Today our guest is Jane Godman author of yesterday’s book Legacy of Darkness. Here is a link to the post if you missed it. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4X6
Let’s find out more about Jane.
1) Where is your home town?
I live in Birkenhead, which is on the Wirral Peninsula in North West England. It’s on the opposite side of the River Mersey to Liverpool and the iconic ‘ferry ‘cross the Mersey’ originates here.
2) How long have you been writing? How long have you been writing for Harlequin?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I lived in South Africa, and my best friend and I discovered the novels of Kathleen E Woodiwiss when we were thirteen. We used to spend our evenings writing books in the style of ‘The Wolf and the Dove’. I had a big birthday (let’s just say it had a zero at the end) two years ago and my friend gave me an amazing present. She had kept one of the books I wrote when I was fourteen! It’s a medieval romance, written in felt tip pen. I’m very proud of it and it gave me the push I needed to start submitting my work to publishers. My first book, The Rebel’s Promise, was published by Front Porch Romance in February 2013.
My first Harlequin book, Legacy of Darkness, was published in the January 2014 Shivers digital box set. My second (the sequel to Legacy of Darkness) is called Echoes in the Darkness and will be published in the next Shivers box set on 1st April 2014.
3) How does any author become a Harlequin / Mills and Boon writer?
I think there can be a misconception that there is a ‘magic formula’ to being a Harlequin/Mills and Boon author. When I wrote ‘Legacy of Darkness’ I had no idea that Harlequin were looking for Gothic romances as part of their Shivers line. I wrote the sort of book I wanted to read, in a genre I love. The book was nearly finished when I read an interview in which Malle Vallik, Harlequin’s Director of Editorial Digital Initiatives, said ‘send us your gothics’. So I did. And, just a week later, I got ‘the call’ to say the team at HarlequinE loved my book.
If I had tried to write the book to a perceived formula, I don’t think I would be a Harlequin author today. The old adage ‘write like a reader’ still holds true. If you write the stories you believe in, your passion will shine through and an editor, whether they are a Harlequin editor or in another company, will see that. It will jump off the page.
The other thing I would say to anyone trying to get published is ‘dare to be different’. There are a lot of books out there. There is a key element in Legacy (I won’t say what it is as it would spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it) that I thought might put an editor off. Instead, because it pushed the boundaries, it was actually one of the things that the Harlequin team loved. So my advice is ‘never play safe’!
4) Your book is written as a “Gothic” romance, can you briefly explain what Gothic means?
Gothic romances are mysteries, usually tinged with horror and the supernatural. Gothics are often set against dark backgrounds such as medieval ruins, mysterious houses or haunted castles. Traditional gothics had a spirited young heroine, peculiar supporting characters, precocious children and darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts. Authors included Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier.
Harlequin Shivers, the ‘new’ Gothics, have elements of the unexplained, but they are not paranormal romances. Generally, the heroine and heroine are human beings who may have paranormal experiences. Shivers have high levels of sensuality, but their strong gothic story line makes them much more than an erotic romance. They can be historical or contemporary.
So what can readers expect from a Jane Godman Shivers?
1. A dark, gloomy and atmospheric setting.
2. A feisty heroine who pushes the boundaries of her time.
3. A hero you fall in love with…
4. …And a villain you fall in love with (for very different reasons)
5. Dark secrets, the past comes back to haunt the present.
6. Erotic tension that builds alongside the story. The shivers in these stories don’t come just from the supernatural elements!
5) I briefly touched on the attractiveness of Uther in my review, can you describe him in more details to tantalise the readers?
Oh, Uther! My favourite character from ‘Legacy of Darkness’, perhaps
my favourite character ever, has to be Uther Jago. He is described on the back cover of ‘Legacy of Darkness’ as ‘Uther: a commanding, seductive presence whose leonine power radiates from his every word and gesture’.
Uther is everything a gothic character should be. Handsome, sexy, smouldering…He has dark secrets and innocent Lucy is utterly enthralled by him from the moment they meet. But can she trust him?
I think this excerpt gives the reader a little teaser of Uther’s character:
‘Unexpectedly, he grasped my hand and held it against the cold stone. “These walls have memories of their own. Feel them, Lucy,” his voice rippled through my mind. “Lords and ladies in their jewelled velvets…sunshine warming pennants and spears…shouts of the joust…the maiden meeting her forbidden love …”
I obediently closed my eyes and heard the rustle of skirts, the soft clandestine whispers of long-dead lovers, and the strains of a lute signalling reckless dance and wild romance. Uther’s low sound—somewhere between a growl and a purr—roused me from my trance. My eyelids fluttered.
“Your face—” his voice was a whispered caress, warm breath stroking my ear “—has the look a woman usually wears only once. When she first succumbs to orgasm.”
I stepped back in shock, the ready tinge of roses staining my face. He turned and walked away as if the searing words had never been spoken. I wondered if they had. Or had this new, brazen creature—the one I had just discovered within me—merely wished them spoken?’
6) What was the actual family relationship between Lucy and the others?
Lucy and Tynan call each other ‘cousin’ and Demelza asks Lucy to call her ‘aunt’, but their actual relationships are more distant. Lucy’s mother was a second cousin to Uther and Demelza, so Lucy describes her own relationship to the Jago family as ‘tenuous at best’. Which, for Lucy’s sake is probably just as well! As one reviewer recently commented: ‘If ever there was family with skeletons in their closets it’s the Jago’s, who I might add can rival the Addams family in their creepiness and kookiness.’
7) The plot had my mind spinning off in all sorts of directions when I read it, did it change much for you when you were writing it?
Yes! Without giving too much of the plot away to someone who hasn’t read it, Uther Jago was one of those characters who just would not conform to the plans I originally had for him. He dictated the pace of the story and I very much went along with it. My original plan for a classic gothic set in a Cornish castle still held true, but some of the plot twists and turns came out of the machinations of Uther Jago. And he definitely took charge when it came to some of the eroticism in the story, as well!
8) You had some fun using old Cornish words, which were your favourite?
I like to bring some authenticity to a story by having the characters use words and phrases that relate to their home and culture. When I researched the story, however, I was surprised to find that, even in 1837, just as Queen Victoria is ascending the throne, the Cornish language was dying out.
I wanted Tynan to use a Cornish endearment as a nickname for Lucy, something that was unique to them. The one that I liked the best was hweg which means ‘dearest’ or ‘darling’. But then I came across kegis hweg, which is celery. So for most of the book Lucy, who is very slender, thinks that Tynan is comparing her to a stick of celery rather than calling her ‘darling’.
9) I enjoyed reading about the trip to Tintagel, what is so special about Merlin’s cave?
Tintagel castle is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur and is believed by some to be the site of Camelot. Merlin’s Cave is situated on the sands below the ruined castle and was made famous by Tennyson who described waves carrying the infant Arthur to the shore. It is said that the wizard Merlin emerged from the cave and carried him to safety.
The cave is very atmospheric, and you can imagine Merlin approaching, with his staff held up to light up the darkness of the cave. It does feel like a place of magic and mystery, and those Arthurian legends come to life along that rugged stretch of Cornish coast.
10) What are you writing at the moment? Will it be another Harlequin romance?
I’m so pleased with the way the Shivers line is developing. HarlequinE has some amazing authors writing gothics and I am thrilled to be in such talented company. My next Shivers, Echoes in the Darkness (the sequel to Legacy in the Darkness), is part of the second Shivers box set which is released on 1st April 2014. It is set about thirty years after the end of Legacy of Darkness and features the next generation of dastardly Jagos.
The blurb for Echoes in the Darkness reads: Not betrothed, but beguiled.
In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’ most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancée to the next Earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared with what will come.
On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The fresh-hewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm Earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else.
Drawn by friendship, ensnared by lust, Dita uncovers a sordid tangle of murder, desire and madness. It will lay her bare as no portraitist has done before.
I’m currently adding the finishing touches to the third, and final, book in the Jago series, which is entitled Darkness Unchained.
I also have two ‘stand alone’ Shivers titles due for release over the coming months. Both are set in the 1930s. One is located in a Welsh valley and the other story takes place on an isolated Italian island. I’m really excited about them both because they feature stronger elements of horror alongside the romance in the stories. The contrast really does increase the shivery element. I love writing gothics and, as long as readers want them and Harlequin will have me, I’ll keep writing Shivers!
Legacy of Darkness is currently available as part of The Shivers Line Box set from HarlequinE, released in January and available until the end of March. From April it will be available as an individual book.
Thank you Jane, and Good luck with all the writing.
A great interview Rosie.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Thanks again for inviting me to join you on your blog, Rosie. It was great ‘meeting’ you. Good luck.