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Welcome to Unwritten, Bobbi! I'm so glad you could be here today! First, kick off your boots and tells us about yourself. What's Miss Bobbi like when she's not writing romantic tales from nostalgic time periods?
When I'm not writing romantic tales from nostalgic periods, I'm thinking about them. I drive twenty-five to thirty thousand miles a year so I plug my iPod into my car speakers and jump into my stories. I generally have an instrumental theme for each story--sometimes only one song, or a score from a movie I've seen. I generally don't pick it...it picks me. A scene develops in my head as the music plays and a new story takes shape. The story is never far from my mind as I research the time period, ride my horses, walk my dogs or prepare the dough for my grandmother's raviolis.
One of the best things about these interviews is snooping on author websites. Yours is just lovely! Looks like you grew up in quite the rural setting, and with a 22-person party line telephone. I can relate, but we only had a maximum of 9 people. How has your upbringing inspired your writing? Has it given your writing a particular "voice"?
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My childhood in the country has definitely inspired my writing. Much of what is written in Fun in the Yellow Pages is based on many of my own childhood experiences. Having lived in a remote, rural setting, galloped horses across the countryside, fox hunted and handled firearms with ease gave me a taste of what life was like in the 19th century, America--my favorite time setting---and set the scenes for my historical romances. I do think that having first-hand knowledge of these old time experiences and events hopefully gives a true "voice" as you call it, to my stories. The description of the plantation house in Season of the Shadow closely resembled my grandparent's home that was originally built by a boot-legger in the 1920's, complete with tunnels to the river!
As a side note, I still have that old wooden telephone that we used when we first moved to the country. It was replaced when my father, who was the local doctor, convinced the phone company to consent to a private line for patient's confidentiality. Since the phone still has all its original parts, my son was able to make it work in my home today but for obvious reasons we can only receive calls on it, not make them.
According to your website, you've had two books published, one coming in June, and another coming soon. How long did those stories brew before you finished them? Is any of them your favorite?
My Young Adult novel, Fun in the Yellow Pages was written just for fun for my sons as a way to give them an insight into the 'fun' days of my childhood. It snowballed rapidly from there and ended up being published and utilized in several schools. I wrote the prologue to Season of the Shadow one night after dinner (and after a fight with my husband)! I directed my frustration at the characters instead of my husband. Reading over it the next day, I decided to run with the idea and completed it seven months later. The Inn at Little Bend, my June release by with Melange Books, was outlined just after SEASON was released but then 'cooked' for a number of years. When my father, my horse and my dear friend died within five months, I jumped back into the story as a means to gain a measure of control over my spiraling life. Remember, in the story I'm omnipotent! The story was cathartic and constructive at the same time and shaped the direction and emotion of several scenes.
I really can't say any of the stories is my favorite. I'm emotionally attached to all of my characters. They become such a part of my life, that when the writing is finished, I actually miss having them in my day.
What can you tell us about The End at Little Bend?
The Inn at Little Bend is not a sequel to Season of the Shadow. It stands on its own but I did join some of the characters just for the fun of it and because I really missed the characters from SEASON. Those who have read it comment that it is a more intense love story then the first. Something of note: it is also written from the heroine's point of view rather than the hero's. It's her story, not his. That subtle point is a change for me, and I actually found it more challenging.
Are you working on anything at the moment, and can you give us the scoop?
I'm always working on something! The working title of my new story is Into The Gray. I've written several scenes, bits of chapters and lots of notes. Since each romance stands on its own, I have a new hero and heroine but they are friends with the characters from the first two romances. (I've already told you how much I miss my characters.) The time frame has moved forward into the years of the American Civil War and now they are all embroiled in conspiracy and intrigue and thrown into the heat of battle. The research on the Civil War is nothing short of fascinating. Delving into history as an adult makes it so much different from what I remember being taught in school. There are days when I am so drawn into the time period that I resent being pulled back by today's responsibilities! Can you imagine that my family wants dinner and clean clothes!! My family often complains that they think my characters see more of me than they do!
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I've had a historical romance sitting on the back burner for a while now, until I have adequate research time to make it shine. What can you tell those of us who want to write historical romance? Besides research, what are the challenges involved?
Speaking just for myself, I find writing historical romance just plain fun! Today's fast pace world leaves so little time for romance. Jumping back to a slower paced world where chivalry abounded created such an atmosphere for romance. Challenges besides research? Research IS the challenge...the detail of the clothes, the detail of the surroundings, the speech, the meaning of words, whether any particular word actually existed in that time period and did it mean the same as it does today... all of it. If the details aren't there, then the words, the settings and the people don't ring true and you lose the reader. Since there is no 'big screen' on which to display the fabulous costumes and beautiful sets, the writer paints with words on the mind's eye. All the research creates the color, the music and the mood that enmeshes the reader in the story and leaves them truly caring about the characters.
I bet you thought I forgot the random question. Nope, nope, nope. Here goes! Can you name something or someone you miss from your childhood and why?
What I miss most is the land, the wide open valley where I spent so many years, where our closest neighbor was a mile away. The air was clean; the only sounds were nature's symphony. We camped out and the night sky was brilliant with sixty-four shooting stars. The water from our spring actually had a taste, and it was delicious! My father was a doctor but we rented our barn to the local farmer, and I miss the soft feel of the calves and the fluffy baby chicks. I miss the taste of UNhomogenized milk that was in the cow two hours before I drank it, of newly churned butter and truly fresh eggs. I miss being able to leave the house and NOT lock the doors. I miss the peace and the innocence. Even if I moved my family to the mountains of Montana or Wyoming, because of today's technology, the childhood I'm describing is a time long gone, never to be recaptured and I regret that it's a time my children will never have the opportunity to experience.
Finally, Ms. Groover, could you share a short excerpt of a published work or even a work in progress?
Excerpt from The Inn at Little Bend (Melange Books, June 2011)
When he strolled toward her, Grayson was suddenly terrified. Aggie had been right; she was toying with disaster. She edged backward.
“Excuse me. Are you in need of assistance?” Drake’s voice was low, smooth, and seductive.
Grayson lowered her face, avoiding his gaze. “No. I…um…I was just looking for…” She whispered her words, hoping he wouldn’t recognize her voice. Why had she been so careless? The idea bordered on madness. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears. “My mistake.”
“What’s wrong? What has you so scared?”
“It’s nothing.” She felt trapped. Surely Drake would recognize her now.
“Allow me to help you.”
Grayson edged further away. “Leave me be…please.” She had to disappear. Now! In her fear she jerked away from him with such force that she wobbled just a wagon roared down the street.
“Watch out!” Drake shouted and pulled her out of harm’s way and into the shelter of his arms. She leaned full against him, lightheaded with the realization that he had just saved her life yet again. They were both breathing hard and trembling. Grayson's knees suddenly buckled.
“It’s all right. I have you,” he cooed softly. “You’re safe. Lean into my shoulder. I won’t let you go.”
Grayson closed her eyes. Please don’t ever let me go.
“There, there, you’re shaking.”
“So are you,” she murmured on a soft breath.
“Seeing that wagon nearly hit you…” Drake stopped, and he shuddered. “No matter. You’re safe now. I have you. You’re all right.”
Thank you so much for stopping by, Bobbi! I wish you oodles of success!
For more information about Bobbi Groover, don't forget to stop by her website at http://bobbiscorner.com/.