Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with Charlotte Brentwood, author of The Vagabond Vicar

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Charlotte Brentwood to Flashlight Commentary to discuss The Vagabond Vicar.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Charlotte. It’s great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about The Vagabond Vicar. 
Thanks for hosting me Erin. The Vagabond Vicar is a traditional regency romance. If you love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, can't get enough of Downton Abbey or Cranford, or just prefer old-fashioned boy-meets-girl stories, this story should appeal to you.

Here’s the blurb:
William Brook is an idealistic young cleric, desperate to escape dreary England for a mission adventure in exotic lands. It's his worst nightmare come true when he is posted to a parish in a small backwater village, populated with small-minded people and husband-hunting mamas. He’s determined not to form any ties and to escape the country as an independent single man. 

A free spirit, Cecilia Grant is perfectly content to remain in her family home in Amberley village - when she's not wandering the countryside at all hours painting. Marriage options are few, but that won't stop her mother from engineering a match with one of the ruling family's sons. Cecilia attempts to win the man, but what is it about the new vicar and his brooding ways that is so appealing? Could he be the only one who has ever really understood her, and can she discover what he is running away from? 

As William struggles not to fall in love with the lady's intoxicating beauty and mysterious eccentricity, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the villagers, despite their best efforts to alienate the newcomer. When he makes it clear he's not sticking around, Cecilia strives to restrain her blossoming feelings for him. Just when it seems love may triumph, dark secrets are revealed in Amberley and a scandal from William’s past may see the end of not only his career, but his chance at finding an everlasting love. 

Where did this story begin? Where did the idea come from?
I created a vicar character for another book, but he wasn’t very interesting and I soon gave up on that book. While writing something else, the character of William began forming in my mind. He kept telling me tales of his mercy missions in the seedy parts of London. He told me about how he was given a living in a small village, but that he would much rather be sailing the seas to adventures in exotic lands. I was moved by his compassion, his earnestness, and his heart. I knew I had to give him his own story.

William Brook longs to travel. Where does he want to go and where did this desire come from? 
He wants to get as far away from England as possible, preferably in a country peopled with dangerous heathens! He thinks his motivation for going is to spread the gospel as well as having an adventure, but throughout the course of the novel the deeper reasons why he longs to escape England become clear.

What sets Cecilia Grant apart from her peers in William’s eyes?
At first William is dismissive of Cecilia as just another husband-hunter in Amberley village (although he does acknowledge she is pretty). As he hears more strange things about her and nearly meets her on several occasions, his curiously is increasingly piqued. Then each time they interact, she impresses him with her perception and compassion. She seems to understand him instantly, and she doesn’t attempt to flirt with him or hide behind a polite façade. William begins to trust her and to let her into his world, almost against his will.

Of all the professions you might have chosen, why write about a vicar?
Vicars are often much-maligned in historical literature - either snivelling, pompous, hypocritical, or just plain boring. I set out to create a vicar who was not only true to his convictions and compassionate, but also heroic, bold and downright swoon-worthy. I think this quote from a reader sums it up nicely: “I’ve never been one to “fall” for a religious man, but William Brook is likely to get fans fluttering and cheeks flushing. Dare I say he’s a strong contender against the famous (and my literary love) Mr. Rochester?”

Despite William’s occupation, I tried to keep the novel away from being “inspirational” or preachy. The story is primarily about a man and his ambitions, and the great love which consumes him.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
You’re right, there are too many to choose from! But I would probably pick out the scene which I wrote first, which the whole book became anchored around. It’s the scene where William is working in his garden, and Cecilia happens upon him. Seeing him as a man for the first time (rather than just the vicar), she has her first rush of attraction. When he becomes aware of her presence, a delightfully awkward scene transpires. 

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it?  
Near the climax of the book, William is put on a trial of sorts where his fate will be decided. This scene took a long time as I had to pull many pieces together and make the outcome convincing. I kept returning to the scene until I was confident I had it right.

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 on?
As this is an indie-published work, I had the luxury of spending all the time I needed to make sure I was happy with everything. So I would like to think I haven’t sacrificed anything.

However, during the course of writing the novel it became obvious that Amy Miller and John Barrington needed their own stories, so they will get them!

Historical novelists frequently have to adjust facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing The Vagabond Vicar and if so, what did you alter? 
I haven’t changed any major historical facts (as far as I know!) but I did invent the setting of Amberley and all of the surrounding area, based on other villages in that corner of Shropshire.

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?
I might choose the formidable Mrs Fortescue, who seems to have many skeletons in her closet behind that prickly exterior. Who knows what she might reveal after a few drinks!

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast to play the leads in a screen adaptation of The Vagabond Vicar, who would you hire? 
I would love to find some relatively unknown young British actors to bring a freshness to the love story. But if I had to name names, for William I’d choose someone like Matthew Goode, Ben Barnes, Jamie Bamber, Matthew Rhys, Aaron Johnson or a younger Henry Cavill. 

For Cecilia, it would be someone like Jemima West, Romola Garai, Rebecca Hall or Kaya Scodelario.

Finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works?
Next are the two sequels, which I’m planning to write mostly in tandem as they are related (though will stand alone). I already have the character arcs planned and many scenes (or bits of scenes) written and I’m excited to see where these characters take me!

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I enjoyed The Vagabond Vicar’s unique plot and characters, beautiful cover, and lovely romance. The suspense, action, and development of characters rose as the novel neared its close, bringing the ending to a touching conclusion. This is a Regency novel worth adding to your to-read list. - Katie Patchell, Austenprose (4/5 stars)

Discovering new authors is always so rewarding. I am incredibly swayed by a beautiful cover, and The Vagabond Vicar just makes my heart sing. I look forward to what she comes up with next. Check out The Vagabond Vicar. You won’t be disappointed. - Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Want a “Mom’safe” romance to share that is warm, has tension, is driven by characters that are so very likeable? Here it is, The Vagabond Vicar, a gem of a find, pure entertainment, and a trip back to a time when social proprieties could make or break a young woman. - Diane, Tome Tender (5/5 stars)

Great story with interesting characters. I look forward to the two follow-up novels that are planned! Can’t wait to read them! - Midnight Attic Reader

Charlotte Brentwood has provided a unique vision into small village life when the nobility ruled everything. - The Long and the Short Of It Reviews

The Vagabond Vicar is a very charming and sweet read that I would highly recommend! I look forward to reading more from Ms. Brentwood! - Candy, So Little Time

I absolutely adored this novel. It’s a beautiful, historical version of boy-meets-girl that manages to never fall into the dreaded classification of “cliché and predictable.” The narrative is wonderfully written, with exquisite attention to detail. - Alexia Bullard, eBook Review Gal 

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Charlotte developed serious crushes on a series of men from age fifteen: Darcy, Knightley, Wentworth and Brandon. A bookworm and scribbler for as long as she can remember, Charlotte always dreamed of sharing her stories with the world. The Vagabond Vicar is her debut novel.

She lives in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand. When she's not toiling at her day job, writing or procrastinating on the Internet, Charlotte can be found snuggling with her cat Sophie, warbling at the piano, sipping a hot chocolate or enjoying the great outdoors.

Website ❧  Facebook ❧  Twitter ❧  Pinterest ❧  Goodreads

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Format: eBook
PB Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Released by: Charlotte Brentwood
Length: 279 pages
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
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