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Author Interview with Cerise DeLand

Lady, Be Wanton is out tomorrow! It’s book one in Cerise DeLand’s Naughty Ladies series. Cerise was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

You can get your copy of this delicious historical romance HERE!

Did you always know you wanted to be an author? How did you get from there to where you are today? 

At age eight, I remember my third grade teacher asking the class if anyone would like to help produce a newsletter for the school. I raised my hand because I thought I could write a good story. From that day on, writing was the only thing I wanted to do.

I told my parents and they said, Oh, authors don’t earn very much money. You should think of another profession.

I did. I said, Okay. I’m going to be a newspaper journalist.

I remember in high school, I had quite a few teachers who thought I could write well. But I remember some friends of mine who could write even better, and I tried to be as good as they. In college, I enrolled as a journalism major. I was the only woman in there and sadly, my professor did not welcome women to the profession.

Discouraged, I changed my major to history. Vowing to use that as my entry to a journalism career, I declared by major to be Napoleonic and Victorian Era history, or as it was called then Second British Empire.

I also took courses in Chinese and Japanese history. And since this was the period of the Vietnam war, I decided that I should study Chinese language as well to make me marketable as a journalist. But for economic reasons, after I graduated I taught high school for one year, then returned to graduate school.

There I majored in Chinese history and yes, I took Mandarin. I speak better German and French to this day!

Soon after I married and off we went, courtesy of the US Army and Uncle Sam to Japan. Three babies soon came along!

Which, of course takes me to the issue of when and what did I decide to write. I became an early fan of Rosemary Rogers and wanted to write historical romance. I started and I was one of the founding members of Washington Romance Writers, which is still a big organization and a very good one.

I learned how to write from my colleagues in WRW. And for years as I was employed on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as a communications and PR director, I would write fiction on the subway to and from work.

It took me ten years after joining Washington Romance Writers to sell a book. But within my first year of selling my first book, I sold eight more and that was the beginning of my romance career.

I left my employment on Capitol Hill and came home to write. I had never wanted to leave my three children each day to go downtown.

So I was happy to sit in my new little office in my refurbished basement in my home and write every day. Since that time—thirty-three years—I go into my office each day to write. Same desk. Same bookcases, filled now with more and more references and friends’ novels.

Do you know where the story is going before you begin, or does it come to you as you write? Do scenes come to you fully formed or are you as surprised as the reader?

My process is different now than it was then.

I write more quickly. I make outlines that are less complicated. I conceive of my heroes and heroines—dare I say—almost instantly in my head.

At once I know fully their background and their inner conflict. It’s as if they come to me of a piece, whole, and I understand them instantly. It’s much as if I meet them on a street and we retire to a coffee shop to have a conversation and I see their romance full blown.

Many times I simply cannot wait to write the whole story.

Typing is a slow process for me. I have often said I may have write milllions of words, but half of them have had typos! Recently, I have started to use dictation.

How much research do you do into the time period and places you write about?

My research can and does begin with books and does continue into newspapers and memoirs of the period. But nothing aids me as much as travel.

Do you have any place that really speaks to you as a person?

Yes, I do.

I adore Ham House on the Thames. Built in the 16th century, it’s elegant with vast parquet floors and gorgeous full-length portraits of the family. It’s a feast of French upholstery of the period and beautiful polished walnut walls and stairs, with an enormous silver carving of fruit on the knewel.

I am transported back there in time. It’s as if I had once lived there and cranked open the window casings and run down the stairs to the kitchen garden. My mother’s family comes from Yorkshire and I have no reason to believe any of my ancestors lived in or near Ham House. But there you have the mystery!

The other place that speaks to me constantly is the Musée de Montmartre in Paris. It was once the home of a few artists, including Renoir and Monet. Each time we go to Paris, this is my first stop. Walking in there is almost a religious experience for me. I cannot describe it to you. It gives me chills, warm and fulfilled inside. Do any of my ancestors come from France? Yes. Normandy. But none from Paris.

Have you set any romances there?

Yes. I have.

I have written a Victorian romance, part of a series, titled DARING WIDOW. It stars a hero who is a my version of Rodin, the sculptor. His art works speak to me, especially THE KISS. The heroine in this story is my version of many female American impressionist painters. She represents my other fixation—those women who endured and survived the American Civil War. I have lived in the Baltimore-Washington-Virginia corridor most of my life and know these venues well. This heroine survives the invasion of her home in Spotsylvania, Virginia, during the war and then travels with her uncle and his extended family to Paris during the Gilded Age.

I love to write history. I like to bring to readers the essence and drama and challenges of the past.

I find it enormously gratifying to paint the past in its realities and to give readers the essence of what it was to live with the challenges of horse drawn carriages and food that was not always available. The challenges of dealing with health problems and trying to find appropriate remedies.

I find that as years go on, I have more stories than I have time to tell. It’s very frustrating to me. Now, more so.

Approximately eight months ago I suffered a minor stroke.

This was a huge surprise to me. I was terrified that I might not be able to continue to write because it did affect my speech center. But thankfully, here I am. Breezing along, enjoying story-telling more than I ever have. Certainly because now it’s very real to me that I am not immortal.

Thanks for this opportunity to tell you about my life and my writing. I hope you read my work and enjoy it and learn from it a few things about the past. Knowing what others endured, how others survived their challlenges and how they improved their conditions, makes us grateful for what we have today.