Today, I am very pleased to host author Ruth Kaufman, whose new medieval romance novel, Follow Your Heart, is being released today. This is an important day for Ruth, since Follow Your Heart is the second book in her Wars of the Roses Brides series. Today also marks something of a milestone here, since Ruth is the first of my guests who has chosen to do an interview. I think she has chosen an interesting set of questions, and I believe you will be both enlightened and impressed by her answers.
Please welcome my guest, romance author Ruth Kaufman . . .
Q: What is your favorite romance genre, and why?
A: I prefer historicals because I enjoy being swept back in time and learning about a different era and place. Medievals in particular are my favorite. I love knights, kings, castles, the gowns ladies wore. Of course, being a peasant wasn’t so great….
Over the years I’ve acquired more than 200 research books on 15th century England.
Q: When you craft a heroine, is she mostly the real you, the you you wish you were, or is she someone totally different?
A: In my historicals, the heroine is someone totally different. As many writers do, I use pictures as a guide. I figure out what I think a person who looks like the actress or model who caught my eye for this heroine would be and behave like, and how a woman of that time would be impacted by her time. There is an element I relate to in the theme of being independent and standing up for yourself.
I’ve written a couple of as-yet-unpublished humorous contemporaries where the heroine has some characteristics of the real me, since she has an occupation I once had and aspires to be an actress.
Q: Do you always have control of your characters when you are writing, or do they sometimes get away from you? If so, can you share some examples of how you got them back in line, or did you just go with the flow?
A: IMO, having too much control isn’t always good. It’s their story, not yours, so I think they should tell as much of it as they can. If the author is always in control, it can come across as author intrusion, where the reader can tell the author is trying to push events in one direction or the other or share information in a forced way. I find the best stuff happens when the characters do their own thing.
Q: Many authors have said that writing the first pages of a new story are the hardest to write. Do you find that to be the case?
A: Usually the first scene pops into my head. So coming up with the idea and what happens isn’t hard for me. But making those first pages sparkle to most effectively hook readers right off the bat and set up the rest of the book is always a challenge.
Q: When you begin to write, do you know how the story will end, or does that come to you as part of the process?
A: I know they’ll end up together, since that’s a hallmark of a romance novel, but I never know how they’ll get there. That’s because I’m a pantser, and write by the seat of her pants, rather than a plotter, who plans ahead and/or writes a synopsis or some kind of outline in advance. So my characters and I figure it out and go on the journey together.
Q: When you suffer from writer’s block, how do you unblock?
A: I’m fortunate that I don’t often suffer from WB. I give a workshop called Anti-plotting, and I think some of the techniques, such as seeing through the point of view character’s eyes, help keep words and scenes coming. I wouldn’t always say they always flow, and they may not be the words I end up keeping.
If I do have trouble, I might try a scene in a different character’s POV to get a different perspective, or write another scene that isn’t sequential but I know I need, or set it aside for a couple of days.
Q: Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?
A: One of my all-time favorite books is Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove. If I meet someone who’s never read a romance but wants to, that’s often the book I recommend. So I’d say both the Wulfgar and Aislinn. They and elements of their story stuck with me for longer than many other books I’ve read.
Q: Without spoiling the story for readers, can you share something about your latest romance which is not in the blurb or any available excerpts?
A: A secret revealed near the end of my latest book involves something that was a major sin in late medieval England but many people accept today. I hope readers will see that part of the book in the context of what these characters believe at that time within this story and not as commentary about today’s world and what’s right or wrong.
Q: If you were not a romance author, what other creative activities would you pursue?
A: I do pursue other creative activities in addition to writing. I’m an on-camera and voiceover talent (www.ruthtalks.com), and have had roles in indie features, national and local TV commercials and more. Upcoming jobs include narrating a corporate video, an on-camera role as an executive in a long video, and a small role in a WWII film. I also do a bit of live storytelling and sing in a chorus…we’re performing at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall at the end of April with an exclusive program of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs.
Q: What do you think is the most common misperception today about romance novels held by those who have never read one?
A: That they’re formulaic/all the same and/or all have the same amount of heat. Well, from that perspective, so are mysteries…there’s always a crime and most of the book is spent solving it with a resolution at the end. Thrillers have to have, well, thrills, and a fast pace. Etc.
Follow Your Heart Blurb
Unforeseen passion draws them together. Will his secrets tear them apart?
Joanna Peyntor has two uses for a man: to pose for a stained glass window design or to commission her skills. But when her brother conspires to ruin her reputation, she concedes to a third: a husband to help save her glass-painting workshop.
On a quest to redeem his family name and lands, Sir Adrian Bedford must marry without delay. But what woman he’d accept would wed an impoverished former nobleman who insists on an unusual stricture in their marriage contract? Joanna, a woman striving to succeed in a man’s world, agrees that discussions of a personal nature are prohibited.
When irresistible attraction makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient, will his dangerous secrets keep them from following their hearts?
Follow Your Heart Excerpt
The arched door opened with a high-pitched creak. A stooped servant announced a visitor.
"Ah, yes. The glazenwright. Send her in."
Excellent timing. Adrian could use the visitor’s arrival as an excuse to depart.
"Until next week, then." Lady Anne clasped his hand between hers. He subdued the urge to pull free. "Please go out the back door."
"The back door?" She had never asked this. And usually he offered at least two farewells before she stopped asking him to stay. Yet he couldn’t stop wondering what business Lady Anne had with a glass-painter. "Why are you so eager for me to leave?"
"I am not sure you should meet…"
Too late. The glazenwright entered the hall as Lady Anne reached around his neck to bring him down for a farewell kiss.
Avoiding her mouth, his lips met her parchment-dry cheek. He caught sight of the glazenwright. A woman glass-painter? Chagrin filled him as she stopped short, taking in the scene before her. She put a roll of documents on the table and pushed back the hood of her cloak.
Adrian straightened, his desire to leave evaporating despite the awkward situation. The glazenwright was beautiful, with a delicate oval face, high cheekbones and a small, straight nose. He knew he was staring, but didn’t want to stop. There was something compelling about this woman aside from her lovely face, which was all he could see. Her heavy, serviceable black cloak and headdress concealed the rest.
Her expression captured him. Not the simpering moue of court women, nor the lustful gleam of barmaids or the respectful, downcast eyes of servants. She radiated a quiet confidence he found enticing.
Their gazes met and locked. Hers conveyed curiosity and mayhap a challenge. He couldn’t tell if she recognized him or what she’d gleaned of his relationship with Lady Anne. Surely she’d be appalled if she knew. After a long moment, she looked away.
"My pardon, Lady Anne. Your servant bid me enter. I can wait or return another time," she said.
Accustomed to Lady Anne’s shrill waver, Adrian absorbed the pleasant, soothing tone of the guest’s voice.
"No, no, now is fine," Lady Anne replied, her hand sliding possessively down Adrian’s arm.
He stepped back abruptly to detach the clinging fingers. Lady Anne should know better. The servants might suspect something, but no one else needed to know. That wasn’t part of their arrangement.
Distancing himself from Lady Anne allowed him to return his attention to the glazenwright. She was staring at him again. If only he could see her hair…was it the same shade of red as her delicately curved eyebrows? He cursed the fashionable concealing headdresses of the day.
Her skin was fair and smooth, her lips delectable, a tempting rosy red. Her large eyes were green. Bright green. They pierced him with a keen alertness that made him wonder if she could see into his soul.
She must be intrepid as well as ambitious: a woman working as a glass-painter. He wanted to know more about her.
He wanted her.
If only he was like other men. But he couldn’t risk getting close to anyone. Because a secret encumbered him, so unfathomable it could destroy him and possibly anyone he cared for.
What would being free feel like? Being loved by a woman like her? Alas, he’d never know.
About the Author
Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, on-camera and voiceover talent and freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART, the standalone second book in her Wars of the Roses Brides series, releases today, April 14. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest.
Follow Your Heart (Wars of the Roses Brides Series Book 2)
Amazon link: http://amzn.com/B00TYM7XBE
Find Ruth at:
Blog: Gainfully Unemployed www.rjkaufman.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ruthtalks or Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress
Twitter: @RuthKaufman https://twitter.com/RuthKaufman
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/141wfVE