Monday, July 27, 2009

Interview with Joanna Waugh

Welcome Joanna Waugh, author of BLIND FORTUNE from Cerridwen Press! She's here for a lovely interview for you all to enjoy.

Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for inviting me in to chat. It’s always a pleasure to visit with a fellow Classic Romance Revival author.

Tell us about yourself.

I live in Northwest Indiana, just a stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Michigan and the beautiful Indiana Dunes. When not writing, I collect Russian nesting dolls. My debut Regency romance, BLIND FORTUNE, was published in trade paperback by Cerridwen Press in February, 2009. It’s also available in ebook format.

Here’s the blurb:

They say love is blind, but Lady Fortuna Morley doesn’t believe it. Sightless since birth, she can think of only one reason a gentleman would wed her—for the dowry and three thousand pounds a year her father will provide. She’s in London the spring of 1814 to help launch her younger cousin into society, but prefers living quietly in country with her music. The last thing Fortuna wishes is to cross swords with the arrogant Marquess of Granville.

Charles Lowden, Lord Granville, has decided to take a wife. The bride he’s chosen is thirteen years his junior, but meets all criteria. What he won’t abide is interference from the girl’s impertinent cousin, the outspoken and opinionated Lady Fortuna Morley. The woman is determined to thwart the match. Charles is just as determined to charm Fortuna out of her disdain for him.

What neither expects in this battle of wills is to fall in love.

Sounds like a wonderful story! When did you start writing and why?

The need to write has been in me as far back as I can remember. I was (still am) asthmatic and, as a child, spent a lot of time indoors. Reading became my favorite pastime. A natural outgrowth of this was entertaining myself with my own stories.
I wrote my first romance in junior high school, about the doomed love between an American girl and a British officer during the American Revolution. But I got away from fiction in my late twenties. For the next two decades I wrote articles for specialty newsletters, did political op-eds and white papers. Then I woke up one morning with a full-blown book in my head and it was back to romantic fiction!

What inspires your writing, in particular, your current book?

My late husband lost his eyesight because of diabetes. One of the disconcerting side effects of his blindness was how differently we interpreted conversations. Because he couldn’t see a speaker’s expression or body language, he often misunderstood what was said. We had some very interesting disagreements as a result, especially when he misconstrued things I said! I found this situation so intriguing, I decided to write a book in which that kind of misunderstanding lies at the heart of the romance.

I love romances that deal with emotions. Oftentimes, we allow our emotions and feelings to color our outlook on our own lives and those of the people we love. Sometimes we don't see ourselves the same way that others do. In three words, how would you describe yourself?

Outgoing. Stubborn. Opinionated but able to see the other side of an argument. A take-charge kind of person. Reliable. A strong sense of duty.

Oops. That’s more than three words! Well, I am a writer!

That's ok, I'll allow you more than just three words, just this once. Now for a couple of fun questions. If you could be a superhero, what would your superpowers be?

I don’t know if there’s a specific superhero that covers this, but I’d love to be able to time travel. History is so fascinating. I often get lost in research! If I could just whisk back to learn the truth first hand… But I suppose if I was able to do that, my family seldom would see me and I’d never get any writing done!

I love history too. Time travel as a superpower, that sounds wonderful! I would opt for the Middle Ages. That was a time period rife with superstition about creatures. If you could be a paranormal creature, which would you be?

A wizard in the Druid tradition. I love all that one-with-nature stuff, but especially the idea of keeper of ancient knowledge, custodian of the tribal memory. I’d love to command the elements and weave magic around the human soul.

Hmmm. Sound a lot like a writer, doesn’t it?

Great choice! Druids do have their secrets and worlds of knowledge. Speaking of knowledge, do you have any advice for writers?

It’s okay to follow the trends, but write what’s in your heart. I’ve watched too many authors bounce around genres trying to find the magic bullet until they were so discouraged they gave up. Write to please yourself as a reader first.

And DO IT NOW. Had I known how hard it is to get published in fiction, I would have started the process sooner. Don’t put your writing on hold, don’t let life get in the way. And never, never, NEVER give up! Believe in your abilities.

An excerpt from BLIND FORTUNE. This scene won the 2008 Midnight Seductions Endless Romance Contest:

“Are you familiar with Herr Beethoven?”

Fortuna shook her head and, like a puff of smoke, the emotional tension between them dissipated.

Charles felt a twinge of regret at its passing. Out loud, he said, “His Quasi una fantasia—Almost a fantasy—is just as somber but much more full-bodied. I’d be honored to play it for you.”

Rising from the piano, she stood aside so he could take it.

Charles shot her an assessing look as he stepped forward. “I have an idea, something that might enhance your enjoyment of the piece.”

He crooked one arm around her waist, then bent to hook the other behind her knees. She squeaked a protest as he lifted her against his chest. Flexing his fingers in the flimsy material along her rib cage, he savored the warm supple body beneath his hands.

Striding down the side of the piano, he swung Fortuna onto its lid. Seated upright with her legs stretched out, she wore a dumbfounded expression.

Charles tucked her nightgown around her limbs and stepped back. “Lie down, with your head toward the music stand.”

He then returned to the piano stool. Releasing the buttons of his jacket, he sat and ran through a set of scales to limber his fingers.

As the notes reverberated through the mahogany lid, Fortuna uttered a small cry of surprise and turned her wide, cat’s eyes his direction.

He grinned. “They say Beethoven was out one evening for a walk when he passed a cobbler’s shop and heard someone practicing one of his compositions.
He went inside and found a blind girl struggling with the piece.”

Tentatively, Fortuna scooted forward and laid down on her back with her arms at her sides. Bronze curls snaked through the music stand to hang over the keys. Spellbound, Charles stared at them. Then, swallowing hard, he cleared his throat and continued.

“Herr Beethoven offered to demonstrate how the piece was meant to be played. He became so caught up in the beauty of the moonlight falling through the open window on the blind girl that he went home and composed this sonata.”

With that, he began to play.

As Charles’ fingers flew over the keys, he let his gaze rest on the copper froth dangling just above his hands. He tried to imagine the sensations Fortuna was experiencing. How each keystroke pulsed through her body and sent vibrations quivering along her limbs. Especially when he came to the fast-paced, accentuated finale.

He ended the movement in one abrupt crashing stroke. Hands suspended above the keyboard, Charles waited for the last note to reverberate through the music room.

“Fortuna?” he quietly breathed.

She lay still, as thought she hadn’t heard him. At last it registered that the piece had ended. With a heartfelt sigh, she pulled herself upright.

Charles leaped to his feet. In two swift steps, he was beside the piano.

Fortuna swiveled toward him on her bottom, until her legs hung over the lid’s edge. She wore a dazed expression, like that of a well-loved, satiated woman.

Desire spiked through Charles. Deliberately, he pressed his chest against her knees, then slid the palms of both hands up over each rounded hip until he clasped her slender waist. Lifting her off the piano, he stepped away and let her slippers slowly slide to the floor.

Her legs seemed incapable of support. “That was…so…” she whispered breathlessly.


Fire burned a trail straight to his groin. Charles barely managed to stifle a groan. Unable to resist the sexual pull between them and accepting the inevitability of his actions, he lowered his head and captured Fortuna’s rosy mouth with his own.

To read more excerpts from BLIND FORTUNE, click here.

Thanks for having me in today, Nicole!

No, thank you, Joanna!

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