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*camera zooms onto the ship, winding down the spidery stairs to the galley below, where Carrie Lofty—author of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS and SCOUNDREL'S KISS—is sitting on a barrel, next to the stove, warming her hands*
Carrie: Hi! Who would have thought the Caribbean would be so chilly? *holding hands out to the stove and rubbing them*
Jack: *pushing his chair near hers and draping an arm around her* We would not want you get sick, my fair Carrie. Are you quite comfortable?
Carrie: Quite! *realizing Jack is about a hairs breath from nuzzling her ear* Um, aren’t we supposed to be doing an interview? You said the galley is where the rum and crumpets would be.
Jack: Of course, of course. *drawing out a half-drank bottle of rum and a handkerchief, unfolding it to reveal a handful of Oreos* Nothing but the best for our author guests. Please, have one.
Carrie: Wow, this is nice. *clearing throat* You know, I think I’ll wait on the cookies for now. Oh, all right. *takes one* Now, what would you like to talk about first?
Jack: Sisters! I want to talk about sisters! I love sisters! Well, not so much the nun-kind, though occasionally I've met one of those who has been... *grins roguishly* Never mind. So your book is not about those kind of sisters, but the blood kind. Tell us more about Ada of Keyworth. What's she like? Is she into pirates?
Carrie: I can't speak for Ada regarding pirates. She crossed the waters between England and Spain, but no pirates accosted her. Such a pity! She probably wouldn't have noticed anyway, caught as she was in the throes of an opium high and seriously hating her sister, Meg. You see, Meg chose to be happy and stay with her husband, the roguishly awesome Will Scarlet. In-law bliss was spoiled by the fact that Will had arrested Ada by mistake, leaving her in the clutches of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who did some pretty terrible things to his favorite prisoner.
Now Ada...she bears a grudge. Against everyone. That includes her sister. So she leaves for Castile (in modern-day Spain) and decides that opium is a far better companion than pesky family members. Avoidance for the win! To say she has some forgiving and growing up to do is an understatement.
Jack: Tell me about it with the pesky family members. I have a cousin, Billy, who thinks he’s a pirate, but he’s the worst pirate. Always stealing my rum. Family should be avoided at all costs. Except for good-looking sisters, of course, for the obvious reasons.
Now your first book is WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS; and this book is called SCOUNDREL'S KISS. I'm sensing a pattern; and I myself as a scoundrel do enjoy reading books featuring scoundrels. Do you then prefer scoundrels? Is this why you research so many of them?
Carrie: Any woman who says she doesn't have a little soft spot for scoundrels is lying. Even Princess Leia couldn't avoid falling for first-rate scoundrel Han Solo. If you don't know her, Jack, just think of her as a space version of Elizabeth Swann--prim and beautiful, but who chooses the scoundrel instead of the pretty boy. As you can see, my research on the topic of scoundrels is extensive. It comes with the job, which makes mine just about the best job in world...outside of piracy, of course.
Jack: I’m glad to see you take your research seriously. *rakish look* We’ll discuss your research methods later. Privately. I note this particular scoundrel is not a typical rogue. He is in fact about to take his vows as a monk. Incidentally I dressed as a monk once to escape some of His Majesty's Navy, but I nearly gave myself away when we passed the nearby brothel. Your hero is not just dressing a part, is he? What kind of man would take a vow of chastity on purpose? Isn't one's adolescence enough?
Carrie: Gavriel probably claimed more female conquests during his adolescence than during the year leading up to this story. He was, well, a rather bad man--a slave raised to kill a king. So I don't imagine he'd have too many scruples when it came to women. But all of that immorality can wear on a soul. A little distance from his previous misdeeds shows Gavriel just how lost he's become. Not one to do anything by halves, he decides that absolution can only come through extreme sacrifice. Silly boy.
Jack: That is a silly boy. Glad he comes around to sense. Okay, now for the lightning round, the Trifecta of Writer Inquiries: what's your call story? What's a typical writing day like for you? And are you a plotter or a pantser?
Carrie: I finaled in a few contests in the spring of 2007, which prompted me to head to the RWA National Conference in Dallas that July. I was set to pitch to Hilary Sares of Kensington, but she was a few minutes late because mine was the first pitch after lunch. Tick-tock, tick-tock... No rain checks, baby! When she arrived, she sat down and read the elevator pitch I'd included on my business cards. She said, "I want the full." After returning home, I mailed it on a Monday and she called me two days later. Commence celebrating!
Writing day: We have one car, so I do the school and work run in the morning. After my husband and our two daughters are ensconced in their various buildings, I head home to the blessedly awesome silence of our condo. I try for 10-12 pages a day, book-ended on the couch by my two tabby tomcats, and then I tackle promo, networking, chores, etc. Notice how chores come last?
Plotter or pantser: I know my characters very well when I begin. I also do research regarding the setting and what sorts of plots might be possible for that time and place. With those preliminary considerations satisfied, I just start writing. Let's call me a prepared pantser.
Jack: What's next for you? Still going to write Robin Hood era historicals for the time being? (Going to see the Russell Crowe Robin Hood this summer?)
Carrie: I'll continue writing more Scoundrel books, if I find a home for them. Otherwise, I just sold a historical romance set in Napoleonic Austria to Carina Press, Harlequin's new all-digital venture. My book will help launch the line in June 2010. In addition, under the name Ellen Connor (http://EllenConnor.com) , I co-write hot'n'dirty apocalyptic paranormal romance with Ann Aguirre. Our "Dark Age Dawning" trilogy will be coming soon from Penguin.
As for the new Russell Crowe movie, I hold a grudge because it was supposed to come out *last* summer, when it would've made the perfect tie-in with WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. Stoopid Hollywood. But I'll probably go see it anyway!
Hellion: *gate crashing the interview* I have to ask. I saw this on your website, and I was such a HUGE The Young Riders fan, it wasn't even funny: what do you mean you became the authority on Pony Express history? Did you watch the show? Any character favorites? Did you teach at a high school? Also you mention you wrote your MA thesis about the Old West and legend--will you write any Westerns, if you're given the chance?
Carrie: Oh, oh, oh--I totally watched The Young Riders. I had a massive crush on The Kid and seriously wanted to be Lou (although my tastes changed as I got older: http://lovelysalomearts.blogspot.com/2006/06/young-riders-1989.html).
Hellion: *squealing* Me too! I had all this fan fic where I was Lou…and never mind, keep going!
Carrie: The show had everything: hot guys, horses, romance, adventure, history, and smart, self-reliant women. I became obsessed and began studying everything I could find about the Pony Express. The obsession didn't wane, and I wound up writing my master's thesis on the impact of Jesse James' and Wild Bill Hickok's legends on post-Civil War society.
Shortly after TYR ended, I found historical romance. I was sunk. That's why when I was teaching at Ohio State, completing my MA, I decided that academia wasn't for me. All of my colleagues were busy fretting about getting published in academic journals...and I wanted to write romance!
As for writing a western in the future, who knows? I moved on after finishing my thesis--call it Old West burn-out--but it holds such a special place in my heart. There's still a part of me that wants to write about mail-order brides and resolute sheriffs and plucky, cross-dressing heroines and deadeye gunfighters...
Jack: *pinning Hellion and gagging her with a bandana* Sorry about that, Carrie. She gets a little carried away. I want to thank you again for coming to interview with us today. Is there anything you'd like to ask the crew?
Carrie: Hey, don't enjoy his rough treatment too much, Hellion. *grin* I'll ask about my favorite topic: unusual settings. Are you on-board with taking romance out of the British Isles? Keen on new-to-you times and places? Which would you like to see...and which wouldn't float your pirate boat at all?