Isolde: Deborah let me say that I am really glad that you agreed to that interview. Can can you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
Deborah Hale: Thank you for inviting me to do it, Isolde. I still think it's so wonderful that one of my books has been published across the Atlantic. I've lived all my life in Atlantic Canada. I was born and grew up in New Brunswick (named for Braunschweig in Germany). For the last twelve years, I've lived in Nova Scotia, just outside the city of Halifax. My husband and I have been married almost twenty years. He's a medical physicist specializing in radiotherapy at the Cancer Clinic. We have four children - an 11 year old son, a 9 year old daughter and 6 year old twin boys. It's a very busy, noisy house!<g>
Isolde: Why do you write romances? There are so many different genres and you choose this one, does this have a special reason?
Deborah Hale: I write what I like to read. My favorite books were always romances -- Jane Eyre, the Jane Austin books, The Scarlet Pimpernel. I always enjoyed history, and writing, so writing historical romance is a way to blend those interests. And to get paid for doing historical research! I also read some science fiction and mystery (the Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter and the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters). I did write one mystery novel, but there was still lots of romance in it, and I once I had tried it I knew I enjoyed writing romances more.
Isolde: "My Lord Protector" was published by Harlequin and under the German title "Lockende Versuchung" by Cora. How long did it take you to write your first book. And how fast did you find a publisher for it?
Deborah Hale: I wrote the first draft in about six to eight months. I used to send each chapter to a friend in another city when I finished it. She would give me feedback on the story, and it helped me keep going, knowing I had an audience for my work. When it was finished I sent it to Leisure Books, who turned it down. I put the book away for awhile, then I joined Romance Writers of America and began rewriting it. I can tell you, it needed *a lot* of work. My first draft was all from the heroine's point of view and it was written in the first person, which is never done any more. I entered it in contests and kept revising it. In an earlier version, Crispin (Sir Edmund's nephew) died in the South Seas. Susan Wiggs told me if I did that readers would throw the book against the wall!<g> So I brought him back to life, which changed the last 25% of the book. I had also started the story three whole chapters before Edmund and Julianna's wedding -- Susan told me to change that too. Between one thing and another, I think I rewrote the book five or six times. Three times I entered it in RWAs Golden Heart contest. I didn't do very well the first and second time, but the third time, I won the Long Historical Category (it was such a thrill because Christina Dodd, Patricia Gaffney, Jill Marie Landis and Linda Needham have all won the same category of this contest). This made the publishers notice my work. Six months later, Harlequin Historicals bought the book. So I guess it took me five years to get it published.
Isolde: Why did you write an older man-younger woman plot?
Deborah Hale: Because I find older men attractive. One of my favorite actors is Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard from Star Trek). His is the basis, in my mind, for Sir Edmund -- especially the voice. It was also just the way the story idea came to me. I thought, "what if a woman had to marry the uncle of her finacé?" I also found the situation worked well with the heroine's past. With an older man she didn't initially see as a potential lover, she could relax and get close to him in a non-sexual way. I've got that plot out of my system, now, though.<g> The other four books I've written since have heroes and heroines more close in age.
Isolde: "My Lord Protector" (Lockende Versuchung) was a winner in one of the categories for the Best Book in 1999 contest on my homepage. How do you feel about that also here in Germany readers love your stories?
Deborah Hale: It is a great feeling and to see my cover and name on the same page as writers like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Susan Wiggs is a dream come true. I want to thank all the readers who voted for my book! I had some very nice posts from German readers who understood perfectly what I was trying to say in this book.
Isolde: "A Gentleman of Substance" (not yet translated into German) has a lot more action then "My Lord Protector". There did you get the idea for the story and how do you do your research?
Deborah Hale: The idea for the story came to me this way, I thought "Pride and Prejudice meets Sabrina". Both those books deal with the heroine at first being attracted to the flashy, charming man of style -- Mr. Wickham in P&P and David Laraby in Sabrina, but as the story goes on they learn to care for the gentleman of substance, Mr. Darcy and Linus Laraby. There has been much more action in my stories since I wrote my first one. It's much easier to write a romance when there is a bit of adventure going on while the love story develops. I love researching my stories. I get lots of books from the library and for the Georgian/Regency ones, I have some books of diaries written at that time that are very helpful. I also have an old set of encyclopedia that has great information. To get ideas for costumes or furniture I may watch a video like "Emma" or the A&E production of "Pride and Prejudice". If I need a very specific piece of information, I may try checking the Internet.
Isolde: Can you tell us how your typical working day looks like?
Deborah Hale: I walk my children
to school for 8:30 each morning. Usually on the walk home, I start
to think about the scene I'm working on. Once I get in, I make coffee
and maybe put some laundry in. If I'm not on a tight deadline, I'll
often check my e-mail. Then I go into my office and start writing.
I sometimes take a break midmorning to get the mail, pour more coffee and
maybe check e-mail again. I walk up to the school for 11:30 and bring
the children home. I make us lunch and do a bit of house work, often the
dishes. After I take them back to school, I write for another hour and
a half in the afternoon. I try to write 5 new pages a weekday. If I don't
make that or fall short of 25 pages a week, I might write a little in the evenings or on the weekend. After the children come home at 2:30, my time is theirs for doing homework, reading to them, maybe running errands. Once they're in bed in the evenings, I'll do e-mail or work on promotional things like making review copies of my next book or making changes to my website. I usually read a few chapters of a romance novel in bed before I go to sleep. On weekend evenings, my husband and I often rent videos. I like romances, or course, especially if they have comedy. But I like thrillers, too. I loved Conspiracy Theory with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson -- it was such a nice blend of action and romance. Mine isn't a very glamorous life (it's hard to be glamorous with four children!<g>)
I did enjoy going to the Romantic Times convention in Toronto and being "Ms Romance Author". Also in November Harlequin sent me to New Brunswick to host their fiftieth anniversary exhibit. I did a book signing and talked to readers. The nice part was they flew me there, gave me a limosine with a driver, booked me into the nicest hotel in town and even paid for me to have dinner with a friend. That felt glamorous!
Isolde: What about reactions from your fans? Do you get a lot of e-mail? And do you answer them all?
Deborah Hale: Not that much, yet. Some people leave messages on my website guestbook, which is nice. I try to answer all my e-mail and guestbook messages. I also have a post office box, which I think spiders are making cobwebs in.<g> P.O. Box 829, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, CANADA B4E 2R0 If I ever start getting a lot of mail, I might have to only respond to ones with self addressed envelopes, but right now it would be such a thrill, I'd probably write back to anybody with my own stamps. The reactions I have received so far have been very kind.
Isolde: Can you tell us what your favorite books and authors are?
Deborah Hale: Well, I already mentioned Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austin and Baroness Orczy. I am also a devoted fan of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables). My grandmother was a little girl when those books were first published and she loved them because she was skinny and red-haired like Anne. So when I was growing up, she lent me her copies and we would talk about the books together. I loved the Emily books, because I could identify with Emily's deside to become a writer. Every summer we would visit Prince Edward Island -- it is a beautiful place. When I was in highschool I read Roberta Gellis's Roselynde chronicles -- I still have all six books! They really made the medieval world come to life for me. I like Pam Morsi's books, Judith Ivory, Sandra Brown, Karen Ranney... In contemporary romance, I love Eileen Wilks. She always takes the cliché story and turns it upside down.
Isolde: What does your family say about you writing romances? Do they support you?
Deborah Hale: Very much. Before Harlequin bought my first book, I told the children when I got published we would take a trip to a hotel that has an in door amusement park. So when I got the call from my agent, they were jumping and screaming all over the kitchen. My husband reads all my books and recommends them to the nurses and therapists he works with. If any of the men he knows say they don't read romance, he tells them they don't know what they're missing.<g> My sisters and my mother also love that I'm a published author. My mother checks all the stores to see if they're carrying my books.
Isolde: How many more books will you write? And what stories from you will be published in the next months? What do you plan for your future?
Deborah Hale: I'll probably keep writing as long as somebody will buy my stories. So far, Harlequin Historicals have been very quick to buy what I send them. I hope it continues. This month in North America I have a book out called THE BONNY BRIDE. It takes place here in Atlantic Canada and is based on the story of my great-great-great-grandparents. It has even more action than A GENTLEMAN OF SUBSTANCE, including pirates, Indians and a ship wreck.
Next December my first medieval THE ELUSIVE BRIDE will be published. It is set in the twelfth century during the civil war between Stephen and Mathilda/Maud. I enjoyed the research for that. I found some great information about medieval wedding ceremonies and vows, so I hope Rowan and Cecily's wedding will have a very authentic feel.
Just a few weeks ago I finished my fifth book, a Regency called THE WEDDING WAGER. It's about a woman who bets her uncle she can turn a common soldier into a gentleman officer and pass him off in society in Bath. Now I'm working on two new proposals that I hope Harlequin will buy. One is set in the North of England during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 -- Bonnie Prince Charlie's time. The other is an American Civil War story about a young woman who helps a Union prisoner of war escape in exchange for his help in taking her north to free her brother and sweetheart from a Union prison camp. I have a series I'd love to do about five sisters and their older brother in Regency England. If Harlequin doesn't want to do it, I might have to see if another publisher is interested.
Isolde: Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.
Deborah Hale: Thank you for giving me this opportunity on your website.
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Dieses Interview entstand im März 2000 zwischen Isolde W. und Deborah Hale für: