It is my delight to host Grace Elliot, author of The Ringmaster’s Daughter on Indie Chat. The Ringmaster’s Daughter was released February 1, 2104.
Grace is a historical romance author, which is sometimes a sharp contrast to her daily life. Grace shares her writing life with us, plus recipes and the dubious nature of her name.
To whet your appetite, the following is a synopsis of The Ringmaster’s Daughter:
The ringmaster’s daughter, Henrietta Hart, was born and raised around the stables of Foxhall Gardens. Now her father is gravely ill, and their livelihood in danger. The Harts’ only hope is to convince Foxhall’s new manager, Mr Wolfson, to let Hetty wield the ringmaster’s whip.
Hetty finds herself drawn to the arrogant Wolfson but, despite their mutual attraction, he gives her an ultimatum: entertain as never before – or leave Foxhall.
When the winsome Hetty defies society and performs in breeches, Wolfson’s stony heart is in danger. Loath as he is to admit it, Hetty has a way with horses…and men. Her audacity and determination awaken emotions long since suppressed.
But Hetty’s success in the ring threatens her future when she attracts the eye of the lascivious Lord Fordyce. The duke is determined, by fair means or foul, to possess Hetty as his mistress – and, as Wolfson’s feelings for Henrietta grow, disaster looms.
1/ Your love of animals is evident in The Ringmaster’s Daughter. Your “day job” is a veterinarian. Do you treat small and large animals?
Thank you for remarking a love of animals comes across in my writing; what a lovely compliment!
I am indeed an animal lover and a veterinarian. In some respects, caring deeply about animals can make the job more stressful such as when I encounter neglect, ignorance, or even the heartbreak of an owner losing a much-loved pet. And that’s part of why I write: it’s my therapy if you like, a chance to unwind and escape into the past.
I work in a companion animal practice, which means the patients are ‘small furries’ (a technical term for cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits) and the odd reptile. The latter is a growing passion of mine after my son recently convinced my husband and I to let him adopt a bearded dragon. His fascination and care for Gravos blasted my ill-informed preconception that reptiles don’t give anything back to the keeper. I’m now a doting beardie mum (or should that be granny?)
That said, my obsession is, and always will be, cats. Such wonderful creatures, so aloof and yet so giving…probably best not to get me started on the subject.
2/ Do you have a four-legged menagere at home?
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Our house is indeed a menagerie. Our current head count is five cats and a bearded dragon, although we peaked a while back with nine cats and two guinea pigs.
What’s more we take a cat (Widget), the guinea pigs (when they were alive) and now Gravos, the bearded dragon, on vacation with us. This is because I miss our animal friends so much that hubs now insists we take a furry (and scaly) friend along to keep me happy.
Apart from Widget, our other cats are Noni (Widget’s daughter), Pilchard (an abandoned kitten found in a carrier bag hanging from a bottle shop door), and real oldies, Wallace and Gromit.
3/ The Ringmaster’s Daughter is the first in a series. Where do you anticipate this series will take readers?
The Ringmaster’s Daughter is set in the Foxhall Gardens. Pleasure gardens were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and were the equivalent of a modern day amusement park. In the Foxhall series, the gardens provide a common backdrop against which to set the stories of people who worked or visited there.
The Ringmaster’s Daughter bridges a period of upheaval when Foxhall is under new management. The refurbishment gives our heroine, Henrietta Hart, a chance to perform with horses but, in so doing, she becomes vulnerable to the advances of a lecherous duke. The new manager, Mr Wolfson, must then make a choice between his ambition and the woman he has come to love.
Book two in the series, The Cook’s Apprentice - set in Foxhall’s kitchens – is about a widow determined to make an honest living as a chef. She falls in love with the cook to whom she is apprenticed, but events take a turn for the worse when a diner falls ill and she is accused of attempted murder…
Book three is yet untitled and features Kitty Malone, a serving maid who makes walk-on appearance in the earlier books. This story involves an abduction and the notorious Georgian hell-fire clubs. And after that…well, plenty more books are planned, but you’ll have to be patient!
4/ How do you manage to squeeze in writing time between your veterinarian duties and a busy teenaged household?
Veterinary work and writing are symbiotic.
Let me explain.
As I alluded to earlier on, veterinary work can be emotionally draining for a sensitive person. For years I have battled depression, and I’ve found that writing helps. I look on it as a form of meditation where I can forget the stresses of the working day and escape to a different time and place. With my mind occupied by the sights, sounds, and smells of Georgian London, there is no room left to worry about ‘real’ life.
I function so much better on all levels thanks to the escapism of writing, and it’s an easy decision to forsake watching trash TV to sit at my laptop and write. In truth, this would otherwise have been dead time spent vegging in front of the TV or worrying. As a result I have more energy and can take on a full role in family life (OK, this usually means being a taxi driver to my sons, but you know where I’m coming from.).
5/ Your current WIP [work in progress] involves cooking. What’s your favourite dessert (please describe)?
Darlene, this is a mean question because I’m the world’s worst cook. I look on The Cook’s Apprentice as my biggest writing challenge to date for precisely this reason. If someone who can’t cook can convince readers that the heroine is creating mouth-watering dishes then I will have truly succeeded in my craft.
To give you a sense of just how awful my cooking is, I once heard my boys whispering and – when challenged – they confessed to planning to hide all my cookbooks in the hopes that Dad would then make supper! Some of my more choice concoctions are baked bean and pickle sandwiches, and baked beans on pizza (a bit of a theme here…)
However, the heroine of The Cook’s Apprentice, Livy Worth, creates spun-sugar desserts that are replicas of Greek temples, complete with marzipan flowers and gelatin rivers…best you judge if I’ve succeeded as a writer or not.
6/ Many readers may not be aware of the connection of your name to a certain historical figure. Could you briefly enlighten us?
Because of my profession, I write under the pen name of ‘Grace Elliot’ (not everyone is comfortable with a romance author treating their pet!) I chose this name because it’s similar to my real name. I love the name ‘Grace’ (my youngest son would have been named Grace had he been a girl). Finally, the name is wonderfully appropriate – for the reason below.
In the 18th century there was a real Grace Elliot – or Grace Dalrymple Elliot to be precise. She was an amazing woman, tall and beautiful with an independent spirit. She used the tools nature gave her to charm and beguile men and became a notorious courtesan, sought after by princes and aristocrats. Her adventures led her to revolutionary France, where she was imprisoned under threat of execution – but she used cunning and intelligence to obtain a pardon and was set free. It struck me as a deliciously ironic name for a historical romance author, especially as the lady herself was an adventurous woman who lived to love and loved to live.
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is housekeeping staff to five cats, two teenage sons, one husband and a bearded dragon.
Grace believes that everyone needs romance in their lives as an antidote to the modern world. The Ringmaster’s Daughter is Grace’s fifth novel, and the first in a new series of Georgian romances.
The Ringmaster’s Daughter is available for purchase on Amazon via the following link:
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