Pen and Paintbrush with Carol A. Strickland
Posted by Nancy Northcott Aug 18 2012, 12:34 am
Today my longtime friend Carol A. Strickland makes her Lair debut. Carol writes fantasy and science fiction novels (the sweet historical Burgundy and Lies is the exception that proves the rule) that involve strong women, strange worlds, and a touch of humor. She is also an award-winning painter. We bonded over Star Trek more than half our lives ago, and I’ve always been impressed with the range of her talents.
Welcome, Carol! Of art and creative writing, which came first for you?
I can recall drawing as well as writing when I was in the fourth grade. My oeuvre specialized in high heels, red lips, superheroine costumes, and Supergirl in particular. My writing concerned a Mary Sue (a wish fulfillment story) of me as a member of the U.N.C.L.E. organization in hot pursuit of the Beatles. At the time I had no idea what to do with ‘em (even Paul!) after I got to them, though.
*Grin* When you need to escape, do you go to one art form more than the other?
I have serious self-diagnosed ADHD (isn’t the Internet wonderful?), which means I have to force myself to focus on things or I flit from, hey, wouldn’t some ice cream be good right about now? What was I saying? Oh yeah, focusing. I listen to self-help tapes all the time (shout out to Tony Robbins!) to get some great focusing suggestions and motivation.
This means that I concentrate on one area at a time and finish that project or at least that phase before switching off. Doesn’t that sound efficient? That’s not how it works out, but I do try. Eventually I find that I HAVE to paint something or I’ll go mad, or I’ll HAVE to write something, ditto. The result is that things get done, but it’s an effort and takes time. I’m sure no one else has that problem!
What inspired this novel?
Oh golly, true confessions. I’d written the first of my Three Worlds novels, Touch of Danger, and hadn’t gotten anywhere in getting it published. (It did eventually. I got my rights back and now self-publish it.) I was beyond frustrated. By attending local RWA meetings, I discovered the world of historical romance and thought: I can do that! I’ll write a great one and the agents won’t be able to turn it down and I’ll get my foot in the Big Six’s door and nyahh on failure.
I knew I wanted a sweet historical novel about mistaken identities on the way to a betrothal. I mean, how much fun is that? There was this genteel British lady, see, and her maid, and it was the Regency era in London, and there were lords and… And I couldn’t do it. It just would not happen that way.
It wound up in Renaissance France with nary a lord nor lady in sight. My mixed-identity leads were a hard-working country girl and her spoiled cousin, neither of whom had a drop of regal blood in their veins. None of this was commercially viable in the Big Six’s eyes, especially since historicals had hit bottom on the market at the time. But I do love the story and the characters and dared myself to explore a few kinds of scenes/concepts that you are just never going to find in other historicals. (Glad to see that other readers like it too! Reviewers get a special spot in Heaven.)
Who are the hero and heroine, and what keeps them apart?
Earnest young Abbie Bourgogne finds herself caught in a web of deceit and switched identities on the way to a contracted marriage that binds the honor of her family. It will take her far away from the home and vineyards she’s desperate to return to. The fate of her very soul will lie in danger no matter what action she takes.
Complicating her life further is Jean-Marc, the vagabond trickster who wants a wife for his beloved brother. With sons from that marriage to help with the family business, he will be free to explore the world… if he can stop himself from falling for his brother’s future wife.
Would you like to share an excerpt?
Twist my arm… We’re joining the family at dinner with guests that include a handsome, worldly stranger:
Uncle Gus had commissioned some miniatures of Babette over the past year. Babette had preened in posing for them, thinking that her father merely wanted the honor of immortalizing her, when he must have been circulating them hither and yon to interest a young man. Like this one.
Oh, the poor, wretched creature! Abbie gave a snort and tried to cover it up with a small cough, but she’d attracted the man’s attention.
He examined her up and down with curiosity and she tried to hide her laugh behind her hand. Arching one eyebrow, she flicked her gaze over to her cousin and then back to him, asking silently.
He inclined his head ever so slightly, and Abbie coughed quickly again. He looked a little wounded at that.
Poor man! Poor, poor man! To have to endure Babette intimately for the rest of his life! Abbie loved her cousin, but she knew her faults all too well.
Suddenly Abbie felt as if someone had struck her with a cook pot. Babette was to be married.
Where did that leave her?
Babette was Abbie’s anchor to Uncle Gus’ family. Abbie’s duty was to keep an eye on her cousin. Without her cousin around, what would she be expected to do?
Abbie put down her dining knife and stared at her plate in consternation. She tried to think of some duty here that wasn’t already being taken care of, some spot that she could fill, but the prosperous household was run efficiently.
A sudden surge of hope bloomed within Abbie. She was a woman now, no longer a helpless girl. Might she ask to return home to the clos? Would Cousin Christopher let her work there where she belonged? It would fulfill her family duty as well as her joy. Why, Babette getting married was the greatest of blessings. Abbie offered up a thankful prayer to St. Amandus. She could go home again!
That is, if Babette didn’t mess up things.
“Papa,” Babette said brightly when conversation had paused for some time as the plum pudding was served, “I would like to talk with you about—ouch! Why, Abbie, that hurt.”
“Oh dear, was that you? I’m terribly sorry, Babette.”
Aunt Danielle smiled a weak warning. She couldn’t be more than six years older than Abbie. “Babette, please don’t interrupt your father.”
“But I wasn’t. He wasn’t saying anything and I have such an important subject to bring up.” Babette turned quickly to her father. “It’s about Michel. Michel Fichaud.”
Uncle Gus’s forehead furrowed as he humored his eldest daughter. “Fichaud?”
“You know. The master of the clos vineyard, Papa.”
“Of course I know Fichaud.”
“Oh, Papa, we’re getting married. This Christmas, I think. I—”
“You’re what?” Uncle Gus blinked as he held his spoon ready to sample the pudding. He blinked again and his cheeks went red above his graying beard.
“Married, Papa. Isn’t it wonderful? Ouch!”
“Ouch?” Hmm. What’s next for you?
Currently I’m about two weeks away from sending a book out to beta readers. It’s an action-adventure starring a certain licensed superhero (anyone who looks at my website can guess who that is), that is going to be a real challenge to get legally published. Arr! Bring it on!
After that the third volume in my Three Worlds superhero fantasy series, Lost in the Worlds, should hit the internet e-stands around November, with the next two volumes following shortly. Well, relatively shortly. I also have a fun sci fi novel with space stations and intelligent lizards as well as one very confused Earth woman and a snooty British interstellar spy, that needs to be whipped into final shape. If anyone wants to volunteer for beta reading on any of this, I would be eternally grateful! Good beta readers get a free pass into Heaven, you know.
Let me just say that I have Burgundy and Lies on sale for 99¢ in all e-formats until September (The link on the cover goes to the ebook, but it’s also available in trade paperback).
For more on Carol and her books and artwork, visit her website. Carol is letting one commenter today choose any one the books on Carol’s shelf. So tell us either who your favorite superhero is or what your favorite historical setting is. Or whether you like wine. *g* Be sure to tell us why you picked what you did.