Please welcome one of my online friends, Joanna Waugh!
Widowed in her late forties, Joanna Waugh retired from her job installing electric meters to read and write Regency romance full-time. (Unlike the heroines she writes about, Joanna’s choices weren't limited to governess or street walker when it came to keeping a roof over her family's head!) She lives a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan and the Indiana dunes. Her debut novel, BLIND FORTUNE, released in trade paperback from Cerridwen Press in February.
Joanna and I had a chance to sit down with a cup of cyber-coffee recently and talk about things. Help yourself to a cup, put up your feet and join us. As always when I have a guest, my words will be in bold, Joanna will be speaking italics today!
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Emily. And congratulations on the recent release of Vexing the Viscount. I love the tagline – “you only vex the one you love.” My kind of book!
My pleasure, Joanna and thanks for your kind words about my VISCOUNT. Like my heroine Daisy, I loved vexing my viscount hero. Tell me, what do you love most about your hero?
I’m a fan of stories that start out with the main characters disliking each other, then wind up falling in love. I adore a flawed hero redeemed in the end by his love for the heroine. In the opening of BLIND FORTUNE, Lord Granville is rude and arrogant. The fellow nods off on the couch during a morning call on his prospective bride, for heaven’s sake! Not the behavior of a proper Regency gentleman. Neither is Granville’s response very gentlemanly when Lady Fortuna says she intends to do everything in her power to prevent him from marrying her young cousin. Despite her blindness, Fortuna sees the marquess for what he really is—self-serving and emotionless. As for Granville, he’s never been challenged so directly by a woman before! He thinks Lady Fortuna is a termagant in need of a lesson. But the real lesson is for him—and it’s about love.
Writers come from so many different backgrounds and I have to admit, you are the first I've ever met who installed electric meters! I so admire people who are clever with their hands. Who inspired you to start writing?
As a youngster, I loved biographies of early Americans--George Washington, Louisa May Alcott, Stephen Decatur. But it was Disney’s Swamp Fox television series that prodding me into writing historical romance. I taught myself to type so I could pen my first book, The British Are Coming! It was about an American girl falling in love with a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, I never finished it. Right in the middle, I got sidetracked by the Beatles.
I don’t know what ever happened to that book. When my folks moved, it probably was tossed into the trash along with the rest of the flotsam and jetsam.
One short story from that time did survive, however. During my Beatles craze I had a British pen pal. We corresponded all through high school, then lost track of one another in our early twenties. A few years ago, Roger found me on the Internet and we started emailing. Back when we used to correspond by snail mail, I’d written a short story for him. Turns out, he’d kept it all these years! I was thrilled when he emailed me a scanned copy. It was fascinating to discover glimpses of the adult writer I would become in the wordy prose of my teenage self.
What fun! Reminds me of the time I cast myself and 3 of my girlfriends in a MONKEES episode. (Wasn't Davy Jones just the cutest thing?) That was probably my first novella, actually, scrawled on a yellow legal pad. Think I was all of 9. Back to adult fiction. What was the hardest part of Blind Fortune to write?
As the title suggests Lady Fortuna is sightless, which meant I couldn’t use visual cues in her point of view. Not an easy thing to do; it was so darned easy to slip up. Thank heaven for my crit group! They would catch me out every time.
Looking back, I see now that BLIND FORTUNE was another milestone along the road of my evolution as a writer. And not just because it’s my first published book, which certainly is important! BLIND FORTUNE taught me to think about every word I put to paper.
Fascinating and an interesting exercise in using your other senses. Just for fun, what's your favorite place/thing/person in the world?
I love to walk the Lake Michigan shore as the sun sets over the Chicago skyline to the west. I was born and have lived my whole life within the shadow of the Indiana dunes. I’ve always felt tied to the lake by an invisible umbilical cord. When I spend too much time away, it tugs me back.
As for my favorite person…Without a doubt it has to be my late husband, Gary. He was a great storyteller in his own right. No doubt due to those excellent Waugh genes, which my son also inherited. I loved Gary’s sense of humor. At a party once, he and a friend got into a “joke off.” They traded themed stories back and forth--one of them would tell a joke about a dog and the other would counter--until they exhausted each other’s repertoire. Then they started another topic. We poor spectators laughed until the tears ran down our cheeks.
When Gary lost his eyesight to diabetes, he could have turned bitter. No one would have blamed him. Instead, he worked hard to make others comfortable in his company. And he succeeded. When people met Gary, they often were shocked to learn he couldn’t see. BLIND FORTUNE is a testament to his intrepid spirit.
And a beautiful testament, too. Thanks so much for sharing him with us.
I understand you're going to the Romantic Times Convention this year, as I am. Tell me, do you do the whole fairy thing? If so, describe your costume.
(laughing) No fairy costume for me! If I was to dress up, it would have to be as a fairy godmother. I will be attending the fairy ball, however. Last year was my first Romantic Times Convention and I had a fantastic time! I met loads of wonderful people and hope to meet many more next week. And to encourage folks to introduce themselves, I’m holding a contest just for RT attendees.
Drop by my table at the book signing on Saturday, April 25th and register to win a set of custom-made jewelry. No book purchase is necessary. The winner will be notified by email on Monday, April 27th. To see a photo of the jewelry, go to http://www.joannawaugh.com/Reviews___Promo.html
Sounds like a great way to make some new friends, Joanna! Here's a blurb of BLIND FORTUNE.
When what a lady hears isn’t always the truth, she must learn to see with her heart and trust the rest to…
by Joanna Waugh
They say love is blind, but Lady Fortuna Morley doesn’t believe it. Sightless since birth, she can think of only one reason a gentleman would wed her—for the dowry and three thousand pounds a year her father will provide. She’s in London the spring of 1814 to help launch her younger cousin into society, but prefers living quietly in country with her music. The last thing Fortuna wishes is to cross swords with the arrogant Marquess of Granville.
Charles Lowden, Lord Granville, has decided to take a wife. The bride he’s chosen is thirteen years his junior, but meets all criteria. What he won’t abide is interference from the girl’s impertinent cousin, the outspoken and opinionated Lady Fortuna Morley. The woman is determined to thwart the match. Charles is just as determined to charm Fortuna out of her disdain for him.
What neither expects in this battle of wills is to fall in love.
Here are some other ways to connect with Joanna on the web:
Read excerpts from BLIND FORTUNE, on my website
Purchase the book at:
Be sure to friend me on Myspace
Follow my blog about British customs and traditions at www.joannawaugh.blogspot.com
And last but not least, join my yahoo group
And for my blog readers, Joanna has a special treat!
Leave a comment today and your name goes into a hat for an autographed copy of BLIND FORTUNE. I’ll post the winner tomorrow in the comments section of this article. Be sure to check back!
Thanks again for having me, Emily! See you all at RT!
Thank you, Joanna. I look forward to seeing you in Orlando next week. Well, you heard the woman. Leave a comment or question for a chance to win! Enjoy!