Debuting last year with A Lady’s Revenge, historical romance author Tracey Devlyn immediately gained attention for her adventure-filled writing. The Nexus series second, Checkmate, My Lord, out now, continues to thrill readers with a strong heroine and a guarded hero. At a recent conference, RT’s Morgan caught up with the author to discuss her stories and unique characters.
Morgan Doremus: A Lady’s Revenge is not only a great name for a romance, but it also speaks to the kind of book you wrote. It is all about a lady out for revenge and for good reason since Cora deBeau has spent time in a dungeon. In your newest release, Checkmate, My Lord, your heroine is a widow and she is now looking for her husband’s murderer. You really seem to enjoy putting your characters through the ringer.
Tracey Devlyn: Before I ever picked up pen and put it to paper, I was always drawn to the types of authors that push boundaries. I want to be that kind of author. An author that you think ‘she’s not going to go there’ and then I do. I want to shock the reader. I want you to cry and smile and laugh. I want to do all of these things, which make for a rich reading experience.
MD: Your characters certainly have layers.
TD: What an excellent compliment! What I do when I build a character is I try to visualize myself as that person. I try to see the world through their eyes and dig deep into their feelings.
MD: In Checkmate, My Lord we have Catherine, a widow with a daughter she will do anything to protect. Since her husband died under mysterious circumstances Catherine needs to find what happened to keep her family safe. Her main suspect is our hero Sebastian. This makes for a rough introduction. What are your characters’ first reactions when they meet?
TD: When they first meet, Catherine has traveled all the way to London from the country, bringing letters from her husband. These are all written in code and have Sebastian’s title, Lord Somerton, peppered through them. She doesn’t know exactly what they say, but it is not too hard for her to imagine that he has something to do with her husband’s death. She’s trying to get to the bottom of the mystery and figures if Sebastian has something to do with it, she will figure it out and if not then she really needs his help in her investigation.
As for Sebastian, he sees Catherine and there is an immediate spark for him. This is someone he wants to get to know.
MD: But this getting-to-know-you is hard for Sebastian. As a spy, he has been conditioned to expect betrayal from everyone around him. This can’t be a very comfortable way to live.
TD: As a spymaster in a network of international spies, Sebastian’s always kept everyone at a distance. He was the guardian of the heroine in the first book, but he never got close to his ward. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he is trying to protect her. He is loving and good, but will do what he needs to do to protect England. Which can mean sacrifices for himself and those around him. This creates a kind of villainous tension about him.
MD: And that’s what makes him great! The layers. There aren’t any white hat/black hat situations in your writing. It’s all about shades of gray.
TD: A theme of this book is that you never really can know what someone is capable of.
MD: Too true! I mean just look at the book’s cover with Catherine holding a gun.
TD: Sourcebooks has done such a great job with these covers. Even with the first book, Cora is holding a dagger. It so captures the historical feel and the suspense. Very lush and interesting.
MD: In less than a year, you have gone from a reader to an author. What has this experience been like?
Tracey Devlyn: It is hard, wonderful, exciting, terrifying — all of those things. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Morgan Doremus: I hope that 2013 treats you just as well as 2012!
Want some exciting adventure in your historical romance? Then Tracey Devlyn is definitely an author to watch. The first two books in her Nexus series, A Lady’s Revenge and Checkmate, My Lord are available now. For more exciting tales, make sure to visit our Everything Romance Page!