Friday, February 20, 2015

Interview with historical romance author Marisa Dillon

Today’s special guest is Marisa Dillon with the spotlight on her historical romance, The Lady of the Garter.

During her virtual book tour, Marisa will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Born in Norway, Marisa was raised in the states and became a U.S. citizen when her Norwegian father became naturalized. Marisa's maternal Italian grandfather, who immigrated to American, gave her the other half of her international roots. 

Growing up, Marisa traveled to Europe many times, once even cross-Atlantic, and was fortunate enough to tour much of the continent, as well as Scandinavia, staying at length with family or in unconventional places, like a nun's convent.

With a degree in journalism, Marisa has spent many years writing for the television industry. As an award-winning producer/director/marketer, she has worked on commercial production, show creation, product branding and social media.

Welcome, Marisa. Please tell us about 
The Lady of the Garter.
The story is set in the late 1400s. The heroine, Lady Elena, is a strong, independent woman determined to achieve two goals: win the heart of Sir James, a knight in the Order of the Garter, and to attain knighthood herself. The story grows as Elena disguises herself as a boy, becomes James’ squire and follows him into battle. But Elena’s determination and strength are tested as she confronts obstacles put in place by her nemesis, the evil Sir Nicholas. The twists and turns lead the reader on a romantic, high-spirited adventure that follows one woman’s pursuit of honor and true love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love the idea of chivalry and romance mingling together. In the late 15th century, the notion of the knight in shining armor was not a fantasy, but a reality. (If history doesn’t lie).  And as a lover of history and romance, I couldn’t resist researching and then writing about a group of knights who have been revered and served the English monarchy for generations. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded in 1348, holds the highest order of chivalry and is the most prestigious group in service to England. Even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is a Garter Knight today. I used many historical details about the Garter in my story.

Excerpt from The Lady of the Garter:
After pinning her hair up, she undressed quickly, caring little about anything else. She deserved this small indulgence. As she submerged herself up to her shoulders, she exhaled, Heaven on earth. Relaxed to the point of losing herself in happy thoughts, she didn’t hear the door open.

“Squire, I’m ready for my bath.”

Elena gasped when she spotted James staring at her from across the room. His lips twitched; his gaze never leaving her. She folded her arms across her chest, covering her breasts, sinking deeper into the water. My God, what have I done? The moment she’d dreaded most had come true.

James rubbed the back of his neck, then staggered forward. “Are you a gift from the duke? Where is my bloody squire, Edward?” he growled.

He’d obviously drank more than he’d eaten. She could smell the ale. “Your squire left when I arrived to tend to your bath, milord,” she answered. “He promised to return shortly.” 

She hoped the threat of an interruption might keep James’ intensions honorable.

That made him smile. “Is this how you tend to the bath for your guests?” His grin turned wicked. “A bath with you would give me great pleasure,” he admitted, his heated gaze boiling her blood.

“I confess there’s scarcely enough room in here for me.”

Her observation didn’t stop him from fumbling to remove his boots. Then he yanked off his breeches and shirt.

Elena sucked in a nervous breath—she loved seeing him naked. But if she didn’t take control of the situation soon, James would trap her in the tub.

“Come, you can sit on my lap,” he suggested.

She laughed louder than she should have, uncertain of what she wanted. But his smoldering gaze warmed her insides, making her wonder if he didn’t know who she was, what liberties she might take.

She wrung her hands, unsure what to do next. “Turn away and give me a moment of privacy, then I will tend to you.” She stepped out of the tub and draped herself in a towel the boys had left.

“That arse looks familiar. This is not my first time at Berkeley, girl. Pray tell, have we been together before?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the second in the Garter series that will include a Highlander spin, as well as a standalone story set in Georgian times about a belly dancer. No release dates available yet, but I hope to back to visit here again when they are available.

What are some writing challenges? Joys?
The hardest part of writing for me is revising, which means killing my darlings. That usually happens after I get red lines through some of my paragraphs from my editor. And after I make the changes, which is usually about improving flow, I find that the story is better. I thank God for good editors. The easiest part about writing for me is when I’m not on deadline or under contract, when I can just let my characters talk to me and I can tell their story, pure and simple.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Although new to the publishing world, my passion for writing began when my first-grade teacher read my poem aloud and posted it on the classroom wall. I soon followed up by writing plays for my neighborhood friends and hosting the productions in my garage. After a earning a degree in journalism, I spent many years writing for the television industry, and in my spare time, I dabbled in creative writing. About three years ago, I took a few workshops on how to write a Romance novel. With some great mentors, and a little luck, I found my way to a contracted manuscript. The rest is history.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? My job in the television industry is almost 24/7 and requires me to work sometimes 60+ hours a week. When you want to be published, you have to make the time— lunch hours, weekends, late nights, multi-tasking. I’d like to do this full time. Now, I just need to sell a lot of books. Ha!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I find myself wanting to use the word, then, more often than I should, but I’ve found that’s not uncommon among writers. I’ve discovered a trick with eBooks. You can search a word in anyone’s eBook and see how often the author has used it. For example, Diana Gabaldon, used the word, then, over 500 times in her story, Outlander. My book is not as long, but I used the word 162 times.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress and a dancer. When I was in middle school and high school, I was a thespian and had parts in many the school plays. I was also on the drill team. When I was getting close to graduation, I tried to convince my parents that I should to go to New York and become a Rockette, and star on Broadway. I was crushed when my mother told me, after researching the group, I was too short to be a Rockette. Still determined to be on stage, I decided on a degree in theatre. But after my first semester at Ohio State, getting beat out of lead roles, I switched my major to journalism. Do you know who was winning all the roles at OSU? Patricia Heaton. She went on to star in movies and TV shows, Everybody Loves Raymond and is currently starring in The Middle on ABC. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll write a TV episode or film script for Patty and we’ll get to work together again.

Any parting thoughts?
I want to thank your visitors for stopping by today. I wish them many joyous hours of reading ahead in 2015!

The Lady of the Garter is available as an eBook on Amazon.

You can visit Marisa at: And you can connect with Marisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks, Marisa!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Catherine Lee said...

You have a job in the TV industry? How interesting. We have an active film and TV industry in my community (Wilmington, NC). It brings a lot of great crews and also tourism to the area.

Unknown said...

Hi Catherine Lee. Thank you for stopping by. Yes, I really love my job. It's something different everyday. I love the part of the country where you live. How fun to have great tourism, plus TV and film. Marisa

Rita Wray said...

Great excerpt, thank you.

Glenda said...

Love the excerpt!! Thanks!