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A Chat with the Fabulous Jane Wenham-Jones

My guest today is an amazing, multi-talented woman, who knows how to put people at ease, make any interview shine AND write a damn good novel! Please welcome the fabulous Jane Wenham-Jones!

KD: Jane, you truly are a woman of many talents. Your website is very inspiring, especially your story! Fiction, non-fiction, columns, mags, telly, radio. I have to ask, which part of being Jane Wenham-Jones, multi-talented professional woman, do you like best?

JANE: My problem is that I love it all and there aren’t the hours in the day! I really do enjoy interviewing other writers and doing the presenting/chairing panels events, that I do at Guildford Book Festival, Romantic Novelists’ Association conference etc. Would love to do more of that. I just co-hosted the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards with Peter James. And then I’m doing an “in conversation with” Tim Bentinck (David Archer in The Archers) end of March – that will be fun too. But I have to say I’m feeling it’s time to start writing another book and ought to be chaining myself to the desk….

KD: What does Jane Wenham-Jones do for inspiration?

JANE: Gets out and about with a glass in her hand…

KD: I could paper my house with the rejections I received from agents before I finally got publishes, also without an agent. So your experience of getting published without an agent really resonated with me, as I’m sure it does with lots of writers. Do you think the un-agented route to publication is the maverick route or do you think it’s the wave or the future?

JANE: I think it may be the necessity of the future! It can be really hard to get an agent and as you know (I tell the whole ghastly story in Wannabe a Writer?) I ended up with a two-book deal with Transworld, without one. But I always advise other writers to try their very best to get an agent first. I have one now and wouldn’t be without her (even if she is terrifying – I don’t call her The Fearsome One for nothing).

KD: Which do you enjoy most, writing fiction or writing non-fiction?

JANE: I think I find non-fiction easier! But it is very satisfying to sit and look through a novel one’s dreamt up oneself.

KD: You said on your website that you find writing novels very difficult, what do you do to ‘make it happen?’ Have you worked out a specific method that will get you there in spite of the difficulties?

JANE: I call it MIND THE GAP (again outlined in Wannabe a Writer? Sorry to mention that again but you don’t have to buy it dear reader – your library should have it) (If you’ve still got one of course :-/). Basically you keep going whatever happens and write yourself notes in capitals in the gaps….

KD: A lot of us writers are introverts and have to really fake the extroverted part of public readings and appearances. What about you? Do you fake it? You certainly make it look like the easiest most natural thing in the world.

JANE: I kept faking till it became real… Now I am the most dreadful show-off.

KD: Other than having your first novel published, what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in your writing life?

JANE: Oh gosh lots of things. I get excited quite easily. Getting my columns was lovely, writing my first non-fiction book. Blagging an invite to the British Book Awards and rubbing shoulders with all those fabulous authors. Interviewing some big name writers at Guildford Book Festival. Being booked to speak about writing, on a cruise ship headed for Barbados…

KD: Wow! Definitely sounds like you have a lot of exciting things to choose from! Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

JANE: My own murky past mostly.

KD: In your book, Wannabe a Writer?, you’ve got over a hundred contributors who are writers, some quite famous, like Jilly Cooper and Frederick Forsyth – nothing like advice from the best! What, in your opinion, is the best piece of advice any of the writers who contributed to Wannabe a Writer? gave?

JANE: Oooh you’ve mentioned it now! Well done 

Well I rather liked Michael Buerk’s tho my mother was horrified. The best advice anyone can give to any writer is to WRITE. And quite a few said that in various different ways.
I liked Zoe Sharp’s advice too: Therapy’s cheaper!

KD: It definitely is! Tell us about your latest novel, Prime Time.

JANE: Prime Time is about PMT and Daytime TV and being a woman of a certain age who doesn’t want to give in to slippers and curlers just yet….
Here’s the blurb – it’s set in my home town of Broadstairs as well as in London.

Laura Meredith never imagined herself appearing on TV– she’s too old, too flabby, too downright hormonal, and much too busy holding things together for her son, Stanley, after husband, Daniel, left her for a younger, thinner replacement.

But best friend Charlotte is a determined woman and when Laura is persuaded on to a daytime show to talk about her PMT, everything changes. Suddenly there’s a camera crew tracking her every move and Laura finds herself an unlikely star. Wined, dined, and pampered, she begins to see the charms of a younger partner herself. But as things hot up between her and gorgeous TV director, Cal, they’re going downhill elsewhere. While Laura’s caught up in a heady whirlwind of beauty treatments, makeovers and glamorous film locations, Charlotte’s husband, Roger, is concealing a guilty secret, Stanley’s got problems at school, work’s piling up, and when Laura turns detective to protect Charlotte’s marriage, things go horribly wrong.

The champagne’s flowing as Laura’s prime time TV debut looks set to be a hit. But in every month, there’s a Day Ten …

KD: Wow! Sounds like quite a romp! Definitely one for the must-read list. So tell us, what does 2012 have in store for Jane Wenham-Jones?

JANE: I guess I’d better do some work at some point…
I don’t know what the crystal ball shows but what I’d like is the editor of a national newspaper to phone me up and offer me an agony aunt column. I love doing “Talk it Over” for Writing Magazine and am now longing to get my teeth into some non-writing problems too. I see myself as a cross between Mrs Mills and Marje Proops – with attitude. Any takers?

KD: They’d be insane not to, Jane! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing good stuff about writing, reading, and your fabulous new novel, Prime Time! It’s been a pleasure having your.

Jane’s Website:

www.janewenham-jones.com

Buy Link for Prime Time:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prime-Time-ebook/dp/B006M0TUQC/ref=dp_return_1?ie=UTF8&n=341677031&s=digital-text

 

Food Memories with Victoria Blisse

I’m very excited to have the fabulous Victoria Blisse on A Hopeful Romantic today, talking yummy food memories and talking about her hot story, Tasty Italian. Welcome, Victoria!

I love food. I love to cook it and I certainly love to eat it. It’s something we all have to do every single day and eating is an integral part of many special occasions. Some foods we don’t only love because they taste delicious but because that experience reminds of us a special moment in life.

Burnt roast potatoes, oh, I’m sorry, well done roast potatoes reminds me of a Christmas when I was small and my sister was smaller. She was very passionate about potatoes and when a few weeks before the big day she got a potato with a burnt bottom she told our Nanna in no uncertain terms that such sloppiness would not be tolerated on the big day.

We have a photo taken around the table groaning with Christmas food and each of us wearing daft paper hats but with one strange addition. My sister grasping a fork in her hand proudly displaying the evidence. One roast potato with a burnt bottom.

Every year since I was four with very few exceptions I have been to Scarborough on the east coast of England for a holiday. The one thing I look forward to most is a jaconelli’s ice cream. Rich, sweet and creamy the real genius is in making it a lemon top and having a dollop of sharp lemony sorbet on the top of it. One of those ice creams and the scent and sight of the sea is contentment for my soul.

12 years ago I prepared a pavlova. I made the meringue base, whipped the cream and scattered the juicy ruby red raspberries over the top to make it glorious. I made it especially for my boyfriend of the time.  After eating his portion he proposed to me and now we’ve been married for eleven years. Pavlova is one of my most treasured desserts.

I’m pretty sure that the food item in the next excerpt from Tasty Italian will have become a definite food memory for Fiona and I’m sure you’ll be able to work out why!

 

 

Excerpt

“You’re a genius.” She smacked her lips. “This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten.”

Roberto beamed. “I knew you were a lovely girl the moment I saw you. You have great taste, mia bella, great taste!”

“So, have you been coming here long?” Carlo asked.

“Not so very long. I only came in for the first time last week.”

“Really? I thought you must have known Roberto all your life or something the way he goes on about you.” Carlo looked genuinely surprised.

“No, no, no. I knew I liked her the moment we met. Roberto gives his love freely, you can tell, you can taste love in my cheesecake and see it in my smile. Fiona is a special lady, Carlo, so look after her, okay?”

“Oh, Roberto.” Fiona giggled. “I’m so glad I gave in to the urge for garlic bread last Friday, you’re lovely.”

Even so, she was rather taken aback. She’d never inspired such instant admiration in a person before and some people might have found him a little bit overwhelming. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit she probably was a little overawed. He wasn’t creepy, though, and it was wonderful to be pampered. She hadn’t felt so cherished for a long time, not since her mum passed away.

“Shall I leave you two alone?” Carlo asked playfully.

“Oh hush, you silly boy, I am old enough to be her papa. She is too beautiful for an old man like me. You, you are more her style.”

“She is too beautiful for me, too but it does not mean I will not try, you know?”

Fiona didn’t know where to look or what to say, so she took a quick mouthful of cheesecake so she wouldn’t have to say anything. Roberto was being his usual extravagant self, but she just wasn’t sure about Carlo. Was he genuinely interested in her or was he just playing along to keep in his boss’s good books?

“You’re embarrassing her, Carlo, do behave will you? You’d never see me being so extravagant with my affection.”

Carlo, Fiona and Roberto all broke into peals of laughter and continued to devour their desserts.

“I can’t eat another mouthful.” Fiona gasped when she’d eaten just over half of what she had on her plate.

“I shall put the leftovers in a box for you to eat later then, love, okay?” Roberto said.

“No, really, you don’t have to, I really shouldn’t.”

“Oh, hush, hush, you take it, you eat it. It’s good for you, keep those curves soft and appealing, okay? No arguments.” He stood and carried her plate away.

Fiona looked at Carlo.

He just shrugged. “Best just to go along with him, it’s easier. Now, I better get on. I’ve enjoyed eating you, I mean, sorry, I mean with you, my English needs work.”

“No problem.” Fiona smiled. “Your English is brilliant and one hundred per cent better than my Italian!”

“Ah, maybe I shall teach you my words and you can teach me yours, yes?” Carlo smiled.

“Sounds good to me, Carlo.” Fiona yawned and delicately covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh, but now I think I need to get home to bed.”

Fiona was sure Carlo’s look resembled a leer for a moment but then he was all smiles and leading her to the door.

“Good-bye Fiona,” Roberto shouted and rushed across the restaurant towards her. “I will see you next week, yes?”

“Yes, certainly. I can’t keep away.”

Bellisimo,” he cried and leant in to kiss Fiona on both cheeks.

She responded in somewhat of a daze as she hadn’t been expecting kisses. “I shall look forward to it. Well, maybe I’ll see you next Friday, Carlo.”

“Oh, you for sure will.” He unlocked the door. “I always work here in the evenings while I live with Roberto. It’s to pay my rent, you see.”

“All right then, I’ll see you next week.”

She shuffled forwards anticipating Carlo opening the door, but he stepped back. They crashed into one another.

“Oh, sorry.” He grabbed Fiona around the tops of her arms. “I’m so clumsy.”

“No, no, it was my fault,” she replied, holding her hands in fists as she fought the urge to reach around his waist and pull him close. “I’m sorry.”

“An accident.” He grinned, then leant forward to kiss one cheek then the other.

Fiona’s skin blossomed with heat with each touch of his lips, her nostrils flared to take in his spicy, male scent and her hands trembled with withheld desire.

“See you next week, Fiona.”

She expected him to pull back away but he didn’t. His gaze focused on her lips and split seconds before he did it she realised he was going to kiss her properly. She would have panicked but she didn’t have the time so she just accepted the press of his lips against hers.

If she had thought she felt hot before she was greatly mistaken. When his lips touched hers she felt as if her body was on fire. She pressed her lips harder against his to ease the burning in her veins but a moment later he pulled back just as she expected the kiss to deepen.

“Bye,” she whispered, her voice hoarse and her throat dry. She thought that maybe Italians did two cheek kisses and a snog as a regular thing.

 

To read more of Fiona and Carlo’s love story pick up Tasty Italian from Total-E-Bound. One lucky winner could win a copy though. Simply leave a comment about one of your food memories and you’ll be popped into a draw to win a copy of Tasty Italian.

Many thanks to the lovely KD for hosting me here today, I had a great time writing this and I look forward to reading all the food memory comments.

It was a yummy pleasure to have you on my site, Victoria, and you’ve made me VERY hungry! AND anxious to read Tasty Italian.

 

The Story Behind the Story of ‘To Touch The Knight’ by Lindsay Townsend

 

I’m very happy to have Lindsay Townsend at Hopeful Romantic to share a little of the truly fascinating story behind the story of her exciting novel, To Touch The Knight. Welcome, Lindsay! Do Tell!

Thank you so much, KD, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m chatting a bit about my forthcoming romance, ‘To Touch The Knight’, which is due out in July – not long now! KD asked me to cover the story behind the story of ‘To Touch The Knight’, which I’m delighted to do.

In my novel, the heroine Edith presents herself as a strange princess with her own seductive costumes, language and customs. One of my inspirations for this particular desperate deception was a real-life fake from the eighteenth century, the Princess Caraboo.

This ‘princess’ was a young woman who appeared in a Gloucestershire village in 1817, dressed in unusual clothes and speaking a strange language. Upon investigation by the local magistrate, it was discovered she called herself Caraboo and later a sailor said he knew her language and translated her story. Caraboo claimed to be a princess from an island in the Indian ocean, who had escaped after being captured by pirates.

The magistrate, Stephen Worrall, and his wife, took in Princess Caraboo. She lived with them for several weeks, famous and fêted by the local community.

In reality Princess Caraboo turned out to be Mary Baker, the daughter of an English cobbler. When the hoax was revealed due to her picture in the ‘Bristol Journal’ being recognized, the Worralls arranged for Mary to leave for Philadelphia.

Mary did go to America but returned later to England and died there. It was the story of her unusual deception that inspired a 1994 film, ‘Princess Caraboo’ and partly inspired my own novel, ‘To Touch The Knight’.

Taking the story of Princess Cariboo as a starting point, I wondered how it would be if a woman felt compelled by circumstances to undertake a similar deception, in the Middle Ages and with far higher life-and-death stakes, and so Edith was born.

My hero Ranulf  also has his own inner demons to defeat through the story. He is a fighter who must come to terms with his grief at the death of his wife and also a mystery surrounding her death. When Edith and Ranulf come together, they are both in different ways lost souls who find themselves through each other. It’s set against a period of massive trauma and change, too – just after the Black Death of 1348.

The so-called ‘Black Death’  was  known during the Middle Ages as either the plague or the pestilence. It’s now believed there were two main types of plague – bubonic (in which sufferers presented with huge pus-filled tumors or buboes) and pneumonic, spread in the air, which killed in less than three days. Both struck Europe from the far east in 1347, spreading swiftly from Italian ports through Europe and arriving in Britain in 1348. There was no known cure for any of the plagues and over a third of the population died. It was a terrifying time, made worse by the common belief that the disease was a judgment of God.

It was a dreadful time, but for the survivors it was also a chance to better themselves, particularly for peasants, for farm labor was in short supply. Edith decides to use the chance in another way, in order to save herself and her fellow villagers.

Thank you so much for having me today, KD!

I’d like to leave you, if I may, with the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter of my novel, ‘To Touch the Knight’.

Here’s the blurb:

As a pestilence sweeps medieval England, a low-born woman has only the sharpness of her wits–and the courage of her heart…

Edith of Warren Hemlet plays a dangerous game. At the knights’ tourneys across the land, among the lords and ladies, she is a strange foreign princess. But in the privacy of her tent with the other survivors of her village, she is but a smith’s widow with a silver tongue. They are well-fed, but if discovered, the punishment is death. And one knight–fierce, arrogant, and perilously appealing–is becoming far too attentive…

Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke cares little for tourneys: playing for ladies’ favors, when his own lady is dead; feasting, while commoners starve; “friendly” combat, when he has seen real war. Still, one lady captivates him–mysterious in her veils and silks, intoxicating with her exotic scents and bold glances. Yet something in her eyes reminds him of home…and draws him irresistibly to learn her secrets…

And here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, where Edith encounters Ranulf for the first time:

Edith was walking with the bundled sheets to the shallow, slow-moving stream when she realized that another was there before her. A man, big and muscled enough for a knight but not in armor, was sitting on the river-bank with his boots off, dangling his bare feet in the clear water.

Large, fine feet they were, too, and very clean. She stood in the shade of a young beech tree, shielded by its fresh leaves, and watched him; this nameless knight. He was new to her, and a pleasure to look upon, with a trim waist and good shoulders. He slowly kicked his legs in the water and she noticed the dark swirls of down on his calves, less lustrous and straighter than his fair-going-to-russet shaggy, badly-clipped hair. She wondered if the tiny dark fish were nibbling his ankles and laughed softly at the foolish idea. He was handsome, she conceded, if long, clean-shaven features as regular as a mason’s new carving of a king were to one’s taste – and they were to hers. On his feet, standing proudly on the daisy and speedwell studded grass, he would be tall as a castle keep, but wiry, with a rangy strength she admired when he skimmed a pebble across the river.

Here’s where you can find Lindsay:

Lindsay Townsend, historical romance. http://www.lindsaytownsend.net

or follow me at Twitter: @lindsayromantic

 

Thanks for stopping by, Lindsay!  It was lovely to have you. ‘To Touch The Knight’ sounds like a fabulous read — even more so now that we know the story behind the story.  I’ll now be waiting anxiously to July to get my copy!

 

Erotica, the Ultimate Safe Sex

I once sat through a reading of four fairly well-known romance writers, who had great stage presence, read beautifully from their new best sellers, and answered the audience’s questions with the level of expertise one would expect from people who make their living as writers. That is until they were asked about writing sex.

There was a frisson of embarrassment across the stage and a lot of shifting and shuffling and throat clearing as all four made excuses for why they were uncomfortable writing sex and therefore didn’t do it if they could avoid it. Then the question was dismissed with all the gravity a question about the proper shade of lippy might have been.

I wanted to shout, ‘This is sex! It’s the biggie! It’s what romance leads to! It’s what made us all! Beyond the shouting, sex is the powerful leveler of persons that strips us of our facades and brings us down to the deepest part of ourselves, and occasionally the best part. It exposes our animal nature with all its crudeness and all its charm. Sex is one of the best ways for a reader to get to know a character. With that in mind, I can’t imagine why all writers aren’t dying to write their next sex scene.

I appreciate a good sex scene in a novel – any novel – because sex in fiction, no matter how dangerous, is always safe sex. I enjoy writing erotica because it allows me, and my reader, to experience sex vicariously, safely, in ways we would never experience it in the real world. In some cases it’s only to see what the appeal of being there is. In other cases it’s the fulfillment of fantasy on the written page done safely without leaving the comfort of the recliner. For me, as writer and reader, there’s also the added excitement of sharing fantasies with total strangers.

I’m told I don’t look like the type of woman who would write erotica, but the more I write, the more I wonder why the type of woman who writes erotica shouldn’t be Everywoman. We all have fantasies, and I can speak first hand as to how hot it is to write those fantasies down – in detail. No one needs to read them but ourselves. Hey, it’s a cheap sex toy – a piece of paper and a pen – a hot pink one, maybe??? It’s safe sex at its best. The world of the written page has always allowed us to walk in other dimensions, other realities, other times, and to see the world through the eyes of other people. Why shouldn’t sex be included in those other realities?

Coming home from the States on a night flight a couple of weeks ago, unable to sleep, I found myself watching the film, The Ugly Truth, with Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigle. Butler’s character is trying to help Heigle’s character develop a relationship with a hot doctor. He asks her how often she masturbates. Horrified, she says she doesn’t do that sort of thing, to which he replies, ‘If you don’t want to make love to yourself, what makes you think anyone else will want to?’

According to Wallace Shawn, “Sex really is a nation of its own. Those whose allegiance is given to sex at a certain moment withdraw their loyalty temporarily from other powers. It’s a symbol of the possibility that we might all defect for one reason or another from the obedient columns in which we march.”

I’ll admit it; I’m a defector to that nation of sex. It’s a large nation with lots of room, and I’m inviting everyone I know to defect and enjoy.

You can read Wallace Shawn’s great essay about writing sex here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/jun/20/wallace-shawn-writing-about-sex

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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