ENTER….The Brethren! Welcome to Barb Devlin!
Posted by Jeanne Adams Aug 9 2012, 12:08 am
Hey, Banditas and Bandita Buddies! We now off the regularly scheduled blog from yesterday!! (Thanks to Cassondra for letting me steal her day!)
Please welcome one of my dearest friends to the Lair!
Barbara Devlin and I have known one another for well over 10 years now and it’s been one of the most enriching friendships I’ve had in writing! Barb writes some of the most brilliant historicals I’ve yet read and I adore both her characters and her continuing series, The Brethren of the Coast.
The first book, Enter the Brethren, is already available on Amazon and Lulu, and is in the review process for Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, and Smashwords, so download it today!
Now, Barb is born a storyteller. A Texan, through and through, she hasn’t been without a book in her possession since she was in kindergarten. (A trait we share!) She wrote her first short story, a really cheesy murder-mystery, in high school, but she tells me it was a Christmas gift, a lovely little diary with a bronze lock, given to her in the fifth grade that truly inspired her love for writing.
Barb has been a banker (in the ‘80s when banks were dropping like flies), a police officer, and is now an English professor. After an injury in the line of duty left her disabled, Barb focused on teaching, and is a full-fledged professor at a fabulous Texas university. Of course, being my favorite overachiever, she also wrote historical fiction in her “spare time” and completed five full-length novels featuring her fictional knighthood, the Brethren of the Coast! Book six is currently in the works.
I’ve been lucky enough to read them all, as one of her critique partners, and they are FAB-U-LOUS!!! I know you’ll love them as much as I do. So, let’s hear from the lady herself….
Jeanne: Barb, what made you decide to write historicals, rather than contemporary? After all, you started with that cheesy-mystery!
Barb: *laughs* The short answer is I’m a huge history geek, even though I live in the here and now. When I take vacations, I always include tours of historically significant sites. For instance, I planned a trip to France just to see the Waterloo battleground, as well as the beaches of Normandy. When my husband and I visited London, the first place we toured was the original Royal Naval Academy at Greenwich. Historical romance offers me an escape to another time and place.
Jeanne: Sounds like Banditas Nancy, Donna, Anna C…well, all the Banditas! Ha!
Barb: Exactly! The more complicated response, with which they would probably agree, is that historical novels allow for latitude. I can borrow famous names, give them dialogue that suits my storyline, and no one is going to sue me.
I can build scenes based on noted events, explain the unexplained, and insert my characters into history. In a sense, it’s like rewriting history, without the plague or chamber pots.
Jeanne: We can all do without those! :> Fortunately no one has the plague in your books. (Chamber pots, alas, remain!) Enter the Brethren is part of a series. Tell us a little about what gave you the idea for these Nautionnier Knights? (You know how much I love that name!)
Barb: Ah, my Nautionnier Knights. Romance has always been my Calgon in a book, and I had reached the point where I wanted to write something other than, say, “the material turn of critical theory” for my doctoral studies (yawn). I sketched ideas for a connected series, when my hubby surprised me with a trip to London. Needless to say, I returned with a suitcase filled with various books on the Royal Navy, Wellington, Nelson, tall ships, and the Templar Knights. One particular text posited that the only Templars to survive the Inquisition were the mariners who sailed for England.
Jeanne: Again, I can cite numerous Bandits who love that same thing… *cough*Nancy*cough* and probably got as many books!
Barb: Can you blame them? Ha! Now, I am a sucker for sea captains. Love, love, love them. And it seems to me that if the Templars found refuge in England, that refuge had to come at a price, but that price wouldn’t necessarily be advertised. I knew I wanted to focus on the Peninsular Wars, especially after touring Wellington’s Apsley House in Hyde Park Corner, so I decided to create my own knighthood. But I didn’t know what to call my heroes. As I flipped through a used encyclopedia on ships and the sea, I came upon a reference to the Brethren of the Coast.
Jeanne: So they existed, for real? (BTW, I think several of our Buddies probably swooned when you mentioned Apsley house…Maybe some Banditas too…)
Barb: Smelling salts all around! Yes, the Brethren actually existed. However, the Brethren of history were a band of famous pirates. That started me thinking. Since I loved the name, why not recast and redefine the Brethren as my kick-ass knighthood? But my heroes are also daring mariners, so they can’t be just plain old knights.
I stumbled upon the etymology of nautical. Nautionnier is an old French term for a navigator. In that moment, my Nautionnier Knights were born.
Jeanne: That is just too cool. Writers are all mad, aren’t we? We go to such lengths (snork!) to get it jussssst right. Okay, let’s switch up to the ladies. All of your heroines are “real” women – they have lives before they meet the hero, and are well-rounded characters even before the stories start. I love that! Tell me a little about your “perfect” heroine.
Barb: My “perfect” heroine revels in her imperfections. She’s smart, she may or may not be self-assured, and she’s curvy. She may not be the most beautiful woman on the surface, but she’s beautiful where it counts. She has a kind heart, she possesses inner strength, and she’s not afraid to take the road less traveled. She’s rebellious, but mostly insofar as she resists society’s attempts to define her identity. In a sense, I could say my heroine is every woman.
In the classroom, I teach rebellion. I tell my students on the first day of the semester that I’m the professor about which their parents warned them. I coach my students, to hone their own voice through their writing, to define their identity. When we cede control of our identity to someone else, they’re in charge. When that happens, we are marginalized; disenfranchised, as is the case with my historic heroines. If only one woman reads my work and finds inspiration in my heroine’s actions and the strength to assume control of her own identity, then I’m happy.
Jeanne: That’s outstanding. Hear, hear! And I’m snorking about you being “THAT” professor. You go, girl!! *ahem* Okay, back to our regularly scheduled interview…Here in the Lair, we love to talk about inspiration. What was your inspiration for Enter the Brethren?
Barb: In asking about my inspiration for Enter the Brethren, you’re getting personal!
Jeanne: Of course I am! (Critique partner’s perogative!)
Barb: Okay…well, what I most appreciate about fiction…is I can share as little or as much from my own life, and no one knows what’s borrowed and what’s contrived. Much like Caroline, the heroine of the story, I once wanted an escape from my very large family. After graduating high school, I was accepted to the University of London. I wanted to go to a place where no one knew my name, and it was a very liberating experience. When I returned to the US, I had big dreams, and I wasn’t about to let anyone get in my way. Of course, nothing ever turns out as we plan, and our actions often have a litany of unforeseen consequences.
The conflicted relationship between Trevor and Caroline in Enter the Brethren somewhat mirrors the difficulties experienced by the young female cop I was a couple of decades or so ago, and my early attempts at dating. It takes a strong man to love a woman who wears a uniform, badge, and gun.
Jeanne: Welcome to MY writing world! Ha!! But you found one…
Barb: I did! Now, if the man is a career firefighter, as is my Battalion Chief hubby, the relationship gets interesting…
Give the circumstances a nineteenth century setting that incorporates my fictional knighthood, and you have Book 1 in the Brethren of the Coast series.
Jeanne: I love that. So cool to have that insight. Okay, one last question…do you like to sail?
Barb: Oh, I love to sail. Some friends of mine used to compete in various races locally, and it was so much fun. Sailing is both exhilarating and relaxing, at once. It’s just you, the water, the boat, and the wind in your canvas. But I really love the tall ships. There’s something otherworldly about them.
Jeanne: There truly is something majestic and ethereal, isn’t there? Last but not least…Anything you’d like to ask our Banditas and BB’s?
Ladies (and gents!) What do you most like about historicals?
The time/place, the social differences?
What would you like to see more of in the historical arena? New places, faces?
Do you appreciate historical details beyond mere setting? Or is the story the thing?
Do you think sexy sea captains can make a comeback?
Jeanne: Trust me, they will once people read ENTER THE BRETHREN!
Here’s an excerpt, where Trevor and Caroline meet. He thinks Caroline is his friend’s mistress and it’s time for a prank on his old friend…
Revenge is a dish best served cold–or so the saying goes. Were she the meal, he would return to feast again and again. Young and fresh, with a body made for sin, she was the last thing he expected to find in Dalton Randolph’s cabin.
Trevor Reed Marshall, sixth Earl of Lockwood, hugged the shadows and gazed at his lovely prey as she bathed. Although he’d ravished his share of the fairer sex on numerous occasions, he couldn’t recall ever remaining for the cleanup. Of course, at the moment, there were many things that escaped him, because it was quite difficult to focus with a fully loaded cannon in his crotch.
This was the opening scene in the second act of the play that had begun two months ago, when Dalton made off with Trevor’s mistress. While men made sport of many things, guarded doxies were sacred territory subject to the rules of engagement. Such breach of polite decorum demanded Trevor respond in kind, which he was only too happy to do, given the ladybird in question.
He had his story committed to memory, knew precisely what he was going to say, but he paused to enjoy the fortuitous entertainment. Temptation personified, she lifted an arm and squeezed a wet cloth to her skin, then stood to scrub a shapely thigh, and Trevor could have cried. With silent thanks to young Randolph for his taste in doxies, Trevor emerged from his hiding place.
Slowly, very slowly, he smiled. Oh, yes. To err might be human, but getting even? Now that was divine. “May I be of assistance, my dear? Wash your back, perhaps?”
The woman faced him and shrieked. Hunkering in the bath, her eyes were wide as saucers and just visible over the rim. Great heavens, had he not shaved that morning?
“W-who are you, and what d-do you want?” She cringed even lower. “Leave my chambers, at once, or I shall scream.”
Although the barrel of ale laced with laudanum he had delivered as a boon from their captain would keep the skeleton crew sleeping for hours, he did not wish to invite trouble, so he stopped, palms raised. “Come now, dove, after what I just witnessed, you and I are already on intimate terms.”
“I beg your pardon?” Her voice was high-pitched, as a frightened child. Just as quick, she lobbed a bar of soap at his head, which he avoided with ease. “Get out, you blackguard. I swear Captain Randolph will tar your hide.”
“Will he, now?” Poor thing was not very convincing. “It might interest you to know that your benefactor is in port, partaking of Jamaican delights that rival your own. And I’d wager he will not return until tomorrow.”
“My benefactor?” The beauty peered at a towel draped on a chair that was just beyond her reach.
“One in the same.” Trevor snatched the towel. “And he indicated that you might be in need of a new guardian, after he lost a game of poker and incurred a few debts.”
She narrowed her stare. “You, sir, are lying.”
Oh, she was a charmer. “How can you be so certain?” he asked as he sat in the chair. “Men bet their ladybirds all the time.”
“Perhaps, but Captain Randolph would never suggest such a ridiculous notion.”
“Really? And why is that?”
“Because–” Her confidence faltered before him.
“Because–what, my dear?” “We are old friends.” Resting elbows to knees, Trevor leaned forward. “I would like to be your friend, too.”
“You would?” She bit her lip. “Then you can start by handing me that towel and turning your back to me.”
“Not a chance.”
“Then you are not my friend.” She frowned. “Would you have me remain, forever, in the bath?”
“No, you may exit at any time.”
“Without benefit of clothing?” The demirep clucked her tongue. “To use your words, not a chance.”
With a chuckle and sincere appreciation for her moxie, he slapped a thigh. “Upon my word, but you are a spirited bit o’ flesh.”
“And you are too bold, sir.”
“Call me Trevor. And how should I address you?”
“As I do not intend to keep company with you long enough to require such pleasantries, sir, there is no need to make you free with my name.”
“Ah, but you’re wrong, dove. I shall have you and your name before we dock in London.”
“When first hell freezes. And don’t call me dove.”
“I’ve seen longer odds and won the day, my dear. And as you deny me the use of your name, what choice have I?”
“Your choice is to leave this ship immediately.” The water splashed as she shifted. “Captain Randolph will return shortly, and he will have your head for this affront.”
“Any minute now, you shall see,” she said as she stared at the door. A few seconds ticked past as he allowed her a scarce second of false hope. “He is almost here.”
Again, Trevor laughed. “I think not, dove.”
“I know so.”
“You’re bluffing, and you’re not very good at it.”
“And you seem foolishly sure of yourself, sir.”
“Sure enough to know that my sire raised no fool, and we need to be on our way. So, should I help you from the bath?” Confusion invested her delicate features, and just as Trevor stood, the doxy screamed.
“Help! Someone, please, help me!”
“Bloody hell.” Glancing left, then right, he searched for means to cork the damsel in distress. Quickly, he settled on a solution. Draped at the foot of the captain’s bunk was a silk robe. Trevor drew the tie from the garment and stomped toward the ladybird. When she threw her hands up in a defensive posture, he bound her wrists.
“What are you doing?” She struggled in vain. “Let me go. Help–”
A discarded cravat muffled her protest. “Sorry, dove, but I cannot risk further outburst.” Trevor knotted the yard-length of linen at the back of her neck. “Once we gain the safety of my ship, I will free you to rain any number of curses on my soul. Now, out of the tub.”
When the lady refused to comply with his request, only shook her head violently, he scooped her naked body into his arms, and the doxy kicked and squirmed. “Somehow, I knew you would not cooperate.” He thrust her atop the bunk and, before she could scramble away, wrapped her in the quilted coverlet. There was one thing left to do before he made his escape. Trevor walked to the large desk positioned before the stern windows and retrieved a sheet of parchment. A familiar passage shot to the forefront of his brain, and he smiled at the sweet irony.
Of course, a few minor alterations were required to convey his intent. Reversing the names, Trevor penned a missive similar to the one his nemesis had left him.
Randolph, I sincerely hope to savor your dove as much as you enjoyed mine. Your enchanting mistress will await you in London–unharmed, but a bit more experienced than when you last met. Thanks are unnecessary. Happy Sailing, Lockwood
After folding the parchment in two, he scribbled Dalton’s name on the front and propped it against the inkstand.
“Perfect.” At that instant, his quarry fell to the floor in a clumsy heap. And the more she struggled, the more she entangled herself in the quilt, which resulted in a slew of muffled protests. “Shh.” He adjusted the blanket. “It is for your safety. The docks are filled with randy sailors, and we do not want anyone to see you in all your glory, my dear. You’ll incite a riot.”
The cabin door swung open, and a face he knew well peered around the edge. “Cap’n, what are ya doin’? We do not have all night.” “Quiet,” he hissed to his first mate. “Is the hall clear?”
“Aye.” Leaning forward, Trevor hoisted his new bunkmate as a sack of wheat atop his shoulder. His second in command took the lead, and together they crept down the hall, past the galley, and up to the main deck. With the stealth of a predator, he slithered amid the dozing watch members. As they descended the gangplank, his lovely catch squirmed in his grasp, and Trevor placed a hand to her bottom, patting through the thick cover. A feminine shriek had him biting back laughter as he navigated the docks toward his ship. With a healthy dose of desire simmering in his veins, he thought to himself: That was too easy.
Posted in Barbara Devlin, Enter the Brethren, historical romance, Jeanne Adams, The Brethren of the Coast