Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Musing with Amanda McCabe & GIVEAWAY

Please join me in welcoming fabulous historical author Amanda McCabe to the blog. Whether it's the height of Regency nobility or ice skating in Elizabethan England, from the bucolic English countryside to the splendor of Venetian waterways, Amanda's writing talent makes the period time and the place come alive with the wonderful people in her stories. In her own words then, she talks about the Muses in her newest trilogy from Harlequin and also about her own personal muses.

Amanda's giving away a copy of each of the three books in her trilogy. In addition, I will be giving away a tote bag and author goodies. PLEASE COMMENT BEFORE MIDNIGHT US PT on THURSDAY MAY 6. More details at the end of the blog.

Copyrighted by Amanda McCabeWhen I first had the idea for my Muses of Mayfair series I was very excited! Ever since I was a kid I've been interested in archaeology, in ancient mythology and culture and all the wondrous things that can be learned from an old site that just looks like a pile of mud at first sight. (When I was about eight, I even set up an archaeological dig in our backyard, in search of Viking treasure. Our German shepherd was my very enthusiastic assistant. Unfortunately I dug up some newly-planted grass, which my dad is still unhappy about, and found not even a hint of buried Viking longship! But the dog found one of his lost Nylabones).

Copyrighted by Amanda McCabeThis is an interest that many in the Regency era shared, so I found kindred spirits in the three Chase sisters and their heroes. Calliope, Clio, and Thalia are the daughters of a famous scholar (hence their names!) and share his interests in antiquities, which lead them into all kinds of trouble—and into love. I was first inspired by a visit to the British Museum to see the "Elgin Marbles" and other classical sculptures, and then inspired again by a book I read about the destructive problems of the modern illegal antiquities trade (The Medici Conspiracy—you can find a whole list of sources I love on my website). I guess these were my first "muses" where these stories are concerned.

Copyrighted by Amanda McCabeMuses take many forms, of course. At first I worried about naming these heroines after the Muses (see more about the real Muses here). What if I made those Muses mad and they deserted me??? What if they didn’t like the way their namesakes behaved? Luckily for me they decided to stick by me until The End.

Copyrighted by Amanda McCabeMy regular, everyday Muse is more fickle. I picture her as a cute little fairy with a sparkly lavender dress, pale green wings, and with curly red hair. She sits at the edge of my desk and waves her shining wand around, helping me create scenes. When she’s happy, the story flows and the words tumble out. The characters cooperate, and all is well. But sometimes she gets mad. Maybe she had a fight with her boyfriend or the grocery store is out of the new peach Greek yogurt. Then her eyes turn red and she breaks her wand in two and the story comes to a screeching halt! She’s very changeable, that Muse. I have to work very hard to keep her happy.

Copyrighted by Amanda McCabeI also have a few Muse–type objects that have to be grouped just right around my desk before I start writing. You can see them in this picture—Jane Austen, Dorothy, Hello Kitty, and my Indian elephant Herman! (Herman was a gift from today’s blog hostess. He’s a good reminder that I have friends who wish my writing well. Plus he’s so pretty and sparkly.) I also like to have a pot of green tea and a supply of chocolates.

Muses also come in the form of photos of actors who resemble my characters (in my mind, at least), and it’s a huge help when I can find just the right inspiration. In my book from last Christmas The Winter Queen, my muse for the hero was Apolo Anton Ohno—and Anton Gustavson turned out to be my favorite hero of mine. I could see him so clearly, not just his looks but his personality. So if at all possible, find yourself a real-life Muse!

In the end, with my Muses of Mayfair books, the Muses helped me out by suggesting just the right locations for the characters. London and a Gothic castle in Yorkshire, Sicily, and Bath (which is full of Roman culture and remains!). They gave me 3 intelligent, intrepid heroines, 3 handsome, strong heroes, and 3 mysteries to throw them together. I had the most fun with the Chase sisters and their adventures!

What are your favorite Muses?

Amanda's giving away a copy of each of the three books in her trilogy. Two books will go to two commenters chosen at random. The grand prize winner will receive one book from Amanda AND a tote bag and author goodies from me. PLEASE COMMENT BEFORE MIDNIGHT US PT on THURSDAY MAY 6.

To buy Amanda McCabe's books, go here...
Image by Daniel Suarez Image by Daniel Suarez Image by Daniel Suarez Image by Daniel Suarez


dyockman said...

I love a good Regency. I will have to check out more of your books. Adding now to TBR list.

Keira Soleore said...

Danielle, if you have read Amanda's books before, you're certainly in for a treat.

PJ said...

Amanda, the new trilogy sounds terrific. I love that Harlequin is releasing them in consecutive months.

My muse is a little leprechaun, ably assisted by a softly snoring dog. I don't play music while I write but it's really astonishing how soothing (and productive) a softly snoring dog can be. At the moment, however, said dog is howling at a squirrel who has the audacity to be on my front porch and the writing has come to a screeching halt. lol!

Keira Soleore said...

Heh, PJ. Your dog stories are always so much fun!

Your snoring dog sounds like the white noise machine we used when Wee was a baby. It blocks out all the interesting ambient sounds so you're able to concentrate better (or sleep in her case).

For myself, I have a soundtrack made: one for medievals, one for Regencies and I play those over and over again.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee said...

LOL PJ! My Pug dog also snores, but it's not usually soft--she sits under the desk while I'm writing sometimes and distracts me. The other dog sits and glares at her. :)

Keira, I'm a huge fan of putting together soundtracks for books! Each story has to have just the right background music and theme songs...

angie said...

I would love to be entered. Since I'm not really a creative type I really don't have a muse. But I love music and Euterpe is the muse of music.
Thanks for the giveaway!
bangersis at msn dot com

Keira Soleore said...

Ammanda, how dedicated of you to create a per book soundtrack. I know Julia Quinn does that, too. I just use the same period music over and over again. It's like my white noise.

Keira Soleore said...

Angie, welcome to the blog. Euterpe indeed in the muse of music.

Ammanda, do you think you'd add to your muses series with perhaps a story for Euterpe and the other muses?