Saturday, 22 January 2011

Author Interview with Emery Lee and International Book Giveaway!

Interview with the Historical Fiction author Emery Lee and International Book Giveaway!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome and introduce you all to the Historical fiction author Emery Lee. Emery Lee is a member of ‘Romance Writers of America’, ‘Georgia Romance Writers’, and ‘The Historical Novel Society’. She is married with two children and currently resides in NE Georgia.

Combining meticulously researched historical settings and love of a great romantic tale, Emery Lee fictionally explores the Georgian era in her distinctly 18th century voice within her writing.

Emery’s first novel ‘The Highest Stakes’ is a tale of thwarted lovers and horseracing, Emery transports the reader to a world where racing and breeding were the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might easily replace a duel in settling a point of honor. Upon this high stakes turf of Georgian England and Colonial Virginia, a tale of drama, danger, thwarted love, and retribution unfurls…

TSR: A very warm welcome to you Emery, and very big thank-you from us all at ‘The Secret Writer’, for taking some time out of your normal schedule to talk to us today.

EL: Thank you so very kindly for inviting me to chat with you at ‘The Secret Writer’!

TSR: Emery, can I ask what kind of books did you like reading as a child?

EL: I have loved reading from a very early age, and remember stopping at the public library several times a week on my way home from school from the age of 8 years. I also fell in love with horses at this time and devoured every horse book I could get my hands on. Walter Farley's Black Stallion series, Marguerite Henry's tales of the Chincoteague ponies, Black beauty, etc. I also loved fairy tales and folk lore at that age, especially the Black Caldron series by Lloyd Alexander.

As a pre-adolescent I became interested in mysteries. I loved Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. In my teenage years, I began reading many of the classics- Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare. I also fell in love with the gothic and suspense stories of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart, as well as discovering Nora Lofts, Daphne Dumaurier, and the Bronte sisters. As for romance, a close friend introduced me to the regency romances of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer both of whom I still love.

TSR: What made you decide to take up writing professionally?

EL: To be truthful, writing wasn't something I could have imagined doing in my wildest fantasies! I've always loved to read, but had NEVER done any creative writing until three years ago, when I began experiencing a great deal of frustration in my career. I felt stifled in my work and started writing just as a creative outlet. Interestingly, I was literally riding up a mountain on horseback when I got the inspiration for the novel that would become ‘The Highest Stakes’. Similar to many other writers, I kept dreaming snippets of my story. It wouldn't let me go- so I began to research and to write it.

TSR: Emery, how do you go about preparing to write your Georgian era historical novels?

E.L: When I submitted the first draft of ‘The Highest Stakes’ to my editor Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, she gave me one very clear injunction, “Build your world.” I took this completely to heart, and from that moment, have made it my onus as an author to bring my era, the Georgian period, vividly to life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what is a writer, if not an artist with words? One who takes the bank canvas of paper to bring to life sounds, smells, and vivid imagery in the reader’s mind, while using only the stroke of the pen (or the tap of the keyboard, if you will!)

As a writer of historical fiction, creating a setting equally as compelling as the characters is one of the biggest, but most important, challenges. But how does one do that when all time has left for us are dusty old history tomes documenting dry accounts of events and lives of people long dead?

I began my journey by first immersing myself in the 18th century as history relates it. My purpose was to better understand the major events that impacted the lives of everyday people, and to establish a firm timeline in my own mind to set my story.

Some of the major events of the Georgian era included the Jacobite uprising of 1715, the South Sea Bubble that caused economic devastation in the early 1720’s, the trade conflicts of the 1730’s that resulted in a naval war with Spain (The War of Jenkins’ Ear) at the end of the decade, later burgeoning into a greater war on the European Continent, India and the Americas. (The War of Austrian Succession in the 1740’s and the Seven Years war in the 1750's.)

This age also saw the overthrow of Robert Walpole, the first de facto Prime Minister, and the invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie leading to another Jacobite Uprising in 1745. (Whew! That’s only the first half of the century!!)

From all of this military and political history, I moved on to the society and culture of the times to include literature, art and music. I read plays by John Gay and Colley Cibber, as well as novels by Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson. I closely studied the satirical art of William Hogarth, who was not only a great artist, but a brilliant and biting social commentator.

Lastly, and most importantly, I read diaries, letters, and memoirs, personal accounts of lives, events, and of battles, works surviving the ages, in which the true voices of their subjects yet live, endeavouring to adopt the style and manner of the real people of the age. Having laid this very solid foundation in world building, I finally felt prepared to move on to the true subjects of my novels.

Since my first novel, ‘The Highest Stakes’, is set in the horseracing world, I sought to learn as much as possible about the breeding, care, and training, of the 18th century race horse. As a lifelong equine lover, I was especially driven to answer the questions: How did the thoroughbred horse come into being? Who were the men who raised and raced this magnificent specimen of nature? What compelled them to spend and to wager fortunes on this obsession? I decided to answer all of these questions and more in the context of a love story!

For my upcoming ‘Fortune’s Son’, a spin-off of my first novel, the foundation of the era was already laid, but I had yet to worm my way into the Georgian gambling world- not just cards and dice, mind you! The gentlemen of Georgian England bet on EVERYTHING! This meant learning all about the games, the rules and the “cheats” to recreate the gaming tables, rattling dice boxes, and the spinning E-O wheels, as well as the stench, and blood of the cockpits and pugilism rings.

As my story evolved, it was also necessary to explore the legal world in regard to a peer’s privilege, inheritance and entailment law, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, and debtor’s prison!

I hope I have provided a strong sense of how the small details and historical accuracy in the framework can help the setting of a historical novel to become as compelling as the characters themselves. It is also my dearest wish that the following excerpts from my work will thoroughly entertain as well as give you a true flavour of this bygone Georgian era.

For excerpts from ‘The Highest Stakes’, the upcoming Fortune’s Son’, as well as a sneak preview of my current project, ‘The Bastard’s Legacy’, I hope you will visit me on Goodreads at:

TSR: Is it difficult balancing your research and writing with your family life?

EL: It has been extremely difficult. In 2008, shortly after I began writing my first manuscript, I was hit with several personal tragedies in a row. Our dog was hit and killed by a car. Six weeks later my horse Kasper suffered a horrible accident, and had to be euthanized on the spot, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and died six weeks later. Lastly I was laid off from my job! (2007 was NOT a good year!)

I was unemployed for eight months, which actually gave me the time I needed to finish my book, and then I got a job offer in another state. I moved from South Carolina to Texas. During this time, my first novel was released and my second is now completed. Although I have yet to see any real financial return, I have very high hopes for the future.

TSR: What sort of books do you like to read now?

EL: I truly am a history geek, so I gravitate toward anything historical, but I also have a very romantic nature. Although I enjoy biographical fiction, historical fiction, and historical romance, my very favourite books are those that combine all three - historicals that feature real people and strong romantic elements. I am currently the group moderator for the Goodreads group "romantic historical fiction lovers" where we are working to compile a reading list of precisely these kinds of books. (Please drop by and check us out. It's a very friendly group!)

TSR: Would you have liked to live in the Georgian era and why?

E.L: After having studied the era in depth- the history, politics, art, literature, music, as well as the bawdy humour and the biting social satire, I would answer emphatically yes - as long as I had the money to live well!!!

I have read so many diaries, letters, and memoirs that I almost feel a contemporary of so many prominent people of the age, as if I could strike up a conversation with any of them. I am truly fascinated with this age of elegance, politesse... and vice!

TSR: Emery, thank-you very much for visiting today and for your fascinating interview!

EL: You are very welcome and thank –you too, for inviting me to visit ‘The Secret Writer’ blog.

If you are interested in finding out more about Emery and her writing please follow the web links that are detailed below:

FORTUNE’S SON, Sourcebooks - coming November 2011

Second in her Georgian era trilogy, Emery Lee spins a web of drama, passion, and deceit, deep in the world of high stakes gaming, when a chance meeting at the hazard table between a seasoned gamester and a courtier of a prince, changes their destinies as unpredictably as a roll of the dice.

International Book Giveaway!

THE HIGHEST STAKES, Sourcebooks 2010

WHAT WOULD YOU WAGER…FOR LOVE??? In a tale of thwarted lovers and horseracing, Ms. Lee transports the reader to a world where racing and breeding were the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might easily replace a duel in settling a point of honor. Upon this high stakes turf of Georgian England and Colonial Virginia, a tale of drama, danger, thwarted love, and retribution unfurls…

Emery is very kindly providing a copy of ‘The Highest Stakes’ for our International Book Giveaway to anywhere the Book Depository ships!

So, we have one copy of Emery Lee's novel 'The Highest Syakes' to give away in an International draw with this post!! All you have to do to enter the draw to win a copy of 'The Highest Stakes' is:
Join this blog as a new Google Friends Connect Follower (one entry)
Join this blog as a new Network Blogs Follower (one entry)
Leave a comment if you are a current GFC or Network Blogs follower of this blog (one entry);

If you have just joined this blog as a new GFC or Network Blogs Follower, also leave a comment on this post for each type of new follower you are to 'The Secret Writer' blog. As already detailed above, this giveaway draw is also open to all of you who are already followers of this blog!

Please also remember to leave details of your e-mail address with each of your comments (both new followers and old!), so I can then contact the winner following the draw. Entry for this draw will close at 11.00pm (GMT) on Friday 28rd January 2011. The winner will then be announced as soon as possible after this date. If the winner cannot be contacted 48 hours after the draw has taken place, a new winner will then be chosen.

Good luck everyone!


  1. I love reading historical fiction and would love to win this book because it involves English horseracing back in time.


  2. I am a new Google Friend Connect follower of your blog.


  3. I now follow your blog with Networked Blogs.


  4. I am a GFC follower.

  5. GFC following!


  6. Thanks so much for this interview! The book looks amazing and I cannot wait to read it! Thanks also for the giveaway! Please enter me in the contest - I am a GFC old follower.

    I would also just like to mention that I really appreciate the work that you, Ms. Lee, put into the book as a writer and researcher. I think a lot of writers - especially romance writers, are often skipped over in this department, and I just want to acknowledge it when I see it. Thank you. :)

  7. Great Interview. I love reading historical novels, so this book looks like my sort of thing!

    I'm a relatively new follower to you blog.

  8. Another interesting interview, thanks Calum.

    Please enter me me for the giveaway

  9. Hello everyone!
    Thank you all for the comments.
    As a reader, I have always looked for books that are well researched and settings with vivid historical detail. As an author,I have made this my goal, to do my homework before writing, so that my books will enlighten as much as they entertain.
    Warmest regards,
    Emery Lee

  10. I am a follower! Thanks for the chance to win!
    ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. What a wonderful interview! Thank you for the gantastic opportunity!


  12. great interview Calum and it sounds like a good historical read! thanks to Ms. Emery Lee and to you as well for this international giveaway! c",)

    old GFC and Networked Blogs follower here

  13. I'm amazed (and encouraged) by how many authors never thought they would write professionally.

    Oh, this novel would make such a great present for a good friend of mine who breeds horses in Virginia.

    I'm a follower.
    magalyguerrero AT live DOT com

  14. I'm following on Twitter
    magalyguerrero AT live DOT com

  15. On Network Blogs
    magalyguerrero AT live DOT com

  16. And Goodreads ;-)
    magalyguerrero AT live DOT com

  17. Thanks for the great giveaway! I'm a huge historical romance reader but am "branching out" to the historical fiction genre. Count me in! I already follow via GFC (Bornajhawk) and Networked Blogs (Laura Grassie Henderson).


  18. Hi Calum. Thanks for following on Secret Poems. This is a great looking blog.

  19. Great interview! I especially loved reading about how much time and energy and passion Emery dedicated to her research. It reminds me that, though the historical aspects of my novel only come into play from time to time, I also need to become well aware of what I'm writing.

  20. Ooh, one of my favourite periods for historical fiction :) Thanks for this giveaway, I'm a current follower via GFC (Jasmine1485)

    Kate1485 at

  21. I am a current GFC follower: CiNdY

  22. I am a new NetworkedBlog follower (Cynthia Murphy)

  23. This book giveaway draw is now closed. After visiting, I will post the details of the winner as soon as possible. Thank-you to everyone who entered this draw and left great comments!


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