Elizabeth is in that delirious and delicious stage of debut release-itis. Her first novel, MOONSTONE OBSESSION, comes out on 17 October. Welcome and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
Thank you so much for having me as a guest!
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
It definitely has to be people, not necessarily specific individuals as such, but the exploration of the human condition - how we cope with the highs and lows of life and the choices we make that shape our character.
To me the appeal of writing fiction is the opportunity to examine aspects of common human experience through the eyes of another person.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Moonstone Obsession
Several things came together over a period of years before I plucked up the courage to start writing novels. First it was a 2000s British reality TV series called Regency House Party – think The Bachelor meets Pride & Prejudice – combined with a scene that kept running through my head of James and Selina (although I didn’t have names for them then) whose immediate attraction and witty banter just clicked. Then it was the 2008 film Amazing Grace which looked at the life of William Wilberforce the abolitionist that had me reflect on how heavily influential the 18th Century was in terms of social and political philosophy.
3. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
I don’t know where Selina came from but the meaning of her name – referencing the Greek Goddess of the Moon – became a recurring motif throughout the book.
And James… I don’t know! I think he just told me.
4. Who would you cast for a movie/TV series as your main characters if given the chance?
Channing Tatum as Sir James Mitchell and Keira Knightley as Selina Rosewall.
5. If you could pick a soundtrack to match your main character’s life, what would it be?
Counting Stars by One Republic
6. What is your favourite holiday?
I love cruises – exotic destinations, all meals included – unpack just the once. Fabulous!
7. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
I received two lovely rejection letters including a request to resubmit as well as no response from another three publishers before Moonstone Obsession found a home with Etopia Press.
8. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript?
POV and headhopping – terms that I have never encountered before. I just wrote as I saw the action unfolding in my head. It’s been a fascinating exercise to run through these issues with my editor and I have a better handle on the subject now.
I’m looking forward to going through the second draft of my current WIP to apply what I’ve learned.
9. Who is your literary hero?
Agatha Christie – a fabulous author, whose work is enduring.
10. Who do you most admire and why? OR If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, and spend an hour with them, who and why?
Moonstone Obsession has three real historical figures who play a prominent role – William Pitt the Younger – Britain’s youngest Prime Minister, the former slave trader turned minister John Newton and William Wilberforce, the Yorkshire MP who sponsored and championed the abolitionist cause. I would love to talk to Wilberforce about the passion and struggle he had in seeing his anti-slavery legislation passed.
11. What is your favourite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
I keep coming back to Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne, first published in 1982. It was the first historical romance I read when I was a teenager and it’s been hugely influential. Her compelling blend of real life figures and fictional characters in a narrative that displays historical integrity is something I hope to model in my writing.
(My first historical reading was Georgette Heyer whose her delicious writing is so appealing too.)
12. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
I told myself that I would never write a contemporary romance but lo and behold I have an idea for a sweet novella which I’ll start as soon as finish my current historical romance called Warrior’s Surrender.
13. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Fortunately not too many – perhaps about 7 (that’s not too many is it?) I’ve been fortunate to have my lovely husband’s help. He was also Moonstone Obsession’s first editor.
14. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
Of my fictional characters… oh gosh I love them all in Moonstone Obsession! If I had to pick only one… it would have to be the hero Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen. He grows quite a bit through the story from being a bitter and cynical young man who has been burned by love. He has a good heart and thanks to his romance with Selina, he discovers what it means to be a man of honour.
15. What are you working on now?
Warrior’s Surrender is another historical romance. This one is set after the infamous Harrying of the North that quelled the rebellion that threatened William The Conqueror’s hold of England following 1066. The heroine is a Saxon noblewoman whose lands have been dispossessed by the Normans and the hero is a Norman Baron who now holds the lands she once called home, but our hero has a secret that threatens to bring war again to England.
16. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you?
I’d love to share this excerpt from Moonstone Obsession:
The Comte and Edgar laughed.
“Adam, Eve, and the Garden are at best allegories—stories for children,” said Edgar. “The greatest scientific minds of our age are quite sure that Negroes and Europeans come from separate species altogether.”
He was supported by the Comte. “As we eschew superstition in pursuit of enlightenment through reason and science, we will see man less reliant on stories from old ancient tales,” he pronounced.
“There is no question that the Negro is hardly a man like the European. To quote from one of France’s greatest philosophers, Voltaire, ‘the race of the Negroes is a species of men different from ours… we can say that if their intelligence is not from another species of our understanding, she is much lower...”
The Comte paused briefly, searching for the words in English, and continued, “Ah, yes— 'They are not able of a great attention, they combine little...'”
The sound of a crystal tumbler smashing with force against the fire grate caused most everyone in the room to jump, and brought the Comte to stunned silence.
Selina had forgotten that her brother was in the room.
He’d been uncharacteristically quiet during the conversation. Now he stood before the fireplace florid with anger.
Selina started to rise, intending to calm him, but felt James’ hand cover hers to still her. She looked at him across the chess board, eyebrows raised. James answered with a shake of his head. Her facial expression asked a new question silently.
“Let him speak,” he whispered to her.
All eyes in the room were on Captain Rosewall. He pinned both Edgar and Comte Alexandre with a hard stare, the kind he usually reserved for subordinates who were about to receive a tongue lashing.
When William started to speak it was through clenched teeth.
“Have you ever seen a slave ship, gentlemen?”
(I love it, Elizabeth! Cannot wait for its release to read the rest. Social justice in reality and as a theme are important to me too.)
17. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo.
The Espresso Martini
2 measures of Vodka
2 measures of Kahlua
1 measure of Bickford’s Ice Coffee Mix
Mix and serve in a martini glass and sip slowly ;-)
Elizabeth Ellen Carter