Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blythe Gifford Rolls in the Blankets with Our Captain Jack Sparrow

*camera zooms in on Captain’s Quarters, specifically onto a bright tartan blanket, which appears to have a pair of bodies writhing beneath it*

Captain Jack Sparrow: Did….

*high pitched feminine squeal and a slap of flesh hitting flesh*

CJS: I suppose I deserved that. Excuse me, luv, I work better with light in the room. *pops up from the top of the blanket* There, that’s much better. Don’t you agree?

Blythe Gifford: *emerging from the blanket as well, hair rumpled, slightly disgruntled* I’m sorry we didn’t find your rum bottle. *straightening hair*

CJS: What were we doing before my rum went missing? Oh, yes… *grins roguishly* We were talking about your new novel, His Border Bride, and about heroes who are born on the wrong side of the blanket, like me.

Blythe: You were born on the wrong side of the blanket?

CJS: I think so. Isn’t that what it means when people call you a bastard?

Blythe: Not always. But in my hero’s case, he really was born on the wrong side of the blanket. He’s a bastard by birth, not personality. Gavin Fitzjohn is the illegitimate son of a prince of England and a Scots woman. Not only is he torn between royal and noble, he’s torn between two kingdoms. “A rebel without a country,” as the back cover copy says, he’s a man with a reputation so terrible, he’s outcast by both sides. He refuses to try to change anyone’s opinion of him. He just puts on that lazy smile lets them think he’s as bad, or maybe even worse, than the rumors. He’s my first “bad boy” hero.

CJS: You mean I’m not your first?

Blythe: *bats eyes and smiles*

CJS: He sounds like he has a reason to be cranky--*sniffs*--much like me. I feel sorry for the poor girl who ends up with him. What’s she like? A hellion who can match him toe-to-toe, or an angel of the house who he couldn’t even begin to deserve?

Blythe: A woman who is looking for the perfect “knight in shining armor,” of course! Clare Carr expects perfection in herself and in her future husband. But Gavin’s business, like that of any knight, was violence, dominance, and death. It’s no wonder that a “knight in shining armor” might hide some dark deeds beneath the shiny façade. Or, that the bad boy might see beyond a woman’s spotless reputation to the things she’d prefer to keep hidden…

CJS: Ooo. A beauty with hidden secrets. I like her already. What is it about Medieval history that interests you? And how much research do you do for your stories?

Blythe: I’ve been interested in the 14th century since I read Anya Seton’s Katherine in Junior High. It is the story of a lifelong love affair between John of Gaunt, a son of Edward III of England, and Katherine Swynford, his mistress of many years. They had four children together, eventually married late in life, and their descendants sat on the throne of England. It sparked my interest in the royal family, the 14th century, and children born on the wrong side of the royal blanket – all the things I write about today!

In addition, I write angsty historicals and to me, the medieval period seems very conducive to the wounded hero. I do a lot of research, but that’s one of the things I love about writing historical. Somehow, I’ll discover an historical tidbit and it’s as if I’ve found a piece of my character’s backstory. The story grows as I explore the period.

CJS: And do you find it challenging to write Medievals when it seems like most historicals are set in the Regency or currently, the Georgian era?

Blythe: There are many wonderful writers of Regency. No reason to be a “me, too” in a popular time period when another one really speaks to me. Writing medieval means it may be a little more challenging to find my readers, but it would be even more difficult if I were trying to chase the market.

CJS: That’s my philosophy. I let the ladies come to me, if you know what I mean. *Blythe raises an eyebrow; CJS clears throat, changing subject* The crew always—ALWAYS—wants to know about Call Stories. What is your Call Story?

Blythe: Actually, my best Call Story was when I got the call that my manuscript had finaled in the Golden Heart contest. This was back in the dark ages and they made the calls on a Sunday night instead of posting on the internet after each call while we all hit refresh every ten minutes. I had no expectations, so I was watching the Oscars at 8 p.m on a Sunday when I got a call from a Phoenix phone number. It was Tara Taylor Quinn telling me I was a finalist. I was totally, totally incoherent. She was trying to explain what was to happen next and finally, I sort of blubbered, “Do I have to do anything intelligent tonight?” I have a picture of myself that evening in my jammies with a bottle of champagne! (Rule to live by: Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge in case a celebration breaks out. Although rum will do in a pinch.)

My real Call Story, which came nearly two years later, wasn’t quite so dramatic. Harlequin had had the Golden Heart manuscript for months and I had spoken both to the editor and senior editor, so The Call (at 10 a.m. in the morning) wasn’t exactly a surprise. I was prepared with my list of questions and all, but I had just gotten out of the shower and had one contact in and one out. So I really did need to ask if I could call back because without my eyes in, I was even more disoriented than you might expect!

CJS: What are you working on now?

Blythe: I just signed a contract with Harlequin for three more historicals, so I’m working on the first. I’m a little superstitious about saying too much too soon. I will say I’ve stayed on the Scottish borders, but I’ve changed time periods. (And no, not to Regency!)

CJS: And lastly, what writing advice would you recommend to aspiring authors?

Blythe: Know why you write what you write, beyond the desire to be published. I do not downplay fame and money! I’ll happily accept more of both. But when you are sitting at the keyboard facing a blank screen, those aren’t the things that bring forth your most authentic work. It’s the soul you bring to the page that connects to the reader. That’s what brings them back for more.

CJS: Blythe, I must say, you have been a most gracious, beautiful guest, and I’ve had a most lovely time rolling around in the blankets with you. I still think it would have been perfect with a bit of rum, but nonetheless, just lovely. Is there anything you’d like to say or ask the crew?

Blythe: Thanks so much for having me! I love to have visitors so come see me at www.blythegifford.com or at www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford. I’d love to hear from the crew about what everyone is working on (or reading!) and what calls to them about their own genre or setting.

BLYTHE GIFFORD is the author of five medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. With HIS BORDER BRIDE, she crosses the border and sets a story in Scotland for the first time, where the rules of chivalry don’t always apply. Here’s a brief description:

Royal Rogue: He is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.

Innocent Lady: Daughter of a Scottish border lord, she can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows this man has broken every one. But she’s gripped by desire for him—could he be the one to unleash the dangerous urges she’s hidden until now?

Her 2009 release, IN THE MASTER’S BED, has just finaled in the Readers Crown contest. Blythe loves to have visitors at www.blythegifford.com or www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford.

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2010 ■ Author photo by Jennifer Girard


Quantum said...

Hi Blythe

I like mediaevals but haven't read anything of yours as yet.

Loved the interview and the dignified way that you handled CJS.

I think I might enjoy your work, so have just downloaded 'His Border Bride' to try.

It would be great if you could return at some later date when I've had a chance to read it.

I live in the UK and often visit medieval castles and the like. Looking at some of the ruins, they must have taken an awful bashing. Rough lot in those days!

I noticed that you are also blogging at 'Romance University' today. Pretty impressive after escaping CJS's clutches! :wink:

Marnee Jo said...

Welcome aboard, Blythe! And thanks for playing with our Captain Jack. :)

These books sound like a lot of fun!

I'm working on a Regency right now. This is the second one. I really love the social strictures of the genre. The overt prudishness and the underlying lack thereof.

And I like writing in a time without our rampant technology. It makes it easier for communication difficulties.

Donna said...

Welcome, Blythe! Looks like I *need* to get this book while I'm out and about today. I LOVE Scottish heroes, and the heroine on the cover is practically my TWIN. (Well, from her hair color, I'm guessing we go to the same hairdresser, and I have a white dress that looks similar. . .)

I love your Call stories. LOL It's funny how much you prepare and prepare but they always catch you in the middle of something like putting in contacts! LOL

I am currently writing contemporaries, although I started out writing Regencies about *mumbles* years ago, before everyone started writing them. LOL

Hellie said...

Blythe, thanks for coming on board and keeping Jack in line. He's a little frisky with new guests...or even frequent guests.

I'm working on a contemporary-paranormal light. (I'm not sure I would dub it paranormal because there is no magic, vampires, werewolves, or the normal paranormal stuff. There is one devil, but he lives by his wits, not by any powers.) When I play the "I hate my WIP" and switch to a different one (I keep it to two), I'm working on a historical set in the American West. Mostly I stick with the contemporary though.

I just finished re-reading New Moon of the Twilight series; and I'm now reading a Catherine Anderson classic, Comanche Moon, which apparently is about 20 years old. I'm liking it so far. It's not quite as conventional (as historicals can be); and more in depth with the historical aspects, I think. Plus it is totally feeding my Indian and the white girl fantasy kick I've been on.

Blythe Gifford said...

Thamks for the warm welcome. It is a day to go from the sublime to the ridiculous - knight in shining armor and Captain Jack Sparrow. You guess which is which! Love hearing what everyone else is reading and working on. This is such a rich genre - something for everyone! I'm traveling today, but will check in again when I can get to a computer!

2nd Chance said...

OK...I think I met you at RT this last week. Am I correct that you are part of a blog/group? Unusual historicals?

If I'm wrong, just blame the rum. I be the bartender here on the ship and I just got back from RT, so I'm a little punchy...

But I did well at RT, so the celebratin' will go on fer some weeks. I be the one with the purple coat who writes piratepunk... Pirates call ta me and they sneak inta everythin' I write. Little bit or sometimes big bit!

Donna said...

Hellie, I just re-read Comanche Moon recently, and it's one of my faves! Amazing book.

Are you only reading "Moon" books? :) I'll see if I can come up with some other titles. LOL

Hellion said...

Oh, Donna, awesome! Now I'll have someone to talk to about the book when I'm done. *LOL* I'm not sure if "Moon" is the trend. Forbidden and hot Native Americans are the trend for me right now. *LOL*

Hellion said...

Blythe did go to RT last week, I'm pretty sure. (We'd been emailing about whether she'd be able to get her blog on time. But of course she did. She's great with a deadline. *grins*)

2nd Chance said...

I found the blog, Unusual Historicals. It's Blythe. You should check it out, Hel!

I swear I met so many people it's all a bit blurry... Ah, those rum runners...

Donna said...

No rum for me today -- don't want to mix it up with the margaritas (Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

And Hellie, I don't know anyone else who's read the book, so I'll be glad to discuss it. I liked the book after it, for the story, but not for how they changed Hunter. He's the best in Moon. :)

Bosun said...

I don't know about you guys, but I think that planets decided to party up for Cinco de Mayo and are totally out of whack. That's the only way to explain the day I'm having.

Welcome to The Revenge, Blythe. Wonderful interview and I so love what you said about not chasing the market. And I couldn't agree more with your advice on writing. I used to stress about whether what I'm writing it hot or selling well and then just decided I can't worry about that. I write what I write, I love my stories, and if I write them well enough, they will come. LOL!

2nd Chance said...

It's Cinco de Mayo?


I'm the bartender and I forgot. Let me dig out that premier tequilla, slice some limes and get the salt out...

Donna said...

Well, Chance, I'm only gonna have one a these because LIMES prevent SCURVY. That's important to remember! LOL

Quantum said...

I recently read Catherine Anderson's 'Cherished' and found that I rather liked her Western novels.

Must look out for 'Comanche Moon'. I expect its part of a series like Kendrick Coulter.

No sign of our illustrious visitor.

Ah well. America is a big place to get lost in!

I recommend Blythe's other blog:
'The Code of Chivalry: Manhood in the Middle Ages'

Gotta go

Blythe Gifford said...

Did I hear the bartender has arrived? Sorry to be scarce. I'm traveling between the ship & chivalry & CJS & I got...lost. Yes, that was me at RT. And I thank the crew for the kind words about the interview. It's hard to resist a man in a blanket. I love to visit again when I'm not in the midst of time travel. My knight is calling. Shhh. Don't tell Jack...

2nd Chance said...

Tequilla! Mas! Mas!

I only learned how to enjoy tequilla shots two years ago. I actually prefer rum, but...in honor of Cinco de Mayo...tequilla!

Yeah! Blythe talked to Jane and I near the elevators. That was a great location to stake out authors. Had a great convo with Carole Nelson Douglas while sitting there...and Christie Craig, Faye Hughes...

I'm bogarting the limes, Donnaroo, since your blog erased my comment. ;-p

Hey, Q! Good to see you, want some tequilla?

Blythe Gifford said...

Checking in again. I think CJS and I are going to life a bottle, uh, or a glass, to toast the crew and Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy your evening, maties!