I am very pleased to have fellow Soul Mate Publishing and historical author Caroline Warfield with me today. Her debut novel, Dangerous Works, was released this last September and the follow up, Dangerous Secrets, is coming out this winter. Please join me in getting to know Caroline and her stories better!
Dangerous Works tells the story of Lady Georgiana Hayden, who has struggled for years to do scholarly work in the face of constant opposition and even outright derision from the scholarly community at Cambridge. She sets out to hire a tutor to give depth and breadth to her translations and gets more than she bargains for.
She and Andrew, old friend and newly hired tutor, battle their way to a fragile partnership. She finds that even poetry can be dangerous when you partner with the love of your life. In Regency Cambridge it can lead quickly past improper to scandalous.
Tell us about your background before you started writing.
I think that would take me up to age 10! As an army brat I had a peripatetic childhood that fueled imagination and gave me strong interest in history and geography. I’m now retired, but I spent most of my career in library technology, on the industry side and the library side.
What drew you to writing romance? Are you a long-time reader?
People are the great fascination are they not? Romance focuses on the basics of human life: love and family. I have always read voraciously from the first book I picked up. My childhood was lost in Arthur and his knights, A Light in the Forest, and whatever historical fiction I could find. Generally my current reading includes a history or biography on the one hand and a steady stream of romance on the other. I think I read every Signet and Zebra regency every published. Lately I’ve begun to read a lot of historical mysteries, too.
When you begin writing a book, do you have the story all outlined in your mind or do you wait and see where the characters take you?
I sometimes start with a setting and imagine characters into it. I always envision the ending before I start so I know where I’m going. However, I turned out to be incapable of following a detailed outline. The characters just yank me around.
What writers have influenced your own writing?
We all bow to Jane Austen. Dangerous Works has been compared to Persuasion twice now to my delighted astonishment. My favorites contemporary authors are always those who show characters overcoming great barriers or tragedies: Mary Balogh, Anne Gracie, Carla Kelly. Jo Beverly also! Ms. Balogh did me the honor of a very kind note with a “Bravo!” after she read Dangerous Works.
All time, however, my favorite is Dorothy Dunnett. Her command of scene, era, history, and description is unparalleled. I can only wish I could come close.
How difficult was your hero/heroine to write? How do you view their characters?
Andrew’s character had been outlined for sometime. I originally invented four friends. I wrote a schoolboy story of their meeting at Harrow from all four points of view. I wrote a story of a catastrophe during the peninsular war from all four points of view. Neither of those incidents appears in any of my finished books but it solidified them all in my mind. Andrew was always the scholar of the group, the son of a Greek scholar, the quieter, more serious one. He got pulled into war against his instinct but ended up with a talent for espionage. At the start of Dangerous Works he is home, wounded, and in need of healing. All he wants is peace and challenging work.
This book was intended to be Andrew’s but in some ways Georgiana took over. She came to me in pieces, but she felt familiar from the beginning. She is strong and independent but hemmed in by reality. She brings exactly the sort of upheaval Andrew doesn’t want. Her brother Richard and his friend Jamie are minor characters in Dangerous Works. Their books will be called Dangerous Weakness and Dangerous Secrets respectively.
How important is the portrayal of families in your work?
Family is paramount! When my daughter married she said to me, “We aren’t having a wedding, we’re building a family.” God love her! I believe that strongly. Georgiana and Andrew are building a family. Her family of origin by contract is toxic. The conflict between her experience and what he tells her can be fuels the story.
After a long day of writing, how do you indulge yourself?
Almost every evening I have a glass of red wine, and enjoy a TV show. I love the PBS historical programs, Bletchley Circle and Call the Midwife chief among them. Am I the only one waiting breathlessly for Death Comes to Pemberley? I also watch a lot of documentaries on streaming services.
Tell us about your research for the book.
I don’t research up front. When I start to put words on paper and see where the characters are going I begin the have questions. The answers to them often lead to other questions. I began this one asking “What would happened if a woman in 1816 tried to do the kind of translations we see in Women’s Studies now, specifically translations of female poets in ancient Greece?” That required looking at the history of women’s education, women in academia. Settings require vision. Luckily we have ready access to maps and photographs. Even if I’ve been somewhere I require photos for inspiration. I pin them to Pinterest boards.
What haven’t you done as a writer that you’d like to attempt?
The market tells me mysteries, but my heart says historical novels. I want to write books that need genealogy charts and maps on the end pieces. I also enjoy writing middle grade historical novels and I am currently writing queries for two of them.
What are you planning for your readers? What’s next?
Dangerous Secrets, out Winter 2015, is set in Rome. The hero is someone who values friendship so much he can’t bear to have his friends know about an error he made, one he is deeply ashamed of. He is hiding out in Rome and down to his last coin when we meet him. That one was a joy to research. I’m writing an article on the Englishmen in Rome in the late Regency period.
What advice can you give writers who are getting started?
If you want to be a writer, sit down and write. Write a lot; write what you love. Don’t sit on the first book you finish, hoping someone loves it. Move on to the next. Hone your craft first; don’t get pushed into self-publishing too early. On the other hand, don’t be intimidated by the churning sea that is the current state of romance publishing. Stick with it; don’t give up.
How can readers get in touch with you?
You can find the book on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/lsaryjx
To see how I envision books, look at my Pinterest page, http://www.pinterest.com/warfieldcaro/
I can be reached through my website www.carolinewarfield.com
On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7
Blogging on History Imagined www.historyimagined.com
Caroline, thank you for joining me today. It was a pleasure to have you!