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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interview with author Laura Navarre + Giveaway

I am excited to welcome historical romance author, Laura Navarre, here to The Maiden's Court today.  Although I don't typically read a lot of historical romance but her newest novel, By Royal Command, sounds very interesting - set in Anglo-Saxon England (some of you may know that I recently wrote one of my Masters papers on this time period).  Stay tuned after the interview for a giveaway.  I'm trying out rafflecopter, please let me know if something isn't working right!


Your novel, By Royal Command is set during the Anglo-Saxon period just prior to the Norman Conquest of England. This is not a common period to be featured in a novel. What lead you to select this setting for your novel? (I am particularly partial to this period myself.)


Yes, I noticed that from the review index on your website! I think we have similar tastes. J  The turbulent period of Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest has always been magical for me. England was struggling to rise from the long night of the Dark Ages, staggering beneath the onslaught of successive waves of Vikings who sought not only to plunder England, but to occupy and settle the entire island. The situation I describe in By Royal Command was a national calamity. More than half of England (the so-called Danelaw) was already ruled by the Danes, and Sweyn Forkbeard would go on to conquer the rest of the island in 1013. And then, of course, would come the Normans. My heroine’s uncle, King Ethelred of Wessex (called “the Unready” by historians) began paying the Danegeld—an annual tribute to buy off the raiding Vikings—in 991. His dilemma was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling, who famously warned “that if once you have paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.” In short, this period is so rich in conflict and so transformational in English history that I find it irresistibly romantic and exciting to write about. I hope readers find it the same!

Was writing something that you always aspired to do or was it something that snuck up on you? Why did you choose to write historical romance as opposed to another genre?


I’ve been a scribbler of stories since childhood, but I’m a pragmatic soul and never thought I could support myself doing it, so I didn’t start writing seriously with the intent to publish until years later. The first novel I wrote was the third one I sold. It became By Royal Command (Harlequin/Carina, July 2012), an epic medieval romance about two brothers, one daughter of royalty, and three hearts at war. You can peek at an excerpt here on www.LauraNavarre.com As for why I chose historical romance, I grew up reading fat, dog-eared, classic historical romances by authors like Bertrice Small and Virginia Henley, as well as straight historicals like Gone With the Wind, The Mists of Avalon, and North and South. So there was never any doubt that historicals were what I’d want to write! I love weaving that rich tapestry of historical detail into my plots and characters. My work tends to appeal to historical fiction readers of both genders as well as romance readers—so it’s a bit more cross-genre than straight romance.

When you set out to write a novel, where do you start – with a historical storyline or event that intrigued you or with a romantic storyline that you want to pursue?


For me, that first spark of inspiration is struck by the hero. I’m a character-driven writer, so rather than starting with plot, I start by developing characters. For By Royal Command, the character who sprang to mind during a sleepless night in a foreign hotel was a Viking sword-theyn of rough manners but incorruptible integrity, tarred with the brush of Viking notoriety but fired by a shining sense of honor. He became Eomond, the first of my two heroes in the story. Then I placed him at a point in Anglo-Saxon history that was rife with conflict and transition. I do choose my historical settings very deliberately, down to the year and even the month, because political intrigue and seething tensions between nations tend to figure prominently in my plots. Finding exactly the right moment in history to start my story is a critical choice for me as an author.

Then I needed a heroine to match my hero, so I developed exiled royal Katrin of Courtenay, who believes she murdered her brutal husband when she prayed for his death, and that a vengeful God will punish her for it. Struggling alone to defend her lands, she believes manipulation and deceit are a woman’s only true weapons. But they won’t be enough to save her from making the Devil’s bargain. Katrin’s remarriage becomes the cornerstone of King Ethelred’s scheme to defeat the Danish invasion and save the English throne.

What do you find to be the most difficult or challenging aspect of writing?


Beyond a doubt, it’s rejection. I wrote four novels and soldiered through 67 rejections before I made my first sale, a dark Tudor romance called The Devil’s Mistress about a reluctant lady assassin who’s blackmailed to poison Anne Boleyn, to Samhain in 2009. Since that time, I’ve been “orphaned” twice when my acquiring editors left the publishers I wrote for, and my first mass-market sale was hamstrung when the publisher went bankrupt. Consequently, that book came out with a whimper instead of a roar. And I didn’t sell By Royal Command until years later.

To be successful in the publishing world, a writer has to be endlessly patient, brave as a tiger, faithful to his or her artistic vision yet always savvy to the ever-changing market, discerning, open to criticism but with a finely honed ability to sense whether a particular piece of feedback should be treated as Gospel or shunned like smallpox. Given today’s difficult economy, traditional publishing is a harder nut to crack than ever before. As a writer, I’ve wept tears of despair and rage on so many occasions. Finding the inner fortitude to push the “I believe” button again and again has been one of my most difficult challenges. I’m incredibly grateful for the unfaltering support of my agent JD DeWitt at The View Literary Agency, my fiancĂ© Steven (who’s also a writer) and the mentors who kept me going through those dark days between sales.

Are you working on anything currently and if so, can you tell us anything about it?

I’m extremely 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 titles on sale in 2013. As a sideline, taking advantage of my unusual background as a former diplomat, I’m also 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.


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.

You can find Laura at her website, Facebook, and on Twitter.


Now for the giveaway!  Laura is offering to one entrant chosen from the entire tour an eGift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  The winner of the giveaway hosted here will be entered into that grand prize giveaway.  To clarify - the winner of this giveaway is not guaranteed to win anything - you will move up a level to the grand prize entry.  The contest will remain open until July 2nd.  You can gather more chances to win by visiting other tour stops and entering the giveaways on their sites too.  Here is the link to the tour site.

You can also take part in the Twitter party being hosted on June 25th from 12 - 1 PM EST.  Twitter Hashtag: LauraNavarre.  Two lucky winners from the Twitter party will receive a digital copy of By Royal Command.  You can pre-register for the chance to win a paper copy of her other novel, The Devil's Temptress.

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

7 comments:

  1. I read The Devil's Temptress over vacation and I loved it. Can't wait to read this.

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    1. This is the first I had heard of this author, but I am interested in checking out her other books. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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  2. Thanks for hosting Laura today, Heather!

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  3. Would. Love to read this book.

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  4. Great interview. You certainly have a lot of tenacity to stick with it and get published. I understand it's your livelihood, but still....I knew it was tough but never that tough. Congrats on the new book and I look froward to reading it. Period of history not often written about for sure.

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  5. Laura, thanks for helping keep the world a safer place.(wink, wink) :-)

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