Sarah Richmond is sitting on my casting couch today so that I can ask her about her book A Most Ineligible Suitor (Nov 2012) Published by Montlake Romance, it is available in paperback and as an ebook at http://amzn.to/15VFE0i
The story is a fascinating one. On a grand tour to Italy with her cousin, wealthy heiress Marjorie Mayweather is braced for the adventure of a lifetime. After all, this is her chance for one last fling before surrendering herself to Frederick Clive-Bickerton, the well-heeled bachelor intent on marrying her.
But Frederick is the last thing on Marjorie’s mind when she meets the dashing yet chilly Captain Edward Grainger, a fellow resident at the Pensione Ferretti. Vexed by his indifference and enchanted by his ice-blue gaze, she finds herself magnetically drawn to this strangely private gentleman.
Edward must keep his distance, no matter how alluring he finds Marjorie to be. For he’s not really a military captain at all—he’s an undercover agent in pursuit of a notorious jewel thief reported to be staying at the pensione. Can Edward maintain his ruse long enough to nab the criminal among them…or will the affections of a young debutante unravel his entire investigation?
Now I want to find out why Sarah wrote this book.
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Hi Sarah. Thank you for agreeing to sit on my casting couch. I love the cover for A Most Ineligible Suitor. The heroine looks so elegant. What prompted the idea for this book?
While on a visit to Lucca in Italy, we visited Puccini’s home. I wanted to write about a heroine who lived in the same era. Puccini wrote in the ‘verisimo’ or realism style. His plays show brutality and violence, poverty and want. My heroine has been sheltered. She knows nothing of the world outside her small circle of wealth and privilege. Her trip to Italy is an eye-opener for her.
Another inspiration came from a painting by John Singer Sargent called ‘Group with Parasols’. The light he used reminded me of Italy. The ladies in the scene are dressed in white linen and are enjoying an outdoor picnic, something my heroine would love to do.
Your inspiration for this book really resonates with me Sarah because a few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Lucca myself. I was also a guest at the annual Puccini on the Lake festival in nearby Torre del Lago. A moonlit evening spent listening to Puccini's Tosca at the outdoor theatre on the lake while bats swooped above the opera singers was a magical experience. I would imagine that Marjorie Mayweather would have enjoyed it too. What a wonderful setting you have chosen for your book.
Tell me, how did you develop the story? Did you work through the plot first and then cast the characters, or was it characters first?
I always decide on the story I want to tell and then pick the characters who best help show the elements of the story.
In A Most Ineligible Suitor, the heroine is on holiday with a distant cousin. She is very much a free spirit who has escaped to a country with fewer social restrictions than she is used to and with a decorum different from English society. She is having the time of her life.
The hero is an Englishman. He is in disguise and his purpose for being in Italy—to catch an international jewel thief--is complicated by her antics. He is not comfortable about being dishonest with her, and yet he has a duty to his profession to pretend to be someone he isn’t.
What she teaches him about life and love is the theme of the story.
Which characters were the hardest for you to develop and why?
The male point of view is always more difficult for me. The challenge is to make the hero strong without being brutal, decisive without being unkind. The reader must understand his motivation, even sympathize with his flaws, but he can never be pitiful or weak.
How did you decide how your characters should look, especially Marjorie, who had to look true to her time?
There are many wonderful websites that show pictures of the ladies in the late Victorian era. I especially took note of the couture dresses and bridal dresses of the times, which are a delight. www.Victoriana.com is one of my favorite websites to visit.
Do you have a trick to help you develop your characters’ traits?
I rely on Heroes and Heroine by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. When I have a heroine in mind, I look through H and H and find the worst possible traits in a hero for her to fall in love with which leads to all kinds of delicious conflict.
I've not heard of that Sarah. It sound fascinating and I love that you search for the worst possible traits in your hero. You don't make it easy for the heroine do you? Are there other things you also do to develop their personalities?
I also use people I have met on my travels. Some characters are a combination of traits of the people I have known.
Marjorie is a misfit in some ways and doesn’t realize why until she comes to Italy.
Edward, having been raised in a strict household with no mother, doesn’t know how to express love. He may not even know, in the beginning, what love is.
All characters have goals. Can you sum your characters’ goals in A Most Ineligible Suitor in a word or two, or are they too multi-layered?
They have short term external goals: Edward is trying to catch a thief while Marjorie is on vacation and wants to see the sites. Overlaying those, however, are their long term internal goals: To love and find love.
Do you like the characters in this book? Are they people you would want to spend time with and if so, which one is your favorite, and which one would you most like to meet and why?
Marjorie introduces herself this way: “My name is Marjorie Mayweather and people tell me I have a sunny disposition. Who wouldn’t with a name such as Mayweather?”
I like a heroine who can be at ease with people, probably because I have always been rather shy. She’s smart. She knows in her circle she must act totally defenseless so that the suitor will feel manly. This does not bother her until she meets the hero. He understands her better than she understands herself.
Meeting the right man makes all the difference!
As for who I’d like to meet, the villain of the story is my most favorite character of all. He is so much fun to read about and to try to figure out a motivation, or what possible reason there must be for such bad behavior. I could have such a good conversation with my villain, I think.
Wow! You really want to meet your villain! That makes you a very brave writer. I always want to consign my villains to the devil. It's been fun talking to you Sarah. Your book sounds a great read.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about A Most Ineligible Suitor. I had so much fun writing the book.
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Multi-published author Sarah Richmond is Winner of the Hearts Through History 'Romance Through the Ages' and an EPPIE finalist.
She loves to tell stories about women in historical settings,the unique challenges they faced and the men they loved.
Sarah lives in Southern California and is a member of RWA-San Diego and East Valley Authors.
Visit Sarah online to read more about her books at www.sarahrichmond.com
You can find my books at http://amzn.to/ZSyLpf