Describe your latest book.
Highland Scandal is the second book in the Scandalous series (following The Book of Scandal and Snowy Night with a Stranger, a novella), and is based on the very true and very public scandal between the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1806. The couple couldn't stand each other and the prince wanted a Parliamentary divorce. He accused the princess of adultery, among other things, to persuade his father, the king, to pursue a divorce on his behalf. The issue of adultery was important because, if the princess were to conceive a child, there would be a question of rightful succession to the throne ? it was possible a bastard could ascend to the throne one day. Nevertheless, the prince's accusations were entirely ironic because there was not a bigger dog in all of England than him. His adulterous affairs were legendary, and the princess was quick to point that out. They never did get their divorce, but the scandal had London riveted for a short time.
Highland Scandal is about the Earl of Lambourne, Jack Haines, who is accused of adultery with the princess. That was a highly treasonable offense, and could be punishable by death. While he has often been in the princess's company, Jack maintains his innocence. But he is a rogue with quite a randy reputation and decides that absence is the better part of valor in this case. He decamps to his native Scotland, but instead of finding sanctuary, he gets himself into more hot water. A ruthless Highland laird captures him before the English bounty hunters do, and presents him with a choice: either he submit to a handfasting with the laird's niece ? essentially, a trial marriage for a year and a day ? or be handed over to the English. What's a rogue to do... particularly when the niece isn't the homely spinster he's expecting, but a lovely young woman?
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
This one has to be a favorite of a lot of romance writers: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This is the opening line from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love that line. It is the quintessential basis of the historical romance novel, and when I first read it one thousand years ago, I knew instinctively that was the sort of book for me. It always has been and always will. It is a great book and holds up 200 years later.
What is your astrological sign? If you don't like what you were born with, to what sign would you change and why?
I am a Pisces! I wouldn't change that, because, as I understand it, Pisces are at the end of the zodiac, and that means Pisces are the most highly evolved humans on the zodiac. It's true! All Pisces know it. And as my birthday falls near the end of the Pisces sign, I figure that means I am extraordinarily evolved as a human being. I have mentioned this to my husband several times and find his arguments to the contrary a little lame, to be frank. But he's a Cancer, which is pretty close to the beginning of the zodiac... I don't think I need to say more than that.
Why do you write?
Because I have to; it is part of my DNA. It's funny to me because, when I am approaching a deadline for a book and my days are consumed with the final throes of it, I tell myself that, when I am finished, I won't look at a computer or pick up a pencil for at least a month. I cannot imagine ever writing another word. I hate to even read and long to watch Make Me a Supermodel or Deadliest Catch ? anything that doesn't require my brain or my fingers. But I never do it. When I submit a book to my editor, it takes about a week before I get that itch. I want to write more stories. I want to see what the characters in my next book are going to shape up to be, and I am back in front of my computer screen. I can't stop it ? I have to do it.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
I just finished reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It was really great ? much better than my expectations, because it is about a touring circus during the Great Depression. But the story captured me and I loved it. I came to read it because I am one of the lucky people who belong to a book club, and that was our April selection. My book club is the greatest ? I joined them after they'd read one of my books and invited me to come to their meeting. I had such a good time, I asked them if I could be a member. Now, I have read books I would never have picked up, and enjoyed them all. That is my one do-not-miss event each month.
On a clear and cold day, do you typically get outside into the sunshine or stay inside where it's warm?
I live in the southern part of Texas, so we don't have a lot of cold days. Nevertheless, I get outside every day ? brutal cold or blistering heat, and all the lovely days in between. I have always walked, and last year, I started running. There is something about being outside that clears my head and makes me feel alive. If I am stuck inside too long, my brain gets moldy and I tend to stuff my face. It's really pathetic. So, I get out regardless of the weather. It can be pretty hard to lace up the tennis shoes in August around here, but I always feel better for it.
Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
Yes! And I blog, too. I blog at www.whinesisters.com with Kathleen Givens and Sherri Erwin, who are two of my best friends and fellow writers. We don't blog about writing, but about useless facts and celebrity news. I also blog with http://thegoddessblogs.com, a group of romance authors. We have a sizable following of romance readers. My new favorite thing is Twitter (you can find me at http://twitter.com/JuliaFLondon). I have found more blogs and interesting links through Twitter than I found in all the years of surfing on my own. I also really like www.pioneerwoman.com, because that was my life as a kid, and www.hungrygirl.com, because I really have to watch it, or my true, gluttonous self will get out and run wild through the donut shop.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Dogs, dogs, and more dogs. I lost my two old labs in the last year from old age ? the last one was two days shy of 14 ? and I am just now getting to the point where I can think of another dog. I miss them very much. I have always been a dog lover and can't imagine life without them. My sisters both have cats. I go to their house and pet their cats and leave it at that. I am afraid of what decimated animals a cat would drag into my house, whereas a dog just drags in hair and muddy paw prints. I don't really know what a budgie is, and a turtle as a pet seems... pointless. With all due respect to you turtle lovers out there, of course.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Although I write both historical and contemporary fiction, and read both, my first love is historical fiction. Here are five great historical novels I could read over and over again:
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Wideacre by Philippa Gregory
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George