Today I am so excited to welcome author Gayle Callen to the blog. Gayle is here promoting the release of her newest book Every Scandalous Secret and I just loved it. You can see my review for it here. Gayle was kind enough to let me ask her some questions and I'm excited to share them with you all.
First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
My name is Gayle Callen, and I write Victorian historical romances for Avon Books. I've been writing ever since I was a kid, but it wasn't until I had babies who napped that I was able to make up my mind to try to publish my work. Even then, it took me thirteen years to sell my third completed manuscript in 1998. Every Scandalous Secret is my 25th book. I also write medievals as Julia Latham.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I wrote stories that were passed around by my friends in high school. But I went to college thinking I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. Uh…designing a new part by next month? I don’t think so. So I went back to writing.
What kind of writer are you? Panster or Plotter?
Definitely a plotter. Notice the “aerospace engineering” reference above. I love details and plans and maps and character Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts. I spend as much time plotting the book as I do writing it. I need a blueprint to follow when I’m writing, although I still have to figure out a lot of the book as I go along, but at least I know the main scenes.
Why write a book in the Victorian era? What about this era draws you in?
Things began to change for the aristocracy. The industrial revolution really took hold, changing how everyone thought about wealth and land. I like having characters conflicted about what it now meant to be a gentleman. And I like that they can ride trains!
Where do your ideas come from?
From all kinds of places. I've gotten ideas doing research, like when I read that Spanish sailors washed up on shore in Ireland after the Spanish armada was destroyed—ooh, heroes washing up on shore! I ended up making him a British spy pretending to be a Spanish sailor washing up on shore in England, but hey, that’s where I got the idea. (His Betrothed) Sometimes it’s as simple as always wanting to do a governess story (a la Jane Eyre), so I created a trilogy of three sisters left penniless, and one was a governess working for a guy who wasn’t what he seemed. (The Duke in Disguise) Of course, one sister would have to get married to survive, leading to a marriage of convenience story. I love those. (The Lord Next Door) In my current “Scandalous Lady” trilogy, I knew I wanted to have a heroine who was an artist, and the whole plot of the trilogy (one woman posed for a scandalous nude painting now hanging in a gentlemen’s club—who is she?) came from that single idea.
A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
Hey, I write books because I’m long-winded! You have no idea how difficult it is for me to write succinctly, but okay, here you go:
Every Scandalous Secret--bad boy Leo pursues spinster Susanna to win a bet over who posed for a nude painting hanging in a gentlemen’s club.
What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Romance, of course! As I've mentioned, I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, but I’ll take any of the classics: beauty and the beast plots, Cinderella, etc. There’s just something about two people who grow emotionally and also fall in love, that just makes me happy at the end of the book. I don’t generally read books that end badly. I do enjoy mysteries and thrillers. Some of my favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Laura Lee Guhrke, Loretta Chase, Diana Gabaldon, and James Patterson.
Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
That’s so difficult, like choosing among your children. The first historical romance I ever read was Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna, and in some ways, that’s still my favorite. I've read it about 30 times. But I also love Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, a book with a really bad-boy hero and the brilliant woman who tames him. The sexual tension is so wonderful in that book that I've used examples of it when I teach the craft.
Have you ever fallen for another author's hero? If so, who and why?
Ooh, this is easy. Again, Woodiwiss’s hero, Ruark Beauchamp stands out—a hero framed for murder, sold as an indentured servant, who seduces the heroine and even becomes a pirate to save her. Swashbuckling at its best! Yet his tenderness and understanding of the heroine as she does some much-needed growing up was just wonderful. I also love Jamie from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. But how can you not love this hero, when we’ve followed him from his early twenties into his fifties, and he’s still a sexy, sexy man?
Belle of the Ball, Wallflower, or Widow?
If you mean my favorite kind of heroine, hmm, that’s difficult, because I've written them all. I like the Belle’s confidence in her power over men, the Wallflower’s inability to see her own wonderful traits, and the Widow’s maturity and certain…skills. They all make for very different kinds of heroines. But I have to say, the Belle of the Ball might be my favorite, because she has to learn her own vulnerabilities, and to rely on her own inner strengths, not just her beauty or family connections.
Describe the characteristics that make up your perfect hero.
I love a hero with a sense of humor, even if it’s understated. I’m writing that kind of man now for a Victorian novel coming out next summer, who doesn't ooze constant charm and charisma, doesn't belly laugh, but when he’s witty, he can be devastating. The fun part of being a writer is choosing just the opposite sort of humorous man the book before. Leo, in my newest book, Every Scandalous Secret, is very charming and amusing, the life of every party, all to make sure people don’t dig too deeply into the secrets that even he doesn't acknowledge. I like real depth in my heroes, things they have to learn about themselves to grow as a person. And then of course, they need a great ability to focus on the heroine, to make her think she’s the only woman he’ll ever want again, that he can’t get enough of her…you get the picture. ;)
If you could have dinner with any three book characters, who would you choose and why?
It would be cheating to pick the favorite heroes I've already described, huh? I guess I’ll go for literary first, and pick Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I like that she’s a strong woman for her time, but isn't too big to realize she has some maturing to do. Now I’ll really cheat and pick one of my own, Viscount Simon Wade, the blind hero of The Viscount in Her Bedroom, and brother of my current hero, Leo. It was so fun to bring him back into the new book, to remember that I loved how he thought he was okay with his accidental blindness, and how he had to learn a different way to feel relevant again. Next I’ll choose the heroine of one of my favorite books, Jessica of Lord of Scoundrels. Yes, she was smart and knew it, but I liked how she—and her grandmother!—could drive men wild, and yet that bothered her. She didn't have as much growing to do as the hero, Dain, but she knew what she wanted and how to get it.
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
I only met Kathleen Woodiwiss one time, very briefly, and I felt like she was a rock star and I was a lowly groupie. I could barely thank her for writing, and tell her how reading her books made me want to be a writer. I’d love the chance to have more of a conversation with her, to understand how she came to revolutionize historical romance, giving women permission to read about their own fantasies. Although I've been lucky enough to have dinner with Susan Elizabeth Phillips in a group setting, it’s never been one on one, so if given the chance, I’d pick her brain. She’s a brilliant writer, gifted at making strong characters vulnerable, yet sexy at the same time. The last would be Tom Clancy, a man who’s never even been in the military, yet has done such meticulous research you feel like he knows everything about technology and warfare and spying.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My kids live in several different places in the US, so I love to travel. Wish I had time to do that even more! I’d be in England doing research twice a year if I could. I enjoy reading, of course, and I’m a big lover of TV. I learn so much about plotting and pacing that way. I love to hike and snowshoe with my husband and our dogs. I sing in my church choir, and I love to crochet—in other words, I live life on the edge!
Shakespeare in Love—and it’s not even a happy ending! But I love the writing, the humor, the time period, the way I cry every time I watch it.
Fallin’, by Alicia Keyes. The beat of that song is so hypnotic and sexy, and so is her voice!
Blue! Blue skies and forget-me-nots, and the deep ocean.
Last question, are you working on anything right now?
Always! Even if it’s just brainstorming the next idea. But right now, I’m almost finished with the first book of a new trilogy. I wish I knew the final title yet, but I don’t, although I’m calling it Seducing Lord Blackpool, and it’ll be out next July. The trilogy is about three ex-soldiers who return to make things right for the families of men who died because of them. Lord Blackpool agrees to marry a woman by proxy so she can get her inheritance, but the trouble begins when he returns to England to finally meet her.
Thanks so much for giving me the chance to answer such great questions!
He may be the younger brother of a viscount, but Leo Wade is more at ease in London’s gaming halls and ladies’ boudoirs than at tonnish events. Although lately, he’s been consumed by a growing boredom he can’t shake…That is until Leo stumbles upon three society misses trying to steal a scandalous painting from his gentleman’s club and becomes obsessed with pursing a lady unlike any of his acquaintance.
An artist, bluestocking and veritable spinster by anyone’s definition, Susanna Leland never dreamed she and her cousins would find themselves in the eye of a potential scandal. So when she receives an invitation to a country house party she takes it hoping to escape London and divert the suspicious gaze of Mr. Leo Wade. Susanna never expects he’ll follow her!
As the unrepentant rogue and on-the-shelf artist clash, Leo may just have met the one woman immune to his charms, and Susanna may have found the one man she can’t scare off with her intellect. But when the pair are caught in a compromising position and forced to marry, they may just find that the price of trust is well worth every scandalous secret.
Thanks so much Gayle for allowing me to interview you. I loved getting to know you better. =) Everyone, Gayle Callen and Harper Collins will be giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So make sure to check out all of Gayle Callen's stops to increase your chances of winning.
*Must leave and email address
*You don't have to be a follower, but it is appreciated
*Open until October 7th.