The Lady in the Sedan Chair… preferably a red one!
My guest in the Big Red Chair today (and no, I definitely won’t tip her out as Graeme Norton does although I DO love his show) is Georgian historical fiction writer, Lucinda Brant.
She describes herself as a lady in a sedan chair in one of her bios and I should have loved to photoshop her head sticking out of same, but we all know where my skills lie and they sure aren’t with photoshop!
Lucinda is a fellow Aussie… when she sent me her answers to the Red Chair questions, I once again heard the ‘kindred spirit bells’ as I read of her ‘country’ early days and her B and W TV, of the… oh look, I won’t say anymore. Read on and then go buy her books. She is worthy successor to the late and very great Georgette Heyer. I’ve now read three and recommend them with pleasure.
But to continue… Lucinda…
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born and grew up in the outback of Sydney – actually the far western suburbs – which in the 60s and 70s might was well have been the outback! Dirt roads, acres of bushland and a three-mile bike ride to and from school. I went to a public (state) school surrounded by open paddocks and orchards. We wore tartan uniforms and beret and gloves in winter (hilarious really considering the climate!) I was an over-achiever at school – School Captain, Girls Dux, Sportswoman of the Year, firsts in Modern and Ancient History, but also a bit of a nuisance. My senior English teacher loathed me because I would always play Devil’s advocate. More often than not I was sent to the Head of English for being recalcitrant. The day I left school one of the teachers took me aside: “The trouble wasn’t with you, you were bored and we didn’t know what to do about it!”
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
A writer. A writer. A writer. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I don’t know why. It just is.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I guess I had this strongly held belief from the age of about 11yrs (when I watched TV at my grandparents’ house) until I was 25 – sad really, but you must remember this was the time before internet, mobile phones and instant mass communication – all we had was black and white TV and most of the shows were from the US – we didn’t even have a phone inside the house until I was in my teens! It was that the USA was a very dangerous place populated by gun-carrying murderers! It was the last place on earth I wanted to visit and then my husband came home one day and said “Guess where we’re off to? Tennessee!”
I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee for 6 years, my daughter was born there, my best friend lives there and I travelled all over, and have been back several times and I can honestly say that Americans are the friendliest most hospitable and well-mannered people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Living in the US changed my life.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
These are not big events in the world stage or in the life changing sense of big but they did impact on me as a writer.
1. Home life. We had very little money while I was growing up. My Dad and I spent innumerable hours in the local library just cruising the shelves. Mum instilled in me the value of books and reading and so whatever money I received for birthdays, chores etc I spent on books. We didn’t own a TV either and there was no local cinema, so I had plenty of time to amuse myself so it was reading books and writing stories to entertain my friends.
2. When I was 12 yrs old I wrote to Jean Plaidy.
A nice hand written letter telling her how much I loved her historical novels; how much I loved her Gothic novels under the name Victoria Holt; what was the next book she was writing as Philippa Carr, and that I was going to be a writer one day too! I was soooo excited when she wrote back and she had even put her real address on the back of the envelope! Of course I still have her very gracious reply.
3. I’m a late bloomer to Georgette Heyer’s novels. I was bored one day at University complaining to a friend in my dorm how I had nothing entertaining to read. She handed me The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer. I’d never heard of her. That friend has a lot to answer for! I’m a Heyer addict and collect all sorts of editions of her titles, including first editions and very early Pan editions. And yes she has influenced my writing considerably.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you- – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?
Never obsolete. And now with the rise of electronic books, it is even better because I can carry the library around that I have in my study in my pocket or purse too! While I’m waiting for an appointment, or to pick up my daughter from school, at the hairdresser or just hanging out at a park with my dog, I can still read!
Blogs, newspapers, TV radio etc all have their place but a novel allows you to fully immerse yourself in your own world. You can imagine the characters, the scenery, and the situations, as you want to imagine them. The writer offers you up a story but it is the reader who adds the color and texture in their mind’s eye. I adore the eighteenth century and choose to immerse myself in that historical time period and I want my readers to come with me on the journey.
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
AUTUMN DUCHESS. Is Book 3 in the Roxton Series. It is 1777, the American war of independence is in full swing and France is thinking about joining the war with the colonists against the English. It is set in the very aristocratic world of the Hesham family and the head of the family is Julian, Duke of Roxton. Julian’s story was told in Book 2 MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE but Book 3 very much belongs to his widowed mother, Antonia Dowager Duchess of Roxton, who featured in book one NOBLE SATYR as an eighteen year old. Antonia married the much older Renard, Duke of Roxton and I always wondered what would happen to her when the love of her life died – she would still be considered a very beautiful woman and be very active and alive, so how would she cope? Would she cope? Could she ever find love again? I had to find out so I wrote AUTUMN DUCHESS.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I don’t think that big! I would just like readers to be entertained by my novels and hopefully come away feeling good about themselves as well as have a better appreciation for the eighteenth century!
8. Whom do you most admire and why
In the real world: Mohandas Gandhi. His philosophy of nonviolence and leadership inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
In the writing world: Eleanor Hibbert (aka Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr) because as Jean Plaidy she fired my imagination and love of history and Georgette Heyer for her wit and prose and for pioneering the Regency Historical Romance genre (though my favorites are her Georgian historical romances).
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To be able to write all day every day!
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Never give up! Never Surrender! (borrowed from Galaxy Quest – one of my all time favorite movies.) I’m serious. In these days of eBooks and self-publishing you can get your book published. There are no longer the gatekeepers to hold you back! Write the best book that you can, publish it. Readers will decide the rest.
Amazon buy links:
Noble Satyr: http://tiny.cc/pfw17
Midnight Marriage: http://tiny.cc/u7kme
Salt Bride: http://tiny.cc/h4ty7