For more information about Rose and her books, visit her website.
It was wonderful to meet you too! A Lily Among Thorns is a London spy story about an embittered ex-courtesan innkeeper who must team up with a kind-hearted, unconventional chemist to save her business (oh yeah, and England) in the weeks leading up to Waterloo. Readers can visit my website to find out more, read the first chapter, and/or buy the book. I've also written a short story about the hero's little sister to accompany the rerelease. It's set just after the end of the book and it contains spoilers! Check it out after you've read the book.
PJ: When will the book be available in print?
Samhain typically releases full-length stories (i.e. not novellas) in print a year after the initial digital release. So Lily will be available as a trade paperback in September 2015.
PJ: In A Lily Among Thorns, you have created a refreshingly atypical heroine and hero. What inspired you to venture outside the traditional historical romance box with these two? How did they convince you that they belonged together?
Thank you! At the time I started this book, a very common trope in Regencies (especially traditional Regencies like the Zebras and Signets) was the unreadable hero with an unexplained but extensive knowledge of the London underworld. His emotional wounds were usually healed by the unconventional but fundamentally innocent heroine and her unconditional acceptance of him. I loved those stories, and I really wanted to swap the hero and heroine and see what happened! It was Joan Wolf's wonderful The Gamble, for instance, that inspired Serena being on a first-name basis with every rogue in London.
Janga: What attracts you to the cross-class romance?
I could probably write pages just about this! But here's one part of it: I have a very clear memory of going to...I think it was the Brooklyn Museum, and there was an exhibit with Victorian corsets on display. I must have been about four, and I had never seen a corset before and I was kind of freaked out by it. My mother told me, "Don't worry, no one in your family ever had to wear one of those, they were peasants." Whenever I expressed my hatred of cabbage, she'd say, "Cabbage kept your family alive in Europe for hundreds of years." I've always been aware of my family stretching back into the past as poor people. So when I read a historical romance about dukes and duchesses, that's a background obstacle to suspending disbelief: really while all this is going on I'm somewhere else eating cabbage. For me, cross-class romance is like time-travel romance or the type of sword-and-sorcery fantasy where someone falls through a portal/mirror/laundry chute into a magical realm: one of the protagonists is kind of weirded out by what's going on, and that gives me a very compelling entry point into the story.
Janga: I love the level of detail in your books. How much research do you do?
A lot! I love research and I get many of my story ideas there. I haven't posted a bibliography for Lily yet on my website (something I try to do for all my books), but among other things, I read about the criminal underworld, immigration and race during the Regency, chemistry, Waterloo, the Rothschilds, the geography of London, and women's property rights. I think my favorite research book was Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb. (Lily has a m/m secondary romance.)
Janga: Your books are an interesting blend of romance conventions and elements that push the boundaries of the genre. Is this a conscious choice or just the way your stories play out?
One of my favorite things about genre fiction is how our books are in conversation with one another through the ways we choose to tell similar stories. I really love playing with tropes. Sometimes that means "I will never get tired of this and I'm going to just roll around in it," and sometimes it means, "Oooh, I love this and I can't wait to try it this way," and sometimes it means "I've seen this a million times and I hate it and I want to do the exact opposite." It's like macaroni and cheese: sometimes I just want the basic stuff, and sometimes I want it with salami and ground-up cauliflower and Peppadews, and I won't ever, ever put blue cheese in it unless it's a tiny sprinkling of mild Gorgonzola, but at the end of the day, I'm just making mac and cheese.
PJ: On your website you mention that you enjoy cooking. Let’s say the chef at Serena’s inn has taken ill and you’ve been recruited to cook the evening’s special. Tell us about the entrée you would prepare and, most importantly, what’s for dessert?
You have no idea how much time I spent agonizing about this. What if I mess it up and the reputation of the inn is damaged?? I settled on roasted chicken because it's hard to mess up roasted chicken if you don't totally forget about it. At a fancy Regency dinner there were usually a lot of sides, so I'd probably do quick-pickled vegetables, some kind of apple compote, maybe a salmagundi (a big plated salad with lots of different ingredients), and a simple soup like peas or lentils that doesn't need to have a clear broth (fancy chefs take their clear broth VERY seriously). And for dessert...maybe a pudding? Or a trifle, those are pretty foolproof. When I cook at home, some of my foolproof desserts are rugelach (a traditional Jewish cookie), chocolate pudding, or this tequila-soaked lemon sorbet from Martha Stewart. Except I leave off the lime zest and sprinkle some coarse salt on there instead. Even easier!
Janga: What authors most influence your writing?
PJ: What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
I can't think of a good answer to this! Readers, is there something you want to learn about me? I'll probably tell you if you ask.
PJ and Janga: What’s next?
True Pretenses, the second book in my Lively St. Lemeston series (Sweet Disorder was the first), will be out January 13th. It's about a Jewish con artist looking for a rich wife for his beloved little brother, and a philanthropist heiress who needs to get her hands on her dowry in a hurry. I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing it, and I can't wait to share it with everyone!
PJ: Thank you for visiting with us today, Rose! Would you like to ask our readers a question?
What is your favorite foolproof dessert?
One randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's post will receive an e-book copy of A Lily Among Thorns.
Rose is also running a contest at her website. To link to the website contest, click here.