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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Q&A Interview with Grace Burrowes, Author of The Soldier

Please help me to welcome author Grace Burrowes to Martha's Bookshelf today.

The HeirFirst let me say Congratulations on the success of your debut novel, The Heir, which has reached #31 on The New York Times eBook Fiction Bestseller List! That is a great achievement.

Q1.  I'm always interested to discover the story behind the story. Where did the inspiration for The Heir and The Soldier come from?
Grace: Thanks for the congrats! Making any list, much less THAT list caught me completely by surprise. As for The Heir and The Soldier…. There I was, minding my own business, scribbling away on the story of Douglas, Lord Amery and his dear Guinevere, and a complication popped up in the person of our own Gayle, the Earl of Westhaven. As readers know, Gayle was at one time engaged to Gwen, though that’s a story for another day. When I’d completed Gwen and Douglas’ manuscript, Gayle stuck in my mind—a younger son headed for the law, having to step into the role of heir while the family finances were in serious disarray and the Duke of Moreland yammers ceaselessly about holy matrimony… A good looking, single fellow with that many problems must be in want of a romance novel.

And again, I was minding my own business, scribbling away at Anna and Westhaven’s little book, and lo, out of the early morning mists of Hyde Park, comes this other fellow on his steed, none other than Devlin St. Just. Did anybody tell me Westhaven had an older half-brother? No, they did not. Am I complaining? No, I am not, but I am a little curious to know what other details this family is holding back on me and my readers.

Q2.  When you do a series do you have each book plotted out before you start the first one or do the subsequent books flow from the first book?
Grace: As is likely apparent from the foregoing, I am a victim of a mischievous imagination. Even for the books where I think I have the plot’s architecture figured out, I get thrown curve balls.

Q3.  Is there an ancillary character in your books that you had a lot or fun with? Might they appear in a future book?
Grace: Better to ask if there’s an ancillary character who isn’t going to appear in a future book! I was a little worried about Morgan, the hearing-impaired younger sister of the heroine in The Heir, because she had a significant crush on Lord Val even though she’s too young for him (at seventeen). Lately she has seen fit to admit this and a more suitable fellow has dropped into her life.

Valentine, of course, gets the next book. Douglas (Lord Amery), Heathgate, Greymoor, Viscount Fairly, Hadrian Bothwell, and a score of others all have books at least drafted, as do three of the Windham sisters.

Q4.  What would you say makes a romance novel a great love story?
Grace: Romance novels are essentially stories of courage and perseverance. It takes buckets and buckets of courage to trust another person, to become vulnerable to them and to accept their trust and vulnerability in return. In most novels, this already rocky relationship road gets further complicated by serious external problems, so when the happily ever after arrives, the characters have had to suffer—but suffer productively—to win through. We all want to know we’re lovable, we all want to know our suffering isn’t pointless. Romance novels that are well written address these fundamental needs.

Q5.  In your previous guest post you shared an interesting research tidbit about sidesaddles. Would you please share another surprising thing about your experience writing these books, or about your research?
Grace: OK, you asked for it: I toured a house in Edinburgh preserved as its wealthy owners furnished it circa 1811. Right there in the dining room, on a lower shelf of the gorgeous sideboard where all the food would be displayed, was a lovely old chamber pot. It had a special little niche where it sat until the ladies would withdraw, and the gentlemen would heed nature’s call while the port was passed around. I’d thought this practice was reserved for drunken lords of Georgian years, but I was wrong.

Q6.  Is any of your writing from your own experiences or is it completely your imagination?
Grace: This is an interesting question, because the grist for the imaginative mill is directly or indirectly my experiences. I love to bake, for example, so when Emmie punches down bread dough, I know exactly how that sounds, feels, and smells. I’ve done a lot of horseback riding, and I have a degree in music. (Westhaven is nudging me to also admit I’m a lawyer.) But I’ve never been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, never tried to parent a child I wasn’t related to, never fired a gun at anything living. I guess it’s a mix.

Q7.  Do your work career/hobbies/interests influence your writing?
Grace: Absolutely.  As noted above, I rode, I played the piano, and so forth. Then too, as a lawyer, I deal daily with unsalvageable relationships. It’s gratifying to be able as an author to take a relationship that appears to be in dire straits and have everything come up roses for the characters. 
Q8.  When you get time to read what authors do you read?
Grace: JR Ward, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Robin Kaye, Carolyn Jewel, Sophia Nash, Meredith Duran, Julia Quinn, Julia Ann Long… so many books, so little time!

Q9.  What do you hope your readers get out of your books?
Grace: A few hours of entertainment, a smile and a sigh, a way to forget whatever mundane sand is getting into their gears so life doesn’t feel quite as burdensome.

Q10.   If you could have readers finish a sentence what would it be?
Grace: Gads… How about, once upon a time there was handsome swain minding his own business, and along came….

Thank you for taking time to share. And thanks for writing wonderfully entertaining books.


Even in the quiet countryside he can find no peace...
His idyllic estate is falling down from neglect and nightmares of war give him no rest. Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor...

Until his beautiful neighbor ignites his imagination...
With her confident manner hiding a devastating secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes Deviln’s most urgent mission.

Grace Burrowes is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Heir, also a 2010 Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in rural Maryland, where she is working on the next books chronicling the loves stories of the Windham family. Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish will be in stores in October 2011, and The Virtuoso will be in stores in November 2011, with more to come in 2012!  For more information, please visit

For a chance to win a copy of this AWESOME book - check my Review and Giveaway Post.

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