle name. I also pulled in some names of neighbors from the days when we lived around the area that I set Jack’s home.
Jack grew up on Willswood Plantation, a sugar plantation that exists in name only now. Now, an elementary school sits on the site, but some of the structures still exist, including a large stone cistern.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Brita: My husband and I love the movies and we have date day every Friday, without fail. Usually nothing glamorous, a movie and dinner out, but that day is sacrosanct. No puppy sitting, no unexpected company. Just us.
While at home, I love to read and we have our television programs that we enjoy watching. We watch a lot of documentaries, usually with some historical content, and tons of period movies.
When have the opportunity, we travel, which we love. Long car trips or tropical cruises are our favorites. In May, we are going to fly to England and spend two weeks touring London, Scotland, and Wales. It is my dream trip, I’ve waited many years to do it. We can’t wait.
I used an estate in England as the setting for my Sapphire Club series and we are going to visit and tour it, which has me very excited. When searching for a setting, I knew I wanted a large estate and happened upon Holkham Hall, in Wells-Next-The-Sea (that’s really it!) I loved the niches in the walls and the expansive rooms and fashioned many rooms at the Sapphire Club after those I found in Holkham Hall. I can’t wait to take photos of my own.
We live a pretty simple life, but we do love to travel.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Brita: I’m working on several things at the moment. Currently, I’m finishing up my gay historical vampire story, originally Love Immortal, now Mysterious Moonlight. I got the rights back to the story and set to work with rewriting the story. It has already expanded by over 30k and it will be significantly longer when I’m finished. Then I’ll submit it to another publisher.
I’m writing another series, which will span 100 years, starting in 1754. I’m working on that one as I can, but it won’t see the light of day for a while though. It is a priority to get the first book in the series submitted by the fall, fingers crossed and if the creek don’t rise. Lots of research involved in the writing, but I think the story is solid.
I’ve also got the but to write another Hollywood based book, possibly with a secondary character from Tarnished Gold. I haven’t sketched it out yet, but it’s fomenting my mind.