As I’m sure you know I love all things Choc-Lit; so it’s a huge delight to be able to share with you an interview with Christina Courtenay. Christina’s latest novel The Soft Whisper of Dreams was released in paperback last month (click here to get your copy) and is the second book in her Shadows from the Past series.
Hello and thank you very much for inviting me! I write historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, and I’ve been a romance fan for as long as I can remember. I’m half Swedish and grew up in Sweden until I was 16, then I moved to Japan with my family and went to an American high school in Tokyo for a while. I travelled a lot, lived in Switzerland for a year, then decided to work in England (my dad’s country of birth). I met my husband in London and have been here ever since!
Can you tell us a bit about your novel, The Soft Whisper of Dreams?
It’s a contemporary romance with some paranormal and suspense/thriller elements. The heroine, Maddie, finds out she’s adopted and an old nightmare comes back to haunt her. When she visits friends to recover from the shock, she meets dangerously handsome Alex, has a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller and, terrifyingly, her bad dreams seem to be coming true …
The Soft Whisper of Dreams is the second book of your Shadows from the Past series. For those of us who haven’t discovered your books yet can you tell us a little more about the series?
I like to blend the past and the present, with a little bit of the paranormal thrown in. The idea of souls continuing somehow after we pass away really appeals to me, and I’d like to believe that if someone has something that draws them back or something unfinished, their soul will hang around and perhaps affect people in the present. In The Soft Whisper of Dreams the paranormal element is a gypsy’s prediction of Maddie’s future, which also has to do with the hero’s part gypsy ancestors.
Can The Soft Whisper of Dreams be read as a standalone or would you recommend reading The Secret Kiss of Darkness first?
It can be read as a stand-alone, but I think the reader would enjoy it even more if he/she had read the first book.
For the historical parts, I read up on the period in general first, then I try to find out as much detail as I can about things like customs, clothing, food etc. I write lots of notes and put them in alphabetical order so I can find what I need quickly when I’m writing. For the parts set in the present, I try to go to the locations I use – this book required several trips to Devon, of course, and to Saltram House, a lovely National Trust property which inspired the hero’s home. And for this story I had to do some research about adoption, since Maddie finds out she’s adopted and wants to trace her birth mother. Basically, I try to get the facts right as much as I possibly can.
What’s your favourite thing about writing historical romance?
I love the fact that you can have really strong alpha heroes and I enjoy the challenge of writing about heroines who don’t have the advantages in law that modern women have, but who have to try and fight for their rights within the constraints of their society’s rules about women.
As well as your historical romance novellas, you’ve also had lots of other novels published with Choc Lit including Monsoon Mists and The Scarlet Kimono. Do you have a favourite novel that you’ve written so far?
My favourite is usually the one I’m working on at any given moment because you’re all fired up with enthusiasm for a new project. But if I had to choose one book as my favourite, it would probably be The Gilded Fan (sequel to The Scarlet Kimono). It was one of those stories that went through many incarnations but I never gave up on it and I was pleased with the way it turned out in the end.
As well as writing romance you also write Young Adult. Do you prefer writing for one genre over the other?
No, I get bored easily so switching genres from time to time is perfect for me. When writing YA I get to let loose my ‘inner teen’ which is great fun and there’s not a lot of research necessary so it feels almost like I give myself a holiday when I write those. I have to say my absolute favourite is time slip though, I really enjoy those.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
My favourite historical authors are Barbara Erskine, Susanna Kearsley, Georgette Heyer, Johanna Lindsey and Diana Gabaldon. Because I like anything to do with history, I also like historical thrillers like those written by Steve Berry and David Gibbins. I enjoy some contemporary stories – mainly those of my fellow Choc Lit authors, like Sue Moorcroft and Henriette Gyland. And I read a lot of YA – absolutely love Sarah Dessen and Melissa Marr among others.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I just finished the final edits for a historical romance which is coming out in August called The Jade Lioness. It’s the third book in my Japanese trilogy (sequel to The Scarlet Kimono and The Gilded Fan) and follows adventurous English girl Temperance Marston as she is kidnapped by outlaws in 17th century Japan and rescued by a handsome samurai.
Now that’s done, I’ve started work on a new time slip novel set partly during the English Civil War. It was inspired by a beautiful ruined castle near where I live and also the fact that I have a very soft spot for the flamboyant, long-haired Cavaliers. I’ve wanted to write a Cavalier hero for quite a while.
A huge thank you to Christina and to Lu at Choc Lit. ♥
Some dreams shouldn’t come true …
Maddie Browne thought she’d grown out of the recurring dream that plagued her as a child, but after a shocking family secret is revealed, it comes back to haunt her – the same swing in the same garden, the kind red-haired giant and the swarthy arms which grab her from behind and try to take her away …
In an attempt to forget her troubles, Maddie travels to Devon to spend time with her friends, Kayla and Wes. However, it becomes clear that relaxation will not be on the agenda after a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller. Not to mention the presence of Wes’s dangerously handsome brother, Alex.
And then there’s the fact that Maddie’s dream seems to be coming true …
The Soft Whisper of Dreams is the sequel to Christina Courtenay’s novel The Secret Kiss of Darkness.
Amazon UK — http://goo.gl/m7fT6O
Amazon US — http://goo.gl/YdQsgV