Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wednesday Guest- Patricia Watters
Hi Paty - It's great to be here. Thank you so much for the invite. You asked for a bio so I'll try to make it brief...
I grew up in New Orleans, and as a kid, my favorite pastime was to find a vacant lot, overgrown with tropical vegetation, and become some fictional character either stalking through the "jungle" or hiding out on some "deserted island." The world was unlimited then. Ironically, I hated to read and avoided it if I could, but whenever we were given a writing assignment in school, I gave it my all. I also loved the Saturday movies, and Tarzan was my introduction to the concept of hunks--which meant building a "jungle" house in a tree. Unfortunately, I built it in a tree next to the street and my dad got a letter from the city saying that the tree was on city property and the tree house had to come down. That was when I first got the idea of moving out of the city, which I did as soon as I was married. Now I live on thirty acres of woods in a little log house, located in the hills of Oregon. Still loving to write, but well out of the club years, I spend my time living a life of romance and adventure through my fictitious characters, and the hunks are in my stories.
Being published with both Harlequin and Avon in both contemporary and historical, I vacillate between wanting to write both, but I love whichever I'm writing at the time. What I love about historicals is the research--the clothes, the modes of transportation, the high moral expectations that leave a woman open to scandal and vulnerable to the antics of hunky rogues and rakes. It's also fun to research faraway places and bring them to life.
For example, in my book, Her Master's Touch, I already knew I wanted to set at least part of the story in British-held India in the 1870s. I read a romance set in India a few years back and it stuck with me, so I started reading books about the Brits living there during the Victorian period and was amazed at the high standard of living they enjoyed, with masquerade balls, and "picnics" that entailed tables with fine linens and chinaware and a half-dozen servants to fix the meal, and even having ice cubes in their tea during the sweltering summer months, but only because they had huge blocks of ice shipped across the ocean packed in sawdust. And every household teemed with servants. But during my research I also read about a magnificent opal the size of a hen's egg that Napoleon gave to Josephine, and which disappeared after Josephine's death. It turned up in Austria one hundred years later. No one knows where it was during those intervening years... so guess where it was? A hint. It turned up in India, where my hero buys it from a gem merchant, and the story takes off from there. The story moves between India and London. Here's the blurb:
She's the mystery debutante of the season, who arrived on the London scene as if from out of nowhere. But Lord Damon Ravencroft knows her dark secret. Two years before, when she was roaming with Gypsies and living by her wits in India, he hired her as a housemaid, and she stole from him a rare and valuable opal once belonging to Empress Josephine. Damon intends to be compensated for its loss, which set him back years in his quest to prove his innocence in a crime he's accused of committing. The sizeable dowry that comes with Lady Elizabeth Sheffield's hand in marriage is a start. It's also his price to keep her secret from all of London. But there's more to the marriage of convenience that Damon proposes than Elizabeth anticipated, but by the time she learns what it is, she's already Lady Damon Ravencroft, and she's trapped in a marriage with a man who both stirs her passions and fuels her resentment for the man she was forced to wed.
I loved writing this story, but it was challenging coming up with a reason why a woman, raised in "polite" society, could end up on the streets of India, traveling with Gypsies, and then later return to London to ultimately make her debut. I hope readers find my reasons credible.
Below is an excerpt from Elizabeth's coming out party, where she begins to realize exactly who the "Prince from the Punjab" really is. Damon is in London in disguise while trying to clear his name of a murder he didn't commit...
Elizabeth felt his eyes boring into her. But it was the tone of his voice that set her heart thrumming and sent prickles across her back and neck. “Our cultures are very different," she said. "In England, a proper young lady refrains from looking directly at a potential suitor and chance sending him the wrong message.”
She felt his warm breath on her damp forehead as he said in a low, evocative voice, “Is that why you think I’m here tonight, Lady Elizabeth, as one of your suitors?”
Elizabeth fought the urge to look at the arrogant man and shoot mental daggers at him, accompanied by a sharp retort. Another time, and another place, she could certainly match him in verbal and mental sparring. But here, tonight, this man most definitely held the advantage, whoever he may be. “I assumed my father invited you here for that reason,” she said, anxiously scanning the room, hoping to catch the eye of a would-be dance partner to cut in and sweep her away from this man who set her nerves humming and her heart tripping like a drunken maiden stumbling around while trying to catch her balance.
“You assumed correctly,” he said. “I was told that not only did Lady Elizabeth Sheffield possess rare beauty, but that she’d spent several years in India. It seemed appropriate that she be among the young ladies I’d consider to take as my wife.”
“Your wife?” Elizabeth was certain her heart stopped momentarily. The idea of marrying either man was unthinkable. Under normal circumstances she’d give no credence to it. But whichever man this was—Lord Damon Ravencroft or Prince Rao Singh—he held enough power, money and finesse to convince her father that he would make a fine match for his daughter. That thought alone brought chills coursing through her.
You can learn more about Patricia and her books here: www.patriciawattersromances.com