Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Aspiring to be Inspiring!

In common with the lady who awarded me this - the lovely Shehanne Moore who can be found here: https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/ - I have been the fortunate recipient of this award before. And very gratifying it is too!

It got me thinking about inspiration. I am often asked what inspires me to write and it's always a difficult question to answer. Most often, an idea will appear from nowhere and lodge itself firmly in my brain. It sits there nudging me until I give in and sit down at the computer to write it out of my system.


This is particularly true of my latest yet-to-be-published novella, Freya's Choice. I have long been fascinated by the ancient Icelandic sagas, handed down by word of mouth for centuries and the many fascinating tales of the old Norse gods and goddesses. For me the most fascinating of all - and the most complex - is the great goddess, Freya (various spellings exist). 

She was one busy goddess as she looked after beauty, sexuality, love, witchcraft, war and death - and all before teatime! She was amoral yet devoted to her husband, Odur, who mysteriously disappears from the legends, leaving her bereft. She searched for him, weeping golden tears in her distress.

Freya was also known as the Daughter of Time, protector of the human race capable of great love and also of  reeking terrible vengeance on those who transgressed her.

She wore a feathered cloak, enabling her to fly, and her exquisite beauty was transformed by her wondrous necklace, called Brisingamen. No man could resist her when she wore that precious jewel. 

Freya is associated with cats and her chariot was drawn by two magnificent specimens. She was as clever, wise and beautiful as any of the goddesses Egypt, Rome or Greece could produce.

Now that's what I call inspirational!

OK, now it's my turn to pass on the baton and present this Very Inspiring Blog Award to these great writers. I'm privileged to be part of their community on Hot Writers, Hotter Books:

Suz deMello
Mina Dorian
Sedonia Guillone 

Renee Luke
Sara York
Doug Starr
Allie Standifer 



Friday, 26 April 2013

Kissed By Moonlight - Erin Moore





Erin Moore writes erotic paranormal romance and her latest  - Kissed By Moonlight - features two passionate werewolves, irresistably drawn to each other. So what ignites the spark that sets their emotions on fire? Here's Erin's theory:


Why do our characters want to get it on?

The thing that interests us in romance novels is more than just the “What” of whatever happens between two lovers – it’s also the “Why.”  Otherwise we would just watch porn.  So when writing about my werewolves, Morgane and Aelric, I needed to express their feral chemistry for each other.  The reader needs to smell their unique scent, to taste their sweat as skin is being licked and caressed.

As in real life, we can lust after someone, but only if we think they smell nice.

And it seems that we are genetically programmed for this.  Researchers are continually debating the role of pheromones in our love life, but one thing seems clear:  we lust after those whose scent we find pleasing and arousing.  These same researchers tell us that our very DNA is encoded in our pheromones, and when we meet someone for the first time, we are trying to determine if they will be a good biological match.  We want our lovers to be genetically diverse from us, and – yes, Freud, go ahead and smirk– for women, we want to find men with DNA similar to our father’s DNA, but not too similar.  (I don’t even want to know how they determine this stuff.)  These same pheromones keep us attracted to our mates long after the initial lust has passed, binding us to them with emotional receptors and dopamine.  I would like to think I got married for love, but…


 What does that all mean in a romance novel?  It means that for writers, we pepper our scenes with descriptions of “his musky scent,” we detail the sweaty unions and the full-body arousals.  This gets our readers thinking about the first time they fell “in lust” and how they responded.  In paranormal and shifter novels, these descriptions are even more important, as the shifters’ animal natures take over just from a simple smell.  And then it’s game on.

So, for Morgane and Aelric, it’s more than just a meet-cute.  It’s a decision about whether their DNA is a good fit for their offspring.  Luckily for us, though, we can just enjoy their story and not worry about the science.


Want to know more about Morgane and Aelric? Firstly, here's the blurb:

When woman meets werewolf, the sex can drive them wild
Morgane has problems with men. Being a werewolf, and wary of humans, it’s inevitable. But when she meets the intense and enigmatic Aelric, she falls hard. She’s never experienced feelings like this before: desperate for his touch, crazy for the feeling of his skin on hers, and ready to surrender to him heart and soul.



Now for a short excerpt:
 
He put his lips to her neck, inhaling her perfume, the notes of bergamot and woman intoxicating him, drugging him. He was hard. He wanted to bury himself in her soft ivory skin, to hear her berry lips moan at his touch. He ground her against him, bit at her neck, as if her skin was sumptuous chocolate.

She took his face between her hands, pulled his lips to her own. She was hungry, insistent, and he responded, matching her ferocity with his. He acted the animal, biting, licking, devouring her groans as she pressed against him.

He lifted her so that her legs encircled him and pushed her back against the bedroom wall. His legs tensed beneath her, holding her steady.

She moaned.

“Yes,” he answered, his breath short, his mouth on hers, his hands below her, cupping the soft flesh of her ass. She grasped at his shoulders, pulling at him. He tugged off his jeans and boxers; he needed to be inside her. Now.


Get the full story:

  Kobo

Connect with Erin:








Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Let Angels Fly


 My guest today is Noelle Clark whose latest book - Let Angels Fly - is a romance, laced with a healthy dose of mystery and suspense. It's also set in an unusual location - Cambodia - and here's Noelle to tell us why...



I’ve been canvassing other authors and readers lately, about how they rate the authenticity of a location in a book. It seems that, overwhelmingly, the richness of a location is rated extremely high, even to the point where readers and authors see the location as a character in itself. I was heartened to read these responses, as it is exactly how I feel. 

In each of my books, I choose a location – usually exotic, but not by design – of which I have a first-hand, intimate knowledge. It’s not just about the cities and towns. I like to infuse my stories with the cultural, religious, and language characteristics of the location. Then there’s the food – what story would be authentic unless the characters cooked or ate local meals? The weather and terrain are also very important. But above all, it’s the characteristics of the local people that must be authentic. 

In my recently released book, Let Angels Fly, my heroine goes to Cambodia, a small South-East Asian country with a history dating back more than a thousand years. Cambodia’s major claim to fame is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Wat Park, one of the top ten ancient temples in the world. 




The friendly Cambodian people star in my story. Still living with the horrific legacy of the 1970s Pol Pot-led atrocities, the local people embrace tourism and are gentle, helpful people, keen to show off their country. Plagued by landmines, extreme poverty, harsh living conditions, and exploitation, the Cambodians show how strong they are, enduring decades of hardship by pulling themselves out of poverty and into the world of international tourism. 

Most of the major hotels sponsor the poor locals in some way. Many are affiliated with orphanages and schools which protect the children from homelessness and exploitation. The strong affiliation of the hotels with local community organisations, was evident during the devastating Siem Reap floods in September 2011, where they provided practical assistance to the local people by helping sandbag and by providing food and other necessities. 

While the hotels are five star, the abject poverty of the locals isn’t far away. Only a short drive from the centre of Siem Reap town, whole families live in bamboo and banana leaf huts, some with no walls, many with barely a floor. No electricity, no clean fresh running water. They mostly grow their own food in little vegetable plots in the marshes under their houses, they fish, they have chickens. It is subsistence farming at its most basic. Yet the little children wave and smile broadly as we pass.





One charity organisation is the Green Gecko Project which educates, protects and provides love and shelter for homeless street children in Siem Reap. The Green Gecko Project also assists the wider community with initiatives in education and training. They produce a Cambodian Cook Book and, at only $20 (available from their web site), the book is a welcome addition to my bookshelf, and I am working my way through all the authentic recipes. 


I found the food in Cambodia to be delicious, and enjoyed many wonderful Khmer meals at local restaurants. Delicious local dishes such as Lok Lak and Fish Amok now rate amongst my favourites.

 So, Abbie, my heroine in Let Angels Fly, falls in love with the Cambodian people – as well as the hero, Craig. She learns how to cook some Cambodian dishes, and embraces the unique Cambodian culture. 

Craig, too, is a compassionate humanitarian, helping the locals. Could I have set this story anywhere else? No – because visiting Cambodia was the inspiration for writing the book. My characters, Abbie and Craig, love Cambodia as much as I do, and the rich, exotic backdrop of Angkor Wat is perfect for two people to find each other - and fall in love. 

Beef Lok Lak: Khmer style beef steak cooked in a zappy Kampot pepper sauce, served with a green salad, garden tomatoes, and beautiful brown Ibis rice at the side. From Nyum Bai Cook Book http://gifts.greengeckoproject.org/products/nyum-bai-cook-book/642/1 


Thank you, Noelle!
Now here's the blurb and an extract from:


Let Angels Fly - by Noelle Clark


Life’s full of surprises the second time around


Blurb

Arriving in Cambodia to volunteer at an orphanage, Abbie finds a warm welcome with the owner of her hotel, the handsome Craig Nelson. Craig is everything her ex-husband wasn’t—warm, compassionate, and a generous humanitarian dedicated to helping the local people. But after raising a family and being devastated by the end of her bad marriage, the last thing Abbie needs is complications. She’s on her own for the first time in many years, and it’s time for her to spread her wings and fly free amid the people and culture that have always fascinated her.

But while exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, Abbie overhears odd noises and sinister conversation that raise her hackles. Turning to the only person she thinks may be able to help—Craig—she realizes she’s witnessed tomb raiders—art thieves stealing frescoes to sell on the black market. Unable to let the pillaging of the beloved temple continue, Abbie goes back to investigate and finds evidence that proves her theory. And in the meantime, she finds herself falling for Craig.

Yet change isn’t easy for either of them. Both carry scars, and neither is ready to let go of the past. When Abbie is attacked in the market place, it’s clear her presence in the temple wasn’t overlooked. When Abbie agrees to help the police stage a sting operation to catch the thieves, things go from bad to worse. And Craig might be powerless to help…

Buy Let Angels Fly here
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Kobo

Contact details

www.noelleclark.net

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Excerpt

One Friday evening, as Abbie was hurrying to the Old Market to buy some fresh chicken and vegetables for her dinner, she stopped off at the ATM to take out some cash. She joined the long queue, and took out a pen and piece of paper to write down her shopping list while she waited. Trying hard to remember the ingredients for chemhay moan sleek crey—a gorgeous chicken and lemongrass soup that was one of her favorites—she started writing. Galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves… Suddenly, Abbie stiffened, drawing a sharp breath. The pen slipped off the scrap of notepaper and drew a blue line across the palm of her hand. A whining, Cockney London accent, coming from right behind her, froze her to the spot.

“Hans, that just ain’t fair. They told me fifty-fifty—and that’s what it’s gonna be, old mate.”

“You get what you deserve, imbeciel. You have ze brains of a monkey.” Abbie heard him hawk and spit. “You deserve peanuts.”

“Just you watch it, you fat bastard. Without me, you wouldn’t have ended up with a tenth of the stuff we got.”

Still frozen to the spot, Abbie didn’t notice that the ATM was now free. She jumped as a sharp finger poked her shoulder.

“Hey, come on, love. ’Aven’t got all day, ya know.” His mousy little face with vacant hazel eyes came into her focus, as it loomed in front of her, inserting itself far too closely into her personal space. She smelled his bad breath, saw the ginger whiskers glistening in the late afternoon sun, and watched as his eyes narrowed, revealing recognition.

“Fuckin’ ’ell! It’s you!”

Abbie felt as though her feet sprouted wings, just like Hermes, and she ran, shaking, away from the horrible men. A cacophony of horns and shouts assaulted her as she raced across the street, narrowly avoiding being hit by tuk-tuks, bicycles and motorbikes, and headed for the Old Market. She entered the dark labyrinth, knocking over a stand displaying hats and crashing into a table full of pirated DVDs.

She heard the abuse of the stallholder, but kept on running inside, into the dark aisles, hoping to hide from the men who, she was certain, were hot on her heels. From somewhere far off, she heard vendors yelling at her. The dark, narrow passages were barely wide enough to walk through, and running was impossible. Abbie banged into displays of T-shirts, pashminas, and brass Apsara bells, causing the vendors to hurl torrents of angry words at her.

Breathlessly, Abbie emerged from the darkness of the general merchandise area into the fresh produce aisles, which were wider and quite well lit with natural light from the roof above, and from electric bulbs strung along the rafters overhead. Oh my God, she thought. Where the hell was she going to hide? She turned right, the smell of fresh fish catching in her throat. Highly pitched Cambodian voices, all seemingly talking at once, blotted out any other sound. The fish area seethed with late Friday afternoon shoppers. The smell, even though she was getting used to it, was overwhelming. Her heart beat rapidly as she desperately tried to force her way through the crowd. She was afraid to turn around—afraid to see those cold hazel eyes set in the vacant face. She caught her breath as she rounded a corner. Big glassy fish eyes stared at her from shiny silver bodies, lying on beds of crushed ice. Cane baskets of green prawns adorned the tables, their wiry tendrils draped over a mass of black, closely set eyeballs. Her heart racing wildly, Abbie vaguely noticed vendors weighing out fresh produce and serving customers in the hectic, noisy market.

A ruckus erupted behind her. Raised Cambodian voices, high-pitched and angry, pierced through the buzz of the traders and customers. She heard an

argument breaking out from somewhere not too far away. Horrified, she heard crass English swear words—an outburst of profanity—responding to Cambodian voices, raised in affront. She felt her eyes sting when sweat rolled down her forehead and crept into the corner of her eyes.

“Get outta the bleedin’ way!” His ugly, common voice, shouted at the shoppers and vendors.

“Ow! Ow!”

Pausing in her flight, Abbie quickly turned to look over her shoulder. A mob of petite Cambodian women, yelling and screaming like warriors, swarmed on the man. Armed with legs of pork, wooden rolling pins, and big, meaty femurs, they raised the heavy lumps above their heads and brought them down hard on the man. Abbie watched in amazement as he crumpled into crouching position, his hands over his head, trying to deflect the blows. She looked beyond him into the crowded market, and saw the fatter man, his pallid face shiny with sweat, eyes bulging. Two young Cambodian men held him firmly by the scruff of his hideous Hawaiian shirt, a huge, pointy meat hook hovering only inches from his face. She saw his eyes cross as he stared at the vicious barb so close to his ugly mug.

Abbie cried out as two strong hands grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her into the darkness of the narrow aisles. Hands pushed her along in front of them, stopping only when they arrived at a wooden door. Abbie couldn’t breathe.










Saturday, 20 April 2013

Every Night, Josephine!



They called her the 'Black Venus'. Paris - and the world - had never seen anyone like her. Yet the woman who would shock and delight with her exotic dances and her improvised dresses that left little to the imagination, came from the humblest of beginnings.

Freda Josephine McDonald was born in St Louis, Missouri on 3rd June 1906. Her mother was a washerwoman and her father a vaudeville drummer who abandoned them soon after Josephine was born. An inauspicious start in life continued for some years, as she grew up cleaning houses and babysitting. By the age of thirteen, she was a waitress and she married for the second time in 1921. It was from this husband - Willie Baker - that she acquired the surname she would be known by professionally for the rest of her life. Josephine Baker was born. Two more husbands would come and go, the last one being French orchestra leader, Jo Bouillon, whom she married in 1947.


With a natural flair for comedy, Josephine toured with The Jones Family Band and The Dixie Steppers, but was rejected as a chorus girl in the Sissle and Blake production of 'Shuffle Along' because she was 'too dark'. Undeterred, she continued with them as a dresser, while ensuring she learned all the dance routines. As a result, when one of the dancers left, she was the obvious replacement. The audiences loved her and her fame began to spread, turning her into a box office draw for the rest of the show's run.

Then came a stint at the Plantation Club in New York, but the launch pad for her stellar career came when she partnered dancer Joe Alex in La Revue Negre in Paris. Dressed only in a feather skirt, Josephine danced the daring Danse Sauvage. It was wild and uninhibited and captured the spirit of Paris in the 1920s. Audiences couldn't get enough of her. It had taken time, determination and true Josephine grit, but suddenly she was an overnight sensation!

With popularity came financial rewards and, for the first time in her life, Josephine could indulge her passions for clothes, jewellery and animals. Her exotic tastes reigned here too. Into her life came a leopard, a goat, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a pig, a snake, three cats, seven dogs, parakeets and fish.


Josephine danced at the Folies Bergere in the famous banana skirt and by 1927 earned more than any other female performer in Europe but, sadly, while her colour proved no barrier in Paris, the USA at that time was less toleant and a return there in 1936, to star in the Ziegfield Follies, proved disastrous.With scathing, cruel reviews and audience rejection, Josephine returned to Paris, heartbroken.

By now she had starred in two movies (Princess Tam-Tam and Zou-Zou) and settled in Les Milandes, an estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac in France.

During World War II, she publicly performed for the troops but secretly, she passed messages for the French Resistance - incredibly dangerous work for someone so much in the public eye. After the war she was decorated by France with the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.

She returned to the USA to work on behalf of the NAACP, to fight racism, and her brave and tireless efforts led to them naming May 20th Josephine Baker Day.


At around this time, she began a project that was close to her heart. She began adopting children of every colour and ethnic origin. She called them her Rainbow Tribe and this family would grow until there were twelve of them. She also developed a close relationship with the American artist, Robert Brady. Although the two were never legally married, they shared a bond and a closeness that would endure for the rest of her life.

In 1973, she had the warmest of receptions when she performed at Carnegie Hall, receiving a standing ovation before she had even begun and then, on April 8th 1975, she premiered at the Bobino Theatre in Paris where, at the age of 68, she performed a medley of her dance routines spanning her 50 year career.  The reviews were some of the best of her life.

Sadly, this triumph was to be her last, as on April 12th, she died from a cerebral haemorrhage.


More than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to watch her funeral procession and she was awarded a 21 gun salute - the first American woman to be buried in France with full military honours. She is buried in the CimetiƩre de Monaco, Monaco.




Groundbreaking, daring and gutsy, Josephine Baker continues to be an inspiration to women everywhere.

To find out more, please visit her official website 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Here Be Dragons...and Demons





 Elyzabeth VaLey is back, creating exciting new worlds and sizzling with passion in A Dragon's Heart, A Demon's Blood.

Here's the blurb: 

 He is a shadow in the dark, smelling your scent and sensing your fear.

Legendary bounty hunter Adrian Ormonde is no ordinary man. His life is filled with secrets and questions, blood and lust. His only concern for 150 years has been survival and discovering the truth behind his demon-dragon nature.


Until he meets his new assignment: Victoria Green.


Victoria Green has felt eyes watching her every move ever since she can remember. Then, Adrian appears. The eyes vanish but new dangers arise as she falls for the mysterious hunter. Cast into an ancient conflict between dragons and demons, Victoria must trust Adrian’s skill to be enough to protect her from both the outside world and that which grows within her.


Chance brought them together but will love and passion be enough to keep them joined or will the other forces at play in the dragon-demon worlds destroy them forever?

Stockholm
My recent release, A Dragon’s Heart, A Demon’s Blood makes an incursion into three different worlds:
1.      Earth, where they visit Madrid, Stockholm and New York.
2.      The Demon Realm
3.      The Dragon Realm
I’m going to tell you a little about this last realm, The Dragon Realm.
I’ve always been in love with dragons. The idea that such majestic and yet monstrous creatures could have existed at some point fascinates me. I don’t really care whether they’re legend or myth, their history can be traced back to as far as 4000 B.C. Furthermore, every culture has their own ideas about dragons. If their existence is so ancient and so widespread, there certainly has to be some truth in legend, no?
In A Dragon’s Heart, A Demon’s Blood, I went ahead and created my own special creatures. Like in most legends, my dragons had a treasure to protect: humans. They are the keepers of humanity, finding beauty and awe in our fragile existence. To keep an eye on our race, they shifted to look like us. So, one moment you may be looking at a normal human being with extraordinary blue eyes (all dragons have blue eyes) and the next you could be looking into the serpent eyes of a gigantic creature with white scales.
Extremely formal and correct, dragons have an acute sense of smell, something that differentiates them from the demons and enables them to scout for danger from the skies.
Their greatest enemies are the demons, for just as dragons want to protect our race demons want to destroy it. In the time of the story, there has been a relative peace of more than a hundred years. Something that’s about to change when Adrian and Victoria come into the picture. They’re different…and Adrian is considered a legend. Do remember what I said earlier? There is always some truth in legend… 
New York City

 Buy links:

Evernight Publishing || ARE || Amazon. Com ||
Amazon UK || Bookstrand


Excerpt:
Glimpsing at the tent in his jeans, she gasped.

“Already?”

In an instant, he was upon her, his mouth devouring hers and making her legs weak.

“You make me lose control, sweetheart, and I’ll be damned if that hasn’t happened in years.”

His hands slid down her waist over her hip and onto her thigh. Her breath hitched as she searched Adrian’s dark eyes.

“Already, you ask?” He sneered, his calloused fingers rising higher and caressing the junction between her legs. His fingertips skimmed over her labia, finding her wet entrance. His grin became smug. Adrian’s nostrils flared and his eyes flashed red as he dipped two fingers inside her, wringing out a breath she’d not been aware of holding.

“You’re already wet for me, sweetheart.”

Bringing his lips down to her, he stole another short kiss that had her whimpering against him.

Adrian.”

She hugged him, bringing him closer and searching for his warm touch again. His eyes scanned her face, his gaze softening.

“You don’t want this, sweetheart.”

“Yes, yes I do,” she replied pushing herself against his hand. His thumb brushed over her clit. Victoria tensed. Her orgasm hung from a cliff, ready to fall.

“I do want it.”

Tangling her fingers in his hair, she pulled him to her mouth, teasing the seams with her tongue. He groaned and she tasted him with longing.  Sucking on his tongue, she made love to it as he pleasured her with his fingers. Her body became a mass of over-sensitized sparks as he coordinated his thumb with his seesawing digits. His hand on her waist, held her in place as she humped against him.

“Come on, sweetheart.”

His husky baritone triggered her release. Victoria cried out, her pussy convulsing in short waves, hot liquid dripping onto Adrian’s fingers. Her towel fell to a heap on the floor as she lost control, the cool breeze doing little to soothe her heated skin. She wanted more. She wanted all of him.

Victoria moved to embrace him but he stepped away from her. Drawing his fingers into his mouth, he briefly closed his eyes emitting a barely audible sound of pleasure. When he opened them again, she gasped. Red sparks danced in his green depths.

“No, Victoria. You don’t want this.”

Shaking his head, he turned around and strode out of the room. Victoria stood rooted to the spot, watching in shock as he left the apartment, the main door slamming shut. Tears dampened her vision. Picking up the t-shirt he’d given her, she put it on. More tears trailed down her cheeks as the smell of detergent mingled with his scent. Taking a deep breath, she hastily brushed them away.

“Get a grip, Vicky.”

Wrapping the discarded towel around her wet hair, she strode to the kitchen, her stomach growling. She didn’t think she’d find anything edible in the small kitchen, but luckily Adrian kept a box of cereal and a few cartons of unopened milk.  Digging into the meal, she shivered slightly as an unsettling feeling grew in her chest. The watchful eyes were back.

Madrid

Author Bio:

Defined as weird since she was about eight, Elyzabeth honors the title by making up songs about her chores, doodling stars and flowers on any blank sheet of paper and talking to her dog whenever he feigns interest.

Losing the battle to the voices in her head is her favorite pastime after annoying her younger sister with her singing. Writing stories full of passion and emotion where love conquers all is her happy pill and she'll forgo sleep to make her readers live the dream.

 
Contact Links:



Monday, 8 April 2013

Whatever Happened to...Margaret Mitchell?


 She wrote one of the greatest love stories of all time - Gone With The Wind - and never wrote another book. But who was Margaret Mitchell and what became of her?


On November 8th 1900, in Atlanta, Georgia, the free spirited and unconventional Margaret Mitchell was born to a well-to-do family. Her father was a historian and her mother a suffragist. Growing up in the deep south, Peggy, as she was called, loved to hear stories of the Civil War from the lips of Confederate survivors. She had a creative and inquiring mind and, from an early age, wrote plays in which she cast her schoolfriends, who performed in front of an audience comprised of neighbours, who would come to watch the performances on her front porch.

At the age of fifteen, she gave a fascinating insight into her tomboyish personality when she wrote, "If I were a boy, I would try for West Point, if I could make it, or well I'd be a prize fighter - anything for the thrills."

Her education benefited from forward thinking parents and Peggy entered Smith College in 1918 to study medicine but, sadly, a string of tragedies meant she was never to complete this. Firstly, her fiance, Clifford Henry, was killed in action towards the end of the First World War and then, in January of 1919, her mother died during the flu pandemic. So, Peggy left college to take charge of her father's household, but her free spirit remained intact, despite these setbacks.

At a debutante ball, having embraced the flapper's lifestyle and risque attitudes, she managed to scandalise Atlanta society by performing a provocative dance.

Two years later, she married Berrien 'Red' Upshaw - a decision she soon lived to regret. It was a brutal and violent union. He beat her frequently - and the violence continued even after the marriage was annulled in 1924.

Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh
Fortunately, her next marriage in 1925 - to John Marsh, editor of the Atlanta Journal Sunday, where Mitchell worked - was a much happier partnership, and her life moved into calmer, gentler waters. All her life, she would battle illness and depression, but never would she deign to conform to the normally accepted ideal of a woman of her generation.

She loved jazz clubs and dancing but, following an ankle injury in 1925, she had to give that up. Arthritis set in and, for a time, there were doubts as to whether she would ever walk again. Fortunately she did, but it was at this difficult time she started reading in earnest.
Margaret Mitchell lived in Apt 1

In 1926, she began writing Gone With The Wind on a small folding desk in the tiny apartment she shared with her husband on Peachtree Street. Used to the mansion where she grew up, she called this home 'the Dump'. It was so small that a closet had to be refitted as a kitchen!

On and on she wrote, thousands of pages, typed and stored neatly in manila envelopes all over the little apartment.

Her epic novel wasn't published until 1936 - and even then might not even have seen the light of day, but for an argument. Very much against her will, she was persuaded to let the vice president of Macmillan publishers - Harold Latham - read it. He loved it and it was published in June of that year. In the following May, Peggy won the Pulitzer Prize. 

Then, in December 1939, following the most famous 'leading lady' search in cinema history, Vivien Leigh lit up the screens as the rebellious and wayward Scarlett O'Hara. Many people note the physical resemblance between Leigh's O'Hara and the character's creator. There is little doubt, however, that the resemblance is more than skin deep. No one could ever describe Margaret Mitchell as conventional and, as for Scarlett's attitude towards society's restrictions, well..."fiddlededee".

Faced with the sudden onslaught of fame, created by the multi million selling book, Peggy refused to add to the furore by having anything to do with the film. She also hated the unwanted intrusion into her personal life and refused all offers to write her biography.

But the worldwide success of both the book and the film meant that Peggy was able to put her wealth to philanthropic use. She supported numerous social service organisations in Atlanta, along with medical scholarships for students of Morehouse College. 


Following the sinking of the U.S.S. Atlanta during the Second World War, she raised $65 million in war bonds within just 60 days and in February 1944, she christened the new U.S.S. Atlanta.

Although she never (as far as we know) wrote another book, there is one other extant work - a novella called Lost Laysen. She wrote it when she was just sixteen and it was finally published in 1997.

Margaret Mitchell enjoyed 24 happy years with John Marsh but, tragically, was never to grow old - either gracefully or disgracefully - with him. On August 11th, 1949, she was crossing the street with her husband, at the intersection of Peachtree and 13th streets in Atlanta, when she was hit by an off-duty cab driver. She was rushed to hospital but doctors couldn't save her and she died five days later. Her grave is in Oakland Cemetery.


She had hated the thought of people picking over her papers, and ordered that the original manuscript of Gone With The Wind be burned after her death. This was duly carried out - with the exception of the last four chapters.

Last year, PBS produced a programme in their American Masters series, called Margaret Mitchell: An American Rebel. Here's the trailer:




Would she have written a sequel? We'll never know, although one was penned by another author - Alexandra Ripley. Scarlett was first published in1991 and later made into a TV movie starring Joanne Whalley as Scarlett.

For now though, let's leave the last words to the feistiest of all heroines. Margaret's alter ego, Scarlett O'Hara:



Monday, 1 April 2013

Lady Fury's Ladies - with Shehanne Moore



My guest today is Shehanne Moore, author of the fabulous The Unraveling of Lady Fury . She is here to talk about her heroine's idols - and one of mine. The stage is yours, Shehanne...

‘There are no good girls gone wrong--just bad girls found out’
  


Mae West was not one of my heroine’s idols—Mae was born too late,  But I bet she would have been. Did she not wear silk panties while serving time on a morals charge? Dine with the warden and his wife? And get two days off for good behavior. Mae?


Yes Mae would have been Lady Fury’s kind of lady.  


I don’t want you thinking Fury is all bad because on page one she’s busily blackmailing men into having sex with her and there’s something distinctly iffy about what’s in the cellar. No. No. She’s really very nice—ahem—as Captain Flint soon discovers. In fact she’s even nicer than he remembers, which is saying something.


Anyway like us all she does have her idols.  Firstly, Marie Antoinette.

Fury admires her courage, if not her actual cake eating philosophy-certainly no-one would have been eating any of mine.  


Secondly, Salome. Fury chose the Genoese villa over the head of her-- heads being something Salome was always very fond of as John the Baptist soon found out. Pictured here in a red dress...Fury’s favorite color of frock. The villa had a hanging, you see, of the lady in question and even though it meant the poor maid having to walk miles to the market every day, Fury determined there and then the villa was for her.


But her other idol was none other than Messalina.
Apt because the book is set in Italy. Then there’s the whole business of what Fury is up to. Fury may have rented the villa on the strength of Salome, but it’s Messalina who hangs above the bedrail.

The ancient Roman sources portray Messalina as cruel, insulting, greedy,  disgraceful and lustful. There is that tale of Messalina's all-night sex competition with a prostitute, which Messalina won hands down with a score of 25. Oh and that other one where she had a brothel under an assumed name and organized orgies for upper class women. So  maybe you’re wondering why Fury likes her. Well, actually Pliny never named Messalina as the competitor in that competition. That was a later dramatic invention in 1640, so maybe the poor girl was innocent. As for the brothel biz, Fury probably applauds her altruism. No-one twisted these ladies' arms about going with a hot Roman stud, now did they?


And would you want to be offered the choice between killing yourself and being killed, as her husband offered her eventually?


While all sources say only her children mourned her, doesn't that tell us she must have been a good enough mother?  Fury would understand that. As for the rest, they could go to hell. Perhaps the woman was very unhappily married. Claudius, possessing a gammy ear and leg, wasn’t exactly a stud now, was he?


I don’t necessarily applaud Fury’s choice of idols but I don’t think there’s any denying that bad women do fascinate, especially if you are sort of one yourself. 


Thank you so much Antonia, not just for asking me along today but all your support.

  

 Extract:

His thumb brushed against the back of her thigh as she positioned herself with as much decorum as she could. He could have spared her this. But she was not looking for that now. Raising her chin she fixed her gaze on the pale oval of Messalina’s face, visible opposite her in the flickering candlelight.

Flint shifted beneath her. “I found grasping the bedrail helpful. Since I wasn’t allowed to touch you.” 


“Thank you, but I think I gave you the advice.” 


So long as she got through this with her inner self intact. “But first, if you will just give me a minute?” 


She couldn’t believe how cool she sounded as she braced herself up on her knees. This coupling was cold though. Why not be so herself? Yet she wondered, would another man hold himself so hard in the circumstances? Of course Flint had considerable sexual needs. And he’d no doubt been without since he was captured. Was it so miraculous? 


She edged down. “Just tell me, if I’m not right.” 


“You said I was to touch you little as possible.” 


She looked at him for a second through downcast lashes. Damn him. She was going to have to use her fingers just to make sure he didn’t hurt her. But the knowledge of his unhelpfulness gave her the impetus to press herself through her gown. Then she sucked a breath and edged down further. 


The feel…the feel was like drowning…in a tub of icy cold water, the lack of air in her lungs. All the time she stared at Messalina, horrified, dismayed. Oh God. Why hadn’t she let him kiss her? 


“There.” Her breath was unsteady. 


“Sure it is, sweetheart. But you want to just get going.” It wasn’t a question. “You don’t satisfy me, it’s going to be a waste of time.” 


“Of course.” Her skin tightened. That was why she hadn’t let him. Damn him. Did he think she didn’t see exactly the kind of bid for mastery this was?
 
 
Blurb


Rule One: There will be no kissing. Rule two: There will be no touching…


Widowed Lady Fury Shelton hasn’t lost everything—yet. As long as she produces the heir to the Beaumont dukedom, she just might be able to keep her position. And her secrets. But when the callously irresistible Captain James “Flint” Blackmoore sails back into her life, Lady Fury panics. She must find a way to protect herself—and her future—from the man she’d rather see rotting in hell than sleeping in her bed. If she must bed him to keep her secrets, so be it. But she doesn’t have to like it. A set of firm rules for the bedroom will ensure that nothing goes awry. Because above all else, she must stop herself from wanting the one thing that Flint can never give her. His heart.


Ex-privateer Flint Blackmoore has never been good at following the rules. Now, once again embroiled in a situation with the aptly named Lady Fury, he has no idea why he doesn’t simply do the wise thing and walk away. He knows he’s playing with fire, and that getting involved with her again is more dangerous than anything on the high seas. But he can’t understand why she’s so determined to hate him. He isn’t sure if the secret she keeps will make things harder—or easier—for him, but as the battle in the bedroom heats up, he knows at least one thing. Those silly rules of hers will have to go…



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Thank you so much for joining me today, Shehanne.