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. 🙂
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?
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).
Can you tell us a bit about SCOUNDREL’S KISS?
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.
SCOUNDREL’S KISS is about a pretty weighty topic, as the heroine is a drug addict. What drew you to this kind of storyline?
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.
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?
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.
Why do you think readers will love hero and heroine of SCOUNDREL’S KISS?
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.
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?
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.”
What’s next up for you?
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)
Do you plan to continue writing historical romances? If so, will it be more medieval?
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…
What must you absolutely have while writing?
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!