Message From The Author
Emma Tremayne felt their stares like slaps on bare skin. She was so shy that simply being looked at was a torment So opens THE PASSIONS OF EMMA, with a stark, gut-wrenching description of both its heroine and its author, Penelope Williamson.
Emmas shyness is definitely me, acknowledges Penelope, but ultimately the women in her books behave a lot like I would like to. They are often more courageous and more like what I aspire to be.
Those aspirations, and an acceptance of her own shyness, brought her to where she is todaya best-selling, internationally-known author of historical romance. Indeed, although she began in journalism, Penelope always knew my whole life that I wanted to write novels.
She originally entered the journalism field to fulfill that dream. I saw myself as a Hemingway and getting all these great foreign correspondent jobs and writing the great American novel based on my experiences. She never dreamed that it would be the great American romance novel. But after fifteen years in the field of journalism and public relations, Penelope realized that she did not have the temperament to stay with her original profession, and thus struck a deal with her husband one night over dinner. If she supported his dream of going back to school for an M.B.A., she would be granted the same period of time when his studies were completed to pursue her dreamto write and sell a novel.
Admitting that when she began, she still had misconceptions about the romance genre, Penelope set out to write a historical saga. In reading these types of books, the part which I always loved was the relationships and the love story. When a portion of her finished historical saga was shown to an editor, he then asked her if she would be interested in writing historical romances. Penelope realized that books like those written byCatherine Coulter and Jude Deveraux were exactly the kind of book I wanted to read and write.
For Penelope, such a book explores developing relationships built around a thematic proposition. For instance, THE PASSIONS OF EMMA grew out of Penelopes desire to do a female version of The Age of Innocence, with a twist. In Penelopes depiction, the woman is courageous enough to overcome the social challenges to her happiness.
As for the seemingly unusual setting, Penelope realized that she needed the extreme contrast of a blue-blooded Yankee woman against that of the Irish immigrant population. When her original setting proved unsatisfactory, an agent who had a summer home in Rhode Island suggested Providence. During her research, Penelope discovered Bristol, which seemed tailor-made for her story. It turns out that Bristol not only had the mills and the needed immigrant population, but also the extremely structured society who really did call themselves The Great Folk, very much like The Four Hundred in New York or The Beacon Hill Society in Boston. It was a great combination!
Another great assemblage is the friendship which evolves between Emma, the heroine, and Bria, the heros wife, who is dying of consumption. Penelope noted how much she likes portraying friendships between women and how through such friendships, women can strengthen and support one another. I think we need to remember that women can build strong relationships which are just as important as those with the men in their lives.
And as for the males in Penelopes life, one is her extremely supportive husband Derek, a Marine she met while in college during the Vietnam War era. The other is a very large Morgan horse named Dr. Boyd, which she boards near her Mill Valley, California, home. We live in one of those California homes that hangs off the edge of the cliffs and when the rains comes everyone gets nervous.
Recently, however, Penelope has not had much time to worry about too much rain. When she is not busy finishing her latest book (due out next year), she has been spending considerable time with both her man and her horsetravelling to engage in hunter-jumper training in Europe. She particularly enjoyed the time that she was able to spend in Paris when her French publisher brought her over for a book tour.
But as much as she enjoys her other pursuits, writing is Penelopes passion. And her devolution to her craft is telling in the works she has published: stories full of texture and littered with complex characters. They have real relationships full of self-discovery, all written from Penelopes heart.
Maybe its not a good way to plan a career, but I believe you need to write a book which comes from your heart and let the chips fall where they may. For Penelope, her subtle and elegant portrayals of men and women means the chips always will fall precisely right.
You can write to Penelope c/o Warner, 1271 Sixth Ave, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10020.
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