Welcome Author Beverely Oakley today & a Giveaway
The Duchess and the Highwayman
By Beverley Oakley
Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and an ebook The Mysterious Governess.to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.
Interview with Beverley Oakley
Interview with Beverley Oakley
Thanks for stopping by to talk a little about your writing! Let's jump right in. When did you begin writing and why?
It started with a love of reading. Strangely, I was a late reader but when I was 5 I got a very strict and scary teacher called Mrs Schmidt who I was sure was 100 with her iron grey bun on top of her head and her beetling brows. Almost overnight I became ta diligent and avid reader. My mum said that when she’d asked me why I went from being such a reluctant reader to a really good one, I’d replied, “Because when Mrs Schmidt asked me to read ‘really well’ I was too scared not to!”
I’m not advocating terrorising children to perform but it seems to have worked for me :) After that, I wrote stories about witches and magic which I’d read to my two younger sisters.
Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?
I read broadly and I write in several genres: Historical romance laced with mystery and intrigue under my Beverley Oakley name. Under my Beverley Eikli name I write psychological historical dramas while my first Africa-set aviation based romantic suspense - Diamond Mountain - is due out later this year.
Do certain themes and ideas tend to capture your writer’s imagination and fascinate you?
Redemption is a constant theme. I don’t know why and I often try to work out what terrible crime I might have committed to always end up with a redemption theme, even when that’s not how the story started. Many of my stories also feature a deception or charade where someone has to pretend to be someone or something they’re not. That theme I think is particularly pertinent to an historical heroine because women had so few legal rights until relatively recently. Most of my stories are written prior to the 1870 Married Women’s Property Act which, for the first time in British history, allowed married women to legally keep their own earnings and inherit property. An unmarried woman was dependent on her closest male relative, so of course my historical heroines have to rely on their wits and ability to manipulate the men in their lives to get what they want.
How do you balance long-term thinking vs. being nimble in today's market?
An interesting question for a writer when publishing and the market has changed so much in the past few years, and continues to change so rapidly.
Some writers will position themselves to write to market, providing readers with the kinds of stories, genres and themes that are particularly in demand. I can’t do that. I have to love a story idea and then I’ll write it. Yes, I’ll do my best to market it when it’s published, but I won’t do any market research on ‘what’ to write.
How do you find readers in today's market?
I’ve started dabbling in Amazon ads which is quite fun. I also have a newsletter which I send out once a month. I’m a bit shy about that because I know readers can get sick of newsletters clogging up their inbox. But I try to pack it with free or 99c reads and author collaborations meaning there’s lots of value for the reader, even if that reader doesn’t want to read ‘my’ book, necessarily. I’ll also try to make it coincide with a new release of mine.
Do you come up with the hook first, or do you create characters first and then dig through until you find a hook?
Generally my characters come first. I usually will have started germinating an idea a good year or more in advance and I might write two other books or stories in the interim before this one slowly emerges in various incarnations. However, I do sometimes find a hook that grabs me, perhaps in the course of research.
How do you create your characters?
Sometimes I’ll have written a third of a book, then gone on to publish two others that were half written, so that when I return, fresh, to the original book, I’ll think, “Oh my goodness, Mr Redding is not a rake, after all. He’s a decent, heroic and honourable man. How could I have thought he was a rake!” This is what happened with my hero in The Duchess and the Highwayman. I had to completely rework the hero, taking out all his salacious leers and thoughts. But that’s part of the fun of writing. And I really do love editing to reinforce a character’s personality.
What's on the top of your TBR pile right now?
Actually, the two books I’ve finished concurrently in one week are the very odd mix of Georgette Heyer’s ‘Charity Girl’ and Jane Harper’s ‘The Dry’, a contemporary crime thriller set in the Australian outback. I loved them both! So, yes, I read across a wide range of genres and that’s perhaps why I’m launching into a very different genre with my forthcoming Africa-set romantic suspense, Diamond Mountain.
Tell me a little about the characters in The Duchess and the Highwayman.
Phoebe, my heroine, is a young duchess in a terrible marriage who is rescued by a ‘highwayman’ after she flees her home having been falsely accused of her husband’s murder. The book explores the romance between two people who are not who they say they are, and includes the psychological aspects of a woman with no resources trying to gather what she needs to survive - fearing she’s about to once again lose everything - at the same time as being unable to trust.
Hugh Redding, my hero, is a decent, honourable man who thinks he’s rescuing a lady’s maid and who must reassess his assumptions if he’s to save the life of the woman who has become so important to him.
Where’s the story set? How much influence did the setting have on the atmosphere/characters/development of the story?
It’s set in rural England in 1820 before moving to London. The isolation of the environment plays a large part in Phoebe’s loneliness while the anonymity of London feeds into her happiness and sense of security - before her life implodes, once more.
If you had to write your memoir in five words, what would you write?
A thousand lives in one.
How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?
Oh dear, all the time. I’m constantly dreaming up new ‘what ifs’, or romantic scenarios. I’m lucky to have a husband who thinks this an asset in a wife!
What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?
My next release is Devil’s Run, due out in early August. It’s one of my Scandalous Miss Brightwell series where two clever, beautiful sisters (who’ve made amazing rags-to-riches marriages) and their doltish brother, embark upon various matchmaking ventures to aid those they believe deserve some help - often with some very unexpected results.
Thank you so much for having me here, today, Dawn!
Excerpt: Hugh stared after her and when he’d regained his senses he found he was unconsciously touching his mouth with the fingertips of his right hand. Damn, but she’d taken him by surprise with that kiss of hers. Even still his lips were burning. At the window he gripped the sill and stared down the modest drive that led from the cottage to the road. She’d asked him what he’d hoped to achieve by accosting Wentworth at pistol point. Honour for his sister. Yes, it had been rash but he’d been in his cups when he’d come up with the plan to prove to Ada that not all men were smooth-talking confidence tricksters who led vulnerable women down the road to ruin. There was also the small chance of exacting some retribution from the man. A marriage proposal had been his ultimate aim though when he’d confidently told Ada he’d ensure Wentworth did the honourable thing she’d burst into tears and said she’d not marry him if he were the last man on God’s earth. Well, Hugh didn’t much fancy Wentworth for a brother-in-law either but he did love his sister exceedingly and surely marriage was better than ruin or the convent, as Ada had at one stage desired. And contrary to what Phoebe believed, Ada and he had grown up without a mother and Hugh had had a more than usual guiding influence on his young sibling which was why’d felt Ada’s failure was somehow his. He fingered the scar on his wrist, sustained during a childhood show of chivalry on behalf of his sister’s honour. Phoebe’s talk of just now had unleashed a veritable storm of emotions. Surprisingly, her talk about exacting retribution in the form of depriving Wentworth of what he most wanted kept replaying itself in his head. She’d sounded so confident but what could a maidservant know about exacting retribution from a man like Wentworth? Who was she really? A village child born in some humble hovel? Her beauty had no doubt opened a number of doors. Could she have had a noble protector who’d left her to slide back into servitude? Is that where she’d learned to speak and act like a lady? He touched his finger to his lips once more. Ha, that precious innocence of hers for which she’d not barter a dress was a tall tale. Only a woman experienced in the ways of men would have been so bold as to plant a kiss like the one she’d given him. A woman used to being paraded and feted by a gentleman. Perhaps, as she claimed, she could be useful to him. But she’d need a little coaching. He couldn’t afford for her to embarrass them both by proving her low birth during an unguarded moment. He smoothed back his hair and regulated his breathing. Yes, he would take Phoebe in hand and teach her how to be a lady. Then he’d make her his mistress and she could have all the gowns she chose, within reason.