(the book that's rocked my socks)
KJ: It doesn’t specify really in the book and it didn’t take one iota away from my enjoyment (and I hope many others) but it was never really made clear how old Gabriel was. I figured Sarah was about 21, but I could quite decide about Gabriel. How old was he?
Judith: Hi, Kristie. First thanks so much for inviting me! I love your blog and I certainly appreciate your enthusiastic support of Broken Wing. I think of you almost as a fairy godmother with exquisite taste in music and books, taking Gabriel and Sarah to the ball, LOL. I can’t thank you enough for taking an interest in this book, and I’m really looking forward to answering your questions.
Thanks also for allowing me to clear up any confusion about Gabriel’s age. Part of the problem is that it ISN’T clear. Gabriel can never be certain how old he really is. He was abandoned at a young age, and sold to a brothel. He had to make up a last name to sign a contract, and no one has ever marked, celebrated, or told him when his birthday is. No one knows, so he pretty much has to guess. He tells Sarah that the night on her balcony was the night his life began, and I think that’s how they’d celebrate his birthday together. That being said, there are clues to his age but they were given in separate scenes, which might be the cause of some confusion. Again, thanks for the opportunity to clear it up. In one of his early conversations with Sarah, in the music room, Gabriel tells her he thinks he was about fourteen when he was sent to de Sevigny’s, and was there for two years before returning to Madam’s. Jamie arrived shortly after that, as Sarah reminds him later in the story, and he took care of him for about five years, so at the time the story begins, he is about 21, and when it ends about 25, the same age as Sarah, give or take a year or two.
KJ: I am finding it very difficult to leave this book behind as a reader. As the writer – the creator – of these characters, how hard is it for you to say good bye to them?
Judith: Oh good question, Kristie! In some ways I haven’t really. It’s my first book, and I think that’s a bit like your first love, it will always hold a special place in heart. I really felt a sense of loss when I sent the final proofs off, as if something was over I didn’t want to end. I did put it all aside while I was writing A Time For Treason, and I found myself immersed in a different and utterly fascinating world, but then the author copies came and I was able to sit and read it as a book, and then the questions, LOL, which take me right back inside. This might sound a little strange, but I love my characters and think of them in a way as old friends. I can visit them whenever I want by going back to the book, and of course…I can always start writing and find out what happens to them next. I certainly expect to be revisiting from time to time.
KJ: And in a similar vein, I’m sure you will get asked this so I may as well be the first – the secondary characters are also so vividly written. Might there be a story for any of them? Ross maybe, or Davey or Charles? And if so, will you be revisiting Sarah and Gabriel?
Judith: Actually, the first person to ask that was my editor,
KJ: I thought you did an excellent job of portraying the anguish, the loneliness of Gabriel. Was it hard to write something that dark?
Judith: You like the tough questions! I worked with male survivors for several years, and listening to their stories almost brought me to tears at times. That was hard, and believe me, the things that happened to Gabriel didn’t just spring from my imagination, I actually pulled a few punches. But they were such wonderful people; talented, funny, intelligent, and trying so hard to take back lives that had been stolen from them by the people who were supposed to love and protect them, they were all heroic in a way to me, so yes, it’s very dark, but inside that dark is this incredible light and courage. Writing Gabriel’s story was hard in that I wanted to be honest, and show how dark and terrible some peoples lives’ were, and how beautiful they were despite it. I was very worried that I might not do that justice, or that the darker aspects might turn people away. I’m sure it will for some.
KJ: What impressed me was for a first time published author, how well Broken Wing was written. How long have you been writing and how long has it taken to be published?
Judith: Thank you, Kristie! And thanks for asking this question. I’ve been writing for about three and a half years, but I’ve been a voracious and eclectic reader for years, and I’ve been telling stories in my head since childhood. Broken Wing was my first manuscript and took about 10 months to write, and another good year to find an agent and a publisher. Like everyone starting out, I received a lot of rejections, generally along the lines that it wasn’t really marketable or wouldn’t fit a given line. It was too dark, the main characters spent too much time apart, it had too much violence, romance readers weren’t ready for a character like Gabriel, there was too much history and adventure for a romance, and too much romance for an adventure. I couldn’t bring myself to make some of the changes people suggested and was about to put it aside when Medallion offered to buy it. They actually loved the things others wanted changed, and pretty much left the story intact. I’ll always be grateful to them for that. I was very lucky that they, and my agent
KJ: It seems you have done a lot of research for this book. It used to be that I learned a lot of interesting new things by reading historical romance but not so much anymore. How important do you think research into the time and setting in a historical is?
Judith: Another very interesting, but somewhat tricky question, LOL. I suppose it depends on the kind of historical you’re reading, when it takes place, and the kind of story you prefer. I love big involving historical adventures like Gary Jennings Aztec, the I Claudius series by Robert Graves, Dorothy Dunnett’s Francis Crawford series, or Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. You expect rich juicy accurate details from those. I also think it depends on the time period and place you’re writing about. If it’s one people are less familiar with, I think you need to work a bit harder to make it realistic and reasonably accurate, to give the reader a sense of place and being there. On the other hand, the regency period has become so popular in story and in film, that most romance readers already have a very good sense of the time and place. In that case, I don’t think an author necessarily has to go to the same lengths to bring the reader into the story.
It also depends on your mood and what you want at any given time I think. If it’s light entertainment and escapism after a rough week, historical detail might just annoy you. If it’s to challenge and stimulate and go some place you’ve never been, then historical detail or world building, depending on the genre, is something you’re going to want an appreciate.. I actually enjoy the research, and I have to keep reminding myself that people might not be as excited by the details as I am. I have to say though, that I enjoy history woven into what I read, and I tend to check every thing I’m uncertain of in my own stories. I’ve missed the big historicals, (which is one of the reasons I tried to write my own). They seem to have fallen from favor somewhat over the years, but I think and hope there’s still room for all kinds of different stories.
KJ: I’m not going to ask who your favourite authors are – that’s always a tricky one – but are there any that have been an inspiration for you?
Judith: Now that’s a very good way to ask! I could never do justice to the favorite authors question as there are just too many, but there are also several who have been an inspiration for me and my writing. In regards to romance, Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake, with an alcoholic hero made me sit up and take notice. I think she was the first I read to dare that in a romance and pull it off. Laura Kinsale, Anne Stuart, Laura Leone, and Katherine Sutcliffe touch on heretofore forbidden topics. Dorothy Dunnet’s Francis Crawford series just blew me away with a genre bending intoxicating blend of history, adventure, and a fantastic love story with the hero as main character. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander was genre bending, historically rich, and touched on some dark topics, and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones turned the fantasy world on it’s head with a rule breaking gritty saga of morally ambiguous characters tested and challenged in a complex world. All of these stories convinced me you could write outside the box, though I was beginning to doubt it after a slew of rejections. Julianne MacLean really inspired me on a personal level, to trust my instincts, write the stories I wanted to write, and keep on going. She’s one of the most gracious and generous authors I know, a really lovely person, and to have an author of her stature offer such genuine encouragement and support at a time when I really needed it, made me actually believe, for the first time, that I could have a career as a writer.
KJ: Moving along – though *sigh* I’d love to stay with Gabriel and Sarah, I see on your website that you have two new books coming out. Do you have a time frame for their release? And will it be with Medallion too?
Judith: Although I have two other books in my library, only one of them has been sold. A Time For Treason was sold to Sourcebooks, and could be released as early as next fall. The Dark Within is a paranormal I’m just finishing now. I’ll be sending it out there soon, but it doesn’t have a home yet.
KJ: Your next book takes place in Cromwellian England – that is a rather unusual time period – and just, injecting my own thoughts for a moment – a book that sounds fascinating – what made you choose this unusual time frame?
Judith: So it was you that visited my website!!! Well, Jamie, the hero, was born during Cromwell’s rule, but it might be more accurate to call it Stuart England, as Jamie serves all three Stuart kings that followed, Charles II, his brother James II, and then William of Orange. He’s a cynic, a pragmatist, and a spy, who switches happily from Catholic to Protestant, depending on who he’s serving. I was actually researching the court poet
KJ: The book after that seems unusual too – see I did do my homework. But it seems to be a time travel. Can you give us a bit more details – and again my own thoughts – I love a good time travel.
Judith: Boy did you ever! The Dark Within is another genre bender. It’s a modern day ghost story, kind of Phantom of the Opera meets Ghost Hunters, where the phantom gets the girl, but it does have elements of time travel, mainly as the ghostly hero/villian’s flash backs in book one, and as real events in book two. It seems whatever I do, I somehow end up back in time.
KJ: In our recent ‘chat’, Katie and I had fun picturing who would make a good Gabriel. Since he’s such a vividly written character, did you have anyone in mind while writing about him?
Judith: Oh my yes! Though keep in mind, my sister told me of her enjoyment of Outlander and was forever tarnished when she picked up a
version that had a redheaded cover of the hero that looked nothing like she’d imagined him. That being said, certainly several images that inspired me while I wrote were of Johnny Depp in The Libertine; dark
and tormented, long haired, dissipated, tall, androgynous, heartbreakingly beautiful both to men and women, yet something so lost about him. He’s whom I’d pick for a movie version LOL.
Judith also wanted to know about giving away a copy of this wonderful book. Ohhh yes, I said, that would be great. So, all you have to do is comment, ask a question (she said she would drop by and answer) let us know what's so attractive about a tortured hero ---- whatever----- and Judith has a copy to be won!!