First of all, thank you so much, ladies, for having me as your guest today. It's especially exciting for me because it's officially release day for OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS, book 2 in my Victorian series, Her Majesty's Secret Servants!
Kari - I see you like to do archery as a hobby. That's something I've alws wanted to try. Is it difficult? From how far away have you hit a target?
Allison - William Tell I'm not, lol. Since we live in the suburbs we're confined to our backyard, what you'd call space-challenged. I actually just ran out back and measured off the average distance, which is about 14 paces, or 35-40 feet. What made the difference for me in terms of accuracy wasn't necessarily developing a greater skill level, but having good equipment. Hubby and I both have lovely, Italian-made bows strung to a 20lb resistance, which is pretty standard for someone who isn't a professional archer (are there professional archers out there?). And our arrows are graphite, not wood, so they fly faster and straighter. The cats in the neighborhood are grateful for that. :)
Kari - You also collect period costumes. Have you ever worn them to any event? What's the most intrigueing costume you've collected?
Allison - You bet I've worn them! We attend our local Renaissance Festival every year in costume. I dress either as a wench or a lady pirate (Grace O'Malley!) in a laced bodice, off-the-shoulder chemise and a voluminous skirt, or as a Celtic lady in my Irish leine with its wide bag sleeves. My husband wears his kilt which I help him pleat, wrap, drape, belt and pin in the traditional way. One exciting find was a Regency drop-front day gown made to authentic specs. It even includes the lacings inside that attach the dress to the corset, to prevent the garment from moving and rumpling. This I've gotten to wear at Halloween - I carried a feather quill and a leather volume of Pride and Prejudice. Guess who I was?
Kari - You've explored castle ruins, ancient abbeys, and rambling gardens of old country manors. That sounds so exciting. I bet it takes you right back in time. What are some of the favorite places you've explored and what was it like?
Allison - By far the most dramatic castle we've ever visited was Tantallon in Scotland. It hovers literally on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Firth of Forth, and with its boulder-strewn earthen works, imposing gatehouse, and high, sheer battlements, it presents quite the formidable prospect as you approach. We were there in the off-season so we had the place to ourselves and were able to climb the towers and explore the ruins to our hearts' content. Another favorite place was Muckross Abbey in Kilarney, Ireland. Again, we had the place to ourselves, and while walking through the ancient cloisters I could all but feel the spirits of the monks hovering at my shoulder, telling me what a hard and lonely life they led there centuries ago. It was haunting and very poignant to view the lush Irish landscape from their perspective through the arrow slits carved into those thick walls.
Kari - You write about the elegance and intrigue of Victorian England in your newest series Her Majesty's Secret Servants. I love that the royal person is a queen and that her secret servants are her best friends. How did you come up with the idea for that?
Allison - This idea came directly from what I read about Victoria as a child. I hadn't known previously how lonely she was growing up, or how restricted and controlled she was by her mother and a man named John Conroy, who hoped to rise to power through her. The poor child had no friends to speak of, no one to confide in other than her governess, the German-born Louise Lehzen. My heart absolutely went out to her, and I thought, oh, she needs some friends! So I created ties between the Sutherland sisters's father and Victoria's father and uncle through their military service, which would be kept up for awhile even after the Duke of Kent's death when Victoria was a baby. MOST EAGERLY YOURS begins with an eleven-year-old Victoria telling the Sutherlands of her newly discovered revelation that she'll someday be queen. Her fears break their hearts, and even as they realize her fate will take her in directions they can't follow, they pledge to always be her friends, and her secret servants if ever she needs them.
Kari - Can you tell us about your book that's coming out in December called Outrageously Yours?
Allison - OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS takes second sister Ivy Sutherland to Cambridge University, where she must find an unusual stone that has been stolen from Her Majesty. Now, because women were not yet allowed to pursue a higher education, Ivy has to crop her hair, wear breeches and boots, smear a little coal dust on her chin (fledgling whiskers) and take on the identity of Ned, a promising young science student. Ivy is perfect for the job, having been raised by an uncle with an extensive library, where she was able to study and satisfy her own scientific curiosity. At Cambridge she meets Simon de Burgh, Marquess of Harrow and a scientist in his own right, and together they create sparks that follow them from the laboratory to the bedroom. Amid their simmering passion, there is the mystery of the stolen stone, Simon's missing sister, and a path of murdered students that leads Simon and Ivy into great peril as well as into each other's arms. At times the story strays from the factual science of the day into Sci Fi - because this closet Trekkie couldn't resist a little fun! But that's for the reader to discover.
Kari - Your books have a mystery element in them with them secrets that are revealed. Do you enjoy mysteries and would you ever write a full blown mystery?
Allison - Aside from being a closet Trekkie, I'm also a closet mystery writer! So yes, I can definitely envision myself someday writing a mystery, but I don't think I'd be able to resist including a romantic thread. You can't take the romance out of the romance writer, lol! It would probably be a historical mystery, although I've also toyed with an idea for a series set in my husband's home town in Rhode Island. He'd provide a wealth of information for me, and the history of the place along with the present-day social atmosphere would inspire a ton of ideas.
Kari - What's next on the horizon after this series?
Allison - I'd be very, very happy to continue with a new historical romance series, especially one set in Victorian times. I love the emerging technologies, along with the changing social attitudes that led to the modern world we live in today. I'm not a planner though, at least not far in advance, so once this series is completed I'll turn my attentions to my next project. No matter what I write, my heart will always be invested in some form of history, and I think that'll be evident even if I try a contemporary story. I'd probably write about a historian or museum director, or maybe an archeologist. But I'm not adverse to suggestions!
Readers, what time periods do you most love to read about? Or what themes most attract you to a story? Share your favorites and be entered to win a copy of OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS!
For more about me and my books, you can visit http://www.allisonchase.com/, and from there you'll find my blog, MySpace and Facebook pages (under my bio).
Also, I'm running a contest this month for a fabulous Victorian Science-inspired necklace. The details should be up by now, so check that out! And don't forget to leave a comment here for a chance to win a signed book!