AUTHOR: Romy Gemmell
BOOK TITLE: Midwinter Masquerade
PUBLISHER: Tirgearr Publishing
DO YOU HAVE A GIVEAWAY? Yes
WHAT IS IT? One free download of Midwinter Masquerade
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN? Ms. Gemmell will choose a random winner from commenters.
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER? Ms. Gemmell will, if you have left your email address.
Tell me a little about your book.
In Edinburgh, December 1816, young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan accepts an invitation to the country estate of Edward Montgomery, the man she once thought to marry seventeen years previously. Accompanied by her godmother, Lady Pettigrew, Lenora forms a friendship with Edward’s young niece and ward, Annabelle, who has a propensity for getting into scrapes and falling in love with the wrong man.
In the days leading up to the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, unexpected guests arrive and family secrets are revealed. Once the past is revealed and the real villain unmasked, Lenora must decide where and with whom her future now lies.
What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I’ve always loved autumn and winter, as well as the idea of a masked ball. One of my favourite periods is the Regency era and I’m very interested in women’s position in history. As a change, I was keen to explore a romance with two different age groups: young widow, Lady Lenora, and seventeen year old Annabelle, both of whom have to make life choices. I also wanted this story to be set in my own Scotland.
Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
I particularly liked the idea that 1816 was the ‘year without a summer’, evidently because of volcanic eruption in a remote part of the world the year before, and it fitted well with the theme of the novel. It is also the year after the Battle of Waterloo where Wellington finally vanquished Napoleon after years of war between Britain and France. I’ve fleetingly mentioned the hardships many of the soldiers faced in being out of work and the increasing problems caused by shortage of food, rising prices and the corn laws.
Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?
It’s such a magical time of year that I wanted to enjoy writing some of the elements that make up winter in the countryside, such as the frost and ice skating on a frozen loch. Rather than being about Christmas, I set it at the Winter Solstice, a fascinating time of year when the sun changes direction, another theme that fits with my characters direction in life. The story ends the day after the masquerade ball, a few days before Christmas.
Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme? If so, what are they?
I think the book has to be published early enough to catch readers starting to think about seasonal stories some time before December arrives. It’s a fairly short season so we have to make the most of all opportunities over a couple of months.
How long before December did you submit to your publisher?
About six to seven months. That allowed a wait for acceptance and the subsequent editing process. Then the cover artist took up the final month before publication toward the end of October.
How and why did you choose this publisher?
Tirgearr is a small Irish independent company who published my contemporary novella, The Aphrodite Touch, in May this year, which is the first in my new Aphrodite and Adonis series set on Cyprus. I was so pleased with the whole experience that I had no hesitation in submitting Midwinter Masquerade to them. They are expanding in the New Year and I have full confidence in the exciting way the publisher is moving forward.
What about your book makes it special?
I think it is that inter setting in the Scottish countryside that makes it a little bit different from other Regency era romances. It still has the balls, the clothes, the dashing men, romance and intrigue, but it’s also very much about the characters’ choices and decisions and how the past can affect their present lives. One of Shakespeare’s sonnets is also significant for my heroine Lenora and the hero, Edward, so I’ve used some quotes from that at relevant parts of the story.
What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?
I do still think Christmas is a magical time of year and I love the joy and kindness more evident among families and strangers alike. Since winter is one of my favourite seasons, it wouldn’t seem the same if I lived on the other side of the world and it was warm instead of cold! One of the joys is the darkness falling in late afternoon, drawing the curtains closed and being cosy within doors. I even enjoy the snow and frost.
What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?
One I can still recall with great pleasure is the year I received a pair of dark red lacing boots as a Christmas gift before my teen years. Fortunately, it snowed that year and I couldn’t wait to get outside and try my new boots. Funnily enough, my favourite type of boots is still the kind with a small heel and lacing up the front – maybe I’ve always had a hankering after Victorian style footwear. Another favourite memory is sledging on the snowy hillside wrapped up in hats and scarves!
What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
Always the chocolate foil-wrapped coins, apple and tangerine at the foot of the stocking. Everything else was a delightful surprise each year.
What was your favorite Christmas present?
Apart from the aforementioned boots, it was a huge Pollyanna doll that was nearly the same height as me at the time. I’d seen the film that year and was overjoyed to find such a real-looking doll waiting for me on Christmas morning. She’s been passed around many a niece since, as well as my own daughter, and eventually had a makeover and new hair attached at the doll’s hospital!
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
From my website: www.rosemarygemmell.com
Main blog: http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com
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