Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Who are the de Montforte Brothers?


Please welcome Danelle Harmon author of The de Montforte Brothers series. 

Danelle will be awarding a digital copy of book two, "The Beloved One" to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop and a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

So don't forget to comment! :D

The de Montforte Brothers series
by Danelle Harmon


INTERVIEW


1.What or who inspired you to start writing?

I've always been a reader, even as a little girl, and that certainly contributed to my love and appreciation for a good story.  I think that for any writer, there comes a time when they realize that nobody's writing the story that *they* want to tell, and when that moment comes … it's time to pick up the pen, so to speak.  At least, that's the way it was for me.  As a child, I wrote (and illustrated, probably quite poorly!) a series about a fictional Thoroughbred racehorse named Royal Admiral, much in the style of Walter Farley's beloved Black Stallion novels … I did these books with tear-out, lined notebook paper, drew up illustrations, and used yarn to bind them.  By the time I was in my mid to late teens, I was writing short stories, which I passed around to my friends to read, and also penned (literally) a 400-page handwritten manuscript about a group of Doberman Pinschers and their exploits.  I discovered romance novels in high school, but it wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I became serious about writing one.

2.How did you come up with ideas for your books?

I'm often inspired by setting, with character being a close second.  For example, when I wrote WICKED AT HEART (just released in e-books!), I was living in England, and inspiration was all around me.  One of my favorite areas of the country was, and remains, the Cotswolds, and during a trip out there one summer afternoon from our home near Oxford, I became inspired by the beautiful scenery and gorgeous yellow stone that characterizes this area of the country, and knew I had to set at least part of a book there; that book became WICKED AT HEART.  Sometimes a historical event might inspire me.  We live about 45 minutes from Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, and I have always felt tied and drawn in some spiritual way to this day and these events.  I've spent many a reflective hour at Concord's Old North Bridge (often in colonial clothes, as I'm a re-enactor), and walking along the Minuteman Trail/Battle Road that the British troops took on their harried flight back to Boston, and that was where much of THE BELOVED ONE (second book in the de Montforte Books series) came to me.

3.What components are necessary for the genre of this novel?\

Oh, you've got to have a love story, first and foremost!  Add in good character development, characters that are unique from book to book (I never write the same hero twice), some deeply emotional scenes and high adventure, and you've got a bestseller!

4.What expertise did you bring to your writing?

I have a passion for the 18th century, especially as it relates to England and New England.  Most of my books are set in either or both of these places, where history is all around and the rescoures for exploring and researching it are endless.  I have also been involved with re-enacting for many years and am a longtime member of a local "minuteman" group.

5.What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?

That we moved back here from England because I was, and am, terrified of flying, and every time I wanted to come home to see my family here in Massachusetts I was truly convinced that I was going to die.  I have severe aerophobia, which really limits my travel opportunities … I love and deeply miss England, but I can't see myself stepping foot on a plane in order to go back, which is, even to me, pretty sad.  However, our daughter, who has romanticized England, wants to see the country of her father's birth, so I'm going to have to find a way, some way, to pluck up what shreds of courage I have and get on a plane.  (Gulp.)  Some day...

6.As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?

I'm currently working on what will be the fifth book of the de Montforte Brothers Series … though this one is not about a brother, but their "little" sister, Lady Nerissa.  When we last saw her and her beau, Perry, Lord Brookhampton at the end of THE WICKED ONE (4th book in the de Montforte Brothers series), it was implied that they were going to have a happily-ever-after … but there was so much more story that needed to be told.  Perry was left deeply scarred, both emotionally and mentally by his terrible experiences in THE WICKED ONE and I can't let his story rest there.  And so, to all of my readers who wrote to me over the years asking for Perry's and Nerissa's story … this one's for you!

7.If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

One of my dearest, and funniest friends, tells me that if she dies, she wants to come back as one of my dogs because they're all spoiled rotten.  (So, can I be "Freckles" in THE DEFIANT ONE?)  In all seriousness, this is a toughie to answer, but if pressed, I'd have to say Amy from THE BELOVED ONE.  Brave and handsome Lord Charles is my favorite of the four de Montforte brothers (sorry, Lucien lovers!) and I sure wouldn't mind being in Amy's shoes, married to a hero like him!

8.Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?

I do not, and never have.  Sometimes I'll bounce an idea off my husband, or a writer friend, but other than that, I pretty much fly solo.

9.When did you first decide to submit your work? Please tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?

Back in the late 1980s, I became fascinated with the local legend of pirate Captain Sam Bellamy, whose ship, Whydah, went aground in a storm off Cape Cod back in 1717 with nearly all hands lost, including its bold and handsome captain.  Legend tells us that Bellamy was on his way back to the Cape after a successful pirating expedition in southern climes to claim his lady love, Maria Hallett, but ended up dying in view of her little cliffside hut in the shipwreck.  That story haunted me, and I determined to give Sam and Maria the happy ending that was denied them.  While writing their book (much of which was done with pencil and notebooks out on the Cape Cod dunes where the ship itself went down), I got involved with Barry Clifford (who found and is salvaging the Whydah) as a research associate and occasional artifact artist; getting to work with the actual artifacts that Bellamy himself surely saw and touched, and to hang out with some of the leading historians in the world only enhanced the story.  What memories!  It took three years to write (it was originally all in longhand!), but eventually I finished it and submitted it to New York.  It was bought by Avon and eventually becoming my first book, PIRATE IN MY ARMS.

10.         What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice is advice that I pass on to other aspiring (or procrastinating) writers:  Sit down and write.  No excuses.  An idea or a half-finished manuscript won't sell a book.  You have to sit down and, no matter how difficult, no matter how painful, no matter how frustrating, write the book and finish it.  Period.  You can always go back in and edit it later, but just being able to reach the end and know that you've completed it, is hugely satisfying, and validating in itself.

As for worst advice, I'm having a hard time with that one … but if your hero has blond hair, and your publisher gives you a cover with a black haired hero, don't believe your editor when she insists that "readers won't notice."  Trust me.  They will.

11.         Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I like to do a rough outline, but I usually deviate from it. 

12.         Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you've gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?

I have too many hobbies .  As I mentioned above, I have been involved for many years with a colonial re-enactment group, and we re-enact local events such as the battles that opened the American Revolution; in this role, I bought a reproduction Brown Bess musket and had to learn how to not only fire it, but to roll my own cartridges with black powder, take it apart, and clean it; I also learned to hand-sew period clothes such as a shift and petticoats, complete with tapes, both cut from authentic 18th century patterns.  I also enjoy dog showing, and competing with my dogs -- we have four German Shorthaired Pointers ranging in age from twelve months to fifteen years.  They often sneak onto my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon ) … you can see my beloved champion, Marcus, there, posing next to the Minuteman statue at Concord's Old North Bridge.  (He wears a collar with a Union Jack, so we know where his loyalties are!)

13.         Do you have an all time favorite book?

Yes:  Joshua  by Joseph Girzone. 

14.         Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?

Well, I'm working on Lady Nerissa's and Lord Brookhampton's book (working title:  THE CHERISHED ONE), but after that, I have three handsome British officers in pre-Revolutionary Boston clamoring for attention, so they'll be getting my attention next … unless readers who fall in love with Connor from WICKED AT HEART start clamoring for his book! (I must confess, I've already started getting requests, ha!  What is it about supporting characters?)

15.         Do you have any family traditions or recipes you might like to share?

Here's a goodie that often makes our way onto our supper table, enhanced by my English mother-in-law's tips:  It's called "Toad in the Hole," and it's a humble and traditional English dish.  Wonderful as comfort food … not so wonderful for the waistline!

Toad In The Hole (serves 4)
- 1 cup plain flour (not the self-raising kind!)
- Pinch each of salt and pepper
- Approximately 3 tablespoons cooking oil (i.e. vegetable)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk mixed with ¼ cup water
- Approximately 8 small sausages, uncooked ... Irish sausage works great, or any traditional English sausage ... don't use Italian, Chinese or i.e. Jimmy Dean, etc., you won't get the same effect

Preheat oven to 375F. Put oil into the bottom of a shallow baking dish (about the size of a pie plate) and place into the oven for maybe eight to ten minutes, to get the oil piping hot (getting the oil REALLY HOT is ESSENTIAL!). Meanwhile, put the flour, salt and pepper into a bowl and stir together. Make a well in the centre of the flour, break the egg into it and beat by hand, gradually adding the milk/water mixture until the lumps are gone and the batter is the consistency of thick pouring cream. When the oil is piping hot in the oven, quickly remove the dish, put in the sausages, and immediately pour the batter over all, returning to
the oven as quickly as possible. (The key is to get the oil really hot,
and to put the sausages and batter in as fast as you can!) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it's puffy, crispy, and golden brown.

Enjoy!Top of Form
Bottom of Form


16.         If you were a casting director for the film version of your book, who would play your lead roles?

Oh, what fun!  For carefree young rake Lord Gareth de Montforte in THE WILD ONE, it would definitely be the young Matthew McConaughey, still young and relatively unknown as he was in his first film, A Time To Kill.  For my newest release, WICKED AT HEART, I would cast the young Ralph Fiennes, looking as he did back in the mid 1990s.  Oooh-la-la!  I'm having a hard time casting the other de Montforte brothers (Lucien, anyone?) and heroines, as nobody who comes to mind really fits -- perhaps readers here have some ideas?  J

17.         Anything else you might want to add?

I love to hear from my readers, and I answer all email; you can reach me at Danelle@Danelleharmon.com, or you can find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon), my website (Danelleharmon.com), or even follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DanelleHarmon).  Stop by and say hello!  I'd love to "meet" you!

Christine, it has been a pleasure to be here with you and your readers on your blog today -- thank you so much for hosting me, and I wish you all a wonderful and happy summer!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~




BLURB:

"The bluest of blood, the boldest of hearts; the de Montforte brothers will take your breath away."

England, 1776: Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he takes a bullet for boldly thwarting a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother’s American fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his brother the duke's refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby her rightful name. But Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, even while she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil. Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty, risking his life itself to give her and her daughter a home — and a love that will last a lifetime.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~





EXCERPTS 

Prologue

Newman House, 18 April, 1775

My dear brother, Lucien,

It has just gone dark and as I pen these words to you, an air of rising tension hangs above this troubled town. Tonight, several regiments — including mine, the King's Own — have been ordered by General Gage, commander in chief of our forces here in Boston, out to Concord to seize and destroy a significant store of arms and munitions that the rebels have secreted there. Due to the clandestine nature of this assignment, I have ordered my batman, Billingshurst, to withhold the posting of this letter until the morrow, when the mission will have been completed and secrecy will no longer be of concern.

Although it is my most ardent hope that no blood will be shed on either side during this endeavour, I find that my heart, in these final moments before I must leave, is restless and uneasy. It is not for myself that I am afraid, but another. As you know from my previous letters home, I have met a young woman here with whom I have become attached in a warm friendship. I suspect you do not approve of my becoming so enamoured of a storekeeper's daughter, but things are different in this place, and when a fellow is three thousand miles away from home, love makes a far more desirable companion than loneliness. My dear Miss Paige has made me happy, Lucien, and earlier tonight, she accepted my plea for her hand in marriage; I beg you to understand, and forgive, for I know that someday when you meet her, you will love her as I do.

My brother, I have but one thing to ask of you, and knowing that you will see to my wishes is the only thing that calms my troubled soul during these last few moments before we depart. If anything should happen to me — tonight, tomorrow, or at any time whilst I am here in Boston — I beg of you to find it in your heart to show charity and kindness to my angel, my Juliet, for she means the world to me. I know you will take care of her if ever I cannot. Do this for me and I shall be happy, Lucien.

I must close now, as the others are gathered downstairs in the parlour, and we are all ready to move. May God bless and keep you, my dear brother, and Gareth, Andrew, and sweet Nerissa, too.

Charles

Sometime during the last hour, it had begun to grow dark.

Lucien de Montforte turned the letter over in his hands, his gaze shuttered, his mind far away as he stared out the window over the downs that stood like sentinels against the fading twilight. A breath of pink still glowed in the western sky, but it would soon be gone. He hated this time of night, this still and lonely hour just after sunset when old ghosts were near, and distant memories welled up in the heart with the poignant nearness of yesterday, close enough to see yet always too elusive to touch.

But the letter was real. Too real.

He ran a thumb over the heavy vellum, the bold, elegant script that had been so distinctive of Charles's style — both on paper, in thought, and on the field — still looking as fresh as if it had been written yesterday, not last April. His own name was there on the front:  To His Grace the Duke of Blackheath, Blackheath Castle, nr. Ravenscombe, Berkshire, England.
They were probably the last words Charles had ever written.

Carefully, he folded the letter along creases that had become fragile and well-worn. The blob of red wax with which his brother had sealed the letter came together at the edges like a wound that had never healed, and try as he might to avoid seeing them, his gaze caught the words that someone, probably Billingshurst, had written on the back....

Found on the desk of Captain Lord Charles Adair de Montforte on the 19th of April 1775, the day on which his lordship was killed in the fighting at Concord. Please deliver to addressee.

A pang went through him. Dead, gone, and all but forgotten, just like that.

The duke of Blackheath carefully laid the letter inside the drawer, which he shut and locked. He gazed once more out the window, lord of all he surveyed but unable to master his own bitter emptiness. A mile away, at the foot of the downs, he could just see the twinkling lights of Ravenscombe village, could envision its ancient church with its Norman tower and tombs of de Montforte dead. And there, inside, high on the stone wall of the chancel, was the simple bronze plaque that was all they had to tell posterity that his brother had ever even lived.

Charles, the second son.

God help them all if anything happened to him, Lucien, and the dukedom passed to the third.

No. God would not be so cruel.

He snuffed the single candle and with the darkness enclosing him, the sky still glowing beyond the window, moved from the room.

~~~~
Berkshire, England, 1776



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon is the author of ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. A Massachusetts native, she married her English husband while living in the United Kingdom, and both now make their home in Massachusetts with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and a flock of pet chickens.

Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at danelle@danelleharmon.com , on the web at http://www.danelleharmon.com, or through her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon







For Kindle Users (Amazon.com)

The Wild One:  http://tinyurl.com/bltxjvf

For Nook users (B&N):

The Wild One   http://tinyurl.com/bsol2oj

Smashwords:

THE WILD ONE:

Danelle Harmon books for Kobo readers:
       http://tinyurl.com/86gqpuf




Don't Forget to Comment!!!

14 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Danelle today

Karen H in NC said...

First off, I think your working title for Nerissa's story is a good one and should be made permanent...IMHO of course! LOL

I love made for TV saga stories (think North and South with Patrick Swayze) and I think the de Montforte family would be excellent on the small screen. If that were to happen, who do you see playing the main characters? I'm thinking Pierce Brosnan as Lucien but it's been so long since I've read the series, I don't have a clue about the others and I don't remember little sister at all (hangs head in shame)!

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Christine Young said...

Danielle, welcome to my blog. I hope you have a great tour.

Danelle Harmon said...

Christine, thank you so much for hosting me! It's great to be here, and I loved the write-up you did for THE WILD ONE and the de Montforte brothers! :)

Karen, thanks for the input on the working title for Nerissa's book ... I'm getting quite attached to it, myself, ha! It's fun to fantasize about books going to the big or small screen ... I have very clear ideas as to whom I see "playing" Gareth, and also Charles, but with Andrew and Lucien? Not so much, so it's fun to see what you and others on my FB page are coming up with! :)

Ingeborg said...

Hi Danelle, Loved reading all the info about you. I agree with you about flying. I used to fly to Australia to see family and had visions of the plane crashing all the time. I don't fly anymore. The book sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it.
Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

(Yikes, I actually posted a comment in the wrong place. My apologies, everybody.) I didn't know about colonial re-enactments before...do they ever inspire plots for you?

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

Carrie E. said...

I really enjoyed this!! Thanks!!

Danelle Harmon said...

Ingeborg: Oh, dear, I can so relate to that ... I'm so terrified of flying that I can't even sit here in my office, safe in my chair, and look at a YouTube video taken by someone shooting out the window of a plane as it takes off. I don't fly anymore, either!

Anonymous, yes, re-enacting has, indeed, inspired plots for me, and has also enhanced my knowledge of the time period. :)

Thanks, Carrie E!

Chelsea B. said...

Wonderful interview!
I bet reenactment is a ton of fun!
Congratulations on your new release!

justforswag(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

Danelle Harmon said...

Hi Chelsea (waving - I recognize you from Monday)! Yes, it's great fun, and really puts you "in the moment." :)

Catherine Lee said...

Danelle is such an interesting name. How did it come about? Is it a family name? I'd wager a guess that it's often confused!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Danelle Harmon said...

Thanks, Catherine Lee! Yes, you're absolutely right -- it's often confused with "Danielle," and people who've known me for years still insist on calling me that; in fact, it was even misspelled in my high school yearbook . As to its origins, my parents thought I was going to be a boy, and were going to name me "Daniel." I surprised them, and from what I'm told, my aunt came up with the name. :)

marybelle said...

It's been a very long time since I ate a Toad in the Hole.

I think the research must be fascinating.



marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Rebecca Hipworth said...

It was interesting to learn more about Danelle. Thank you. :)

Becky01x(at)gmail(dot)com