Oh my goodness Readers, today I have the fabulous Grace Burrowes on the blog. I know you cannot see me but I super giddy and doing my happy dance. I have been fascinated with her stories when I picked up The Heir, book one in the Windham series. Ms. Burrowes’ writing is amazing and it is addicting. Once you start reading a series you devour it. It’s like cake but with no calories (even better!). 🙂
RRG: What made you decide to write and publish your amazing stories?
GB: I’ve been a voracious reader of romance for decades. When my daughter left home, the story ideas started appearing in my head, and at a point when my keeper authors hit a simultaneous lull, I decided I’d try writing one of those stories. I’ve never had a TV in my house, so I had plenty of time to write. Writing is the best fun I’ve come across, so I hope many more books are in my future.
The publishing part was an afterthought, when enough friends and family had nudged me about it, and I had a couple dozen completed manuscripts. “Oh, why not give it a try?” says me. That was three yeas ago…
RRG: I’ve read you come from a big family; did this influence the Windham Family series?
GB: I’m sure it did, if for no other reason than I needed a series long enough to dedicate a book to each of my siblings and to my daughter. I’ve written smaller-family series, but with a big family, you have time to get to know each sibling, and to find the cross-currents and subtle connections. You can see each family member, especially the parents, from many different perspectives, and that creates all kind of possibilities for plot twists, secondary characters, and resonance between books. Starting off with a long series also let me focus on characterization rather than re-discovering the Windham’s world from book to book, because the family brought some of the same world from book to book.
RRG: Speaking of the Windham’s, Valentine is one of my all-time favorite heroes, what inspired his character?
GB: Individuation is one trait that characterizes a big family, at least in my experience. No two siblings in my family have the same profession or live in the same part of the country. Valentine Windham used the piano to carve out an identity different from his siblings, particularly different from his swashbuckling oldest brothers (Bart and St. Just), his bookish and lawyerly next brother (Westhaven), and his charming next brother (Victor). His musical proficiency became his identity, the only thing people noticed about him, and the only thing he thought he had to give other people—his sword and his shield, so to speak.
I hid on a piano bench between the ages of ten and twenty, to the point that I could support myself through college accompanying ballet classes, teaching piano, and playing at wedding receptions and class reunions. I spent hours and hours and hours on the piano bench, associated only with musicians, and saw myself ending up with a PhD in music history.
Ha. My back began to hurt, musicians can be an odd lot, and the academic hurdles between me and a PhD were large (student loan-large). I turned my back on music, and headed for political science, which was the straightest path to college graduation…. This decision was equal parts grief and relief, but also bewildering from an identity standpoint. When it came time to torture Valentine as a hero, I knew exactly what to do. Eventually, he knew what to do too!
RRG: What does your family think of your writing?
GB: Their attitude has been, “Well, of course you’re published. You always could write well.” In other words, supportive but mostly clueless. This is probably common for writers. My mother (age 90) has read some of my romances, and tells me in all sincerity, “You know, you could write real books if you really wanted too.” Yes, mama.
RRG: What do you like to read?
GB: I have my keeper authors, still: Joanna Bourne, Jennifer Ashley, Judith Ivory, Julie Anne Long, Tessa Dare, Carolyn Jewel, Meredith Duran, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, JR Ward, and others, but I also love to read biography and period sources. The early modern British writer strikes me as having a verve and command of written self-expression that I haven’t found elsewhere.
RRG: Is there a genre you’d like to try but haven’t yet?
GB: Mystery. I’m an avid fan of Charles Finch’s Charles Lennox mysteries, which are set in the High Victorian, and are a pure delight to read or listen to (we have the same audio narrator, James Langton, who is a genius). Those have led me to other mysteries, and particularly if there’s a romantic element to the tale, I gobble them up.
RRG: Can you tell us about your latest series set in Scotland?
GB: The MacGregor Family series focuses on the tribulations and true loves of the Earl of Balfour, his siblings and extended family, and has been a pure delight to write. It’s set in Scotland in the early 1850s, when Victoria and Albert were enjoying Balmoral Castle with their brood. The change of scene has been great fun, spending time in Scotland even greater fun. The third book in the series comes out in February, “The MacGregor’s Lady,” and the fourth will be my 2014 Christmas tale, “What a Lady Wants for Christmas.”
Quote: “Be kind, tell the truth.” Ram Dass
Place you’ve been: Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland (beautiful river, lots of big trees, laddies in kilts, whiskey, and tablet, (a kind of whiskey flavored fudge))
Time of day: dawn
Animal: Impossible to choose between a horse and a cat, though dogs are lovely too, bunnies have a lot to recommend them, cows are delightful, goats entertaining, sheep sweet, and pigs thoughtful. Then there are the raccoons, possums, and skunks who visit my porch regularly, and well, I love animals. No need to choose.
I would like to thank Grace for taking time out of her schedule to top stop today. Readers, if you haven’t read any of her books just pick one up and start reading it. You will love it and want to read all her books. -RRG