Anyone who has read this blog for the last little while knows how much Judith’s first novel, Broken Wing, rocked my reading world. After reading it, I went to rather unusual measures to let other readers know about this incredible book that zoomed to the top of my all time favourite book list; the book that I read five times in a row before I could bear to leave it and move on to another book.
The people of Source books, hearing about how I reacted to her first book, sent me, as well as others, ARC,s of her second book, Highland Rebel. This was a while ago and at this point I have a confession to make. I was so enthralled with the love story of Gabriel and Sarah and so moved by Broken Wing, I was nervous to take up reading Highland Rebel, afraid I wouldn’t like it as much or almost afraid I would. I mean – it took me five rereads to get past Broken Wing. I know – it makes no sense does it?
But with the release of Highland Rebel fast approaching and having Judith visit Ramblings once again, I knew I’d better get to it!!
I admit now that I was very foolish in my worry and my review will be coming up soon, but in the meantime, please join me in welcoming Judith James, an author who can write like nobodies business!
And to celebrate the release of Highland Rebel - TODAY - there is also a give away. There are two books up to win, which means two lucky winners!! Just comment on either this post or the review post and you are eligible. This giveaway in only open to US or Canadian residents.
(note I say this one *g* 'cause I like to put my money were my mouth is - so don't worry)
You may have noticed I don't have very many author interviews here at Ramblings. In fact I think the last one I did was with Judith. But when Source books contacted me to see if I would be interested in having Judith drop by, I said yes with alacrity!
I came up with some questions I was wondering about and Judith was kind enough to answer them for me.
I came across a first edition (1680) of bishop and historian Gilbert Burnett’s account of the Earl of Rochester’s recounting of his life while on this death bed, which Burnett attended. I started researching the Restoration for a possible story based on that character, and I fell madly in love with the time period, which I have always been interested in since reading Antonia Stuart’s biography of Charles II several years ago. I know many people prefer the Regency period, but the neglect of the Restoration puzzles me as there was so much going on with politics, religion, philosophy, and thought, including the beginning of the Jacobite movement that is a central theme in so many
One of the side benefits I used to get from reading historical romance books years ago, was learning little know historical facts. I miss that in many of today’s historical romances. Do you like to bring something new to your readers through your stories and research?
Well in retrospect I do, but too be honest it’s more a selfish thing rather than a purposeful intent. I keep finding little gems that delight me, so where appropriate I embed them in the story. Sometimes they seem like gifts that just fell in my lap, like the story of Willie MacBean at Killiecrankie. People who read the book should be able to guess who he was without reading the afterword. Sometimes they move the story in a different direction; like a signpost saying turn here. In all cases they help anchor me in the story, the time and the place, and if my characters can interact with them, for me it adds a level of authenticity that helps me tell the story. That being said, I suppose I am a bit of a trivia buff and do love to share what I think are interesting or fun facts, even if they don’t make it into the story, so I’m going to share just one. During the English Civil War swearing was one of the characteristic that marked opposing sides. Puritans were notably against taking the Lord’s name in vain, while the Cavaliers got in the habit of doing it. The historian Sir Edward Peyton wrote in 1652 “The courtiers garnished their mouths with God-dammes, as if they desired Damnation rather than Salvation.” The cavaliers got the nickname “The God-dam-me Cavaliers” and in later centuries the French called English soldiers the “God dammes” because of this notorious habit.
That’s a good question! I suppose in some ways I did. For one thing I didn’t want to repeat the same story using different names and places, but it was more than that. In part, Gabriel and Jamie told me their stories, so if feels to me like they were characters I met rather than made up. They both had difficult childhoods, but Jamie’s was a lot less restrictive and he had people who showed him affection, even if it was serving maids and cooks. As long as he stayed out of the way he had a lot of freedom, and that gave him experiences that built confidence. Gabriel didn’t have those opportunities and though I know it annoyed many people, to be true to the character it was something he had to go out and experience for himself. Jamie’s life shaped him in a different way, making him careful, distant and self contained with emotions, but not really self doubting; in part because he had more escapes, but also due to his personality. He was blessed with a cynical sense of humour that saw him through a lot, but in fairness to Gabriel, you have to be able to step back and see from a distance to find humour, and his early life did not allow at all for that. I hope every hero I write will be different, and every heroine too, but it would be safe to say that I enjoyed spending time with Jamie and his sense of humour after all he intensity that was Gabriel.
Although there is an attraction in both Broken Wing and Highland Rebel, there is a real friendship between the hero and heroine before the romance becomes ‘physical’. I really like this as it makes for a much more believable HEA. What are your thoughts?
Yes absolutely. You’ve put a finger on something that seems to be a theme in all my stories. My characters become very real to me as I write them. I suppose you could say my stories are character driven. They are somewhat damaged by life. Tortured, dark, whatever you might call it. It’s just not real or true to the characters that they could be in a happy relationship after a few spats and some hot sex. In fact, sex too soon might have spoiled things, as is often the case in life. I know this may annoy some readers who are looking for a quick romantic fix with lots of sex from page one, and my books are probably not for them. It’s a great fantasy, one I enjoy too, but my heroes know lust and sex, they are intimate with it, and that’s how they know and relate to women. It’s acceptable to them, familiar territory, and nothing to change themselves or their lives over. The woman who gives in to them just joins one of many. It’s friendship with women they are unfamiliar with, and in large part this seems to have been fairly true to the times. They distrust, and are afraid and uncomfortable with female friendship for good reason. It’s intimate in a way that sex isn’t. It means sharing thoughts and “horrors” feelings. They have few defences and it’s how they get caught. You are easy with your friends, perhaps from the moment you meet, perhaps it grows over time, but a best friend is someone you know and trust and can share your deepest thoughts and secrets with. You like your friends.
I don’t believe you can have true love without friendship, liking, and trust. I think sometimes the heart pounding attraction certain people give us is often mistaken for love but that’s really just chemistry and lust; and it doesn’t tend to last very long and is no basis for a long tern relationship. When you have friendship combined with all the chemistry, then you might just find that wonderful last a lifetime love. Romantic love to me is genuine friendship, liking and respect combined with sublime chemistry. Best friends who’ve seen each other through things as friends have had to trust and learn to understand each other. They are in a way like comrades in arms, soldiers who’ve fought together. They’ve shared things no one else could understand and it binds them in a way that can never be broken. I think the fantasy of a great, once in a lifetime love can be real, when you follow that road, and those are they kind of stories I like to tell.
Actually, no I didn’t. Gabriel, though I don’t think anyone noticed, was actually a twist on beauty and the beast. He was “cursed” in a way if you like, by beauty. His looks were the cause of a great deal of pain and distress, to the point he pretty much hated himself. Despite outward appearances, inside Gabe felt really ugly, and believed he was something of a beast. Sarah helped him realize he was beautiful, in the way we all want to be, the way that’s still there when you’re old. He had to be a beautiful man, capable of appearing both masculine and androgynous,
How fun was Jamie to write?
Oh Jamie was a blast. He’s a funny guy with a great, if somewhat cynical sense of humour, he genuinely likes and appreciates smart strong women, he tells great stories, and he’s charming, and not at all bad to look at. He enjoys life and takes pleasure from it whenever he can and he’s also a great guy to have your back in a tough situation. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent with him.
While I adore Sarah and thought her a wonderful match for Gabriel, Cat is a different kind of heroine for Jamie. How do you compare the relationship between Jamie and Cat against Sarah and Gabriel?
Well I describe Cat and Jamie somewhere as in many ways polar opposites, in all ways equal; and more alike than either of them realizes. They both have their own agenda, and although there’s an immediate attraction, neither of them is prepared to give up what they think they want to act on it. Nevertheless they like and respect each other, share a similar goal which is ironically, independence, and have to work together to win it. Jamie is older and he’s pretty much seen it all. He has no interest in proving anything to anyone. He has a conscience and his own values, but he’s pretty cynical and even his humour tends to distance him from the things that might hurt him. He figures nothing can surprise him. He’s got it all figured out. Cat Drummond is totally unexpected and turns his life upside down. He loves novelty and at first she doesn’t bore him. He’s learned to be wary and relies on deception, and her straight talk is a bit alarming. Catherine is used to men, though not in a sexual sense. She’s not sure what’s under the mask, but she knows he’s wearing one. She’s practical, not romantic, so she judges Jamie by what he does, not what he says. She’s also a little defensive, and from being raised with rough men, rather assertive. She’s quick to smack Jamie upside the head(which I grant he needed at times), but if Sarah had ever done that to Gabriel he would have been out the door and gone for good.
Gabriel hadn’t really had a chance to live his life. He had thing he needed to learn. He needed to test himself and gain his confidence, and he needed someone who could love and accept him unconditionally, because there was a lot to accept. In many ways he and Sarah were much alike; sensitive, romantic, and idealistic. Jamie and Cat needed to help each other. Gabriel needed to be healed. Sarah had spent years worried about her little brother. Finding him was her main focus. Her gratitude to Gabriel for protecting him made helping him her main focus once her brother was found. It didn’t matter how he screwed up, or what he did, she was always going to be there for him because of that, even if they had never fallen in love. I know some people felt she forgave him too easily, but my stories are character driven. Sarah owed Gabriel a debt of gratitude, their friendship ran deep, ands he knew him better than he knew himself. There was no way she would ever turn her back on him, abandon him or punish him, and that kind of patience and understanding, that unconditional acceptance and love, was exactly what Gabriel needed. I don’t think a man with his history could have found a happy ending with anyone but Sarah, just as Jamie could not have found his without Cat Drummond.
The ending of Highland Rebel seems a bit open ended (but I Very Quickly add that there IS an HEA for those who just read that). Do you have a sequel in mind for Jamie and Catherine?
I wouldn’t say I have one planned. Right now I’m working on a darker Restoration era story called Libertine’s Kiss that takes place about 35 years before Highland Rebel, but I’ve certainly played with the idea for sequels to both Highland Rebel and Broken Wing. I might run a contest to see which BW character folks who read that book would like to read about next. As for Jamie and Catherine, those who read the book will understand why a sequel would likely begin in
Your books are so rich in detail that you almost feel that you are there. How much research goes into one of your stories and how long do they take to write?
Broken Wing took a while, probably a good four months in research alone and another 10 to write. The period was new to me and I had to branch out to cover tall ships, sailing, the Mediterranean and North Africa, slavery,
I'd like to thank Judith for her wonderful and thoughtful answers and hopefully she will drop by to answer any other questions that you might have that I didn't think of.
I read and finished Highland Rebel and will have my review up very shortly. All I'm going to say at the moment though is I thought it very good book - a very VERY good book.
Upon reading this and doing what I don't do enough of - editing - I realized that I wasn't clear. The giveaway is TWO copies of Highland Rebel - not a copy of Broken Wing and/or Highland Rebel.
And D'oh - as Cecile pointed out - I didn't put a day the giveaway ends! The giveaway will end Sunday night.