Monday, July 30, 2012

The De Montforte Brothers: An Interview with Author Danelle Harmon and a Giveaway!


We're joined today by multi-award winning author Danelle Harmon as we talk this well-loved series, what she has in store for it, and her love of animals. Welcome Danelle!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Danelle Harmon, and I've written ten historical romances.  As most of my books are long out of print and hard to find, I've decided to re-release them as e-books (with light editing) so they can (hopefully!) be enjoyed by a whole new generation of readers.  My work has been published both domestically and internationally, having been translated into several languages, have made numerous bestseller lists, and won many awards.  I took a decade-long sabbatical after our daughter was born, but it's time to get back to work.  It is so good to be back!

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
    
I am an animal lover, and our household consists of four German Shorthaired Pointer dogs (a breed I don't recommend for the faint of heart!), an Egyptian Arabian horse, a flock of chickens, two frogs and a tank of fish.  (No, the horse doesn't live in the house, but he does occupy the attached barn!)  I enjoy showing my dogs in AKC shows, and one of them, Marcus, recently completed his championship.  I also feel passionate about rescue and volunteer a lot in this area, occasionally fostering a dog in need while a "forever home" is found, and doing what I can to make life happier for our animal friends.  Please spay and neuter -- it saves lives.  J

If you had to sum up the first book in 30 or less words, what would you say?

When charming ne'er do well Lord Gareth de Montforte thwarts a stagecoach robbery, he ends up inheriting his dead brother's fiancee and infant baby in this first book in the de Montforte Brothers series.

Do you have a favorite character in this series? Who and why?

I just adore Lord Gareth de Montforte in THE WILD ONE.  Young, irresponsible, charming, big-hearted, and doing his best to live down to his reputation, he leads a group of ne'er do well aristocrats who get up to all sorts of mischief and call themselves the Den of Debauchery.  Lord Gareth, much to the dismay of his brother the Duke of Blackheath, is the heir presumptive to the dukedom, but he has no idea what the word "responsibility" means.  He's forced to find out when he nobly steps in and marries his dead brother's fiancee and infant baby, and his struggle to earn self-respect, dignity, and the love of his beautiful Juliet, totally won me over.  Besides, who can resist a handsome guy who loves children and animals?

What is your favorite scene in the book?

There's a scene at the climax of the book, when Lord Gareth is, literally, in the fight of his life.  His courage, his self-sacrifice, and his willingness to do whatever it takes -- even if it means possibly losing his life -- for his new family that he loves so much, just gets me every time.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

My husband and I were living in Abingdon-on-Thames, just south of Oxford, when I wrote The Wild One.  Though Swanthorpe Manor is fictional, it's locale, its views, and the surrounding landmarks of Abingdon are not … I used to walk those fields, and the streets, and visit many of the places mentioned in THE WILD ONE, almost daily, in my walks with my dog or into town.

What kind of research was involved for The Wild One?

As my husband and I were married and lived in Abingdon-on-Thames, England, where part of THE WILD ONE is set, there wasn't much research to be done when it came to setting -- it was our home.  But I have a sizeable library, and some of the books that I found of most benefit were an old one of 18th century London maps, a book on pugilism in the 18th century, and one on the rules and protocol of dueling.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

I definitely need to be alone, and cannot, absolutely cannot, work with interruptions of any kind … I do best when just left to my own devices for hours at a time. 

I would read these books simply because of the covers – all in the series are beautiful! Did you have a part in their design?

In their previous (print) form, I had little say in the covers, but I've had 100% input in the new covers for their e-book incarnations!  The covers are now exactly what I always hoped they'd be, with Blackheath Castle figuring prominently on each one.  For the second book in the series, THE BELOVED ONE, I couldn't decide between the two covers that were presented to me -- both showed the hero, Lord Charles, in full uniform on his horse, but one showed him in England, and the other, at Concord (MA's) Old North Bridge.  I loved them both, but ended up going with the former as it had the ancestral home (though at some point, I may re-release it with the alternative cover).  The third book in the series, THE DEFIANT ONE, has a strong "animal" theme, and the German Shorthaired Pointer on the cover is actually my beloved Roscoe (1987-2002), who appears in the book as the heroine's dog, "Freckles."

Do you have plans for a new book?  Is this book part of a series?

Yes -- I am currently writing a fifth book in the de Montforte series; I got many letters over the years from readers asking me to write Lady Nerissa's story, so I figure it's time I got working on that!

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?  

Without question, it's been hearing from readers.  As a writer, just knowing that someone has trusted me enough to invest time and energy with my characters and stories is the greatest complement that I can ever be given.  Thank you to each and every one of you that takes the time to write, even to just say hello!

Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?

There are two:  Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War (I would love to meet the handsome, charismatic, and sadly-forgotten Dr. Joseph Warren, whose portrait hangs in our dining room), and England during the days of Lord Nelson … another historical personage I much admire, and would love to meet. 

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

I must confess to having a special soft spot for each of the brothers in my de Montforte Brothers series.  Each one is so different (and the tone of each of their respective stories reflects that), but they have become friends, of sort, over the years and it's hard for me to leave them.  But I do get to revisit them as I write this new book I'm working on, and after that … who knows? 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Even as a young, shy child, I was a reader, and my favorite haunt was the school library.  Though it was never published, and never will be, my first book -- actually, part of a series, itself -- was a horse story much in the same vein as Walter Farley's Black Stallion series.  I must have been ten or twelve years old at the time, and the books were written on notebook paper, bound with yarn, and illustrated with crayon.  I wish I could find them now, if only for the smiles and giggles!

What is your favorite movie based on a book, where you preferred the movie?

Ahh, this is an easy one, and probably an answer you won't get from any other romance author!  It's actually not even a romance, but a horror flick from the early 1980s based on a Peter Straub novel, called "Ghost Story."  It was the first big role for the young Alice Krige, who plays a beautiful femme-fatale ghost who comes back after fifty years to get her revenge on the four men who had accidentally killed her back in the 1920s.  With its hauntingly romantic soundtrack and theme, it's a movie I never forgot and still enjoy to this day … in fact, the heroine of THE WICKED ONE, Eva, is loosely based on this character, right down to the same first name, though the similarities between them stop there.

Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?

Yes, indeed it has.  I've found, though, that if I get blocked, it's usually because I'm trying to force a scene that can't be forced, or trying to get a character to do something that that character would not do.  Sometimes I can get things moving again just by changing the point of view … other times, I have to put the manuscript aside for a time and just let it sit.

The Book

"The bluest of blood, the boldest of hearts; the de Montforte brothers will take your breath away."

England, 1776: Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he takes a bullet for boldly thwarting a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother’s American fiancĂ©e, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his brother the duke's refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby her rightful name. But Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, even while she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil. Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty, risking his life itself to give her and her daughter a home — and a love that will last a lifetime.

Book Content: This book would be considered sensuous and does contain descriptive scenes. 

The Giveaway
Danelle will be awarding a digital copy of book two, "The Beloved One" to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop and a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

 
Where can your readers find you?




Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/DanelleHarmon

 
An Excerpt
Prologue

Newman House, 18 April, 1775

My dear brother, Lucien,

It has just gone dark and as I pen these words to you, an air of rising tension hangs above this troubled town. Tonight, several regiments — including mine, the King's Own — have been ordered by General Gage, commander in chief of our forces here in Boston, out to Concord to seize and destroy a significant store of arms and munitions that the rebels have secreted there. Due to the clandestine nature of this assignment, I have ordered my batman, Billingshurst, to withhold the posting of this letter until the morrow, when the mission will have been completed and secrecy will no longer be of concern.

Although it is my most ardent hope that no blood will be shed on either side during this endeavour, I find that my heart, in these final moments before I must leave, is restless and uneasy. It is not for myself that I am afraid, but another. As you know from my previous letters home, I have met a young woman here with whom I have become attached in a warm friendship. I suspect you do not approve of my becoming so enamoured of a storekeeper's daughter, but things are different in this place, and when a fellow is three thousand miles away from home, love makes a far more desirable companion than loneliness. My dear Miss Paige has made me happy, Lucien, and earlier tonight, she accepted my plea for her hand in marriage; I beg you to understand, and forgive, for I know that someday when you meet her, you will love her as I do.

My brother, I have but one thing to ask of you, and knowing that you will see to my wishes is the only thing that calms my troubled soul during these last few moments before we depart. If anything should happen to me — tonight, tomorrow, or at any time whilst I am here in Boston — I beg of you to find it in your heart to show charity and kindness to my angel, my Juliet, for she means the world to me. I know you will take care of her if ever I cannot. Do this for me and I shall be happy, Lucien.

I must close now, as the others are gathered downstairs in the parlour, and we are all ready to move. May God bless and keep you, my dear brother, and Gareth, Andrew, and sweet Nerissa, too.

Charles

Sometime during the last hour, it had begun to grow dark.

Lucien de Montforte turned the letter over in his hands, his gaze shuttered, his mind far away as he stared out the window over the downs that stood like sentinels against the fading twilight. A breath of pink still glowed in the western sky, but it would soon be gone. He hated this time of night, this still and lonely hour just after sunset when old ghosts were near, and distant memories welled up in the heart with the poignant nearness of yesterday, close enough to see yet always too elusive to touch.

But the letter was real. Too real.

He ran a thumb over the heavy vellum, the bold, elegant script that had been so distinctive of Charles's style — both on paper, in thought, and on the field — still looking as fresh as if it had been written yesterday, not last April. His own name was there on the front:  To His Grace the Duke of Blackheath, Blackheath Castle, nr. Ravenscombe, Berkshire, England.
They were probably the last words Charles had ever written.

Carefully, he folded the letter along creases that had become fragile and well-worn. The blob of red wax with which his brother had sealed the letter came together at the edges like a wound that had never healed, and try as he might to avoid seeing them, his gaze caught the words that someone, probably Billingshurst, had written on the back....

Found on the desk of Captain Lord Charles Adair de Montforte on the 19th of April 1775, the day on which his lordship was killed in the fighting at Concord. Please deliver to addressee.

A pang went through him. Dead, gone, and all but forgotten, just like that.

The duke of Blackheath carefully laid the letter inside the drawer, which he shut and locked. He gazed once more out the window, lord of all he surveyed but unable to master his own bitter emptiness. A mile away, at the foot of the downs, he could just see the twinkling lights of Ravenscombe village, could envision its ancient church with its Norman tower and tombs of de Montforte dead. And there, inside, high on the stone wall of the chancel, was the simple bronze plaque that was all they had to tell posterity that his brother had ever even lived.

Charles, the second son.

God help them all if anything happened to him, Lucien, and the dukedom passed to the third.

No. God would not be so cruel.

He snuffed the single candle and with the darkness enclosing him, the sky still glowing beyond the window, moved from the room

 


Is your book in Print, ebook or both?
The books are out of print now, but are newly released as ebooks on Amazon/Kindle, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Smashwords.com, and other e-venues.

The first book in the series, “The Wild One” is priced at $0.99 at all outlets. 

For Kindle Users (Amazon.com)

The Wild One:  http://tinyurl.com/bltxjvf

For Nook users (B&N):

The Wild One   http://tinyurl.com/bsol2oj

Smashwords:

THE WILD ONE:

Danelle Harmon books for Kobo readers: http://tinyurl.com/86gqpuf

10 comments:

  1. The books you used in your research appeal to me, especially the one containing the 18th Century maps. I do love maps.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  2. Thank you for visiting with us today Danelle. The full series sounds great!

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  3. Thank you, MK, for hosting me! It's great to be here!

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  4. I came up with a couple of burning questions while I was reading your post here today. Now I have to decide which one needs to be answered ASAP.

    One of my favorite TV programs is This Old House on PBS and so many of the homes they work on are historic homes in MA. Do you, by chance, live in an historically significant home?

    Speaking now of film/TV, I think the de Montforte family series would make an excellent period mini-series for TV...maybe PBS! If it were ever made into a film, who do you see playing the heroes and heroines?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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  5. The covers are, indeed, stunning! But the books themselves sound absolutely amazing! Loved this interview! I will need to watch that movie-- I've never heard of it!

    justforswag(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  6. Chelsea: Thank you for the kind words; I'm delighted with these covers!

    Karen, our house in Newburyport was built in circa 1799, and had many beautiful Federalist architectural details ... I still miss that house, and often regret selling it. The house in which we live now was built in 1899, and is actually too "new" for my tastes. But, we needed more land, so here we are.

    To answer your other question, how I envision a character might not necessarily agree with what someone else envisions, and I'd hate to spoil another person's imaginings if they don't find my choices appealing or appropriate ... I may have written the characters, but I don't own them, and their visual identity is a personal thing for each reader. But, if *I* could cast them? I would cast the *young* -- as he was in the mid 1990s -- Matthew McConaughey as Lord Gareth ... and I have no clue about the other three . I can't think of anyone, really, who would "fit" my own personal vision of them, though there's a local surgeon here who reminds me a lot of Lord Charles (I don't think he does movies, though!), and I "borrowed" Lucien's eyes from a very famous British sports figure who was a world champion at the time I wrote the de Montforte series. He doesn't do movies, either, but he did get stopped for speeding while I was still living in the UK for doing, I don't know, about 200 mph on the motorway. Ha! How about you? Whom do you envision?

    -- Danelle

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  7. Hi Danelle,

    I'm interested in this idea of re-releasing out-of-print books as e-books with "light editing." I've read other authors who CRINGE when they go back to their early books...finding that they lack the "polish" that comes from experience. Have you found that to be the case?

    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

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  8. Catherine, I like to hope I grew as a writer with each book I released ... certainly, I didn't really have to do a lot of editing on the de Montforte books or Wicked At Heart (which just came out for e-books), but I'm going through an early title now and yes, I'm cringing! Lots of work to be done for this one before I feel good about re-releasing it!

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  9. I look forward to reading it. :)

    Becky01x(at)gmail(dot)com

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