Today I have the chance to interview author, Laura Navarre who is on tour for her upcoming release of By Royal Command!
Crystal: Hi Laura and welcome to Reading Between the Wines. Thank you for joining us today!
Laura: Thanks so much for having me! I’m a huge oenophile and used to own a small vineyard, so I am fully supportive of the concept of savoring a fine vintage while enjoying a stellar read.
Crystal: Yay, you'll fit right in then!
Wow, you have led an exciting life outside of writing! Can you share with us a little bit about your work as a US diplomat?
For your readers who don’t follow foreign affairs as much, diplomacy is the art of conducting negotiations and managing relationships between countries. I have degrees in national security and international relations (as well as creative writing), so I’m a Russia specialist who works on arms control and weapons of mass destruction issues—which is not always as exciting as it sounds. I lived in Russia for five years, which was very invigorating and often glamorous, because post-Cold War Moscow is a sleek, expensive, cosmopolitan city. I loved being able to fly to Paris or Munich or Istanbul for the weekend! I was also posted in Washington, D.C., and enjoyed the international culture, art and theatre scene in both cities.
And the experience certainly influenced my writing! Political intrigue, conspiracy, secrets and the sense of being watched are definite themes in both my historical and contemporary romance.
Crystal: How does real life in that field compare to the world in some of the romantic suspense novels we might read?
Laura: Unless you’ve worked in the world of government and foreign affairs, I think it’s difficult to get the details right. It’s definitely not the world of James Bond and Austin Powers! Many outsiders imagine diplomats and politicians meeting in oak-paneled board rooms, sipping whiskey and smoking cigars, and there is some of that at formal diplomatic functions. But most of the job is hard work and long hours behind a cluttered desk, often jet-lagged, fighting to keep cool under considerable pressure. When I worked at an Embassy, my office didn’t even have walls! We called it the bullpen—think of two dozen people in one big room, all trying to write reporting cables and wade through the local press and field phone calls in languages we were still struggling to master. Much of the time with darkness pressing against the windows, because the winter sun in Moscow rises at 9 am and sets at 3.
Crystal: I bet you’ve had experience with some serious alpha men. Has one or more ever inspired you in writing the heroes of your books?
Laura: The real-life inspiration for all my heroes is actually my fiancé—a screenwriter and English professor. In fact, we’re getting married June 30 (two days before my next book comes out!) so he’s definitely been on my mind. He was my writing mentor before I was published, and he embodies the traits I love in all my heroes: brilliance, broad shoulders, determination and an unwavering sense of honor.
Crystal: Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, Laura!
Speaking of writing, you have an upcoming release! By Royal Command; can you tell us a little bit about it? Why should readers pick up By Royal Command?
Laura: This book was very much influenced by two of my favorite, classic historical romance authors. In scope it’s similar to Bertrice Small’s epic Skye O’Malley. In style, By Royal Command has the dark intensity and intricate plotting of Laura Kinsale’s Shadowheart. I like to say I write historical romance for smart people—with many plot twists, layers of court intrigue, and complex characters who are neither purely good nor evil. Readers usually give my stories high marks for historical detail. A number of my readers are male, which I find interesting!
Here’s a little more about the story. Set on the turbulent shores of Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest, By Royal Command is an epic medieval romance about two brothers, one woman, and three hearts at war.
Katrin of Courtenay’s husband is dead—and she doesn’t mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn’t need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he’s ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court.
On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled—she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine.
A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael’s powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?
Crystal: From the blurb alone, By Royal Command sounds like it is going to be an intense and emotional read. Was it the same while writing? Without giving too much away, can you share a scene with us today that really affected you while writing?
Laura: This book was definitely an emotional roller coaster to write. Actually, the scene that affected me the most was one I ended up deleting. As you can see from the blurb, this is a story about two very different heroes and one heroine, and it’s not a ménage. In order for two people to find their happily-ever-after, something has to happen to the third, right? In an earlier version of the novel, I ended up killing off the hero Katrin doesn’t choose. I sobbed BUCKETS writing that scene! It affected me for days. In the end, I had to rework the story to change that ending, so my doomed second hero could find his own happily-ever-after. In the end, all three of my main characters triumph over their demons.
Crystal: I am so glad to hear that all three get a HEA!
What’s next for you? Do you have any other books in the works for this year?
Laura: I’m incredibly excited because I just sold my first historical paranormal trilogy! It’s a trio of dark Tudor romances with elements of Arthurian legend and fallen angel heroes. Release dates and titles are still being worked, but I hope you’ll see these Laura Navarre books on sale in 2013.
As a sideline, taking advantage of my background as a former diplomat, I’m writing a trilogy of Russian-set romantic suspense, with lots of international intrigue and glamour, under the pen name Nikki Navarre. Think spies, champagne and seduction. State secrets have never been this sexy! The first book is The Russian Seduction (October 2012). You can check out Nikki’s first chapter and other goodies here at http://www.lauranavarre.com/book/nikki-navarre-books
Crystal: How exciting!
I can’t let you go though without asking about your adorable cats. They are just gorgeous! Can you tell our readers a little bit about them please; what kind of personalities do Pandora and Delilah have? How awesome are they?
Laura: Pandora and Delilah are definitely awesome! They’re exotic little creatures I acquired while living in Russia. Pandora’s a Siberian—a cat engineered to survive the harsh Russian winters, with big tufted feet designed to walk on snow, a sleek rain-shedding layer of fur to keep her dry, and a downy layer underneath to keep her toasty warm. Delilah’s a rare Siberian sub-breed called a Neva Masquerade which is not common in the U.S.
Pandora is the alpha in the relationship for sure: very smart, strong-willed, dark and sleek and minx-like. Delilah is the shy beta, with big blue eyes, creamy fur and seal-colored paws. Mostly she gets by on cuteness. They’re essential writing accessories—I never write well without Delilah curled up on my desk next to the keyboard, just as she is right now!
Crystal: Awww, I want three or four now! You hear that hubs? Birthday present right there. *grin* Thank you again for taking the time to stop by, Laura, and congratulations on your upcoming release of By Royal Command!
Laura: Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat with you—and happy reading!
July 2, 2012
Two brothers. One woman. Three hearts at war. Katrin of Courtenay's husband is dead—and she doesn't mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn't need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he's ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court. On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled—she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine. A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael's powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?
In her other life, Laura Navarre is a diplomat who’s lived in Russia and works on weapons of mass destruction issues. In the line of duty, she’s been trapped in an elevator in a nuclear power plant and has stalked the corridors of facilities churning out nerve agent and other apocalyptic weapons. In this capacity, she meets many of the world’s most dangerous men.
Inspired by the sinister realities of her real life, Laura writes dark medieval and Renaissance romance with a dash of political intrigue. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Published Author Network (PAN) and a 2009 Golden Heart finalist, she has won the Emily Award for Excellence, the First Coast Romance Writers Beacon Award, the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award, the Golden Pen, the Duel on the Delta, Hearts through History’s Romance through the Ages, and other awards.
Previously published with Samhain and Dorchester, Laura’s newest releases are her epic medieval romance By Royal Command (Harlequin/Carina, July 2012) and her sexy romantic intrigue The Russian Seduction (Affluent Press, August 2012, as Nikki Navarre). She teaches writing workshops on “Sympathy for the Devil: Dark Heroes in Popular Fiction.” Laura holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine.
Living in Seattle with her screenwriter fiance and two Siberian cats, she divides her time between her writing career and other adventures for U.S. government clients.
Laura is giving away one $25 eGC to either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour.
Please leave a comment along with your broken up email addy.
The contest is open the duration of the tour from June 18 – July 2, 2012. The more chances a person follows and comments on the tour, the greater their chances of winning.
Twitter Party w/Giveaway Details:
Twitter Party: Monday, June 25th from 9am – 10am PST (12pm – 1pm EST)
◦ #lauranavarre ◦ Theme: Woman in Medieval Times ◦ Pre-register at: http://events.litconnect.com/twitter-party-women-in-medieval-times-laura-navarre-author
• Signed Print copy of The Devil’s Temptress by Laura Navarre for one random pre-registrant who signs up to attend the Twitter Party.
• A digital copy of By Royal Command to two random Twitter Party participants. (Participants must be in attendance.)
• A 30 page critique to one author who participates.