Welcome, Deeanne. I love the picture. You know I've been anxiously waiting to run this interview. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I began reading secular romance at age sixteen. At the time, the majority of heroines were of high moral fiber. And though that bar crept lower and lower, it wasn’t until the last few years that the romance industry started taking a sharp turn away from the mainstream and began to introduce blatant erotica into their romances. I became concerned about the youth of our country thinking that the decisions these heroines made were not only acceptable, but something to strive for.
So the Lord challenged me to write romances that would appeal to readers who hadn’t yet graced the doors of Christian bookstores. Romances that would illustrate characters making choices different from what mainstream offered, yet who still experienced a “happily ever after.”
In order to draw those readers in, I struggled with how to write in a way that was relevant, but didn’t offend. I don’t think it is necessary to be graphic, but to dismiss out of hand or to avoid our God-given sensual natures that attract us to our mates is not very realistic, or honest even.
As a result, I don’t censure my characters. If they feel desire, I let them feel desire. If they have uncharitable thoughts, I let them have uncharitable thoughts. If they want to be willful, I let them be willful.
I find, though, that I must be very conscious of the Spirit’s prompting while I am writing. If my character is going to do something, or say something, that pushes the envelope, then I have to feel at peace about it. So I pray. I pray that the Lord will give me discernment and my editor discernment and all the influencers at Bethany House discernment.
And the Lord has been faithful. I have heard from women all over the world, ages 13 to 90, many who are Christian, many who are not. Some have recommitted their lives to Christ, some have simply said they’d like to further explore this genre called “inspirational novels.”
I set out to achieve my goal with my “Dee-sized” plan. But when I gave it to the Lord, He initiated a God-sized plan. And so I continue to pray Hebrews 13:21: That God equip me with everything good for doing His will and that He work in me what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
You do a masterful job with the writing. I'm one of your biggest fans. What are you reading right now?
Research books! Lots and lots and lots of research books. J
I totally understand that. I'm about to jump into a different kind of story, and I have to do a lot of research. What is your current work in progress?
My latest release Beguiled is a romantic suspense set in Charleston that I co-authored with J. Mark Bertrand. Then Maid to Match is set to release in June, 2010. I’m still working with my publisher on ideas for my next book, but it’s sure to be a return to my historical romance roots.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Learn your craft. You can be the best athlete in the world, but unless you know the rules, you can’t play basketball. Same with writing. Read how-to books, go to writing conferences, enter contests, join a critique group, listen to CDs, read author blogs, join writing organizations, take workshops. And keep doing this not only on the road to publication, but after publication. Never think you have “arrived.” Everybody has room for growth.
Tell us about the featured book?
From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled--by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid. After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.
But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations ...and their hearts.
As with all your books, it sounds intriguing. Please give us the first page of the book.
Like a butterfly breaking free from its confining cocoon, Tillie Reese emerged from the barren, tan-colored servants’ hall into the opulence of Biltmore’s main floor. These predawn hours were her favorite. All was dark, no one stirred and she had the entire floor--easily a half-acre in size--all to herself.
She’d walked this path many times and could navigate it without candle or illumination. For just a moment, she imagined herself mistress of the chateau. Elegantly dressed, gliding across the parquet and trying to decide whether to have Chef prepare petites bouchees or puits d’amour. Whether to spend the morning reading Yeats, Browning or Dickens. Whether to call the carriage round for a drive through the country or ride one of the thoroughbreds in the stable.
Tightening her grip on her housemaid’s box, she inhaled deeply. The polish she’d mixed with linseed oil, vinegar, turpentine and wine tickled her nose. She allowed herself a sneeze--something strictly forbidden were anyone about.
The click of her heels echoed throughout the vast, wide-open area as she skirted the sunken atrium filled with palms, exotic plants, blooming shrubs and a large fountain sculpture yet to be turned on. She finally reached the tapestry gallery and paused, listening to the silence, enjoying the anonymity of the dark.
Let there be light.
She pushed the familiar white button. Electric lights flared, illuminating a room so long it could hold two modest houses. Several groupings of sage brocade sofas and chairs filled the area. Huge tapestries lined one wall. Opposite them, a wall of windows and French doors.
The soft hum of the Edison bulbs bid her good morning. The thrill and miracle of the electric lights never failed to stir her. But this morning something else warred for her attention and suddenly, the light made her feel exposed, vulnerable, naked.
She touched the black button. Darkness slammed back down like a closing trunk lid. All was quiet again. Not a whisper of sound.
She held her breath. Felt her heart hammering in her breast. And allowed the thought she’d been hiding deep inside since last night to fully form in her head.
Anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
Biltmore enchanted me so much that we’ve decided to hold a readers’ event there. We’re having a Gilded Age Party with Victorian parlor games, souvenir photos in turn-of-the-century costumes, a book swap and much, much more. We’re giving a special presentation where I’ll be strapped into period clothing piece-by-piece, starting with drawers and corset and culminating with gloves and parasol.
The next day we’ll lunch together at the fabulous Biltmore Inn. But the pièce de le résistance will be our private tour of Biltmore mansion where we’ll go behind the scenes of the Maid To Match world. I hope you can join us! Details are at GetawayWithDee.com.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
What a joy to have you here on my blog again, Deeanne.
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