I am so very excited to introduce you to my guest today, because she has written my all-time favourite medieval romance series, The Age of Faith, AND after a wait of THREE YEARS, book number six, The Vexing, releases tomorrow! 😁
I am, of course, talking about Tamara Leigh! And I have a feeling she’s going to be a very popular guest, if for no other reason than she’s suggested dark chocolate and an extra hot caramel macchiato to accompany this interview.
While we let our taste buds contemplate that, let me introduce you to Tamara:
~ Tamara Leigh ~
In 1993, Tamara Leigh signed a 4-book contract with Bantam Books, and her first medieval romance, Warrior Bride, was released in 1994. Continuing to write for the general market, three more novels were published with HarperCollins and Dorchester and earned awards and became national best sellers.
In 2006, Tamara’s first inspirational contemporary romance, Stealing Adda, was released. In 2008, Perfecting Kate was optioned for a movie and Splitting Harriet won the prestigious ACFW Book of the Year award. The following year, Faking Grace was nominated for a RITA award. In 2011, Tamara wrapped up her Southern Discomfort series with the release of Restless in Carolina.
When not in the middle of being a wife, mother, and cookbook fiend, Tamara buries her nose in a good book—and her writer’s pen in ink. In 2012, she returned to the historical romance genre with Dreamspell, a medieval time travel romance. Shortly thereafter, she once more invited readers to join her in the middle ages with the Age of Faith series. Tamara’s #1 Bestsellers—Lady at Arms, Lady Of Eve, Lady Of Fire, and Lady Of Conquest—are the first of her medieval romances to be rewritten as clean reads.
Tamara lives near Nashville with her husband, sons, a Doberman who bares his teeth not only to threaten the UPS man but to smile, and a feisty Morkie who keeps her company during long writing stints.
~ The Vexing ~
A VEXING LADY
Answering her father’s summons to return home, Lady Beata Fauvel must evade capture by noblemen who seek to wed a great heiress. But when she falls into the hands of Queen Eleanor of England, she discovers her sovereign has plans of her own for the lady known France over as The Vestal Widow. Now Beata must not only escape the knight entrusted with ensuring she does not wed without permission, but survive a storm-tossed sea and revelation of a long-buried secret that could destroy her family. And what of a heart that wants what it cannot have? Will it only ever beat for the queen’s man?
A REPENTANT KNIGHT
For years, Sir Durand Marshal has faithfully served his queen as penance for betrayal of the Wulfrith family. When he rescues a woman pursued by vassals of the French king, he is charged with delivering to England the nearly scandalous lady who has only a name in common with the one he once loved. Though he never expects to feel anything beyond annoyance for the outspoken Lady Beata, he finds himself drawn to yet another woman denied him. Can he fulfill his duty to his liege? Or will he forsake his redemption and forever ruin his reputation—more, the lady’s?
~ Interview ~
Katie: Thanks for joining me today, Tamara!
Tamara: My pleasure!
First up, let’s take a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
England! Yes, it’s surprising my favourite historical setting is medieval England, and yet I’ve never visited that beautiful island kingdom. But now that our oldest son is working in Paris, I may finally make it to Europe. England, here I come!
That is surprising. But what a trip it will be when you get there!
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…
The floors! See how I put the hardwood, tile, and carpet all under one umbrella? Ha! Umm, do decks qualify?
Decks absolutely qualify! And really, job bundling is very sensible 🙂
If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…
Bells! The tinkling ones stirred by a breeze always make me think of chain mail. Yeah…
When I was a child, I wanted to be a…
Guess! Come on, don’t be shy. Yep, a writer—specifically a novelist.
Well, you never know. Some answers have surprised me! That one, not so much 😉
My ideal place to read would be…
Anywhere quiet and peaceful with no interruptions. Did someone say deserted island?
Oh, uninterrupted. What bliss!
So, getting down to business: It’s been three years since the previous book in the Age of Faith series released, and you’ve done a whole new Medieval series since then. Was this book part of your original plan for the series, or more of a ‘by request’ addition?
I felt every one of those years as much as Sir Durand, who camped out on my shoulder until he finally traded me in for Lady Beata. The original Age of Faith series was a trilogy, but then Abel wanted a heroine of his own and I hugged him and said, “I can do that, my dear.” The next thing I knew, there was Everard standing in an alcove watching his brothers and sisters with their wives and husbands. I sidled over and asked if he was happy being single. He shrugged, but I saw that look in his eyes.
As for Sir Durand… He isn’t a Wulfrith but was Wulfen-trained and Abel’s best friend. Though he was way in the background in the first book, The Unveiling, he made quite a splash in The Yielding. So I brought him back for The Redeeming and exposed what he calls his “great failing.” He was a bit of a cad, but he proved every bit as redeemable as Lady Gaenor. It just took him longer to get right with those he betrayed—and God. After I finished writing The Longing, I wanted to write Durand’s story, and readers were encouraging me to do so, but I kept thinking “He’s not a Wulfrith.” And yet…
Hold on, let me check my writing log. Yep, on The Longing’s release date of April 25, 2014, I wrote The Vexing’s first 1000 words. Between then and May 10, 2014 , I wrote a total of 10,500 words—then put them in a drawer so I could get back to my schedule with the new series, The Feud, and work on my general market rewrites. In November, 2016 I pulled out those first chapters and let Durand take me on quite the adventure—across France, the narrow sea, and into the heart of medieval England (with Lady Beata at his side). As of this writing, we are four days from sharing his tale with readers.
Well, it would seem Sir Durand’s patience has paid off. And I must say, you are a very accommodating author. 🙂
How easy was it to get yourself back into the ‘Age of Faith’ world? (And what did you do to get there?)
Those characters have never vacated my imagination, though details have slipped away, so I listened to the five audiobooks once before getting serious about writing The Vexing, and a second time when I got rolling again. And—shocker!—I had never mentioned Sir Durand’s hair color.
Is it alright to confess they’ve never left my imagination either? 😊
How many years have passed since the end of The Longing, and what has Sir Durand been doing?
The Longing ended April, 1160 and The Vexing begins December, 1161. So, a bit over a year and a half. As for how Sir Durand kept himself busy, he first served King Henry, then became Queen Eleanor’s personal guard as seen in The Longing. And—boy!—did he shape up. Eleanor teasingly calls him her “gallant monk.”
That’s right. I had forgotten that. It’s obviously been too long since I read The Longing. Must remedy that!
Now, surname Marshal, an heiress under royal protection… am I sensing a little real life inspiration here? 😉
Ooh, you got me. Yes, there’s a bit of the greatest knight ever—William Marshal—in Sir Durand. In fact, they’re distant relations, but as he says—so distant one could be forgiven for naming their kinship a lie.
Hey, I’d be claiming it, no matter how distant! Of course, in 1161, William Marshal hadn’t quite earned the status of greatest knight yet, but details, shmetails!
Can we expect to see some much-loved characters from previous books in the series making an appearance?
You have no idea! The biggest surprise was Garr Wulfrith. He wasn’t supposed to appear so early in the story—if it all—but when he strode beneath the portcullis (silver hair, broad shoulders and all) I said, “Well, hello, beloved knight. Make yourself comfortable—er, while you’re making poor Durand uncomfortable.” As the romance progresses, more Wulfriths appeared than this seat-of-the-pants writer expected. I believe they missed me as much as I missed them.
You’ll get no complaints from me! I look forward to catching up with them!
This period of history is a particular favourite of mine—who can go past all the drama of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their unruly brood, not to mention people like William Marshal? I love that some of these people make appearances in your novels from time to time. Do you have a favourite among these real life characters?
I adore adore Eleanor of Aquitaine. What a woman! If you haven’t read Sharon Kay Penman’s novelizations of the lives of King Henry and his Eleanor, give them a read. Warning: they’re tomes.
Um . . . you could say I’m a fan! 😊 She probably bears the bulk of the blame for my love of those crazy Angevins. I didn’t mind that they were tomes at all!
If you could sit down with Henry or Eleanor (or whomever your favourite might be), what would you ask them/talk to them about?
I’d definitely sit down with Eleanor—and hope Henry popped in. What would I ask her? Providing I had a cheat sheet written on my palm and it didn’t get too sweaty, I’d want more details about her flight across France following the annulment of her marriage to King Louis when two counts tried to kidnap her so they could force her to marry and gain her lands (Lady Beata has a similar experience). Of course, I’d love to hear about her life with Henry and their children. And it would be great to get her take on their youngest son, King John—as in, where did you go wrong with that kid?
Oh, the stories she could tell! And John . . . I’ve always been intrigued by that question. Of all the children who have ever felt like an afterthought and an also-ran, I’m pretty sure he’s the first in line.
Now, perhaps the best news of all, there’s going to be a book 7!!! Any hints on what we can expect?
I call it my LoLa story since my hero is Baron Lothaire Soames who is something of a bad guy in the Vexing, and my heroine is… Well, do you remember the sorrowful Lady Laura from The Yielding? Sir Durand’s tale is the most requested by readers, then Sir Elias’s, next Lady Laura’s. Ta da! And that’s all I’ll say about The Awakening—well, except that a nice long excerpt is included in The Vexing and I anticipate a 2017/2018 winter release.
Well, now you’re testing my memory. *opens copy of The Yeilding to refresh said memory and gets distracted for a while* Oh, yes! Definitely someone who deserves a happy ending. I’m looking forward to that excerpt!
Thank you so much for visiting my blog today!
Thank you for the lovely visit! Truly, this has been among the most enjoyable interviews.