We’re happy to end 2014 with another great interview, this time with author Julie Klassen!
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Julie also will be giving a copy of her new novel, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, to one of our visitors this week! To be entered in the drawing, just answer this question in the Rafflecopter box below and click the button. Here’s the question:
What is your favorite setting for a novel: America, England, other? Why?
Congratulations on the release of your latest novel, The Secret of Pembrooke Park! Let’s start by learning a bit about the storyline.
In The Secret of Pembrooke Park Abigail Foster moves with her family to a mysterious manor that has been abandoned and locked for eighteen years, until an anonymous benefactor opens it to her family. With help from a handsome clergyman, Abigail searches Pembrooke Park, hoping to unearth its secrets and hidden treasure—only to find danger instead.
Sounds intriguing! Now please introduce us to your main characters. What’s your favorite thing about each of them?
Abigail Foster is organized, practical, and responsible. She is also insecure, and feels less worthy than her prettier sister.
Mr. William Chapman is a dedicated clergyman, known for giving short, often humorous sermons, which some of his congregation don’t appreciate. He is modest and masculine and athletic. No Mr. Collins here!
How did the idea for the book come together?
One idea for this novel was inspired by an abandoned house in the woods near my childhood home. I was fascinated to look upon its crumbling walls, sagging piano, and tattered blue dress on its hanger, and try to imagine what happened to the people who once lived there. I found it very satisfying to weave this real-life mystery into The Secret of Pembrooke Park.
What draws you to writing about Regency England? What kinds of challenges have you found with writing about that era?
I like the romance of the era (at least, for those with money). The gentleman in tall boots. The balls. The horses. But it is challenging to capture not only the flavor of the time and language, but also to avoid historical errors. I do a lot of research, but there is always more to learn.
Ah, yes. Makes some of us swoon just thinking about it. :-) We all have certain things we do with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. How would your characters celebrate these times?
They would decorate with holly, mistletoe, and ivy. Give small gifts or coins to children and their servants, and gifts of food, like mincemeat pies, to their less fortunate neighbors. They would attend church, sing songs around the pianoforte, like Adeste Fideles and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night. They might roast chestnuts over the fire, and eat treats like widgeon, preserved ginger, black butter, and tarts.
Sounds like a fun way to celebrate, and not that different from some of our own traditions. What’s the most interesting (or unusual) thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your projects?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Julie’s answer to this and other questions. And, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter drawing for your copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park!