(Note: For those keeping tabs, this feature is not replacing the author interview series on book promotion. I'm still tinkering with ideas and lining up new authors for that. In the meantime, this is an interview I did for the newsletter of the Orange County chapter of RWA. It appeared in the June issue.)
Romance author Gina Black's novel THE RAVEN'S REVENGE debuted in June and earned a four-star review in Romantic Times, which sums it up this way: "A thief, a damsel in distress and plenty of conflict—what more could a reader want? ... Black adds sensuality and humor to this intriguing historical."
What was the inspiration for this novel?
I have always loved historical romance. I knew whatever period I picked, I'd have to do extensive research, so I chose the Restoration. After the Puritans lost power, it was an amazing time of change in England. Plus, Charles II was such a romantic King—and quite visionary too; I couldn't resist. I knew he would make at least one cameo appearance. It turned out he would play a more instrumental role in the story. I probably spent far too long researching, but I learned so many little bits of facts that affected the plotline, I'm glad I did.
Once I had the setting for THE RAVEN'S REVENGE, the hero came right to me. Nicholas had lived in exile for most of his life. With the king back and on the throne, Nicholas returned to his homeland. His goal was to regain his family lands that had been given to a Puritan family by Cromwell.
Nicholas, being a rogue, told me he wasn't going to sit around at court while the king took his sweet time deciding what to do. In fact, Nicholas was going to check out the neighborhood he hadn't seen since he was 8.
Then, while he was there, he was going to take on the guise of a highwayman called The Raven. Instead of stealing people's valuables, The Raven was going to hold up coaches and take clothes from the men, leaving them naked on the roadside while apologizing to the ladies for “exposing them to the company they keep." Nicholas said this was a fine revenge on his Puritan neighbors who changed allegiance from king to Cromwell and back again. I didn't gainsay him. (Well, would you?)
Next, I had to come up with a heroine strong enough to handle Nicholas; one who needed him, even though she wouldn't know it. I was so lucky, because it turned out the daughter of the family who had been granted Nicholas's family lands—and who now stood to inherit them—was perfect for the part. Especially since she was about to be married off to a villainous neighbor.
That left so many possibilities. And I could tell from the moment I had them both in my mind that they were made for each other. But, since this was a romance, it took the whole book for them to realize it.
How long did you work on the novel?
I started the book back in 1994. It took me about 10 years with some big non-writing gaps from the beginning to "the (polished) end."
What was the biggest challenge for you while writing this?
My biggest challenge was to not give up. I was so afraid I could not finish a book because of all the books I'd started prior to RAVEN. Plus, I wanted to write a book that was publishable—not just a practice book. That made writing this book very difficult.
How did you get into the writing mood?
Music usually works for me. I listened to a lot of soundtracks. When I got stuck, walking usually got things moving again. When all else failed, I brainstormed with my critique partner, Lisa Valdez, or my daughter, Sara Black, who is also a writer.
What is your writing regimen?
I keep looking for one! Right now, I try to write 100 words before breakfast so I can get the story happening before my day takes off. Since I work full time, this is a fairly effective way of staying focused. But, if I miss a day, I have to struggle to get back into it.
For more about Gina Black and her book, visit http://www.ginablack.net/.
THE RAVEN'S REVENGE
Katherine Anne Welles lives a life of duty and obligation, but marrying her villainous neighbor is out of the question. Defying her father, she flees in the arms of a wounded highwayman, even though she distrusts his offer of help. But traveling with a dashing highwayman who won't ask directions is anything but safe. Especially when his searing hot kisses awaken a yearning for something Katherine never knew she wanted.
Nicholas Montford, the exiled Earl of Ashton, returns to England determined to reclaim his family lands. As a highwayman called The Raven, he takes revenge upon the Puritans who thrived while his family suffered. But when he kidnaps heiress Katherine Welles, thoughts of revenge take second place to kissing her soft lips and teasing the mistrust from her eyes. Can he find redemption in the arms of the woman he will eventually betray?