Embracing Romance is honored to welcome Joanna Bourne as our guest today.
Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat. She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars. She’s fascinated by that time and place – such passionate conviction and burning idealism … and really sexy clothes.
Joanna is giving away a copy of ROGUE SPY (US & Canada only) so be sure to leave a comment (and if you are not on Facebook where we can find you if you’re the winner, please include your email address with your comment.)
ER: Welcome to Embracing Romance, Joanna. It’s such an honor to have you here. To start us off, what is the first thing you would like us to know about you?
I’m actually fairly ordinary and dull, which isn’t such an exciting thing to admit to an interviewer. There’s not much to know about me.
Leesee. Mother of two. Owner of a brown, country-style mutt dog. Owned by a cat who helps me work by leaving her fur all over the computer. I’m situated way deep in the country, up in the hills of Appalachia. I was stationed outside the United States for many years, working for the US government in England and France, among other places. That’s given me some background for the books. I’m absent-minded, bookish, introverted. I can be stunned breathless by the beauty of words on a page.
ER: What drew you to write historical fiction set in Revolutionary France? The research must be very time consuming.
To go to the second point first — I think research about any time period or any modern setting is equally challenging. Whether you’re writing Belle Epoque country house weekends or rodeos in West Texas, you gotta get the ground solid under you. You have to do the same work getting the details of that setting ‘right’.
Admittedly, research is a bit easier when it’s all in English. It’s also nice when you can drive over to your proposed location and walk around on it, smelling the air and listening to the ambient noises, which is not so much possible when we’re talking French Revolution in Paris, 1789.
Why that time and place? I like looking at and thinking about the conflicts of the French Revolution because these are intellectual struggles. Folks on both sides were passionate about ideas. Both sides were right in some parts and wrong in some. Men of good will disagreed.
And this was important. This was a watershed in intellectual history. Everything we take for granted today about human rights and who gets to vote or own property or speak his mind or print a newspaper — all the assumptions we have today — grew out of the ideas surrounding the French Revolution.
Makes for an interesting time to write in, I say.
ER: Is ROGUE SPY the last book in your Spymasters’ series? If not, who is next in line for a book? If so, will you continue to write about spies in another series, or write something completely different?
I’ll write at least one more book in this series. I’m working on Severine’s story now. You will remember maybe that Severine is the younger sister of Justine, Adrian’s love. We’ve seen Severine just as a minor character in Forbidden Rose and in The Black Hawk.
ER: Do you have a favorite Spymasters book?
I’m most proud of Forbidden Rose. That’s the book that most closely tracks actual historical events. It’s the one with lots of research in it. Loads and tons of research. And I am particularly proud of all the clever plotty stuff going on.
ER: What would surprise your fans the most about Joanna Bourne?
I walk around making up stories in my head. I kinda live halfway in other worlds and am not generally all the way mentally in this one, which no doubt accounts for many aspects of my personality.
ER: What is your least favorite part about writing? Your favorite?
The hardest part of writing — my least favorite part of writing — is making myself sit down to do it. It’s doing the ‘butt in chair hands on keyboard’ bit. It’s the discipline of gathering my mind from all the points of the compass where it is scattered about. It’s silencing all the little voices chirruping in the corners of my head. It’s nailing my attention firmly into the story.
Oh, but when you finally do get to writing. When you know what the scene is about and you see it in your head and hear the characters’ voices. When you fall into your story. That’s good. That’s magic. There’s nothing like it.
ER: Do you only read historical? If not, what genres do you like to read?
I mostly read non-fiction. Blast. I hate to say that. Maybe 90% of what I’m reading at any given time is nonfiction. I read anything at all. Right now I’m in the middle of a reread of Plagues and People, which is looking at history from an epidemiological standpoint. Also reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. Sand County is kinda a cross between Rachel Carson and Travels With Charley.
Talking Historical Romance … I have so many beloved authors: Grace Burrowes, Anne Gracie, Kristin Callihan, Mary Jo Putney, Deanna Raybourn, Cecilia Grant, Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas, Susanna Kearsley, Jeanie Lin, Isobel Carr, Jo Beverley, Tessa Dare, Patricia Rice, Meredith Duran, Shana Galen, Zoe Archer, Julie Anne Long …
ER: Before we wrap things up, Joanna, what advice would you give a new author?
I’d say, “Write because you love it. Write because you can’t do anything else. Enjoy what you do. Don’t worry too much.”
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.
Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.
Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…
She had not forgotten how to be terrified, even after many years of safety.
Snakes of fear slithered along her bones.
Outside the window, in the garden, a few house sparrows had come to hop about in the grass. The brightest color was the quince tree, yellow against the brick. The hollyhocks were seedpods now, all their leaves brown, looking disgruntled with autumn. Even in early September frost nipped them at night. She could see beyond the wall to the wood on the other side of Dawson’s field. Tree shadows flickered against the sky.
It was really a beautiful day.
She’d been safe in the village of Brodemere for ten years. But before that, she’d been one of the Cachés, one of the terrible, well-trained children sent to England by the fanatics of the Revolution. She’d been a French spy, placed in an English family. Placed with the Leylands, because the two fiercely intelligent, dithering, scholarly old ladies were the codemakers and codebreakers for the British Intelligence Service.
The British Service would not be forgiving. They could not allow the escape of a French spy live who knew so very many of their secrets. It would not matter to them that she had never stolen secrets. That she had long since shaken free of her French masters. The British Service could not afford to trust her. She let her breath out unevenly, accepting this truth.
One must know when it is time to run.
Connect with Joanna:
Joanna Bourne at GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/486041.Joanna_Bourne
Trivia Question: What does Thomas Paxton return to London to do?
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