Message From The Author
What possible disadvantages could there be to traveling to exciting, historic overseas destinations to research your next novel? For Samantha James there is only onethe fact that she is, by her own admission, not overly fond of flying. But, she acknowledged, if you want to go overseas, you have to do it!
So, this past May Samantha James summoned up the courage to take her dream trip, and boarded a plane for her first visit to her two most beloved placesnorthern England and Scotland. There she and her husband spent 18 glorious days visiting 19 castles, assorted manor homes, and poking into the history of the regions highways and byways.
It was their stay at Borthwick, a castle which has been converted into a small hotel, which confirmed her vision of the small village featured in her latest release, ONE MOONLIT NIGHT. She was particularly taken with the village church there, so much so that a picture of it is featured on her website. The storys origin, however, began on this side of the Atlantic Ocean with one of her middle daughters friends, who has a Gypsy grandmother. That nugget, of course, got Samantha thinking and she began researching Gypsies and their way of life.
In the course of my research I discovered that, as with a lot of minorities, there are a number of misconceptions. I didnt want to portray the Gypsies in the book in a bad light, nor did I want to sound as if I were preaching, but I did try to weave in the little things about their culture and ways. For instance, they camped near towns so that they could conduct their trade.
As soon as she settled on the Gypsy background for the story, Samantha said she immediately knew that the hero, Dominic St. Bride, Earl of Ravenwood, would be the one with Gypsy blood. And who better to pair him with than Olivia Sherwood, daughter of the villages late vicar?
My characters tend to initially just pop out of the woodwork and then its a building process from there.
My stories are more character driven than plot driven. Plus, I like to do more emotional stories where the heroes and heroines have a lot to overcome. Of course, theres always a happy ending; but, to get to heaven, they have to take a detour through hell.
Olivia Sherwood, the heroine of ONE MOONLIT NIGHT, has her share of burdens to deal with. Olivias really not so different from modern-day women, Samantha notes. Many of todays women have to take care of home and hearth as well as play the provider role. And Olivia has the additional burden of having to care for herself, too. Phew!
Samantha believes that by writing about heroes and heroines who have obstacles to overcome, her books become more of a reflection of life in general. In addition, she hopes that after reading one of her books, her readers will remember when things look grim in their own lives how her characters were able to grow and change to reach their happy ending.
Samantha began her career writing contemporaries. You write what you know, she says, and once youre in you can find your niche.
For Samantha, that niche was historicals, especially those set in Britain. What I really like about Britain is its sense of history and Old World atmosphere. I also like books and heroes who have a sense of brooding, and thats what Britain hasthis great brooding atmosphere!
Her first historical was published with Avon, the only historical publisher that Ive written for, and recently she extended her historical reign with Avon when she signed a contract for another three books.
Although Samantha has become more well-known for her medieval romances, she is equally passionate about her Regencies. Late next May, she will be combining all her passionsfor Britain, Regencies and Jane Austenwhen she hosts an eleven day tour of Jane Austens England. The tour will visit all the preeminent Austen haunts, such as Bath, Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, Janes house in Chawton, and the historic house The Vyne near Basingstoke, where Jane attended many dances.
The tour also will visit several other locations associated with Jane personally, in addition to several locations where the movies of Janes books were filmed.
Samantha is excited about the prospect of returning to England and having yet another chance to visit the gift shops associated with the myriad of historic sites throughout the country. The shops are just filled with wonderful little books put out by the various historical societies which give incredible information about how a castle was originally built, who its inhabitants were and so on. Talk about a treasure trove!
Future books will include another Scottish medieval, which Samantha is currently wrapping up, and possibly an Irish historical. That one depends on her daughter Sara, who may be spending her junior year of college in Dublin next academic year. And how does Samantha feel about letting her daughter roam so far? It gives me yet another excuse to go over there againso Im all for it!
For a complete brochure on the tour Living Jane Austens England with Samantha James, contact Britannia Roads at 1-888-359-9141. Land package cost for this readers dream tour is $2300.00 (airfare is an additional charge).
Excerpt From ONE MOONLIT NIGHT:
England, 1821, On the road from Ravenwood Manor into the village...
Olivia felt it firstthe rumble of the earth beneath her feet. Her head came up. A strangled cry caught in her throat. A coach and four rounded the corner, lumbered toward her.
Olivia dove to the side of the road just as the coach thundered by. Though her head was reeling, she was dimly aware of a shout, the crunch of gravel beneath booted feet.
Her scream died in her throat. From out of the nights shadows a towering form, dressed entirely in black, appeared. A shiver touched her spine. She stared into eyes as black as the devils soul. Numbly she realized that it was he. The Gypsy, Dominic St. Bride, Earl of Ravenwood.
Tis midnight, he said softly. You should not be about at this hour.
Olivia bristled. He might be her employer, but he was not her keeper.
Im well aware of the hour, sir, and I assure you, Im quite safe.
You were not, else we would not be having this discussion.
I am not a sniveling, helpless female, sir.
It appeared as if he had not heard at all. To her surprise, he stripped off one glove, tucked it beneath his arm, then took her hand. Allow me to take you home, Miss Sherwood.
Her gaze flew to his. She tried to remove her hand from within his grasp. His grip tightened ever so slightly.
Y-youre holding my hand, sir.
So I am, Miss Sherwood. So I am. He glanced down at her hand, clasped in his palm, then back up to her face. A slight smile curved his lips . . .oh, a devils smile surely, for she sensed he was making light of her. I would ask you again. May I take you home?
Nay sir! Tis not necessary, she hastened to add. I live here, just over the hill.
He gazed down at her, long and intently, then released her hand. Very well then. His tone was decidedly cool. Had she offended him?
As he disappeared into the shadows, a sliver of guilt shot through her. She released a long, pent-up breath. Ravenwood. Twas a fitting name, for a fitting master. For there was something dark and mysterious about Dominic St. Bride.
Or did the midnight hourand his Gypsy soulbut fuel her foolish fancies?
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