Hello and thank you Margaret, for welcoming me!
My name is Grace Elliot.
By day I am a veterinarian and by night I write historical romance. Being a vet is my dream job, but it can be emotionally draining and several years ago I started writing as a form of stress relief. I live near London and I am married with two teenage sons, five cats (we peaked at nine) and a guinea pig.
Is this your first book?
I have written four novels prior to ‘A Dead Man’s Debt,’ but this is the first that I felt ready for the public to read. Writing is a learning curve and with each book I learnt something, improved and moved on. I expect that process will keep going for as long as I keep writing and publishing, especially as some reviewers make very perceptive comments.
What led you to tell this particular story?
The inspiration behind A Dead Man’s Debt sprang from a portrait of the young Emma Hart (who later married Lord Hamilton and became Horatio Nelson’s mistress)
The painting by George Romney shows an innocent yet lush young woman, scantily clad with a hint of bosom, brazenly staring out of the canvas with an allure that is quite hypnotic. It struck me as sensational for an 18th century work, that the sitter was not prim, proper, straight backed and starchy. At the time the picture must have been utterly scandalous.
But who would be bold enough to commission such a portrait? (As it happened Emma Hart was ahead of her time…but that’s another story.)
What a delicious idea for a story!
What if the woman in the portrait wanted to shock? From this idea, Lady Sophia Cadnum, Ranulf’s mother, was born. A woman who hated being a brood mare and resented her children….
What if years later, this same portrait threatened to disgrace her son, forcing Ranulf to do the very thing she resented…and marry out of duty…
Thus the stage was set for the story of blackmail, sacrifice and redeeming love that in ‘A Dead Man’s Debt.’
You’ve written a historical romance. How did you go about researching the period?
I came to writing historical romance through a love of history. I discovered the wonders of history whilst pregnant with my second son. It was a difficult pregnancy and I spent a lot of time resting and reading, and by chance picked up an engrossing book by Margaret George called ‘The Autobiography of Henry VIII.’ That this novel was based on fact was a revelation…but how could this be so when the book was so interesting? Out of curiosity I read my first non-fiction history book outside of school, and fell in love with the past. From then I was lost and history books became an addiction…and research from my HR is the best excuse yet to buy more!
How did you find working with your publisher?
I am eternally grateful to Solstice for taking a risk and giving me this chance to become a published author. One of the main benefits that I can see of belonging to Solstice is the network of supportive fellow authors, who are so generous with their advice and experience. I’m not particularly computer literate and with their encouragement I have started a blog (updated twice a week with posts on historical trivia) a website, Tweet (@Grace_Elliot) and am active on Facebook.
What are you working on now?
You can’t beat historical romance for sheer page turning, escapism and I hope my next novel ‘Eulogy’s Secret’ lives up to this.
‘Eulogy’s Secret’ is a story about hidden identity, dangerous assumptions and prejudice. Our heroine, Eulogy Foster, has a secret that could destroy lives…but will she keep that secret if, in the telling, she could win the man she loves?
Once again set in the Regency, this book is the first in a series of three, about very different brothers, and will be available later this year.
How do you feel that your work as a vet plays into your writing?
Oh, this is a good question!
Writing and being a vet are complimentary occupations. As I said earlier, writing is a release from the sad, raw emotional side of being a vet, (it’s so hard, saying goodbye to patients I’ve known for years.) In my work, each day I meet all sorts of interesting and very different people with all their quirks and peculiarities, and it’s a great way to get inspiration for characters! On occasions I’ve also woven some of my veterinary knowledge into a novel (such as when Lord Ranulf Charing meets Miss Celeste Armitage for the first time….not in a ball room, but in a muddy ditch as he’s helping a cow give birth to a breech calf.)
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst?
The best writing I ever read was “Write every day, whether you feel like it or not.”
Even when I’m really tired after a hard day, I buckle down and write for a minimum of twenty minutes. If at the end of that time I want to stop then fine (mostly that twenty minutes stretches into two hours) ….but at least I’ve inched my WIP forward.
To be a writer you need to write and even if that twenty minutes work is poor, at least I can go back and edit it later, but you cant edit a blank page!
I don’t think I’ve ever been given bad writing advice….at least nothing that I thought worthy of remembering!
Any favorite authors/books in your genre?
My favorite historical romance authors are Julia Quinn (for her humor) Mary Balogh ( consistently enthralling books) Gaelen Foley (writes great heroes) Lisa Keyplas ( emotional depth) and Stephanie Laurens ( sheer numbers of books.) One of the joys of the internet and eBooks is the number of forums for fellow book addicts, I’m constantly discovering new and promising authors, such as Marissa Patzer (The Blighted Troth) and Rose Gordon (The Intentions of the Earl.)
Where can readers find your book?
‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is currently available as an eBook from Amazon, Smashwords, Fictionwise and other eBook retailers. ($2.99 US, 2.14 GBP UK.)
Any last words?
If you have enjoyed this interview, or are interested by ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ then you might enjoy my blog. This is a blend of history, romance and cats! I update twice a week at http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com
I am also on twitter: @grace_elliot and I’d love to hear from you.