I recently "met" Barbara Devlin when author Jeanne Adams hosted her at the Romance Bandits blog. I found both Barbara and her books fascinating and am excited to introduce her to our readers here at TRD. Many thanks to Jeanne for hooking us up!
A Texan, Barbara has been a lover of books and storytelling for most of her life. Following university, she tried out a couple careers until an injury sidelined her. After she recovered, Barbara went back to school, earned an MA in English, began work on a Doctorate and started writing historical fiction.
You can learn more about Barbara and her books at her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.
Welcome to the Romance Dish, Barbara. Congratulations on the release of the first three books in your The Brethren of the Coast series. Please tell our readers what they can expect from each of these books and from the series.
Well, romance is at the heart of each book, but the stories, themselves, are quite different. For instance, Enter The Brethren is what I like to think of as a good old-fashioned romance, with a little high seas adventure, some pirates, and a damaged hero and heroine seeking acceptance from the world and each other. My Lady, The Spy is best described as Romantic Suspense. Lady Rebecca Wentworth, aka L’araignee (The Spider), is loosely based on the Spanish women employed by Wellington during the Peninsular Wars. It is a dark book, in some respects, given the torture, but it has the requisite HEA. After writing Spy, I needed something a little light-hearted, which is how The Most Unlikely Lady became a character-driven Romantic Comedy. As for the series, expect to revisit the main characters and the world I’ve constructed, whenever one of my Brethren women or my Nautionnier Knights throw caution to the wind and take a chance on love.
Should these books be read in order or do the stories stand on their own?
I’d say it’s a matter of preference. Each book is written to stand alone, so they can be read out of order.
This series is set in England during the early 19th century.
What is it about this place and period of time that inspires you?
The primary lure for my focus is the British Navy and the Peninsular Wars. I completed part of my undergraduate studies at the University of London. Of course, while living in the UK, I enjoyed some great sightseeing. One of my first adventures, given that I was only nineteen when I arrived, was a day jaunt to Greenwich and a tour of the Naval Academy. What struck me was the odd mix of unutterable elegance amid a military installation. The early 19th Century was, in so many ways, very refined in terms of culture, fashion, and manners. Yet war was very brutal and, compared to today, rudimentary. It offers me the chance to create my alpha military men with unique vulnerabilities. As for my ladies, I enjoy constructing strong characters that struggle to fulfill societal expectations, while exercising their independence in private. It’s the opportunity to compose a duality in the human condition during that era that I love.
The covers for these books are stunning and perfectly set the mood for the stories within. Who is responsible for the artwork? What cover last caused you to pick up a book?
My very talented cover artist is Lyndsey Lewellen. I had a very distinct vision for my books, as well as the badge of the order, and Lyndsey listened to everything and brought my vision to life. My primary goal was not only to set the tone for my books but also to brand my body of work, as a whole. I want readers to recognize a Barbara Devlin novel with the slightest glance. Interestingly enough, the description of the badge preceded the actual creation of the image. I sent Lyndsey an excerpt of Enter The Brethren, in which the badge is described, and she worked her magic from a paragraph of details. The design evolved, based on stylistic decisions, and I eventually omitted a few items from the original description so that everything matched.
The last cover that caused me to pick up a book is Adulthood Rites: Book Two of the Xenogenesis Series, by Octavia E. Butler. The cover features the silhouette of a naked man with some sort of solar system in the background. It’s very provocative. I’ve since read the entire series.
Lyndsey does beautiful work.
Okay, so with that cover description you know I had to go check out Adulthood Rites. Sounds like a fascinating science fiction series.
Where can readers find your books, Barbara? In what formats are they available?
I opted to publish exclusively with Amazon, as it is the largest online retailer. My works are available in the Kindle format, but anyone can purchase a book on Amazon and use the free software Calibre to reformat for just about every eReader in existence.
What’s next for The Brethren of the Coast?
So much is on the horizon for my Nautionnier Knights and their ladies. Book 4, One-Knight Stand, featuring Cara Douglas and Lance Prescott, should be live for purchase by the end of February. Book 5, Captain Of Her Heart, will premiere Summer 2014. My critique partners and I recently gathered at my home in Texas, and we plotted Book 6, which features Dalton Randolph, and a novella for a Christmas anthology, which details the romancing of Lady Amanda Gascoigne-Lake by a young Lieutenant Mark Douglas. I’ve had so many readers ask for the story of Admiral Mark and Lady Amanda Douglas, so they’ll get their HEA. And, due to reader requests, I’ve decided to write the stories of the five original Templar Knights, whose 14th Century vignettes serve as the prologues for each book.
Sounds like we've got lots of great stories ahead!
We’ve talked about your characters, Barbara. Now let’s talk about you for a bit.
Many readers have what we call comfort reads, those favorite books that never fail to lift our spirits no matter how many times we read them. To what books or authors do you turn when your spirits need a boost?
Oh, boy, that’s a tough one, because I’ve collected the classics since I was in middle school. I’d have to say my go-to authors depend on my mood. Usually, I love anything by Henry James, Willa Cather, and Kate Chopin. For contemporary reads, I’m a Tom Clancy fanatic, and I’m going to miss him. From my days in London, I developed a love for the intrigues of Jeffrey Archer. But, not a week goes by that I don’t have something by Dean R. Koontz or John Saul in my purse or on my iPad.
That's quite a diverse list of authors! I share your sadness over the loss of Tom Clancy. I'm a huge fan.
What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
That I am a disabled in-the-line-of-duty, retired police officer—but I prefer cop, turned exceedingly eccentric, and more than a little insane, English professor.
If you could insert yourself into the life of any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Oh, that’s easy. For so many reasons, I’d love to be Scarlett O’Hara, if only to kiss Rhett—Ashley, not so much. But I’d really enjoy the opportunity to deliver the line, “I want everyone who’s ever been mean to me to be pea green with envy.”
I'm sure many Gone With the Wind fans would share that wish.
Where can readers connect with you online?
I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and I can always be reached viabarbaradevlin.com.
Barbara, thank you so much for visiting with us today. Would you like to ask our readers a question?
So many questions, so little time… Okay, in the spirit of the Winter Olympics, which I absolutely love, if you could be a winter Olympian, which sport would you pick and why?
For myself, I’d love to try the new slopestyle event, because it looks absolutely crazy and well nigh impossible. I think Bob Costas insulted every slopestyle athlete when he compared the new event to the MTV show “Jackass.” What an asinine comment. Johnny Knoxville’s antics are nothing more than clumsy stunts designed to inflict pain and incite a response from the audience. Slopestyle requires unimaginable skill, strength, and sheer guts, and I can only envy the athlete’s talent and fortitude. And thank you for hosting me.
Readers, Barbara is giving away two e-copies of My Lady, the Spy today so let's get those comments going!
Readers, Barbara is giving away two e-copies of My Lady, the Spy today so let's get those comments going!
I'd have to choose figure skating. When it's done well it's incredibly beautiful. Now I just need to learn how to not fall over.ReplyDelete
I'd choose figure skating too, Mary. I grew up ice skating (on a frozen lake, not in a rink) and had dreams of being an Olympic figure skater. Then I discovered it took grace, coordination and the ability to leap into the air and land on your blades, not your bum. Alas, it was not to be. *grin*Delete
Wow, you're brave. All that spandex scares me to death.
Barbara, you are a new-to-me author and I haven't heard of your series before. The books sound very good and intriguing!ReplyDelete
I love to watch the Winter Olympics: bobsledding, luge events, ski jumps, and figure skating. The skaters are so graceful! I used to skate, but think that I would fall. Can you look graceful while falling on your bum?! ;)
Congrats on the books!
Can you look graceful while falling on your bum?!Delete
I don't know about other people, Deb but I sure can't. And I know this from experience! LOL
Thanks for stopping by. And maybe you'll win a free copy of My Lady, The Spy.
Great interview and I absolutely adore the book covers! Looks like I've found me some new reads! :)ReplyDelete
Winter Olympian... I would love to be a figure skater! They create such beauty on the ice! :)
Lyndsey Lewellen is a talented designer. Her covers usually make me want to dive right into the books they grace.Delete
Thank you so much for the kind words. Lyndsey is a genius. She's my cover designer--period. Never have I found anyone who could listen to my ramblings and ideas and put together exactly what I wanted. The cover for book 5 is currently in the works.
And another figure skater? Again, the spandex and tights terrify me. And falling on my bum? I'd have to get on my feet for that happen, and I don't see that, given my lack of talent.
Well, we are talking about dreams! In reality, there's no way I would get close to spandex or tights! Trust me, it would scare the crap out of everyone that sees me!! As far as falling on my bum -- yea, it would happen and it wouldn't be pretty... I will say that I did grow up going to the Rollaway -- a local roller skating rink -- and I was pretty good! But then again, I was a kid... much more limber, less embarrassed if I fell, more daring, etc., etc., etc... And besides, there were LOTS of cute guys there!! ;)Delete
Morning PJ! Morning Barb! Yay to the Dish for hosting Barbara! WOOT!!! Grins. So glad you two "met" over at the Romance Bandits. :> I've read all the books so far and ADORE them. They are go-to reads for me and are full of passion, action, adventure, wit and of course, romance. Love. Them. Grins.ReplyDelete
As to Clancy, I too will miss him terribly. He was a fab author. Must check out the Octavia Butler book...
PJ, I'm with you. I LOVE the Olympics!! (And Costas is frequently asinine in his comments, Barb, so the Jackass one is not new) I've really been enjoying the ice-dancing with the stellar down-to-the-wire competition between our American pair and the Canadian pair. SO good! But I'll second Barbara on the Slopestyle. If I were to be an Olympian I'd either be a speed skater or being catching air as a Slopestyler. What a fabulously fast, dangerous, exciting, cool sport. LOVE it. :>
You don't have to enter me in the drawing as I've got the books, but anyone who wins is going to get a GREAT read!!
HI Jeanne! *waving* Thank you again for introducing me to Barbara. I love discovering new-to-me authors and when they come with your stamp of approval, all the better!Delete
I'm chuckling over your choice of Olympic sports. I'd have been shocked if they didn't include speed and danger! lol
Ladies, what Jeanne neglected to mention is she is one of my longtime critique partners, along with Leah Grant and the late, incredibly talented, multi-published author Judi McCoy. Hard to believe it's going to be 2 years since she passed, and I still expect to hear from her every Monday morning.
PJ, thank you for discovering me.
Which is one of the reasons I can unequivocably say the books are GREAT!! I've read them ALL. Bwahahahah! I know what's going to happen....but I"m not tellin'! Grins.Delete
It is SO hard to believe Judi's been gone 2 years. If y'all haven't read Judi's Dog-Walker series, you've missed a fun treat. For so many reasons, I'm bummed there will be no more. Sigh.
PJ - speed and danger - two of my favorite words! WOOT! And I really DID want to be an Olympic speed skater when I was a kid, but there was no training near me. Ah, the different paths we could have taken... Now Slopestyle...gotta confess I REALLY want to try to snowboard. Not sure I want to catch the kind of major air those gals do, but, I'd sure try it!Delete
Barbara's stories look interesting and her covers really are lovely. I think I would pick the bobsled which looks so dangerous but must take some steady nerves to complete.ReplyDelete
Maureen, better the bobsled than the skeleton. That one terrifies me! lolDelete
I'm with you on the bobsled. Did you see the Brazilian ladies 2-person training crash? It was terrifying to watch. And PJ, I'm with you. Skeleton defies all rhyme and reason. I mean, you're barreling down an ice track at 80+ mph on what looks like a souped-up TV tray.
That one scares the life out of me. LOL abt the souped up TV tray, but it's accurate, Barbara, and I'm SO not going there! That gives even ME the willies!Delete
I would pick bobsled because it would be like an amusement ride. It would take a lot of nerve to do it, but once it was over you realize the thrill.ReplyDelete
Hi Ann! Welcome! Another vote for the bobsled. I love speed so I'd probably enjoy bobsled, providing someone very skilled was driving the thing...made even more important by the fact that I'd probably have my eyes closed the entire way down! lolDelete
Thanks for stopping by today. And another bobsledder? It does look like a lot of fun, but something tells me there's a lot of precision involved in steering the sled. Still, it's a very impressive sport.
I love watching figure skating especially the pairs. They are amazingly graceful. So beautiful & breathtaking to watch! I'd love to be able to do that *wishful sigh*ReplyDelete
I'm watching the ice dancing long program competition right now. They have such grace and skill.Delete
Read above listed comments for my fear of spandex. But I do love the beautiful lines of the pairs. Now, the ice dancers are just so graceful, and I think I'd fare better at that than the actual pairs, given the throws, jumps, and lifts they're required to execute. Oh, PJ, thanks for the reminder. I wanted to watch the competition live.
I really am thankful that my cable provider includes NBCSN, the NBC sports network. They're showing the entire competition live while the NBC prime time coverage only shows the top contenders. It's fun to watch the lesser-known couples from other countries.Delete
PJ, I'd been watching it on my iPad, but I just checked my channel lineup, and lo and behold I have that network. So I'm now enjoying the competition on the big screen.Delete
Glad you got to see it on the big screen, Barbara. There were some beautiful dances!Delete
I just ran across the blog as I was browsing Facebook. I love romantic suspense and Great Britain and the British Isles are one of my favorite settings. I have not been familiar with Barbara Devlin previously, but I am hooked! I look forward to reading your books and perhaps connecting on Facebook and Tweeter. (I hope I win a book!) Best wishes! KatherineReplyDelete
So glad you found me today. Lovely to meet you. I can be reached via my website BarbaraDevlin.com. Am having some promotional items made, so you can always email me an address, and I'll send you some goodies. And fingers crossed for you to win a book. PJ decides who wins, and I'm not familiar with her process, but I'll think good thoughts for you.
Hi Katherine! Thanks for stopping by to say hello. We let random.org choose the winners so everyone has an equal chance. Good luck!Delete
Hope you'll visit with us again!
Good morning, Miz Barbara and Miz PJ! I'm trying to figure out how I missed the part where you were a cop before being an English Professor, Barbara! And I LOVE the newest cover for One-Knight Stand. I hadn't seen that one yet! Wow.ReplyDelete
As for winter Olympian? I'd love to be coordinated and brave enough to do the downhill skiing events!! I literally held my breath when the Americans were speeding down the Super G yesterday!
Yes, I am a retired cop, though it wasn't by choice. Was working a wreck on i-30 during an ice storm the day before Christmas Eve, back in 98, and another car slid into the scene. I was crushed between the car and the guardrail. That ended my law enforcement career and began several years of hospital stays and physical therapy. It's been a long, painful road. But I'm here, and that's what matters. And you haven't seen the cover for One-Knight Stand? I love it. Once again, Lyndsey captured exactly what I wanted, which is the opening scene to the book, where my hero gets--Oops, can't give that away.
And I have to admit that, prior to my injury, I was a reckless, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants skier. Loved the black diamonds. But those days have long since gone the way of the Dodo. Thanks for stopping by.
Hey Suz! Barbara, you alllllmost told! Grins. You tease you. Can't wait to see Lyndsey's latest masterpiece of a cover!Delete
Hi Suz! I've never been able to ski so I have great admiration for people who excel at the sport. That includes you, Barbara!Delete
I love all the covers, Suz. Lyndsey did an amazing job.
This sounds like just my kind of series. A little bit different with variety within the series itself. I am glad youy have so much more planned for this series. It means many more enjoyable books for us to read.ReplyDelete
Sorry to hear how devastating your accident was. One never knows what detours life will take when least expected. It has been a bonus for us because you decided to write what sound like wonderful books. I look forward to reading them.
I would love to be able to do the ice dancing competition. I enjoyed skating when I was younger, but it was never more than just to have fun on the rink or pond. I probably fell more than anything else. The American couple that was in first place after the short program was a delight to watch. They are perfectly in sync and make it all seem so smooth and effortless. The top Canadian couple is also a joy to watch.
Best of luck with this series. I appreciate The Romance Dish and a always thankful I found them to follow. Their interviews and reviews are always spot on. I have found so many good new-to-me authors here. You are my newest good find.
So nice to meet you. And you're right, we never know where life will lead us next. As a police officer, I approached each shift knowing that I might not make it home, until that actually happened to me. When I did finally go home, my life as I'd known it was over. Everything changed in a moment in time for which I have no memory. But now I'm making new memories, and I get to use my experiences to enrich my books. In My Lady, The Spy, Rebecca actually approaches her missions as I approached my shifts. She acknowledges and accepts the fear inherent in such work. In Book 4, my hero endures circumstances that I faced after my accident. I've always been told that we write best when we write what we know, so I draw from personal experiences to create a more realistic reading experience.
And I just watched the finals of the ice dance competition. No spoilers here, just will say it was breathtaking. And thanks for stopping by.
The American couple's skating was so fluid and seamless. They made it look so easy and we know it is anything but. They seem like a couple of nice kids.Delete
I would pick Ice Dancing they are so beautiful when they skateReplyDelete
I love the ice dancing, because it's so graceful. Again, my fear of spandex would prevent my ever attempting that sport. Thanks for stopping by.
I would speed skate! I can see myself speeding around the track, the wind blowing by, and just thinking about NOTHING! It looks relaxing to me. That sounds crazy, I know. Anyway, I enjoy watching all the Olympics, winter & summer. Slopstyle is definitely fun to watch, and we are waiting to see Snow Board Cross, that's always a nail biter!ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed reading My Lady, The Spy. I can't wait to read Caro's story, she will definitely get herself into some sort of trouble! And, Dalton, he's hard one to figure out, but I can't wait to read his tale.
Howdy, my dear Lesia,Delete
You are such a great supporter of my work. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for stopping by. And I hope you enjoy Enter The Brethren, because I had a ball writing it. As for book 3, The Most Unlikely Lady, that's the story of Sabrina and Everett. You already got a sample of them in My Lady, The Spy. Dalton's story features a young lady who gives him a run for his money, as well as a supreme comeuppance.
And you vote for speed skating? Wow, that's another of those spandex sports, but in a whole other arena. I can't imagine what it takes to balance on those long blades, but I sure can't even fathom how anyone can race on them. What's really interesting is the drama surrounding the new suits. They came into the games with a lot of hype, and now it looks like the athletes think they're cursed.
Thanks for visiting with us today, Barbara. We wish you all the best and home you'll come hang out with us again.Delete
Thank you for hosting me, and thx to everyone who posted today. You made this a very special experience for me.Delete
Getting here late, just want to say definitely interested in your series, Barbara, and also hope you do those Templar Knights, too. Great covers! I've been enjoying Olympics figure skating as usual, wish I could skate the way they do. Great to see USA win the ice dancing.ReplyDelete
I would either figure skate or ice dance. They are both such graceful and riveting sports. I would never be able to do it, though, because I can't ice skate.ReplyDelete