Monday, July 27, 2015

Interview with historical romance author Olivia Fields

Today’s guest is Olivia Fields. She’s in the hot seat to talk about her historical romance, Her Heart’s Liege.

While Olivia does her virtual book tour, she’s going to be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky randomly drawn person. 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!

For years, college professor Olivia Fields has been writing romantic tales to pacify her muse and entertain her friends. She believes in making her characters work for their happy endings.

When not at her keyboard, Olivia enjoys nature hikes, photography, and the constant companionship of several rather irregularly trimmed dogs.

Welcome, Olivia. Please tell us about your current release.
Her Heart’s Liege is a fun, action-packed tale in the Arthurian tradition of knights, battles, and chivalry, except that it flips the conventional gender roles and features a responsible female knight/guardian who is tasked with protecting an exasperating, irresponsible prince. 

The reader gets to enjoy watching both the heroine and her unlikely hero as they are tempered in the forge of adventure, political intrigue, and invasion. Events conspire to help them realize their potential as leaders, fighters, and of course, romantic partners. 

What inspired you to write this book?
I was watching a medieval swords and heroes movie and thinking how many of them are sausage fests. The one woman in the movie talked about adventure, but all she actually did was scream and get herself in trouble (by leaving the custody of male protectors) so she had to be rescued by men (and returned to the custody of male protectors). I looked around and saw all the little girls sitting in the theater drinking in that kind of female role model. I decided I wanted to provide an alternative, in the relatively rare tradition of women like Joan of Arc, Leia Organa, or possibly Brienne of Tarth.

Excerpt from Her Heart’s Liege:
When Alex finally went up, she found Prince Holden squinting into the cloudy tin mirror hanging on the room's wall, working to neaten his beard a bit with his razor. Trimming himself evenly appeared to be an uphill battle, one in which he was achieving limited success at best. He'd bathed, but he hadn't bothered with a shirt, though he'd put his breeches on.
She could feel the weight of his gaze even though her eyes were covered, and hoped her pose couldn't be construed as a provocative one, but she refused to move.
"Alex, I want to return to Norwich." His voice was steady and resolute.
"So do I." She left her arm over her face. "I'm afraid it isn't my choice to make."
He chewed on that for a moment. "No, I suppose not." His voice was thoughtful. "I suppose it isn't."
His tone alarmed her. She moved her arm and peered at him suspiciously. "It isn't yours, either. Your father wanted me to take you west. I'll do as ordered, if I have to bind you and haul you in the bed of the wagon."
"I'll arm wrestle you again. You win? We go west. I win? We go east." He looked at her evenly.
She considered the wager, remembering the ease with which he'd lifted those buckets, estimating the new strength of his sword-arm. "I think not." She might still beat him, with luck. But then again…
He chuckled, and she felt a flare of irritation.
"I'll wrestle you for a lesser bet," she snapped without thinking, and he tilted his head, raising a brow.
"That's a deal." He rose, moving to pull the room's single small table away from the wall and over to the bed. There wasn't much space, and there was only one straight chair; he had to sit on the bed, leaving the chair to her. "What will you wager?"
"What is there to wager?" Their money, the wagon, the lodgings, the weapons, and even their food were all community property.
"A kiss." He challenged her with his eyes.
"You haven't changed at all." Alex rolled her gaze to the heavens. This was madness.
"I wouldn't agree." He put his elbow on the table, flexing his fingers. "Do you accept the wager?"
She wondered if she could still beat him. They'd both be motivated to do their best, she was certain. "No."
 "You're afraid I'll beat you." His eyes were hot, and his mouth curved upward.
 "I'm afraid we're well-matched enough one of us will hurt the other."
 "You're afraid to kiss me."
 "I don't want to kiss you. There's a difference."
 "You'd chance the contest if you weren't afraid."
 He knew how to get under her skin, no doubt. She scowled at him.
 "After all the times you've thrashed me with your wooden sword." How did he manage to advance on her even when he remained seated and unmoving? She had no idea. But the more she dithered, the worse her authority suffered.
Furious, she slammed herself down in the seat. "Fine. Let's get it over with."
He clasped her hand, moving rather more slowly and deliberately than she liked. He moved his left hand to grip hers. She scowled at him, settling into position, planning her strategy. She could use her nails to aggravate the healing blisters on his hands, but that wouldn't be sporting. She'd have to take the advantage early and never let him recover.
"Ready?" he asked, voice soft.
"Ready." She wasn't. She drew a deep breath.
"I'll count down. Three. Two. One."
She set her shoulder, prepared for the force of his initial push, anticipating his strength. He was more powerful than she'd feared. His brow creased, and he held her first counter-surge.
She wasn't going to win.
She fought him valiantly, but she didn't have his weight, and he'd been working hard. Their hands quivered, and her muscles started to burn.
His eyes darted up to hers. She saw anticipation of victory there, along with surprise and pleasure.
She would have to cheat.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just sent my second novel to my publisher (and am already working on a second novel in that universe). It’s a paranormal romance about a reluctant, shy incubus and his struggle to come to terms with his identity as a predator, forced to take sexual energy from human women in order to survive. 

Early in life he preyed on a woman without thinking and accidentally drained her to death.  This traumatized him so much he stays isolated and only takes what he has to in order to survive. After centuries of this, though, he’s made a critical error: he slipped up and fell in love.

Before the incubus can leave his love to ensure her safety, an ancient enemy surfaces, determined to take revenge for that long-ago death. He traps the incubus in a situation where is he can’t help but drain and kill the woman he loves. A globe-spanning adventure ensues as the couple races against time to find a way to for her to survive their relationship.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know how to answer this. Am I a writer? What is a writer? What makes one a writer? If it’s just writing because you want to even when you don’t have to, I’ve been one since second or third grade. If it’s writing what you love in defiance of various authority figures who don’t want you to write that, I’ve been one since junior high school, and there’s no end in sight. If it’s writing for money, I’ve been one since my middle twenties, when I landed a brief job as a newspaper correspondent. If it’s using writing as your sole source of income, then who knows if I’ll ever become a writer?

I’m thinking of an episode of Family Guy where Lois comes in holding a newspaper article Brian wrote and compliments him, saying it’s so well done it’s almost like he’s a real writer! Brian just stares at her, kind of like I’m staring at this question. 

Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I was conceived. I was just waiting to be taught language skills and develop enough manual dexterity to wield a pencil or use a keyboard.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t have the luxury of writing full-time, unfortunately. I have a very demanding day job that involves lots of contact with very demanding clients and huge amounts of paperwork. I have to squeeze my writing in around the edges. Living in the world of my writing makes me feel very much as if I have a secret, second life that none of my co-workers or clients knows about!

On a typical day I’ll get up a couple of hours early, full of fresh ideas, and if I don’t have paperwork I have to complete before a looming deadline, I’ll work on my latest story until I have to shower and go to my day job. I’ll work my day job for anywhere from 7 to 13 hours before dragging home, exhausted, to tend to the business side of my writing. Usually in the evenings I tackle the less creatively demanding work of publicity, editing, and similar tasks. Then I fall into bed, exhausted, to get ready to wake up and do it all over again!

I am a single woman with dogs rather than children. If not for that, there’s no way I’d be able to write. I am amazed by people who can balance a family and children with the kind of time and dedication it takes to be a writer. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When writing, I quietly throw in dozens, if not hundreds, of cultural references. I use small isolated statements, pieces of clothing, or items from favorite television shows, books, and movies. Sometimes I borrow a location or have in mind a particular person (either from real life or an actor) to play a character. These things help spark my creativity, give the story a feeling of fullness, and sometimes push the story in interesting directions I didn’t anticipate.

T. S. Eliot practiced this kind of technique in his poems, and he gave me the idea. He felt it provides a mosaic effect that makes a writer’s work more texturally interesting. He believed if you have a fragment from another work of art in your own writing, then the entire artwork is implicit in, and becomes a part of, your own writing. That can make your work a broader and deeper reading experience both for you and for the audience (especially if a reader subconsciously recognizes the reference). Using well-known fragments can help you conjure a very specific and detailed mood.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be a helicopter pilot! One of the strong female characters who inspired me early in life was on the short-lived cop show 240 Robert, on which Joanna Cassidy, better known as Eddie Valiant’s girlfriend in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, portrayed a tough, no-nonsense lady who piloted a chopper in a search and rescue operation designed to catch crooks and get accident victims to safety. I was enchanted by the idea that a girl could do that kind of thing. Also, the woman knew how to rock an awful orange jumpsuit.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don’t let someone else crush your life’s deepest, most passionate dreams. There will probably always be someone there to say “you can’t/shouldn’t follow them.” Do it anyway.



Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Olivia Fields said...

Hi! Thanks for posting my interview and hosting my book. :-) It's great to be here. I'm afraid I'm traveling today, but I'll be back this evening to answer any readers' questions!

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

Stormy Vixen said...

Enjoyed the excerpt and the post, sounds like a really good book, I like the cover also. Thanks for sharing!

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great post, I enjoyed reading it! Thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed the interview! Thank you!

Olivia Fields said...

Thanks, Rita! Good luck in the drawing :)

Olivia Fields said...

Thanks for posting, Eva! I hope you get to read it soon :)

Olivia Fields said...

Thanks, Victoria!

Olivia Fields said...

Thanks again, Ree Dee! :)

Unknown said...

Great excerpt and interview~I really enjoyed learning about you and your book! Thank you for a great post and contest!I

Mai T. said...

What is the biggest lie you've ever told?

Olivia Fields said...

Mai, I'd better not be 100% specific about that one. ;-D I suppose one of the most far-reaching types of lies I tell is to say that something someone else has done didn't hurt as much as it did-- such as when someone I grow to love doesn't ever come to care about me. Then I go about pretending to be fine about how they're with someone else, when I'm in shreds. There's not much alternative to that; you can't make someone love you, and the only way to recover is to suffer through it until it recedes. Writing helps me recover! :-)

Olivia Fields said...

Sorry I've been so slow and flaky about answering comments. When I got home, my ADSL was down. AT&T is supposedly going to fix it... within the week! I'll come to the local library and check every day and answer comments. :-) Thanks!