Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Isabel Roman, Author Interview

Marisa Velez (left) and Christine Koehler,
Isabel Roman
Readers, today our guest is Isabel Roman, although she is actually they. Christine Koehler and Marissa Velez write together as Isabel Roman, and have been very successful in cowriting romance novels. For this post, Christine is answering for the duo about their novella IN THE SHADOWS, which appears in the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES from The Wild Rose Press.

Caroline: Isabel, how did you come up with that idea for your novella, IN THE SHADOWS?

Isabel: I’m not sure how the concept came about, but I do know I researched both the Pinkertons and those who smuggled goods into the South during the blockade. As it turns out, Allen Pinkerton did hire one woman agent, Kate Warne. After the Civil War, Kate was responsible for a small number of female Pinkerton agents.

I based Marion off Kate, even briefly mentioned Kate Warne, and Allen Pinkerton is an old friend of Marion’s father. As for Jack, I based him off Rhett Butler. Except English. And not with the romantic background of Rhett, but with a poor vicarage background. Hey, a man’s gotta make something of himself, right?

In the classic, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell based Rhett Butler on George Trenholm, (who may or may not have been a distant relation of hers). I read Dr. E. Lee Spence’s Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The "Real Rhett Butler" & Other Revelations, A look at South Carolina's underwater heritage, and Shipwrecks of Charleston Harbor. Granted, I didn’t need to read all those for the story, but they really were fascinating. And I may have skimmed some parts.

From The Wild Rose Press
Caroline: We get lost in research, don’t we? I was especially interested to learn from you that Rhett Butler was based on a real  person. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you write full time?

Isabel: I wish I could write full time! But no, I have a fulltime job, family, puppy, and friends. In every single other moment of free time, I write. Nights, after work and walking the dog, I try to write 2000 words. On weekends and other days off, I try to do between 5,000 and 10,000…it all depends on the flow of the story, interruptions, and naps.

Caroline: LOL Naps are important at my house. Is there a reason you’re drawn to the Civil War era?

Isabel: When I was in high school, I read a lot of Civil War romances. I took several classes as an undergrad, and watched all those epic Civil War movies popular in the 90s. But then I realized they all sounded the same. Hero from the North has to rescue the poor misguided Southern Heroine from something and they fall in love. Pft. Scarlett O’Hara was a bitch, but she was much stronger than that.

So what if the woman was from the north, and the man was English? Very different there, considering England only had a very general interest in our war. Got me thinking about a lot of things I’d forgotten over the years about the Civil War and how it truly did change our country.

Caroline: Good for you! I always thought that--even though she was not sweet as Melanie--without Scarlett O'Hara, the people around her would have starved. What are the other works you have out?

Desert and Destiny 
Isabel: I have a Druids series published with Red Silk Editions now available in book stores, a story in the only zombie romance anthology you’ll probably ever find, about a dozen short stories, and a werewolf novella in The Wild Rose Press’s GOT WOLF? anthology.

Caroline: And your Red Silk Editions have such gorgeous covers. What do you have in the works for us:

Isabel: I’m currently working on a couple things: editing a 1920s prohibition story and a very dark alternate history Regency. I also have maybe ¼ of two stories finished, one is a contemporary Egyptian reincarnation story, the other is a 1797 spy story set in Switzerland.

Caroline: Quite an eclectic mix. I love 1920’s stories, so I hope you release that one soon! Would you give us a blurb from IN THE SHADOWS?

Sex and Subterfuge
Isabel: Marion Shelton only wanted to help her country during The War, so she traveled to Charleston, South Carolina in order to learn what she could about the Confederates. She hadn’t planned on falling in love with an English smuggler, or in risking both her heart and her life for her country.

Jack Harrison’s single goal was to make money smuggling goods into the American South. He didn’t care about their war, but when he met Marion, all that changed. The problem is, can he keep her safe and still help her protect her?

Caroline: How about an excerpt:

Murder and Magick
Isabel: Here it is:

He would not shame his wife. First he had to convince her to marry him. And then, he supposed, he had to convince himself class didn’t matter. Not a simple task. In England, class defined one. Only here, in America, could one define oneself.

Jack turned to the house and could just see Gloriana through the windows, laughing with Edmund Calhoun. In cahoots, no doubt, over Marion’s marriage with Ned.

Jealously speared through him, and he wanted to march inside and challenge Major Calhoun.

But Marion was nowhere in sight. Frowning, he moved through the shadows in search of her.

“Damn woman never does what I expect,” he muttered. Circling the premise, careful not to run across a slave on guard duty, he searched for her.

One of the many things that intrigued him, her ability to do the unexpected, worried him as well. He never knew what she’d do next. And her secrets. She hid something from him. Until this latest conversation, he wouldn’t have guessed she lied about her love for him.

No, her sobs had been real enough. The surprised hurt on her face cut through him as much as her rejection of his proposal. What prompted her rejection?

“What are you hiding, Marion?” he wondered as he spotted her in Mrs. Whitaker’s morning room.

He stepped toward the room to confront her, surprise her through the French doors, when she slipped through the connecting door to Mr. Whitaker’s study.

“What are you hiding, my dear?”

Caroline: Yours was a fascinating story. Is there any other news you’d like to share us? Any links?

My website is http://www.isabelroman.com/ and my blog is on that site.

The buy link for NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, which includes Isabel’s novella IN THE SHADOWS is:

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&zenid=162b14522c4e59f049d6bf658f403c27&keyword=Northern+Roses+and+Southern+Be&x=28&y=5 The anthology set around the Civil War is available in both print and e-book format and is also available on Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, etc.

2011 Epic Finalist
Caroline: Isabel, thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Please allow me once again to mention that the anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES is a 2011 EPIC Finaltist. In addition, may I recommend one of my books for the readers on your gift list? They're found at www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html 
Join me tomorrow to hear from Lilly Gayle and the Roses Christmas blog tour.


Isabel Roman said...

Sorry I'm late! Had to renew my driver's license today. Always fun. Thanks for having me, Caroline!

Kilt Kilpatrick said...

Caroline, great interview - and thanks for hosting my favorite two-in-one author. Isabel(s), love your upcoming line-up!

Dana Fredsti said...

Isabel! I'm so glad I caught this - I love learning about your writing/researching process and imagine you getting totally sucked into all the fascinating books you find... I'm also in awe of your word count and commitment to finding the time to write no matter what!

Caroline, excellent interview of one of my favorite historical authors (plural).

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Isabel! In the Shadows was a fun story!

I also read a lot of those classic stories of the Yankee hero and the Southern Belle. They all did start to seem the same after you read a few. Glad we all started something different in Civil War romances.

Isabel Roman said...

Aww, Kilt-you're making me (us) blush!

Dana, it's not easy making those word counts, but dedication does count. That and each of us harping on the other!

Susan, I agree, this anthology is something different!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Christine, thanks so much for stopping by for Isabel Roman. What a great writing team!

And I forgot to tell people what a terrific aunt Christine is.