Hello Joanna and welcome to Author’s Limelight! Congratulations on your October 30th release of your historical romance, Shadow Beneath the Sea. What was the first story you ever wrote?
Apart from writing poetry which I began writing 30 years ago to channel a deep grief I was experiencing from the loss of someone I loved, I wrote my first full length novel about 5 years ago. This one was set during the French Revolution with mystery, intrigue and head rolling danger in the court of Louis XVI – a romance between a lady in waiting to the Queen and a revolutionary. It was an exercise to see if I could actually create a fictional story. That one is still in the bottom drawer but I proved to myself I could do it. I haven’t stopped writing since.
Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?
Surprisingly the character who most came alive for me was Callum McDonald in my first published novel, Beyond Innocence. He was a secondary character – a gruff, bearded Scotsman – who burst from the pages with such personality and charisma, it was love at first sight – albeit a fatherly love. Many people who have read the novel have asked for his story.
Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?
Suddenly I had a reader market and a responsibility to meet a certain standard. No more just playing with writing. And it wasn’t just the “being published” that changed how I view writing, it was all the paraphernalia that goes with being published. My personal demon – social media/marketing – scariest of all. I thought all I had to do was write a decent book but apparently that’s just the beginning. There’s blogging, tweeting, facebook promotion and most important of all, the three r’s – reviews, reviews and reviews.
What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?
I am a very eclectic reader so you would find all of Diana Gabaldon’s books, many of Sara Donati, Sharon Penman, Ken Follett, Tim Winton, Herman Hesse, Tao of Lao Tsu, many books on Buddhism and Psychology.
What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?
Cracker of a question, Sarah! An oyster which slipped and slithered down my throat making me want to throw it up again. I then did just that and discovered I was allergic to shellfish. Phew…that meant I never had to try one again!
If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?
a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.
b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.
c) Princess Leia from Starwars.
d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Louise who, for once in her life, threw caution to the wind and let her “wild woman” loose. I wouldn’t rewrite the ending. It had such powerful symbolism for me. I grew up as a child of the 60’s/early 70’s who pushed every boundary and experimented madly (and that’s all I’m going to say about that). What a feeling of exhilaration and freedom she must have felt as she drove over the cliff and who knows what happened after that…!
Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?
I wish I had written Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I could only have written those words if I understood how life works – and how good would that be? I wouldn’t worry over finishing a book in time (time is an illusion J), I wouldn’t be nervous about whether a book would sell (it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks) and I wouldn’t be striving to get things right (everything is perfect as it is J). But…I didn’t write it so here I am trying to answer all your questions as well as I can so you’ll like me!!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would like to have telekinetic powers which would enable me to move all objects including myself with just a thought. I’d have to be careful what I thought about though, never know what might shoot into the room! However…a quick thought of Jamie Fraser (from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series) or maybe… a long thought of Jamie…sorry, did you say something, Sarah?
Lol, Joanna! I have read that book as well and did enjoy visualising the delicious Jamie Fraser!
If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?
I would go back to Egypt during the time of the pharaohs, when they were building the Great Pyramid of Giza. A camera would have to be what I took with me to actually document how those pyramids were built! I might have to be there for a while though. Maybe I could go when they were at the pointy end.
Can you tell us about your works in progress?
Yes, love to. I have about four on the boil. Two contemporary romances, one with a dash of paranormal for which I have created characters and plots and written a couple of chapters to go back to. Then there is one (working title “Children of the Islands”) which is more than half finished which is the story of a mother and daughter beginning in 1946 and spanning a thirty year period. The one I am putting energy into right now is a contemporary with some intrigue, a journey of self-reinvention and romantic elements, called Can You See Me.
Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from Shadow Beneath the Sea, please?
A great act of war; a greater act of love.
1915: Britain and Germany are at war and the waters off Great Britain have been declared a war zone. In six days the luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sails from New York to England with 1,959 passengers on board.
Lillian Marshall’s father is determined she will accompany him to England on board the great luxury liner, Lusitania. Walter Marshall needs an accomplice in crime to execute a shrewd con to make their fortune. Lillian is faced with an impossible decision— stay in America and marry a man she doesn’t love for stability and security, or face her fear of sea travel, her father’s crooked schemes and an unknown future to reunite with a family she’s never known.
When Edward James books passage to England on the Lusitania, he believes his future is at last out of his father’s hands and his career as a musician is within reach. Before the ship sails Edward becomes an unwitting ally in Walter’s plan to force his reluctant daughter onto the ship. Edward finds himself drawn to the intriguing Lillian and seeks her company at every opportunity – finally facing the possibility that it may be Lillian who holds his heart.
Unfortunately, his uncle has more insidious plans to wed Edward to the cold-hearted Lavinia Armitage, daughter of a family business partner.
So begins a love story hindered by class, time and promises—Edward’s to marry Lavinia and Lillian’s to steal from the man she loves.
Against a backdrop of vivid characters, obscene wealth, secrets, lies and deceit, the countdown begins toward one of the greatest war-time shipping tragedies in history.
Although her whole body buzzed with enough adrenaline for her to flee to the furthest reaches of the ship, she sat as if glued to the chair.
Finally he spoke. “What’s going on over there, Lillian?” Her head jerked up, unprepared for such a question. She had expected him to make weak excuses about forgetting to inform her he was engaged to Lavinia Armitage.
“Wha … what do you mean?”
He leaned over and reached for her chin, lifting her head until their eyes met. “I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t trust your father. I’m certain I saw him deal from the bottom of the deck.”
A cold chill crept up her spine, and she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as an empty coal bin. Before she could answer, there was a collective gasp in the room. The colonel had folded his cards and relaxed back into his chair. Walter and Zeke stared, unblinking at each other.
“Did you hear me, Walt? I am calling you and raising ten thousand dollars.”
Her father pulled out a large handkerchief, patted his throat and put his money on the table. Lillian saw the nervous gesture, but it didn’t match the gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Show your cards, Zeke.”
Edward grabbed her arm. “Tell me, now, Lillian. Quickly, before they end this.”
Tears welled in her eyes at the lies she was about to utter, but her future depended on this money. “There is nothing to tell, Edward. You have allowed your imagination to get the better of you.” His gray eyes searched her face, begging for the truth, and in that moment she knew she had wronged him as much as he had wronged her.
Joanna is giving away an e-book copy of her upcoming release, Shadow Beneath the Sea, ( e-pub, mobi or pdf format only). All you have to do to be in the draw to win is leave a comment below!