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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

20 May 2008

Welcome, Leslie Dicken!

A Tarnished Heart
by Leslie Dicken
Available Now!



After the death of his wife and father, the Earl of Markham has spent the last five years fiercely guarding his emotions from involvement, including getting too close to his son. Then a blackmail threat shatters his impassive world. To ensure his son's inheritance, Markham must woo and marry a headstrong commoner with a heart as wild and free as the English countryside she loves. Though wrong for him in every way, he discovers seducing her awakens more than just his colorless world. Soon, the battle to protect his son's future becomes a fight for his own heart.

After a tragedy destroyed Lizzie Parker's dreams, she wants no part of venturing far from home. She is content with her life of her garden, her village, and possibly, her father's curate. Sent from her ideal world to London and the glittering Season, Lizzie does whatever possible to vex the man who once broke her heart. But she never expects his kisses to tame her resistance. And each time his touch arouses her senses, she is less and less sure of just where she belongs.

A TARNISHED HEART is set in England, 1851. Is there a particular reason you chose that year?

I chose this year to coincide with The Great Exhibition taking place in London. I liked the idea of change and future opportunities that the Exhibition represented and I wanted my characters to visit it. I also planned a major turning point in the story for that visiting, using its vastness and wonders as a backdrop.

How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?

Regency and early Victorian were what I read when I first started picking up romances. I've just always loved history and this time seemed to appeal to me most - the huge differences in class, homes, education, etc.

What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

Pre-marital sex is very taboo. That helps with the sexual conflict and tension, but can make it difficult when the characters are "in the mood" and want to fool around. ;-)

Anything you flat-out altered or “fudged”? If so, why?

Not sure I "flat-out altered" anything but some readers/reviewers have found my two characters being together a bit of a stretch. While it was technically possible for an earl and a rector's daughter to meet and interact (she is eligible for the London Season), it was probably doubtful they would end up together and in love.

Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*

I haven't reread it since it's been in print, but I'm sure there are some typos, etc. Hopefully there aren't any plotlines or details I've dropped.

What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

I actually got this idea waaaay back in 2000, when I was at a workshop presented by Jo Beverly. She mentioned that a bastard son of the aristocracy could not inherit his father's title. That got my brain turning with several "what ifs" and the story was born!

Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I'm not really sure what to call myself. I do not do outlines, boards, worksheets or charts. However, I need *some* sort of a roadmap or sketchy plotpoints before I can go further than the first chapter. After many start-then stops on stories, I've tried to get as much information thought through before I go very far into the book.

I tend to clean up as I go, or go back and reread a chapter from the last writing session and fine-tune then.

What are you planning to work on next?
I have a gothic-historical which finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart. I'm currently considering my options for it. I've just begun a paranormal contemporary with a demon hero and a nerdy, but feisty heroine.

14 Comments:

Blogger Carla Capshaw said...

A Tarnished Heart sounds wonderful Leslie. I love stories where different the characters are from different backgrounds and classes. I'm looking forward to reading ATH.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Marlene said...

I can't wait to read your story, Leslie. I love it when you can twist history a bit and put characters into places they wouldn't ordinarily be. Good luck with your book.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

Your blurb sounds great, Leslie! How many books have you written, and which one is your favorite?

9:48 AM  
Blogger Lauren Willig said...

I'm looking forward to reading it, Leslie! Having grown up on Victoria Holts, I'm so happy to see more Victorians out there again. And that gothic you mentioned at the end sounds so intriguing.... What's it about?

9:53 AM  
Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

Thanks Carla and Marlene!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

Terri, I've written three full-length novels plus several short stories. How can you ask which is my favorite? LOL! That's like choosing my favorite child.

For one reason or another, all of them have something intriguing. ATH happens to be the first novel I completed, although not my first one sold. So I suppose it will always have a special place in my heart!

10:21 AM  
Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

Hi Lauren! My gothic is about a viscount who has kept himself hidden away in his remote manor for eight years. He is hiding secrets and unwilling to find the reasons for the chilling visions that have haunted him all these years.

The heroine is on the run from a violent man and finds refuge at this isolated manor. Her presence stirs up everyone in the house - forcing them to face the past and live up to the future.

Thanks for asking! I'm still looking for a home for it!

10:27 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Ooh, Leslie, BOTH of your books mentioned here sound wonderful. I love a good gothic!

What was the hardest part of writing A Tarnished Heart?

10:49 AM  
Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

Hi Doglady!

Great question. I'd say the hardest part was historical accuracy. So much happened during the Victorian period that even the difference of one year could make something historically inaccurate. Luckily, my editors caught these and suggested changes which suited the 1851 time period better.

For example, my heroine befriends a family of the lower class. I had her going to St. Giles to help them. While it was possible, it was highly unlikely she would venture into such a poor slum. So we changed this family to be from a low-middle class working at the Docks, instead.

Thanks!

11:51 AM  
Blogger Anne Whitfield - author said...

Congratulations on your release, Leslie. It sounds a winner!
I'm off to buy a copy.

Take care,
Anne.~

1:20 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wow! A Tarnished Heart sounds fantasic, Leslie! Can't wait to read it :-)

1:30 PM  
Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

Thanks so much, Anne and Beth. I hope you enjoy it!

5:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

A Tarnished Heart sounds great, Leslie. I can't wait to read it again!

7:12 AM  
Blogger Mirella Patzer said...

Hello Leslie,

Congratulations on A Tarnished Heart. I had the privilege of being your editor and I must say, it is one of the best historical romances I've read.

Mirella Patzer
http://www.mirellapatzer.com

1:43 PM  

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