Message From The Author
If the key to good fiction is to write what you know, then Candice Proctor can't lose. With her second novel, THE BEQUEST, released this month by Ballantine/Fawcett, Candice has again combined the subjects that interest her most-history and relationships-to create a powerful novel with a thoroughly authentic feel.
Her enthusiasm for history spurred her to pursue a BA in Classics, followed by an MA and PhD in history. She later worked as an archaeologist in the United States, Australia and Europe, was a lecturer at the University of Idaho and an Assistant Professor of History at Midwestern State University in Texas. Candice feels her love of the subject stems from her father: "...an intelligent and wonderful man. Every year he'd take a month off-this was in the '50s, when few people did such things-and we'd go traveling around Europe. Often we'd be the first Americans to have visited these little villages."
Candice Proctor is a shining example of a new breed of romance writer, one with impressive academic qualifications that bring even greater depth to her work. "A surprising number of women with PhDs and medical degrees are writing romance. I started reading romance in my early teens, and though I always read widely, I loved the genre. Primarily I'm interested in relationships. Someone's choice of a partner is the most important, the most pivotal, of their lives."
Candice's first novel, Night in Eden, was set in her current home, Australia; for THE BEQUEST, she chose a Colorado setting. It's the tale of convent-raised Gabrielle Antoine, who receives an unexpected inheritance-Celeste's Place, a high-class brothel that was owned by the mother she never knew. While Gabrielle attempts to give the 'fallen women' the opportunity for a fresh start through education and new careers, she is passionately drawn to her mother's former business partner, Jordan Hays.
The luxurious Celeste's Place was modeled from a hotel in Madrid that Candice stayed in many years ago. "It was run down but had obviously been an opulent hotel, with mirrors over bathtubs...mirrors everywhere. The elevator didn't work so I used the stairs to get to my room and on the way I would peek into the different rooms. Finally, I discovered that it had once been a famous brothel."
But, as THE BEQUEST makes clear, not all prostitutes worked in glamourous, velvet-draped bordellos. There was an uglier side-women who were kept as virtual slaves, locked in filthy, tiny 'cribs' in seedy alleys.
"I went fishing in Idaho once with my father, and there were a lot of old mining towns around with cribs," explains Candice. "They were horrible. Writers try to put themselves in other people's experiences, and to imagine myself as one of those women was horrific."
In a lighter mode, Candice's next book, as yet untitled, can be summed up as "'The Sound of Music' meets 'Crocodile Dundee'," she laughs. "It's set in South Australia; the heroine is a repressed spinster and the hero is an Aussie-style 'good old boy'."
Though she misses the U.S., and especially her family (which includes older sister and fellow author Penelope Williamson), Candice has clearly fallen for Adelaide, where she lives with her husband and their two children. "It's very relaxed and slow-paced and beautiful. In fifteen minutes I can be in the city, by the sea or on top of a mountain."
One of the few drawbacks of living in Australia is that "there's still a big split between
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