Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Jenny Brown.
Brown’s newest, Star Crossed Seduction (Avon, $7.99), is in stores today and is one of seven titles included in the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign, which promotes ovarian cancer awareness. (See details below.)
Jenny Brown earned a graduate degree in 19th-century history, and her favorite hobby continues to be reading biographies of people who lived during that time period. Not coincidentally, her first professional sale was a biographical piece about Louisa May Alcott’s childhood. In addition to being a novelist, Brown has earned a living with pursuits that have included performing as a singer-songwriter, writing non-fiction, and running a successful small press. She has been a student of astrology since her teens.
Star Crossed Seduction is the second book in the author’s Seventh House series, which debuted with Lord Lightning in 2010. Bookworm2bookworm’s blog praised the new novel as “[a] beautifully crafted and executed, heartwarming and heart wrenching love story. The author has taken the time and care in developing, dare I say giving birth, to two characters that literally jump off the pages with life…”
From the publisher:
Lovers or Enemies?
Captain Miles Trevelyan, on leave from active service in India, is heading out for a night on the town when he rescues a beautiful pickpocket from arrest. She’s the perfect choice for a few days of dalliance–beautiful, cunning, and completely disposable.
But Temperance has no intention of becoming the plaything of a man who wears the uniform of the solders who murdered her lover. Disarming Trev with a kiss, she escapes. But her sultry kiss opens the two Scorpio adversaries to an obsessive attraction that neither can elude–or possibly survive.
Following the success of her sensational debut novel, Lord Lightning, Jenny continues her Lords of the Seventh House series–in which each hero is a different sign of the Zodiac. A dark and sensual story reminiscent of the acclaimed novels of Loretta Chase, Anna Campbell, and Mary Balogh, but with a very tantalizing touch of the occult thrown in, Star Crossed Seduction is top-flight historical romance with a uniquely unforgettable difference.
Now, Jenny Brown seduces readers with her reflections from a writer’s life…
1) How has your educational background influenced your storytelling? Do you find it difficult to balance historical accuracy with creative license?
Because I find real history so intriguing I do my best to respect the way things really were in the period I write about. At the same time, I make sure my story centers on the kinds of emotional conflicts modern readers will find compelling. That may be why I write about people who are outsiders in their own societies and have good reasons for rejecting the standards of behavior that prevailed in their times.
My current novel, Star Crossed Seduction, is set in London in 1820. Its heroine, Temperance, is a pickpocket. As a teen she fled from her wealthy home to live out her youthful ideals, only to find herself, as so many runaways do, alone on the street, at the mercy of criminals who give her the choice of stealing or prostitution. The hero, nicknamed Trev, is a cavalry captain who has been raised in a military family. He’s spent his formative years in India immersed in its culture. When the story starts he has just returned to England on a long sought leave, only to find out that England, which is supposed to be “home,” feels more foreign than the court of any Nawab. He meets Temperance after she gets caught picking his pocket, and it is the fact that both of these outsiders are outsiders and that each of them has suffered a great deal for their loyalties and their ideals that draws them together. But because they are outsiders, it is believable that they could be drawn into an emotionally-wrenching affair for reasons that don’t conflict with what we know about how people behaved in the England of their time.
2) Can you tell us how you incorporate astrology thematically within your Lords of the Seventh House series?
What I’ve done in this series is to bring to life the themes associated with the various signs. Star Crossed Seduction is the Scorpio book of the series, so its story explores issues of trust and betrayal, the cost of keeping secrets and manipulating others, and the residues of childhood trauma. The small amount of astrology that enters into the plot lends it a bit of flavor, but isn’t essential. Readers don’t need to know anything about astrology or believe in it to enjoy the book.
3) STAR CROSSED SEDUCTION centers around the characters of Captain Trevelyan and Temperance. How do you see their relationship as defying the stereotypical genre romance?
As I mentioned, Temperance and Trev are both outsiders. You won’t find them waltzing in a ballroom or worrying about whether some dowager duchess will ruin their reputations. As would behoove Scorpios, both of them have been facing issues of life and death since they were young, and when they meet they engage in a battle of the sexes where a lot more is at stake than just their personal happiness. I hope readers will enjoy venturing with Trev and Temperance far from the usual settings found in Regency-set Historical romance and enjoy the way they travel from the meanest backstreet slum to inner sanctum of the most powerful man in England–all the while learning how to love, and more importantly, to trust.
4) You are a bestselling author of non-fiction under another name. How do you maintain these separate identities? Also, can you briefly compare/contrast the process of writing fiction vs. non-fiction?
I use different names for each genre I write in to keep things simple for readers, but I’m very frank with my nonfiction fans about the fact that I also write historical romance.
I find fiction a lot tougher to write than nonfiction, because in nonfiction, the factual information you convey is what makes the book work, but with fiction it’s all about the execution. You can have the best plot, but if you don’t tell your story well, your book won’t sell. So fiction takes a lot more time and effort and demands a higher level of craftsmanship.
5) What can you reveal about book three in the series? We won’t tell.
Do tell! The more people hear about a new book the more likely they are to check it out during that very brief period while it is in stores. Fiction also has a much shorter shelf life than nonfiction.
My next book, Perilous Pleasures, is the Pisces book in the series. The hero is a Scottish lord with a tragic past who has taken a vow of chastity after falling under the sway of a mysterious mystical healer. I’ve paired him with a cynical Virgo who is the ugly daughter of a beautiful courtesan–the same courtesan the hero believes sent his sister to her death during the French Revolution.
In this story, too, I’ve used real historical facts as the basis for the plot–the period around the French Revolution was rich in would-be spiritual masters–and created a powerful love story that involves people who are outsiders relative to the society of their day.
6) You have a very personal connection to “K.I.S.S. and Teal”. Can you tell us what this campaign means to you?
My college roommate died in her twenties of a form of ovarian cancer, but I had no idea how common it had become or how many lives it touches until I got involved with the KISS and Teal effort and started hearing other people’s stories. That has made me realize how important it is that we break through the silence that still makes people keep silent about reproductive system cancers, and work together to increase the funding available for research and providing resources to ovarian cancer patients.
Every author wants everyone to buy her book, but the fact that each copy of my book sold will contribute to this effort will make each sale that much more satisfying.
With thanks to Jenny Brown for sharing her time and thoughts and Jessie Edwards, Assistant Publicist at Avon/Harper Voyager/HarperCollins Publishers, for facilitating this interview.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and Avon Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) has made a commitment to its authors and readers to help spread the word by unveiling its “K.I.S.S. and Teal” campaign, which advocates learning the symptoms of the disease.
Avon Books has already made an initial donation of $25,000 to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and, with the support of readers, will continue to provide aid in the months ahead. Between today (August 30th)and February 28, 2012, the publisher has committed to donating 25 cents from the sale of each book and eBook in the “K.I.S.S. and Teal” promotion—up to an additional $25,000—towards programs that support ovarian cancer patients and their families.
For more information on the disease, visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
For more information on the “K.I.S.S. and Teal” promotion, visit Avon Romance.
Be sure to rejoin Hartford Books Examiner later this week for a Q&A with K.I.S.S. and Teal author Caroline Linden.