Thank you for hosting me today, Grace!
1. Welcome to Books Like Breathing. Please tell us a bit about Waltz With a Stranger.
Waltz with a Stranger is a Victorian historical romance inspired by the transatlantic marriage market in which rich American heiresses married cash-strapped English peers. Edith Wharton’s last novel, The Buccaneers, explores that phenomenon in depth. Other inspirations include an early Tennyson poem about a man who inadvertently falls in love with identical twin sisters, and the fairy-tale of Beauty and the Beast, but with a twist: it’s the heroine who has to struggle with physical imperfections. Aurelia Newbold was lamed and scarred by a riding accident three years before the story begins. Her sweetheart jilted her afterwards, and she is now convinced no man will ever want her. Amy, her twin, is the one expected to make a brilliant marriage to an English lord. But one night at a ball, while Amy is dazzling Society, Aurelia has a chance encounter with a handsome stranger that changes her life forever.
2. Is there anything special you do when you're writing? Or any particular inspiration?
Sometimes I listen to music to set the mood. The soundtrack to Topsy-Turvy, a biopic about Gilbert and Sullivan, got considerable play while I was working on Waltz with a Stranger. So did the score for A Little Night Music, in which all the songs are written in waltz time. More often than not, though, I write in comparative silence.
3.Who would you cast as Aurelia and James? And why?
If I could choose any pair of actors from any point in their careers, I’d cast Gwyneth Paltrow from around the time she was making Emma and Shakespeare in Love. Physically, she’s right for the part: blonde, blue-eyed, willowy, confident but also vulnerable--which would work very well because she’d be playing dual roles: Aurelia and her more outgoing twin, Amy.
As for James, I’d cast Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd from his Hornblower years. Not only is he tall, dark, handsome, and Celtic, he brings such a strong sense of honor and duty to his performance as Horatio Hornblower. And James is defined by his sense of honor, which is at once his strongest trait and his Achilles heel.
I just finished my second book, A Song At Twilight, about a professional singer--a rising star in the music world--and the man she can’t forget, in spite of the secrets that tore them apart years before. The hero and heroine play supporting roles in Waltz with a Stranger, so the second book is a sequel, but a fairly loose one. No cliffhanger endings, I promise! And I’m also eying my idea pile to see what I want to work on next.
5. Lightning Round:
Favorite Book: Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett
Author who inspires me the most: Nora Roberts. Prolific and disciplined.
Favorite TV Show: Downton Abbey
Word I wish would disappear from the English language: Impact, when used as a verb. As a noun, it can stay.
Favorite Word: Quicksilver (I know it’s an old term for mercury, but it sounds so much more evocative)
Favorite Movie: Singin’ in the Rain. It’s my go-to movie whenever I’m feeling low.
Place I would most like to visit: Italy, especially Venice and Florence!
If I was granted three wishes, I would wish for:
World peace (everyone probably hopes for that)
A healthy planet (especially after some of the natural disasters we’ve seen lately)
Enough money to support my writing career and allow a few luxuries, like trips to Europe, theater tickets, and hardcover books! (self-explanatory)