Happy Friday! Thanks to Kim Wilson for her Wednesday visit, and a reminder to all that Kim's book (and all of the other books) will be drawn after 7pm on July 7th.
As we begin today, I just want to thank you all for being such fabulous visitors, and I'd like to announce the winner of the second $10 B&N giftcard. Anyone who left a comment on Kim's interview before today's Q&A was posted is eligible... So, the lucky winner of the day is: Marlyn. (Yay for you! Please email me with your address so I can get that out to you. I'm at: marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com.)
And, because this is the time in the Festing where we're all famished and in need of a few good hors d'oeuvres--right?!--I decided to give out The Book of Appetizers by June Budgen to one of this week's commenters. And that prize goes to: Tiffany. (Congrats! Please email me privately as well.) Um, one question, Tiffany. If we ask nicely, will you order up some Ricotta-Cheese Puffs and a few Cucumber Sandwiches for us? (Check out p.81 and p.111 respectively--or ask the chef to substitute with the Deviled Mixed Nuts on p.101--we're not picky. :-)
While we wait for the food to arrive...
I have a wonderful little story to tell about my guest today, Abigail Reynolds. I'd first heard about her last summer from my Chicago-North RWA chaptermate and friend Pamala Knight. Pamala told me Abigail was "nice"--but then, Pamala is the Reigning Queen of Understatement. (Pamala also told me a few weeks ago that she was going on a "trip" this month. Um, yeah. I was thinking, Wisconsin? Minnesota? Indiana? She was thinking...Ireland. Hope you're having fun, my dear!)
Well, I had the pleasure of meeting Abigail and their mutual friend Elaine at the Chicago AGM this past fall, and they were so warm, welcoming and inclusive, I wanted to hug the lot of them. (I did, in fact. :) After little more than a few snatches of afternoon conversation, Pamala, Elaine and Abigail all changed their reserved seating arrangements for the big Regency Ball dinner--from a more advantageous location to one much farther back, I hasten to add--just because they discovered there wasn't room for me at their table. I tell you, Jane herself would have considered their behavior MOST amiable and kind. That was certainly my opinion.
Abigail has a great blog and a number of books out as part of her Pemberley Variations series, plus she's written a few other Austen-related projects. Publishers Weekly called one of her latest releases, Pemberley by the Sea (Sourcebooks, 2008), an "engaging love story" and Booklist says, "Reynolds convincingly updates Austen’s classic, and romance fans will be carried along by the smoldering heat between Cassie and Calder."
Abigail, I'm so glad to have you here!
New readers want to know about your books. Can you tell us about the most recent? I had two books released this year. The first is Pemberley by the Sea, a modern novel that reflects the plot of Pride & Prejudice. It’s the love story between Cassie, a marine biologist who pulled herself out of poverty by her bootstraps, and Calder Westing, a scion of a wealthy political family, who sees Cassie as a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet.
The second book is Impulse & Initiative, which is part of my Pemberley Variations series. These are Regency novels that look at roads not taken in Pride & Prejudice. Impulse & Initiative is a romantic look at what might have happened if Darcy had decided to try to win Elizabeth’s love after she refused his first proposal of marriage, rather than waiting for chance to bring them together.
Do you have a favorite kind of food? Anything you really won't eat? I love chocolate, ice cream, fruit, and ethnic foods. About the only thing I won’t eat is sushi, which is the result of a parasitology course I took years ago. I think sushi is really pretty safe; I just have too vivid a picture in my mind of what could be wrong with it.
Do you have any favorite books on the craft of writing that you often use? Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been the most helpful to me, both on the craft of writing and living the writer’s life. She has a lot of great insights. (Oh, I love that book, too!)
What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.? Actually, my fantasy isn’t about sales, but about the place my books have in my readers’ lives. I see them as comfort food for the mind, and I love hearing from readers who say that my books helped them keep going through difficult times. I’ve had a number of readers tell me that they’ve re-read my books several times, which makes me very happy.
Did you go on any special trips to research the setting? I used settings I already knew well. I spent one summer after college taking a course in marine ecology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, and I’ve visited there frequently since. Cassie’s salt marsh is one I used to hike through. I’m always happy to have an excuse to go back to do more research or soak in the setting, though--right now I’m about a mile from the house Calder bought in West Falmouth. I keep expecting to run into my characters on the street!
What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you? It’s hard to say who is most surprised about my two professions--my readers who find out I’m a doctor or my patients and colleagues who find out I write romantic novels! It’s amusing to see some of the shocked reactions. It seems like nobody expects those two to go together.
What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline? There’s a new Pemberley Variation coming out in Fall 2010, and my publisher taking a look at Morning Light, the sequel to Pemberley by the Sea. I’ve started work on the next book in the Woods Hole Quartet as well. People keep asking for more Pemberley Variations, but I’m wondering how many more variations I can do without repeating myself.
Writers are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you reading at the moment? It’s a struggle to find reading time, but somehow I manage to slip it in. It’s harder to lose myself in a book these days, though, because part of my brain is always looking at how the book is written and noticing what works and doesn’t work. Right now I’m reading the reissue of Cotillion by Georgette Heyer, soaking in some Regency atmosphere from the woman who inspired the Regency romance industry.
Thank you, Abigail. As a wonderful treat to visitors, Abigail is giving away signed copies of three of her novels to three lucky commenters!! So, to be in the running to win a copy of Pemberley by the Sea, Without Reserve or Impulse & Initiative, just leave a little note for Abigail in the comment section of this post before our drawing on July 7th. Also, from me...the third $10 B&N giftcard will go out to someone who comments on Abigail's post before the final Q&A (featuring the kind and talented Laurie Viera Rigler!) goes up on Monday, June 29th.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Until Monday...