I’m thrilled to have author Elizabeth Bailey on my blog today.
Welcome Elizabeth. First, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Africa on a diet of unconventional parents, theatre and Georgette Heyer. Eventually I went into acting and trod the boards in England until the writing bug got me, when I changed to teaching and directing while penning historical romances and womenâ€™s fiction. My 8 year apprenticeship ended with publication by Mills & Boon, for whom I wrote 18 historicals. Latterly Iâ€™ve had two historical mysteries published by Berkley (Penguin US) and Iâ€™m hoping to release more Lady Fan novels soon. Meanwhile, itâ€™s wonderful to be able to return to my first love and put out new and old releases in ebook.
Me: Ah, theatre and historical romance. Two of my loves as well. The blog is yours, Elizabeth. Take it away.
Iâ€™m a glutton for research. I have a very large bookcase full of material covering all aspects of life, mostly from the 18th Century with a smattering of books on other periods along with my crime library concerning investigations and murder.
The most used is Cunningtonâ€™s Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, without which I couldnâ€™t function, although I usually leave these descriptions to the editing stage. The great thing about Cunnington is the detail, from fabrics to accessories, with year on year changes for both men and women.
One book on antiques has a useful set of images depicting the way rooms actually looked, as well as individual items of furniture – for which Iâ€™ve also got Chippendaleâ€™s workbook. Ackermann helps with scenes of London, such as Brooksâ€™s, Astleyâ€™s Amphitheatre, Covent Garden and the Pantheon. The Romance of the Road gives two whole journeys from London to Bath and London to Portsmouth in drawings, so you get distances, inns and the likely traffic. I canâ€™t do without my books on Georgian cookery, and those with satirical drawings are wonderfully evocative of the period.
Setting is vital and Iâ€™m in love with my book of maps from the late 18th century covering the entire country. Iâ€™ve also got London and greater London A-Z style maps, and a whole raft of detailed Victorian books about London and surrounding districts with interesting snippets, like who lived where, whatâ€™s there and the history behind it, plus sketches.
I like images best because they help me picture the scene, and I can garner textual stuff to furnish detail. Itâ€™s amazing how it puts me into the period in my head, which in turn enables me to write it for the reader to imagine.
This is what I love about books, and why research is vital. You canâ€™t detail everything youâ€™ve read. Instead you draw the scene in brush strokes of words, letting the reader fill in the gaps. I have to immerse myself in the data, even if only about 10% ends up in the book.
To be honest, Iâ€™m far too apt to lose myself in the books and forget what Iâ€™m actually looking for. One piece of research leads to another, besides throwing up new plot points I hadnâ€™t thought of. Research for me is as much part of the process of writing as it is exploration of the period.
Can you tell us about your latest release?
AN ANGELâ€™S TOUCH
Outspoken Verity Lambourn berates the mentor of two lost children, having no idea that the lame young man with the vibrant black eyes is the widowed Henry, Marquis of Salmesbury. When she knocks him flying in Tunbridge Wells, Verity realises she has not been able to get him out of her mind.
Tumbling towards a promising future, Verity must confront the shadows of Henryâ€™s tragic past. Matters come to a head when the children are kidnapped, but it takes a threat to Henry himself to test the strength of Verityâ€™s love and the truth of a gypsyâ€™s prophecy.
His features were good, though marked, young as he was, with lines of suffering that ran down to a well-shaped mouth, tight-lipped at this moment, and a resolute chin. It was his eyes, so dark as to be almost black, that were his most striking attribute, attractive even as they burned with the anger that he turned back on the boy.
â€˜Well, Braxted?â€™ he repeated, in a voice that was not the less threatening for its quiet control. â€˜Your pranks are one thing, and to be discussed between us at some more convenient time. But to be involving your little sister in them goes beyond the line of what may be tolerated.â€™
He paused, but the boy, though he raised his blue orbs to stare defiantly up into that smouldering gaze, had nothing to say.
â€˜I trust,â€™ continued the man softly, â€˜I make myself plain?â€™
â€˜Yes, sir,â€™ the boy asserted gruffly.
â€˜Upon my word!â€™ Verity exclaimed, entering the lists as the implications of this speech burst in upon her. â€˜And I trust, sir,â€™ she said, rounding on the young man in righteous indignation, â€˜that you will take the trouble to enquire more particularly into this affair before you inflict the dreadful punishment that I suspect to be in your mind.â€™
Taken aback, the young man jerked round to face her. He almost tripped up in his clumsy haste and had to support himself with his cane.
â€˜And what, maâ€™am,â€™ he demanded icily, â€˜has this affair in any way to do with you?â€™
â€˜I will tell you,â€™ Verity declared at once, not in the least deterred by his manner. â€˜I happen to be in possession of the true facts of the matter, having come upon the scene a few moments before yourself. I would have supposed, sir, that anyone with the least degree of common sense must perceive at once that the boy is far too protective of his sister to be likely to implicate her in any pranks he might play. And in this instance, as you would have known had you troubled yourself to ask the child before flinging accusations at his head in thatâ€”that brutish fashion, there was no prank in the case.â€™
Then, without giving her astonished auditor an opportunity to open his mouth, Miss Lambourn dropped down to the boyâ€™s level and grasped him urgently by the shoulders.
â€˜My dear young friend, do, I beg of you, think for a moment. I dare say it is all very brave and manly for you to take the blame for something which is in no way your fault, but you cannot have thought the question through. Only consider. Another time you may not be at hand to see the danger, and what if the nurse should be so careless when you are not by to dash so gallantly to the rescue? Then you would have cause to blame yourself indeed. For by your keeping silent, you know, the nurse will never be corrected, for I cannot think that she will confess her fault.â€™
The boy Braxted looked much struck by this, and, grasping his hands and smiling coaxingly at him, Verity added, â€˜What good can it possibly do for you meekly to accept a punishment which you have done nothing to deserve? Indeed, only misery can come from such a gross injustice. To you, perhaps to your sister and the nurse. And indeedâ€”â€™ with a fleeting glance up at the stern countenance above her â€˜â€”to your mentor himself. I wish, dear friend, you will think better of it and tell him everything.â€™
Braxted now also cast a quick look up at the young man standing silently by. He noted that the features had relaxed, and the dark eyes had lost their fire. His stiffness melted and he grinned suddenly.
â€˜Well, I will, then. I like to have a friend like you.â€™
Verity smiled and pressed his hands before releasing them. â€˜I am glad. I hope we may meet again.â€™
She rose and turned to look again at the young man. Like Braxted, she saw that the anger had vanished from his eyes, to be replaced by a gleam which she strongly suspected to be of amusement. An amusement she deprecated, for his conduct had been disgraceful. Then he spoke, and his words disarmed her.
â€˜It is apparent that I owe you both apology and thanks,â€™ he said, adding with an ironic little bow, â€˜I have certainly been put very firmly in my place.â€™
Elizabeth has generously offered to give away a digital copy of An Angel’s Touch to one lucky commentor. Please leave your email address in the body of the comment.
Thanks so much for spending this time with us, Elizabeth.