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Carrie Lofty ~ Scoundrel’s Kiss

January 7, 2010

Today I’m doing a virtual sit down with the fabulous Carrie Lofty whose second book, SCOUNDREL’S KISS was just released (January 5th) from Kensington.

To give you a little background on Carrie, as a National Merit Scholar, she attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She traveled to Norwich, England, for her junior year, studying at the University of East Anglia, where she met her husband. After a brief stint as an unaccomplished art major, she graduated from BGSU with a BA in English and history. Ohio State University accepted her as a graduate teaching assistant. She earned her MA with a thesis on Old West outlaws and the impact of legend on society. Carrie recently returned to the classroom on a part-time basis, teaching creative writing for the continuing education program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Please welcome Carrie Lofty to the Blog. 🙂

Question
Carrie, since SCOUNDREL’S KISS is your second book, please tell us how preparing for the release of this book compares to the release of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS last year. What lessons did you learn?

Answer
I’m much more calm this time. I’ve learned that a great deal of publishing is very much beyond my control, and that’s not a bad thing. I shouldn’t be responsible for all of it! But now I know what to do with bad reviews (ignore them), promotions (lots!), and fan mail (save it for rainy days when the crows of doubt fly in).

Question
Can you tell us a bit about SCOUNDREL’S KISS?

Answer
SCOUNDREL’S KISS is the stand-alone sequel to my Robin Hood-themed debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. When last we saw Ada of Keyworth, she’d just been rescued from the Sheriff of Nottingham and had seriously burnt bridges with her family. She and a young admirer, Jacob ben Asher, head off to Spain together. But she’s haunted by the unlawful and sickening torture she endured and turns to opium for relief…

Gavriel de Marqueda is a warrior on the verge of taking his vows with the Order of Santiago. Before he can do so, he must pass one final test: save Ada from herself. He’s vowed obedience, nonviolence, and chastity, but Ada refuses to be held against her will, even for her own good, and vows to use every possible resource to thwart Gavriel’s offer of aid.

Question
SCOUNDREL’S KISS is about a pretty weighty topic, as the heroine is a drug addict. What drew you to this kind of storyline?

Answer
Ada, the heroine, inspired this book. She is a very selfish, terribly vulnerable and hurting woman at the close of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. I took her rather impetuous personality to its natural extreme and thought her ripe for substance abuse, someone who doesn’t want to look at past mistakes and who’d very much like a quick end to the pain.

Then it was a matter of finding a man who was strong enough–and surprisingly, vulnerable enough–to set her on a path toward both recovery and love. In the process, he finds his own measure of forgiveness and peace. My critique partners said that ever someone does a retrospective of my work, it should be called Angsty Redemption! I’m simply fascinated by the process of imperfect people finding their way in the world–and being rewarded with a lasting love.

Question
In SCOUNDREL’S KISS your hero is about to launch into the life of a monk. Was the research into the life of a 1201 monk daunting?

Answer
It required a great number of interlibrary loan requests! Because the Christian kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula were at war with the Islamic tribes to the south, there has actually been a great deal of scholarship about the topic of these warrior monks. Then it was a matter of finding where Gavriel’s place would be in this very complex society of religion, military, and court intrigue.

Question
Why do you think readers will love hero and heroine of SCOUNDREL’S KISS?

Answer
I hope they’ll love Gavriel and Ada because of how hard they work for their happy ending. This is no easy path where Ada wakes up one morning and decides to kick her habit. And Gavriel has done some terrible things in his past–there’s a reason why he turns to the Church for absolution! But for all of their mistakes, they both nurture cores of honor and strength that make them worthy of love.

Question
Do you have a short excerpt that will give the us a feel for the hero and heroine in the SCOUNDREL’S KISS? Perhaps an exchange between them?

Answer

Gavriel continued to bathe her heated body until the pains relented. She lay on the bed like a crushed flower, her red-rimmed eyes unfocused and staring at the low, cobwebbed ceiling. Her voice, when it returned, was like that of a woman twice her age, all misery and resignation. “All of two evenings and you expect to know me?”
“You could be in my company a year with no alteration–as long as the opium yet claims you. No amount of time would make a difference. It will always speak for you.”
He laid a hand on her forehead, smoothing, trying to say with his touch what sounded so awkward from his tongue. She met his eyes with a directness that stalled the breath in his chest. For a moment, he glimpsed who she must have been. Stubbornness shone like a hot blaze, but a deep intelligence tempered it and gave it strength.
The compulsion to make her well filed through his veins. Cured, this formidable woman would put his untoward impulses in their place. She would stare his unnatural lust in the face and reject him. Deservedly. And he would welcome the rejection as a return to his chosen life.
“I wonder if you even realize that you’ve given it your voice,” he whispered. “All your power.”
She shook her head to dislodge his hand. “I’m beginning to mislike when you minister me. You stand on your pedestal and look down on my mistakes.”
Gavriel moved the jug away and stretched on the floor between her and the door. “I’m not looking down on you, inglesa. I’m trying to do more good than young Jacob did.”
“Trust goes both ways,” she said. “I don’t trust you because I don’t know you. You watch me sideways, waiting for me to make a mistake.”
“How else should I approach this situation? You’re an untrustworthy person. Whether or not that is due to the opium, I cannot know.”
A hearty shrug rumpled her coverlet. She hauled it back into place. “You may as well tie me up for the month and have done with it. But that would be too difficult for you, wouldn’t it? Tying me up?”
A tingle of lust shot through from head to feet, gathering halfway between. “I’ve no notion of what you mean.”
“For at least one year you’ve been without a woman in your bed. And the notion of tying me up, having complete say over what I do or think or feel isn’t attractive to you?”
“You think me so cruel?”
“No, I think you so wretched.” Her eyes drifted shut and her throaty voice slowed. “Your robes fool no one, Gavriel.”

Question
What’s next up for you?

Answer
In December, I contracted with Carina Press, Harlequin’s new all-digital venture. My (as of yet untitled) historical romance set in Napoleonic Austria will help launch the line in June 2010. That’s all very new and exciting! You can read an excerpt here: http://carrielofty.com/Salzburg_1.html

Also, under the name Ellen Connor, I’ve been co-writing hot’n’dirty apocalyptic paranormal romances with Ann Aguirre. Our “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy will be coming soon from Penguin. (http://EllenConnor.com)

Question
Do you plan to continue writing historical romances? If so, will it be more medieval?

Answer
I’d love to continue writing medieval romances, particularly more Scoundrels. That’s a matter of finding a good home for them. At present, however, I’m expanding to new times and places. My current projects are set in WWII England and Victorian South Africa, We’ll see how that goes…

Question
What must you absolutely have while writing?

Answer
Music! I simply cannot write without music. Each book I’ve written has a playlist that feeds into the subject matter. For example, SCOUNDREL’S KISS was very dark–lots of A Perfect Circle, Cocteau Twins, Charlotte Martin–whereas WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS was considerably influenced by pop music, such as the Goo Goo Dolls and Bryan Adams. I save my playlists so that when I return to a story for edits, galley proofs, or even promotional work, I get back into the mindset of that project by listening to the tunes that played such an integral part of its creation.

And now that Carrie’s answered my questions, she’ll be hanging out to take yours too.  And two lucky commenters will get a copy of her book!

40 Comments

  1. Carrie,

    Your book sounds wonderful! I can imagine it would take us through the emotional wringer, which makes it especially satisfying when we reach that hea. I love, too, how you’ve taken the challenge of writing in all the different periods that interest you. I love all types of books and all different eras and I’m excited to see your success with an expanded niche. Good luck with this release and with all your writing endeavors.

    My question would be: How do you decided which book to write when? Do you listen to the muse and focus solely on one, or do you write on all these different topics at the same time?

    Have a great day everyone!
    Bryn

  2. decide (not decided) sorry 🙁

  3. Hi! First off, let me thank Bev for inviting me to stop by today. Her site is one of the most beautiful odes to historical romance on the web!

    Bryn, I write one at a time. This past fall, I tried to edit one and write another, and even that didn’t work. I think because I get so wrapped up in the struggles and emotions of Couple A that I can’t look away until their story is fully realized. That’s not to say I’m not furiously scribbling notes and amassing new music in anticipation of Couple B’s shot at happiness! I’m always primed and ready to go when it’s their turn.

    I’ll be around throughout the book draw, so feel free to ask any questions.

    Best for the new year!

  4. Hi Carrie, welcome!! So happy to have you here. I completely agree with you on the multi-tasking, it can be difficult. But usually when I put one book down, I’ll set it aside for a time and work wholly on the other one so I’m not jumping back and forth every day or anything like that.

  5. Hi Carrie!

    Congrats on your latest release! My question for you is: do you research as you write or have everything done before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be)?

    Wishing you stellar sales!!
    Sarah Tormey

  6. Hi Carrie!

    Congrats on your release. A Scoundrel’s Kiss sounds like a great book.

  7. Hi, Carrie! Happy New Year! Congratulations on “Scoundrel’s Kiss”! I’d love to read your thesis on the Old West. That is my favorite time period and cultural setting in American history. You commented that you must have music while you are writing. Do you also have music playing when you are not writing? Is it a much different type of music?

  8. Congrats on the new book, Carrie.
    Victorian South Africa isn’t a setting that I’ve ever read in a story. That sounds interesting! What made you decide to choose this setting instead of England or India?

  9. Ginger, I know that I used to think I couldn’t write with music but I so can now. Love the 70s music, Stevie Wonder, Barry Mannilow, Eagles, Barbara Streisand, Walter Jackson, Elton John…the list just goes on.

  10. Hi, Carrie! I still love the premise of a monk as a hero. So original!!

    It’s always interesting to hear if authors write with music playing in the background. I’m pretty sure I’d do just instrumental, otherwise I’d find myself singing along and probably typing the lyrics to the song. LOL

  11. Hi, Beverly! Wow…..great play list : ) My favorite singer after all these years is still the one & only Neil Diamond : ) My mom loved music. She and I went together to see the Eagles way back when on their “Long Run” tour.

  12. Congratulations on your release day!

    I really enjoyed What a Scoundrel Wants, which had a very flawed (read: crazy as a box of frogs) heroine. I really loved Meg, psycho pyro that she was, and her interactions with Will Scarlet were hilarious.

    I’m really looking forward to reading Scoundrel’s Kiss.

  13. Scoundrel’s Kiss sounds great!

  14. I love how you use music to inspire writing, I really look forward to reading your book!

  15. Hi Carrie,
    Love the first Scoundrel which took place in Britain, much looking forward to the second Scoundrel which takes place in Spain. All the urban fantasy/dystopia I’ve read so far was set in NorthAmerica – will your Ellen Connor stories follow that pattern, or remain in Europe?

  16. Hi Carrie,
    Your book sounds wonderful. I saw on vaxhall vixens that you mentioned you had a list of possibilities and i was wondering what made you think of having a hero that is possible Monk as a hero? I would think that Monks arn’t your typical hero in romance books.

  17. Hi Carrie!

    Your book’s premise is utterly fascinating to me, and I loved the excerpt. A monk, wow. But your thesis was on the Old West, I love westerns, has writing a western romance, in the historical vein, ever appeal to you? Any advice or a quick tip for someone writing a western historical, a nugget of historical info about the era?
    All the best for your book, I will be on the lookout for it!

  18. Hi Carrie! I haven’t read your books yet but would love to!

  19. Carrie, What was your favorite book of 2009 and why?

    By the ways cna’t wait to read your new book!:)

  20. LOL. Melissa, I would say you’re right. Monks certainly aren’t the typical hero. But I love the idea of the innate conflict in his taking a vow of chastity. I mean you know he’s going to break it. LOL. And you know that even before he does break it, he will so be struggling with himself.

  21. Weee! Hi everyone!

    OK, I’ll take these questions a few at a time.

    @ Sarah T: I do enough research in advance to ground myself in that time and place, and to make sure which elements of my intended plot could’ve actually happened. For example, with SCOUNDREL’S KISS, I learned that the religious order Gavriel joins never made its novices or monks swear vows of celibacy. It’s all very convoluted but had to do with encouraging more young men to join up and defend the Christian kingdoms from the Moors. So I had to think of a new way for him to try and remain celibate! After my first draft, I go back through and do the intense historical layering and fact checking. That way I use that middle writing period for just writing–as opposed to getting sidetracked by every little historical question, which could lead to hours of procrastination!

    @ Ginger: I listen to music constantly, as does my husband, which leads to interesting fights on long trips. (Our girls, by contrast…not the least bit interested. Go figure!) So I have set songs that I listen to for each project (right now I’m listening to my WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS playlist and it’s making me want to reread my favorite bits). I also love to dance, so I have other more motivational playlists for working out and doing household chores.

    @ Deb H: I chose South Africa because it *wasn’t* India or China! Just kidding…kinda. No, the setting for the story ties into its plot, which has to do with the Victorian diamond trade. Whereas the British settlements in India and China were very urban, I prefer the more rugged colonies in South Africa and Australia. They marry the glitter, money and influence of wealthy British colonists with the frontier feel I grew up loving when I studied the American West.

    @ Gannon: I always use headphones or I’ll sing along too!

    OK, more answers up next!

  22. @ AnimeJune: “Crazy as a box of frogs,” and yet she got her HEA anyway. Means there’s hope for us all (even Ada!).

    @ Maya: I’m fairly certain I can answer for my Ellen Connor writing partner, Ann Aguirre, on this one: all three of our “Dark Age Dawning” will be set in North America. NIGHTFALL takes place in Washington state, MIDNIGHT on the border with Mexico, and DAYBREAK…kinda all over. But we do have ideas for another trilogy set in Europe. For more info on our hot-n-dirty apocalyptic paranormal romances, visit http://EllenConnor.com

    @ jedisakora: I loved that line from an old Alanis song: “I am fascinated by a spiritual man. / I’m humbled by his humble nature.” Maybe I had that in the back of my mind when I thought of what Ada would need to find herself once again–a man who could bow to a higher power and ask forgiveness. What sort of example would that provide her? And then…what if he didn’t turn out to be so humble after all? As Beverly said, we all know he’ll cave in and break his vow of celibacy, but imagine the amount of self-control he could muster once he did!

    @ ~Drew: I hope I have a western in me one day. In truth, I think I burnt myself out. After studying the Old West for more than 12 years, I needed a break. I discovered that other places have history too, and then went about studying all of that! But I just love what Westerns can provide above all other historical sub-genres: the sturdiest women, the toughest men, and the best backdrop for adventure and adversity.

    @ Marjana: Hmmm…Read in 2009 or copyright 2009? Because I’m frightfully behind! For example, I read Patricia Gaffney’s Wickerley trilogy and wanted to shout it to the moon how *great* they are. But all of my friends kinda rolled their eyes because that’s such old news! But one of my resolutions this year is to read more books as they come out, because I miss the camaraderie that comes from reading books when everyone else does!

    Did I miss anyone? Just nudge me!

  23. Hi Carrie

    I don’t know how I missed your first book but both books have been added to my must have list and I really look forward to reading both of them they sound fantastic. I love medievals. Sounds like you really enjoy writing in different time periods is it hard to switch been the time periods ?
    I always like to have music playing in the background while I read I couldn’t do without my books or my music.
    Congrats on the release Carrie and thanks Beverley for inviting Carrie along today

    Have Fun
    Helen

  24. @ Helen: I *love* writing in different time periods and settings. Although I admire, for example, Regency or Scots Highland authors who really, truly know their stuff, I would get antsy and eager to move on! Maybe it’s my wandering curse after so many years focusing exclusively on the Old West. So I don’t find it difficult; I find it a reward and an adventure! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy my literary babies 🙂

  25. Hi Carrie, congrats on your new release! I can’t wait to read it. I have read your first book and loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Hi Carrie,
    Congratulations on your new book. Did you worry about whether people would like or accept your heroine?

  27. Congrats on your new book!
    Thanks for sharing an excerpt.

  28. @ Maureen: I did worry about that. I mean, *I* didn’t like Ada much at the end of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. But then I remembered that old advice about how to make a villain three-dimensional: the villain is the hero of his own story. So I tried to find a way to understand Ada better, to tell her side of it. In doing so, I found her vulnerabilities and made those as obvious as her bitchy addictive side! In all serious, by the time I neared finishing SCOUNDREL’S KISS, I was less concerned about people liking her than I was with making her struggle genuine. I didn’t want to trivialize addiction or make the road to her happy ending too trite and simplistic. It’s a *hard* thing I was writing about. Readers so far have been responding to that honesty, which seems to be endearing them to Ada. Makes me happy (and breathe a sigh of relief!).

  29. Your books sound wonderful. I bet the reserach is fantatic. Where have yout raveled todo your research?

  30. Carrie,
    Congratulations on the release of SCOUNDREL’S KISS. This is the second site on which I’ve found an excerpt tonight. Thankfully, the first was of her attempt to buy more elixir and the auction. It helped put this excerpt in context.
    I’ve heard much about this book in the past few weeks. Much focused on the fact that Ada was a drug addict which is certainly an odd choice for the heroine. The consensus was it worked.
    Imperfect characters make for much more interesting stories. I look forward to reading this one.

  31. Hi, Carrie! I’m coming in so very late. I lost Internet for a while. My question for you, do you think you’d still be writing if you didn’t have a BA in English and history?

  32. @ Debra G: Unfortunately, I began my pursuit of publication after starting a family, so I haven’t traveled much farther than my library. I lived in England for a year, where I met my husband, and I’ve been on the odd vacation or two, but I’ve never been anywhere useful to my research. Salzburg will be my first stop one day, the setting for my upcoming release with Carina Press. Then maybe Spain and the North of England!

    @ Renee: Wow. Never considered that before. It’s always just been…me! I wrote well before I entered college, starting with the Young Writers Conferences back in the early 80s. I studied the plot to assassinate Lincoln when I was ten, and I wrote a novelization of the movie ALIENS. Then wrote a teleplay for the late 80s Pony Express drama “The Young Riders.” I think I was 13. Finding historical romance was inevitable then, and I began my first novel at 16. After a brief stint where I wanted to be a country singer and a comic book artist, I returned to history and creative writing during my sophomore year of college. Never looked back…

  33. Hi Carrie,

    I don’t like drugs or drug addiction and rarely encounter them in romance novels. Did you want to send a message with your story that there is life after drugs if you are willing to find it?

  34. Have you ever been tempted to write more Robin Hood themed books? I know me and my sister wanted to see Robin and Marian’s story (even though we know it) just because they were such a great couple in What a Scoundrel Wants.

  35. Congratulations on your release! I was wondering, aside from the obvious historical aspects, did you have to research addiction as well? It’s not a usual characteristic that a heroine has.

  36. @ Mitzi: Believe it or not, I didn’t have a message in mind when I started, but it must have been there unconsciously. I’ve encountered addiction in my life before, among people very close to me, and it’s a hideous thing. At the end of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, Ada was in such a depressed, angry state of mind. Couple that with what I saw as some immature selfishness on her part, and she seemed just the sort of person who might want to take the easy way out. For a while. She earns her happy ending by battling back to the woman she once was, becoming strong her for it. I found a great deal of hope in that idea.

    @ Moth: Thanks for that! Robin and Marian were fun to write. Like Robin and Marian: the Married Years! But no, I think that story has been told too many times. The concept was a springboard and I haven’t really considered going back. Sorry!

    @ Julie: As I mentioned to Mitzi, I have experience in my own life to draw from, unfortunately. But I did need to research where addicting substances might have been available in medieval times and what form those would’ve taken, as well as attitudes toward it. With those facts in mind, my main goal was to make her struggle believable. I didn’t want love to come along and “twang” her into wellness. Getting clean is a difficult road, and I wanted Ada’s struggle to strike people as genuine…as well as find her happy ending. She couldn’t have done either without Gavriel.

  37. I’ve seen your name in so many different places. All good, fear not. Your books sound marvelous. I’ll keep my eye out for them.

    Your next projects sound just as intriguing. Good luck with them.

  38. Congrats on the release! It sounds like an interesting book. I would love to read it.

  39. I think I will be reading more historical romances this year if it is going to be filled with books like yours and Beverley’s 🙂

    Are you book playlists on your website? I love book playlists! I think they really give insight into the book. Congrats on your new release!

  40. @ Booklover1335: You can see my playlists on each othe book excerpt pages. For example, the playlist for SCOUNDREL’S KISS is here: http://www.carrielofty.com/SK_Excerpt.html