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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blog Tour: Innocence by Elise de Sallier (Interview & Giveaway)

A Forbidden Love: Book One
By Elise de Sallier
Publication Date: Dec, 17th 2013
Category: Romance/Historical/ Regency
ISBN paperback:978-1-61213-200-6
ISBN ebook: 978-1-61213-201-3
Available from TWCS Publishing House, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, B&

I am very pleased to welcome Elise de Sallier to my blog today, in honor of her debut novel, Innocence: A Forbidden Love

** Elise is giving away as a grand prize a paperback copy of Innocence, and 3 winners will receive e-copies of the book! 
Forced to flee her father's brutal heir, Miss Anneliese Barlow masquerades as Lisa Brown, a commoner, in the grand country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Discovering the life she'd known was a virtual fairy tale, and reality a dark and forbidding place, Lisa faces danger at every turn.

Captivated by the beautiful maid, the duke's heir, Lord Marsden, decides the only way to keep the new girl safe—and close—is by offering her his protection. With her reputation ruined and all hope of returning to her previous station seemingly lost, Lisa surrenders her virtue, finding unexpected passion in Nathaniel's arms.

Despite her misgivings about the dubious morality of the role, she accepts the position of Nathaniel's mistress, but the future is fraught with uncertainty. If her identity is uncovered, Lisa's innocence won't be the only thing that's lost.

Thanks to Elise for graciously doing a interview
Q1. Why did you choose to write a novel in Regency times?

My reasons for writing a Regency were purely accidental. I'm a huge fan of romance novels of all genres, with a soft spot for Regencies and Paranormals . . . and historicals, contemporaries, cowboy, sci-fi, shapeshifter, billionaire, small town, you name it, as long as there is romance and a Happily Ever After. When my husband brought the Twilight DVD home one night, I fell in love with the world and characters. Stumbling on the world of Twilight fan fiction soon after, I was overjoyed to find a wide variety of stories by an amazing and eclectic group of writers. After making friends with some of my favourite authors, I plucked up the courage to try writing my own story, contacting Project Team Beta for help with the grammar side of things, something I knew very little about.

To my amazement, my first story, Once Bitten, attracted several thousand reviews. A canon story (which means it is set in the Twilight world) it gave me the chance to address the numerous questions I was left with after reading the series. From there, I started thinking about parallels between the human/vampire world Stephenie Meyer created and the class system of the 1800s, where commoners were considered less than the gentry, gentry less than the nobility and aristocracy, and women of all classes of less value than men. I then translated my loose interpretation of the Twilight characters into a Regency setting with this theme in mind, began writing and posting A Forbidden Love, and was soon inundated with reviews – over 12 000. Being contacted by an acquisitions editor from The Writer's Coffee Shop about submitting an original story for publication was unexpected to say the least . . . and very exciting.

I originally had no intention of reworking A Forbidden Love for publication, but whilst writing the first story of my Hearts of Honour series, Passion and Propriety, which will be published by TWCS in August 2014, I was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder. It effects my voice which meant I had to give up my profession as a counsellor and trainer. Faced with a drastic loss of income, I decided I couldn't afford to be precious about 'pulling to publish'. To my relief, TWCS said they were interested in A Forbidden Love also, though my joy would have been tempered if I'd had any idea how much work was involved reworking, rewriting, deTwilighting, and editing a behemoth of a fanfic story (nearly 250 000 words) into something fit for publication! I had hoped to publish it as one story, but that would have meant making enormous cuts (the minor ones were painful enough!) as virtually unknown, debut novelists do not get to publish books much over 100 000 words due to the cost of returns from the spines of larger books breaking. Consequently, A Forbidden Love is being published as two books, Innocence, which comes out on December 17th 2013, and Protection, which will be released in May 2014.

Q2. Do you only write novels in this period?

At this stage, yes. I've written three Regencies with several more planned. I also have plans for a Paranormal/Fantasy romance series which I am looking forward to writing when I get the chance.

Q3. Where did the vision of Nathaniel's character come from?

I wanted to write a strong male character who is confident in his place in the world, secure in his beliefs and yet with a decidedly skewed world view (according to our modern way of thinking, at any rate). I like stories where the heroine isn't the only one whose character grows and develops, as I think a man who is willing to recognise, admit to, and learn from his mistakes is very appealing.

Q4. Have your life experiences impacted the type of stories you write? If so what issues do you address and why?

Definitely. One of the main reasons I like reading romance stories is because relationships are very important to me. Even before becoming a counsellor and family therapist, I read books on what makes relationships work, summarising them to my non-reader husband as well as dragging him along to marriage enrichment weekends, counselling when we hit a rough patch around the seven year mark, and parenting courses when we found ourselves out of our depth with our three, now grown, children. He's a strong, caring, 'teachable' type (the best kind of man in my book!) and I'm happy to be able to say that after thirty years of marriage he is my best friend and we're still very much in love. Did I mention we met when I was sixteen and married when I was nineteen? Shocking, I know!

Q5. This is the first of three novels, give us a small hint on what is still to come.

The sequel to Innocence, the second book in the Forbidden Love series, is called Protection, and we get to see Nathaniel's point of view as well as Lisa's. I had hoped to show his pov in the first book, but in the interests of avoiding unnecessary repetition, and to achieve a manageable word count, those scenes were cut.

Without giving away too much of the story, Protection sees Lisa and Nathaniel facing a whole set of different obstacles to the ones they had to overcome in Innocence, and in an entirely different setting. Where Innocence follows the plot of the original fan fiction story quite closely, Protection has a number of new scenes and characters that help to give what was originally just the ending and extended HEA of A Forbidden Love a story arc all its own.

The third book in the series, Transformation, is one I have only just made a start on. It is Eleanor's and Michael's story, one I never intended to tell but has captured my imagination. It is also quite a challenge, as Eleanor is not a very likeable character in Innocence . . . hence the title.

Q6. How much research on the Regency period did you have to do to write this novel?

A lot! As I wrote the original version of this story purely as an exercise in escapism, I wasn't overly worried about historical accuracy and relied on what I had gleaned from reading countless Regency and historical romances. The issues I raise about the age of consent and the battle to abolish slavery were researched, but the impediment to Nathaniel marrying whomever he wanted and the character of the King in my story were fictional. You can imagine my panic when I realised I needed to tie my fantasy world to the real one! To my relief, I discovered that by shifting my story forward in time to 1831, I was able to solve all my problems. King William IV, who reigned for just a few years between the Regency era and Queen Victoria, fit my story perfectly, as did the Royal Marriage Act of 1772. I found the story of the King's mistress, Mrs Jordan, quite heartbreaking, and the woman who eventually became his queen, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a fascinating character.

Q7. Does your background in counselling and family therapy impact your stories? If so how?

Absolutely! I've learned so much from my clients over the years, as well as from running numerous parenting, relationship and life skill courses. While I try not to get 'preachy' (my editors pounce on it, believe me!) that knowledge both motivates and permeates my writing.

From my experience as a foster carer and working as a school counsellor, I became very aware of the sexualisation of young girls through the Internet, TV, and the pressure they face via social media. With girls as young as eleven and twelve coming to me quite traumatised after being exposed to hard core and deviant pornography, often by older boys pressurising the girls to act out their Internet porn addiction fantasies, (picture an eleven year old sobbing her heart out because she doesn't want to have sex with animals, even though she now 'knows' that's what all adults do!) I found myself wishing for the “good old days”. That, in turn, got me thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum, where girls and women were kept (and still are in some places) in ignorance, powerless and with very little rights or protection. Needless to say, this was the motivation for addressing this theme in Innocence and Protection, one I foresee arising again in my stories.

Q8. Put yourself in Lisa's shoes, would you have done what she did after her father died or would you have taken a different path?

If you're asking whether I would have accepted Nathaniel's offer if I'd been in her boat . . . only nineteen, sheltered, and having been put through what, for her, would have been unimaginable trials . . . the answer is yes! Not wanting my hero to appear quite so controlling as he did in the fanfic (my very mild nod to MOTU at the time) I have him give Lisa some alternatives that some readers may think she should have accepted. But she was in love for the very first time, in a seemingly hopeless situation, and had lost everything, so I don't blame her one bit.

I have received a lot of criticism for making Lisa too innocent, unbelievably so in some people's minds, but funnily enough that aspect of my story is based on the real life experiences of my mother and grandmothers. Intelligent, educated women, they married without having any idea what to expect when it came to sex. My mother was an artist and teacher, and she told me she was six months pregnant when she plucked up the courage to ask the doctor how they were going to get the baby out of her belly button. That level of ignorance seems ludicrous to us today where answers to just about any question we can think of are at our finger tips. To my mind, if it was possible to be kept so thoroughly in the dark in the 1930s and 60s, then it's not implausible for a young woman to be quite ignorant in the 1800s when society worked so hard to keep them that way.

It can be difficult for us to relate to, but young women in this era had very few options and hardly any rights. I've actually made Lisa quite modern in her thinking and a lot more independent and resilient for one of her class and upbringing than would have been typical.

Q9. What is the most important message you want your readers to get out of your novel?

This question is a little more high brow than my intentions, as all I set out to do was write a fun, romantic, escapist story! Once I started researching information about the truly deplorable exploitation of young girls in the 1800s (and throughout history) I became quite passionate about helping girls and young women who are being sexually exploited in the world today. Consequently, I have decided to donate 10 percent of anything I earn from my writing to World Vision Child Rescue and hope I might inspire some of my readers to support them or similar causes. Other than that, my main message is that loving, respectful, balanced relationships take work . . . but they are worth it!

Q10. Who was your favourite character to write and why?

Ugh! This is like asking me to choose between my children! I would have to say, for the first book, that I found Lisa's journey from an innocent and quite ignorant young woman, to one determined to take charge of her life regardless of the difficulties she faces, captivating. Nathaniel, on the other hand, makes me weak at the knees while occasionally wanting to clip him over the ear. In many ways, I think his journey of self discovery and character growth is even greater than Lisa's.

Q11. As you were writing, did you intend at the start to lean the story towards more heroine-centric, or was that due to the growth Lisa had to exhibit?

I started writing my epic fan fiction tale from my heroine's pov, as it is very much her story, but halfway in, I wanted to hear from my hero, to explain his motivation and find out what made him tick. Being a novice writer, I went back and added chapters to the story repeating scenes from his pov. Some readers loved it, but some hated the repetition. 

When I caught up with what I'd already written (up to the end of what became Innocence) I started writing chapters from the hero's pov that progressed the story rather than repeating scenes. When the story was put through an exhaustive edit with TWCS, I learned that repetitious scenes have little to no place in a professionally published story. The early hero pov scenes were cut, with Innocence told from Lisa's pov, and the sequel, Protection, from both hers and Nathaniel's.

Q12. Did you intend for Lisa and Nathaniel's story to span two books?

Not at all! I had hoped for their story to be told in one book, but it wasn't possible to get it in under the word count. I couldn't understand why it was so restrictive, as I'd read plenty of best sellers with word counts much higher than Innocence and Protection combined. But my editor explained that the spines of larger paperbacks (over 120 000 words) tend to break, and the publishers have to wear the cost of multiple returns. While they're willing to do that for books written by best selling authors that are likely to sell lots of copies, they can't afford to take the risk on a debut story by an unknown writer.

I'm aware that some readers won't agree with the story being split into two books, but I really didn't have any choice. I did insist the first story not end on an angsty cliffhanger (it was initially going to be split at the big 'disclosure' scene, right after Lisa's identity is revealed), so that readers were able to get some closure. Having said that, there are still plenty of obstacles for Nathaniel and Lisa to overcome in Protection and some new issues that arise as a result of the revelations disclosed at the end of Innocence.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Elise met the love of her life when she was only sixteen, married him three years later, and recently celebrated her thirtieth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, she is a big believer in living Happily Ever After. With a lifetime's worth of experience behind her, Elise also believes great relationships don't just happen, they take work . . . which doesn't mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun.
After surviving all manner of health obstacles while raising a family and nursing her elderly grandmother—her writing namesake, though she’d have been shocked by her granddaughter’s steamy love scenes—Elise established a career as a counselor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse began to make its voice heard. Two point three million hits, twelve and a half thousand reviews, and an email from an acquisitions editor at The Writer's Coffee Shop later, and Elise's life found a new and fascinating direction.
A romantic fiction addict from way back, writing her own historical and paranormal romances—and having others read and fall in love with her characters and the worlds she creates—is a dream come true. Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually.

Connect to the Author- TWCS Book PageTWCS Author PageFacebook

** Elise is giving away as a grand prize a paperback copy of Innocence, and 3 winners will receive e-copies of the book! 
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1 comment:

  1. Regency and historical romances were my first book obsession... 40 yrs ago LOL! It's wonderful to see the genre is alive and well and spicier than ever



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