A Christmas wedding to the Duke of Bellingham. Any other socialite in Newport, Rhode Island, would be overjoyed at the prospect, but Elizabeth Cummings finds her mother’s announcement as appealing as a prison sentence. Elizabeth has not the slightest desire to meet Randall Blackmore, let alone be bartered for an English title. Her heart belongs to another, and the duke’s prestige, arrogance, and rugged charm will make no difference to her plans of elopement.
Against his expectations and desires, Randall Blackmore has inherited a dukedom and a vast estate that only marriage to an heiress can save. Selling his title to the highest bidder is a wretched obligation, but to Randall’s surprise his intended bride is pretty, courageous, delightfully impertinent—and completely uninterested in becoming a Duchess. Yet suddenly, no other woman will do, and a marriage in name only will never be enough for a husband determined to win his wife in body, heart, and soul…
Please give a warm welcome to today's Word Wizard, author Jane Goodger!
Thanks for joining us today Jane. Tell us about your latest project, Marry Christmas. Love that title, by the way. :0)
I’ve had the idea for Marry Christmas brewing for quite a while. I was so fascinated by Consuelo Vanderbilt’s life. At 18, she was forced to marry the Duke of Marlborough even though she was in love with another man. She was an heiress and he was an English peer in desperate need of cash. The Duke was, in modern lingo, a real tool---at least according to Consuelo Vanderbilt’s biography. He once took a valuable item, hid it, then called the servants in to demand to know who stole it. The poor maids were in tears until he, laughing, produced the item. Nice guy. I remember feeling sorry for poor Consuelo and wishing she’d had a happy ending (she did end up divorcing the duke and remarrying later in life). I decided I would create my own heroine, fashioned after Consuelo, but give her a much nicer duke. My heroine still has a difficult time, for she is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know or love, while she is in love with another man. But my heroine, Elizabeth, has a much happier ending with her duke, Randall Blackmore.
Sounds intriguing! I love when real life events inspire fictional ones. This is your first historical novel in seven years. Was it difficult to return to that arena? What did you find most challenging? What was surprisingly easy, if anything?
I was so excited when my editor asked me to write an historical instead of another contemporary. I only had three months to do it, and with three kids and teaching, it was a real challenge. But the book wrote itself. It was one of the most amazing writing experiences I’ve ever had. It was almost as if I were reading Marry Christmas instead of writing it, that’s how wonderful the experience was. I missed writing historicals; it’s really where my heart is. I’m certainly not discounting writing contemporaries again (I have a couple things brewing), but I find historicals easier and more fun to write. I’m a real history junkie and love the research aspect.
Three months, whew! I do love it when things just flow. If a group of people or a book club were discussing Marry Christmas what do you think would be the topic of discussion?
I think they would discuss whether or not they would have acted as Elizabeth did. Elizabeth was put in an incredibly difficult position, something as a writer I was very cognizant of. I think, when reading a book, it is easy to get angry with a character. Why doesn’t she fall in love with Rand the way I am? Well, because Elizabeth doesn’t know Rand as well as the reader does. Of course the reader thinks my hero is wonderful. But from Elizabeth’s perspective, he was a fortune hunter interested only in her money. Also, Elizabeth is one of my youngest heroines, so I have her acting at times like a nineteen year old. She clings to her lost love and to the idea of choosing her own husband. I kept thinking, ‘how would I feel?’ if I were nineteen. Elizabeth is a complicated and realistic character, and in the end, she’s the perfect heroine for Randall..
Interesting! It's easy as a reader to forget that we know more than the characters do. I think it's a testament to your writing savvy that you were able to step back into the mind of a nineteen year old. I struggle with that - which is why I write heroines closer to my age! :0) Is there a particular character that you've written over the years to whom you really related personally?
That would have to be Maggie from When There Is Hope. She is an eternal optimist, and I am definitely a cup-half-full person. Even in the face of horrible odds, she tries to find something, anything to cling to. She believed that, when there is hope, anything is possible. I loved Maggie!
I'm adding When There Is Hope to my to-be-read list! What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to Marry Christmas. It’s Margaret (Maggie) and Lord Hollings’ story. I’ve already gotten many emails wondering when that book will be coming out and if it features Maggie (I obviously love that name!). The book is currently untitled, but it will be released for Christmas next year.
How exciting! I know I'll be waiting anxiously...I've just started Marry Christmas and can't hardly put it down to feed my children! :0) Would you tell us something about yourself, unrelated to writing? Hobbies? Quirks?
It’s a major, major effort for me to clean my house. Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house, I just wish someone else would do it all for me. I always keep it clean enough so if my mother calls to say she’s coming to visit, I can make it look just fine in the thirty minutes it takes her to get to my house. I simply make sure she doesn’t look inside my closets or my oven (here’s a little hint, ladies, you can stuff an oven full of dirty dishes much faster than you can wash ‘em. Just remember they’re there before you turn the oven on.).
Mmm, there's nothing better than a clean & decluttered house...too bad I don't live in one! And here's your random question - although I'm reluctant to end this interview, it's been so much fun! *Sigh* All good things must come to an end, I guess. Your random question continues our theme this month: Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, what is your favorite thing about it? Costume? Ritual?
I have three little kids, so I LOVE Halloween. When I was a kid, there was a big scare about razor blades in apples and drugs in candy. So Halloween was cancelled. Instead, our community put on Halloween parties. Big snooze. Nothing beats going out in the dark in a cool costume and getting a bag full of candy. I make sure my kids walk until they can’t carry their bags anymore wearing the best costumes we can think of. I definitely am living vicariously through them. I wish I could freeze time so they would stay little and would always go out trick-or-treating.
I remember that scare - our Halloween was cancelled also. And I agree, parties just don't compare to trick-or-treating! Jane, thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to hang out with us!
Jane has graciously agreed to give away one copy of Marry Christmas. Just post a comment about the interview or ask a question, and you'll be entered into the random drawing. Good luck!
Can't wait for the contest to end on Friday? Just click here to purchase your very own copy of Marry Christmas. Also be sure to visit Jane's website: http://www.janegoodger.com/. You can learn more about Jane's historicals and her contemporary writing under the name Jane Blackwell.