Jen: One of the first medieval romances I ever read was a Claire Delacroix book. When we were planning this historical week, I knew we had to ask Claire to be a part of the celebration. So, without further ado, our guest for day three of historical week — Claire Delacroix!
Claire: Bestselling and award-winning author Deborah Cooke has published over fifty novels and novellas, including historical romances, fantasy romances, fantasy novels with romantic elements, paranormal romances, contemporary romances, urban fantasy romances, time travel romances and paranormal young adult novels. She writes as herself, Deborah Cooke, as Claire Delacroix, and has written as Claire Cross. She is nationally bestselling, as well as a USA Today and New York Times’ bestselling author. Her Claire Delacroix medieval romance, The Beauty, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books.
Deborah was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library in 2009, the first time TPL hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and she was honored to receive the Romance Writers of America PRO Mentor of the Year Award in 2012.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Claire: The Frost Maiden’s Kiss by Claire Delacroix, which will be published in August, is the third medieval romance in my True Love Brides series. This series picks up the story of the siblings introduced in my Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy. The Frost Maiden’s Kiss is Malcolm’s story. Ravensmuir, the sister estate to Kinfairlie, collapsed into the sea in Vivienne’s book The Rose Red Bride, killing Tynan (Malcolm’s uncle) who had made Malcolm his heir. Malcolm had no means to repair his inheritance, and although he tried, he didn’t have the experience to administer it either. In Alexander’s book, The Snow White Bride, Malcolm left Scotland to become a mercenary in Europe, much to Alexander’s disapproval. The Frost Maiden’s Kiss begins four years later, when Malcolm returns to Ravensmuir, richer, wiser and embittered by what he’s seen and done. He sets to work rebuilding the keep, determined to make some good come of his experience. That’s when he meets Catriona. Used and abandoned, she’s alone and pregnant, maybe just as bitter as he is but determined to do best for her unborn child. Intrigued and attracted, Malcolm impulsively offers to marry her: he knows he’ll never love as he did once before, but he sees that he can do good for Catriona by making her son his heir and giving her a haven. Catriona, for her part, thinks little good of men, particularly those accustomed to using force to claim their desire. Malcolm appears to be a man of principle to her, and one who offers her a tempting choice. She’s sure he doesn’t need to know her history or the promise she means to keep, but past deeds will do more than haunt these two before their future is secure.
I always enjoy returning to Ravensmuir, a holding I first created in my medieval romance The Rogue, and this book is no different. There’s always a bit of a gothic feel to Ravensmuir and that continues in Malcolm’s story – he hears a mysterious maiden singing in the castle ruins, and is also watching for the return of the ravens to the keep. Catriona has nightmares about her past, and both see the ghost of Tynan, the previous Laird of Ravensmuir. There’s also the very earthly influence of a large, noisy family, and their determination to help the ones they love, even when their involvement isn’t entirely welcome. I’m having a great time with this book.
I’m also putting together a collection of my own shorter works. It’ll be called Beguiled and will be listed as both a Claire Delacroix book and a Deborah Cooke book. It should be out in July, and is the first time I’ve been able to gather these individual works together in one volume.
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Claire: Well, I always wrote stories. For as long as I can remember, I was scribbling something. In high school, though, I was told that being a writer of fiction was no way to make a living, and that I should make a practical choice of career, keeping my writing as a hobby. I took that advice but about ten years later, I decided to try to get my books published. I was reading historical romance, so wrote one of those. I also wrote a paranormal romantic suspense and a short sexy contemporary – that last one was because I’d heard they sold well. I had these three books in rotation: I’d revise one and send it out to a number of agents and editors, then revise the next one. In those days (around 1990) editors and agents wrote real rejection letters, often several pages worth of comments and suggestions, and replied within 3 months or so. I learned a great deal from those letters and after about two years of this, in April 1992, I came home from work to find a message on the answering machine from Tracy Farrell at Harlequin Historicals. She had my medieval, The Romance of the Rose. I knew she hadn’t phoned from New York to tell me that she hated the book, so I had a little squee before calling her back. I think I sounded reasonably calm, but maybe not. That book was published in March 1993, and was the first of eleven medievals I ultimately sold to Harlequin.
Jen: You write fantasy romance as Deborah Cooke and medievals as Claire Delacroix. How do you switch between the two genres? And why?
Claire: I like to write in a lot of different sub genres. I think that switching between them keeps my ideas fresher – when I return to 14th century Scotland after some time in the here and now with my dragon shifters, for example, I notice different details about Kinfairlie and the family, and see different threads to explore. So, the variety works for me. In terms of publishing, there are two different schools of thought about marketing works in different sub genres by the same author. One plan is to market everything under the same author name, but distinguish the sub genre with the cover art and design. The other – which used to be the more prevalent thinking – is that each sub genre of an author’s work should be distinguished not only by the cover art and design but by the author name (the brand). My having multiple author brands is a bit of a legacy from that kind of thinking. I have been trying to make stronger links between them, by amalgamating everything into a single website. I also eliminated one of my author brands (Claire Cross) when I republished the eight books originally published under that author brand: the time travel romances became Claire Delacroix books, and the contemporary romances became Deborah Cooke books.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Claire: No, just me. 🙂
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Claire: I’d go to France in the 12th century, and maybe tag along with a party headed to Palestine on crusade. It would be tempting to take things like aspirin, but I think I’d rather just go and avoid the anachronisms. I’d like to blend in to the crowd rather than be an object of curiosity.
Jen: On your blog, you have a knitting feature every week. Do you have a favorite project that you’ve done? What else do you do in your free time?
Claire: I do knit a lot, but my knitting is mostly about process: I enjoy the creation of each project. For example, I knit lace because it’s interesting and challenging, but my friend teases me that my finished lace shawls just live in the drawer with the cedar blocks. I’m trying to remember to dig out my knitting and wear it when it’s done. The sweaters I knit for my husband see the most action, because he wears them all. That’s pretty satisfying. I also work in my garden in summer, and like to cook.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Claire: After Malcolm’s book, I’ll be finishing the final book in the True Love Brides series: The Warrior’s Prize, which is Elizabeth’s book. After that, I’ll be finishing the final Dragonfire book, Firestorm Forever, which is Sloane’s book. I’m hoping to have both of these published in 2014. Then in 2015, it’s on to all new series! I can’t wait to dig in.