Monday, October 27, 2014

Interview with Deanna Raybourn, author of Night of a Thousand Stars

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Deanna Raybourn to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her latest release, Night of a Thousand Stars. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Deanna. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Night of a Thousand Stars. 
Thanks for having me! NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS is a1920s adventure story featuring a runaway bride in search of the man who helped her escape her society wedding—a man who might have put his life in peril by trying to help her.

What inspired you to write this story? Where did it start? 
It had its roots in my previous book, CITY OF JASMINE. The lead male character in that novel, Gabriel Starke, even has a cameo in NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS. I realised when I wrote JASMINE that there was so much more to explore in that part of the world, and I had set up a long story arc I wanted to pick up again. STARS gave me a chance to push that further and also tie in some characters from my Victorian Lady Julia Grey series which was tremendous fun.

What was your favorite aspect of writing a story set in the Jazz Age? 
The Jazz Age offers an embarrassment of riches. It was a time of incalculable social change—there were the aftereffects of the Great War, socially,  politically, historically. There were new developments in technology and travel, and the role of women was changing on an almost daily basis. Manners and opportunities were evolving—even the clothes were glorious!

What theme do you hope resonates with readers of Night of a Thousand Stars? 
Poppy’s story is very much about bucking expectations to be your own person—wherever that leads. Whatever happens, Poppy is true to herself, and I think that’s essential to happiness.

Many readers have praised your heroine. What kind of woman is Poppy Hammond and why do you think she holds so much appeal? 
Poppy is a very modern girl. She is right on the cusp of adulthood, and she chooses this particular moment in her life to make that leap out of the expected and into something completely new. She is intrepid and brave and fiercely loyal, and I think that’s why readers like her so much. I also think they respond to the fact that she has no plan; she is clearly making it all up as she goes along.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Sebastian Cantrip? 
That his name isn’t Sebastian Cantrip! It’s apparent early on that this is a pseudonym and that what you see with Sebastian is definitely not all you get…he has many hidden talents, and he is definitely not  your usual English clergyman.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing? 
The opening passage where Sebastian helps Poppy run away from her wedding was especially fun. Their conversation is so outrageously in appropriate—entirely Poppy’s fault!—that I was cracking up the entire time I wrote it. There’s a discussion of “sex-tides” that I found enormously enjoyable. 

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it?  
Oddly enough, the opening scene—the one I enjoyed so much! I had originally written that as the opening to CITY OF JASMINE, and for six weeks, I wrote and rewrote it and still wasn’t happy. So I scrapped it and wrote an entirely new opening to JASMINE, but I kept the idea of the runaway bride. It turns out that the scene that was thoroughly wrong for JASMINE was just perfect for NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS. It was a case of trying to make a heroine do something out of character just to fit the plot, and it kept biting me until I realised that and cut it. It kept reading ‘sad’ at the beginning of JASMINE, which is not at ALL what I wanted. When I used the scene in STARS instead, it immediately became comic because Poppy has an outrageous sense of humour. And then it worked precisely the way I wanted it to. I don’t usually advocated rewriting, but I’ve found if I can get my opening, the rest falls into place. Writing that same scene for six weeks gave me a chance to figure out exactly who the heroine of JASMINE was—and that she would never run away from a wedding!

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on?
Aunt Dove from CITY OF JASMINE. I absolutely adore her, and she had to be offstage for a good part of the action. I was able to give her a brief scene in the prequel novella, WHISPER OF JASMINE, but she really needed a project of her own. She ended up being the inspiration for my new lead series character, an adventuresome lepidopterist with Aunt Dove’s broadminded view of the world!

Historical novelists frequently have to adjustment facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing Night of a Thousand Stars and if so, what did you alter and why? 
I never change history. I will alter my plot if necessary, but not the facts. It’s very much a personal call for an author how much they will change, and I enjoy the challenge of making my timeline work WITH history instead of the other way around. And sometimes it leads to very interesting developments that are entirely serendipitous. In my current manuscript, I have the heroine away from England during a crucial point in her sidekick’s life; I just realised that during that period of time, there was a cataclysmic event in the part of the world where I wanted to put her. That gives me a chance to push her character in a direction I wouldn’t have thought to do without history giving that nudge. I can explore how she reacts to this event, how it shapes her going forward, and how she uses it to push herself to live in the moment. 

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why? 
Portia, Lady Bettiscombe. She’s ended up being a major foil to Lady Julia Grey but without revealing everything about her character. She still has loads of secrets, and I would love to spend time figuring out all about her. There are many questions I haven’t asked myself about why she is the way she is—and those would be interesting to finally answer.

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast of actors to play the primary roles in a screen adaptation of your work, who would you hire? 
Tom Hiddleston and whoever he cares to bring. He has the most adorable joie de vivre!

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
I’m an organised pantser. I have a general outline and several main points when I begin. As I work my way through, I flesh it out, figuring how to link the points as I go. Once the first draft is done, I prefer to let it sit a few weeks and then redraft, adding flesh to the bones. It isn’t always possible to have that resting time—I write very close to my deadlines. I write fast, but I don’t like to start early. Instead I read and plot and make notes and think. Then I panic and write. I am better under pressure because then I don’t overthink.

Who are your favorite authors? 
My short list would have to include Elizabeth Peters, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Stella Gibbons, E. M. Delafield, Sarah Caudwell. 

What are you currently reading? 
I just finished MURDER AT THE BRIGHTWELL by Ashley Weaver. Highly recommended—it was charming!

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies? 
No. I’m astonishingly lazy. I prefer to putter—I’ll play with knitting or art but I don’t actually aspire to produce anything. I love to travel and manage a fair bit of that. Otherwise it’s reading, vintage movies, and spending time with people I adore.

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
Tea! The only time I’ve ever drunk coffee was on a fishing boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico when I was seven. I generally stick to Earl Grey or Lapsang souchong. 

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
I am just finishing up the first novel in my new Victorian mystery series for NAL/Penguin! My sleuthing heroine is a globe-trotting butterfly hunter with a penchant for handsome men and unsolved mysteries…The first book is tentatively scheduled for release in autumn 2015. 

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A sixth-generation native Texan, Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Lady Julia series, as well as, The Dead Travel Fast, A Spear of Summer Grass, and City of Jasmine.

Website ❧   Blog ❧   Facebook ❧   Twitter ❧   Goodreads


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PRAISE FOR DEANNA RAYBOURN

"Night of A Thousand Stars brims over with romance, adventure, suspense and humour. I wish someone would make it into a movie!" - Kate Forsyth, bestselling author of BITTER GREENS

"Raybourn's first-class storytelling is evident....Readers will quickly find themselves embarking on an unforgettable journey that fans both old and new are sure to savor." - Library Journal on City of Jasmine

"Raybourn skillfully balances humor and earnest, deadly drama, creating well-drawn characters and a rich setting." - Publishers Weekly on Dark Road to Darjeeling

"From sweetly touching moments requiring tissues to hot-blooded hunts for prey of both two- and four-legged varieties, this book elicits the widest range of emotions, and does it with style." - Library Journal on A Spear of Summer Grass

"With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling." - Nora Roberts, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"[A] perfectly executed debut... Deft historical detailing [and] sparkling first-person narration." - Publishers Weekly on Silent in the Grave, starred review

"A sassy heroine and a masterful, secretive hero. Fans of romantic mystery could ask no more-except the promised sequel." - Kirkus Reviews on Silent in the Grave

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Format: Print &eBook
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Released by: Harlequin MIRA
ISBN-13: 978-0778317753
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Check Out All the Stops on Deanna Raybourn's Night of a Thousand Stars Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, September 29
Review & Giveaway at Bookish
Tuesday, September 30
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 1
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 2
Review at Ramblings From This Chick
Friday, October 3
Review at Book Babe
Monday, October 6
Review at Unabridged Chick
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Candace’s Book Blog
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Good Books and Good Wine
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, October 9
Excerpt at A Book Geek
Guest Post & Giveaway at Good Books and Good Wine
Monday, October 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, October 14
Review at Reading the Past
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, October 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, October 17
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 20
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Excerpt at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, October 21
Review & Giveaway at Bookshelf Fantasies
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, October 22
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, October 23
Review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, October 24
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, October 27
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, October 28
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, October 30
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

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