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Monday, April 20, 2009

Interview with Hanna Rhys Barnes

Historical Hussies: Today we’re interviewing Debut Wild Rose Press author Hanna Rhys Barnes.

Hanna Rhys Barnes: Hi. Thanks for having me here at Historical Hussies.

HH: So, tell us a little about yourself?  What is your typical day like?

HRB: Well, I just got back from a trip to the Southwestern coast of Wales. It was fabulous. I took a million pictures, a few of which are posted on my blog, Never Too Late For Love I got to visit castles everyday, including the one in which I've set the manuscript I'm currently working on. I’m living in beautiful Portland, Oregon at the moment. Right now I am one of the vast and growing mass of unemployed. So I spend part of my day job searching, part of my day writing, and part of my day promoting my debut novel, Widow’s Peak which is due to be released in September from The Wild Rose Press.

HH: What influenced you to write?

HRB: I used to be a member of a Renaissance guild and spent summer playing at Renaissance Faires around Southern California. My first attempt at writing was inspired by my adventures at Renn Faire.

HH: What inspired you to write romance?

HRB: I’m a late comer to Romance. I picked up my first Romance around four or five years ago. It was Kinley MacGregor’s A Dark Champion. I read everything she had written and then started in on other authors. Then I thought, “I can do this too.” So I sat down and started writing what I thought was a Romance. Eventually I learned about the craft of Romance Writing and was able to convince my editor Amanda Barnette to take a chance with me.

HH: When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published? 

HRB: I started writing fiction about five years ago. I started writing Romance about two years ago. Once I learned the difference between Literary fiction and Romance, I sold within a few months of rewriting my entire manuscript.

HH: What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?

HRB: I LOVE History. Especially the Medieval and Renaissance Periods. So I write Hot Historical Romance set in those periods, but in locations like Southwest Wales, Northwest England, Gaul, and the Lowlands of Scotland.

HH: What difficulties do writing this genre present?

HRB: The hardest thing for me was learning to write dialogue using period language. Finding that balance between not sounding modern, yet not overwhelming the reader with language they won’t understand. It’s ok for me to have a dictionary by my side, but I don’t want my reader to have to look up meanings for every other word.

HH: How do you write?  Are you a pantser or a plotter?  Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?

HRB: I am definitely a Panster. By far, my plots are character driven. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with one of my characters telling me “That’s not the way it happened! Write it like this.” It’s their story so whenever I can, I write it their way.

HH: How do you choose your characters' names?

HRB: My favorite reference book is Names Through Time by Teresa Norman. It’s set up by time period within each country. Once I decide on my setting, I look at names in use during the time period I’m writing in. Sometimes I go by the meaning of the name. Sometimes I just pick the one that the character wants.

HH: Tell us about your newest book

My first book, Widow’s Peak will be coming out September 23rd from The Wild Rose Press. I’m so excited. It’s the story of an assassin and an older widow who accidentally cross paths and fall in love. Here’s an excerpt:

      Laine stood clutching the washstand with one hand as his head began to spin. “Wait, my lady. Would you help me, please?”

“How may I be of service to you?” Her back was to him but her head tilted down.

“I think I must sit or I shall fall.”

She drew a sharp breath and forgetting her modesty, rushed toward him, grabbing a chair as she passed the table.

Laine felt his knees buckle, and he fell into her arms.

With no great effort, she lowered him into the chair and hurried to grab the coverlet from the foot of the bed. She draped it over his legs.

“You should not be up yet,” she chided as she knelt beside him and pressed her palm against his brow and cheeks.

“I need to be up, my lady.” He smiled weakly at her. “‘Twill do me no good to stay abed. I must leave soon.” The luxury of a few days peace had been a boon, but he knew if he stayed much longer danger would come. When the Spider discovered his escape, another assassin would be sent.

“Well, you have no fever.” Her voice softened a bit. “Still you cannot go until you can ride, and you cannot ride until you can walk. And for now, you cannot walk…without some help.”

She was right. He had barely been able to stand for the little time it took to walk to the washstand.

“Where is it you must go?” She stood and brushed a lock of hair back from his forehead. “I could send word of your delay.”

Laine looked up into a beautiful face. A compassionate face. He took her hand and pressed it to his lips. “Thank you, my lady, for your kindness and generosity. I owe you my life.”

“‘Tis only what should be expected for any who came to me the way you did.” Lady Barnard slid her hand from his and retrieved the pitcher from the table. She filled the washbowl, and the steam that rose from the hot water filled the room with the scent of lavender. She took the cloth from his hand and began to wash his body as if he was a small child.

Thoughts of assassins and leaving quieted as he closed his eyes and let himself enjoy her ministrations. The firm pressure as she wiped away the grime and sweat of his illness. The touch of her fingers against his scalp as she soaped his hair.

She stopped and he opened his eyes to find her wiping her hands on the cloth.

“Tilt your head back.”

Laine nodded, then raised his chin toward the ceiling. Rivulets of warm water streamed over aching muscles, and the lavender scent enveloped him like a cocoon as she poured first the washbowl and then the remainder of the water in the ewer over his head.

Laine looked down at the heavy wetness in his lap. “Your coverlet is ruined.” She had not removed the decorative piece, but merely worked around it.

“Nay. A time with the laundress will mend it. Now that you recover, I shall have the bed renewed.”

She went to a trunk at the end of the bed and pulled out a shirt, a short tunic and a pair of trews. “Have you enough strength to put these on?”

“Aye, my lady.”

“I shall fetch your boots.”

She left him alone to dress himself. The clothes were not his and were several years out of fashion, but they fit fairly well. A loud knock at the door announced her return.

“Master de la Vierre?”

“Please enter, my lady.”

She carried his cleaned boots and surprised him when she knelt down to help him pull them on. Most noble ladies would not soil their hands this way. This simple kindness made him want to know more of her.

She looked up and smiled. She had taken off the apron and the yellow of her simple linen gown framed her face, making her skin seem to glow.

He wanted to reach out and stroke her cheek, but decorum restrained him. He could not recall a more beautiful woman than the one kneeling before him.

“There, now.” She stood, extending her arm. “Would you like to try to walk with me?”

Laine smiled as he looked into her pale brown eyes. “Yes, my lady. I think I would like that very much.”

She helped him from the chair, and he took her arm. They took a few tentative steps and then walked to the door and back before he was too tired to continue. His side and legs ached by the time she sat him at the small table.

“You did well,” she chimed. “We will do more anon.” She reached out and touched his shoulder. “You rest and I shall bring you some dinner.”

As she closed the door behind her, Laine thought her unlike any lady of the court. She was a step above in both manner and beauty. Sir Thomas de Barnard had been a very lucky man indeed 

HH: An assassin. Sounds like your hero has an interesting past. I can't wait to find out what happens to these two. What are you working on now?

HRB: Right now I’m finishing up the second book in this trilogy. The sequel to Widow's Peak is called Kissed By A Rose.  It’s about Lady Amye’s son, Jamie. He’s mentioned briefly in Widow’s Peak, but we get to learn a lot more about him in Book 2.  Book 3 in the trilogy will be about Lady Amye’s daughter, Marie.

HH: Thanks so much for joining us today, Hanna.

HRB: Thanks again for having me. I just started my new blog Never Too Late For Love. I would love to hear from all you wonderful Historical Romance fans and authors. I’m running weekly contests through mid-May in honor of my new blogging venture and my upcoming birthday. Stop by at to see what I’m up to.


Skhye said...

Great excerpt! I love these cultures and time periods. And I'm so jealous about your trip to Wales...

Laurel said...

How wonderful to get a chance to hear about how you write and what inspires you. I can't believe we have to wait so long for this book to get here!

Miranda Neville said...

Neat excerpt. Sounds like an unusual book. What is the exact time period?

Minnette Meador said...

Hi, Hanna ~waves~ Great interview, guys...I LOVE the excerpt and can't wait for the book to come out. You know me...I love ANYTHING historical and really love this period. I think you're books will do really well! :)

B.G. Sanford said...

Great interview and article, I throughtly enjoyed it!
Now if I may, I'd like to take a moment to shamelessly promote my new book, "Beth:Love Along The B.G.Sanford," and just released by Eloquent Books. It's a beautiful romance that takes place during some of the darkest times in Beth"s young adulthood. Due to the very substance of this book, it can't be considered "light weight." I hope you have the opportunity to read it, It's a story that you won't soon forget.
All my best,