Today I have the privilege of introducing you to debut author Elizabeth Camden, author of historical romance The Lady of Bolton Hill. I contacted Elizabeth after so many of you, like me, had mentioned her cover as one of your favorites.
Elizabeth, welcome! Now obviously we’re all crazy about the cover. Tell us what you see, story-wise when you look at it.
Thanks for inviting me to your site! At the very beginning of the design process, my editor asked me to write up some notes about what the characters looked like and the setting of the book. So many inspirational romance novels are set on the prairie, but The Lady of Bolton Hill takes place in Baltimore during the Gilded Age, so it was important to communicate the setting so people knew what they were getting. Hence the skyline through the window. In my design notes, I spoke a lot of the heroine, Clara, as a very refined and gentle woman. This quality really comes through on the cover!
I was fascinated at how much work went into creating the cover. The artist, Jenny Parker, actually created five entire mock-ups before settling on the version of the lady in the blue dress. You can see those alternate covers near the bottom of THIS website.
This Jenny Parker is awesome. I am a fan. So how did you get the idea for the book?
One of my favorite romantic plots concerns lovers who are reunited after several years apart. In the book, Daniel and Clara were quite young when they met and shared one of those intense, immediate bonds that can sometimes flare up between teenagers. They are separated by Clara’s disapproving father. The book begins when Clara returns to the US after more than a decade abroad, and the chemistry between Clara and Daniel immediately blazes back to life. The problem is they have followed such wildly divergent paths that they don’t know if they can’t find a way back to each other, even though they both crave it.
Something that was very important for me is that both my characters be very passionate people, but who are still fiercely intelligent and sensible. Have you ever read a book where the conflict between the hero and heroine could be solved by a simple honest conversation? There was no way I was going to let Daniel and Clara off the hook so easily! Although it is clear they are madly in love, they will be put through the wringer before they can get to a happy ending. I love a good turbulent story with love, betrayal, heartbreak, all punctuated with periods of soaring joy and utter delight. That is what I aimed for with The Lady of Bolton Hill. I’ll be curious to hear from folks if they think I got it in the ballpark.
As for the practical aspects of how to write a book that has the potential to sell, you can’t do better than The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers, by Donald Maas.
Okay, that is the technical aspect of what you need to do. Now on to the much more difficult angle of weathering the emotional trauma that comes along with trying to get a novel published. Writing a novel is a huge emotional investment that requires years of effort, and the odds of payoff are really low. You have got to ask yourself how much of your time and psychological energy you are willing to risk in the process.
It took me six years of writing before I had a manuscript that was worthy of publication, and those years came along with plenty of self-doubt, heartache, and rejection. But the bottom line was that I loved what I was doing. I came to the conclusion that I might never get published, but I still loved the craft enough to keep plugging away. One of my favorite quotes is from A League of Their Own, when Geena Davis has reached her breaking point and is getting ready to throw in the towel. Tom Hanks scolds her, “Of course this is hard. If it was easy, anyone could do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
I think this line is true in almost any endeavor that is really worthwhile. . .starting a business, raising kids, training for a sport, writing a book. It is the hard that makes it great.
Great, great quote. I love that. Many of us here are big fans of North and South and Downton Abbey. I saw a little bit of that in your setting and time period. Are you in the fan club as well?
Downton Abbey! I loved that series! I am thrilled down to my toes that we can expect more episodes in the fall. The writers did such a beautiful job of creating imperfect but sympathetic characters, then plunging them into a dynamic, turbulent setting. I confess that I had never heard of North and South until you mentioned it, but I looked it up on Netflix, and it looks like my cup of tea. Thanks for the heads-up!
Do you have a follow-up release you could give us a peek of? (Pardon my ending with a preposition.)
Thanks for asking! My next book is called The Rose of Winslow Street, and it is set for release in early 2012. The setting is a small New England town in 1879. Into this peaceful, idyllic village comes a brash warrior from Romania, who storms into town with a wealth of mystery, long-buried secrets, and a heart as wide and deep as the Atlantic Ocean. He is a strong, fearsome man, but pretty quickly he develops a soft-spot for the heroine, which is a huge complication for him. It is hard to say more without delving into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Elizabeth. Tell our blog friends where they can find you.
I am on Facebook, but I also blog regularly HERE. Three times a week, I write about the romance genre, thoughts about the industry, and I post plenty of pictures of gorgeous, mouth-watering libraries. I hope you will stop by and visit!
Okay, guys, to get in the running for a copy of The Lady of Bolton Hill, just leave a comment in answer to today’s question. You have until Sunday eve when the bat flies past the moon to send me your answer. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.
Tell me if you had to live in any time period for a week, what would it be and why? The Gilded Age like The Lady of Bolton Hill? The 60s like The Help? Let me know!