KP Blog24 Sep 2014
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An old Guess Who song playing on the radio on my drive to work recently brought it home to me that music has fueled my writers' imagination since before I even knew what writing was. I didn't realize writing stories was an active thing I could do until I was nine years old; at the time this song had regular airplay I was only a second-grader, making up things my cousins and I could play with our stuffed animals. Something about the lyrics of the Guess Who's “Raindance” will always bring me back to the scenario of a tiny stuffed rabbit named Hopper (real in our imaginations) trying to prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Yes, I was a weird kid, and probably am an even weirder adult. I even find myself daydreaming in the realms of my favorite books while listening to music during my dayjob commute; there are several songs at the moment that always evoke Preston and Child's Diogenes Pendergast for me. Some of these overlap with music that puts me in mind of a mystery work I'm planning currently, while others put me in mind of another planned novel about the reincarnation of Jonathan Swift and one of his little girlfriends. In fact, for most of the things I've written, I can point to the music that helped inspire them. For instance, The White Squirrel, which my short piece More Than the Quest is something of a teaser for, owes a great debt to the Fleetwood Mac and Rumours albums.
So why, then, can't I tell you what bits of popular music to listen to while reading my upcoming historical romance, Arden's Act, if you are kind enough to do so? For one thing, it is set during the time and place of England's Restoration—early 1660s London. The actual music of that time was Baroque, and you know the old adage: “If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it.” (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But more accurately, it's because I hope someday it has a soundtrack of its own.
I started writing Arden's Act many years ago. At the time, my good friend and sometimes writing partner (like, back in junior high!) Deborah Caldwell was going through radiation and chemotherapy for an inoperable brain tumor. She had asked me to send her some of my writing to help keep her occupied and distracted during the process. (What writer can resist a request like that?) I sent her a few short stories, and the first six or so chapters of Arden's Act.
She fell in love with Arden's Act, the story of a fictional young woman who becomes one of the first female actors to regularly perform on the English stage. I have to give Deb a lot of credit; if it weren't for her fierce belief in the project, I might never have finished this novel. She also convinced me that it would make a great Broadway (and/or West End?) musical, and wrote a few songs for it. She was a composer of music, so I wrote the lyrics for the songs. Though she went into remission for seven years, the tumor eventually returned and took her life. During our last phone conversation before she passed away, I promised her I would keep trying, and seek a composer to help me finish the task. Any takers out there? Deb would be so thrilled to see the upcoming release of Arden's Act by Keith Publications. I am so grateful to this publisher for this opportunity, and I am proud to help them celebrate their fourth anniversary by writing this blog post. Here's to much success to come!
Elizabeth Thomas was born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. She earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her first job after leaving U of M was as an editor and writer for the Gale Group's Contemporary Authors.
For a few years Elizabeth lived in Tucson, Arizona, where her children, Lisa and Joseph, were born. In 1996, she moved to Cedar Park, Texas, a suburb of Austin, where she still resides. In the Austin area, she worked for Barrett Kendall Publishing, and continued to work on her own writing projects. When Barrett Kendall began a precipitous decline, Elizabeth realized she had to change careers, and in 2005 graduated as a registered nurse from Austin Community College.
Elizabeth has won prizes in numerous writing competitions, and has had a short story published in Mytholog. Her full-length play, The Circle has received a stage reading in Birmingham, Michigan, and full production as a special event by the Way Off Broadway Community Theater in Leander, Texas. In gratitude to the latter organization, she subsequently served on its board of directors, and even had a brief stint as its president—she gave new meaning to the term “lame duck.”
Elizabeth is thrilled that Keith Publications is offering More Than the Quest as one of their e-books, and can't wait until her historical novel Arden's Act comes out from Keith. Her short story Lot's Daughter is available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon, and her middle-school novel, Confessions of a Mixed-Up Weasel Hater is available in both print and electronic versions.
To find out more about Elizabeth Thomas follow the links below.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeththomaswriter
Leave a comment for your chance to be one of the first people to read Arden's Act for FREE!
Blurb: Arden's Act
In 1661, Arden West runs away from an abusive Puritan stepfather with the goal of becoming one of the first actresses of the London stage. One of the first people she meets is the jaded and sensual aristocrat Robert Courtenay, and sparks fly hot and fast between them. Will he help or harm her new career? Will she give up her quest for fame for him? Will he give up his arranged betrothal for her?
Will her stepfather succeed in dragging her back to his peculiar brand of torment? And what of Charles II's desire to make Arden his royal mistress? Royal intrigue, assassination plots, ghosts, and kidnappings are among the obstacles standing in the way of Arden and Robert's chances for happiness.
Excerpt of Book:
Courtenay stood before the small fireplace with his back to her, a glass of brandy in his hand. He had helped himself from the cut glass decanter on the mantelpiece. The stopper, still out, lay beside it. The things one noticed on the edge of panic. Arden forced down her nervousness even though she feared Brian also guessed Courtenay’s mission correctly.
She drew in a breath, trying to summon resolve along with it. Courtenay pivoted at the sound, turning those brilliant black eyes upon her. Arden had never seen eyes like that before she’d met him. Her heart raced as she realized exactly what she feared―not force, as in the alley, but willingness. What would it be like to have those lips on hers again, not in surprise as before, but in full readiness to welcome them? And to feel those fine, strong arms around her?
“Good evening, Mistress West,” said Courtenay. He took her hand, now ungloved, and pressed it to his warm lips. “Please sit down,” he urged her, drawing her to a misleadingly delicate cushioned bench upholstered in pale blue silk. He remained standing.
Arden sat, but quickly found her voice. “Good evening, Lord Robert. I am happy to have this opportunity to thank you, both for rescuing me, earlier, and for speaking to Lord Davenant on my behalf.”
Courtenay smiled, arching his dark brows. “You are entirely welcome, Mistress West,” he replied. “May I pour you some brandy?”
“No, thank you, sir,” she answered, waving her hand at the offered glass and decanter.
Courtenay laughed, low, but hearty. “You’ve probably never had it except in the middle of a raging fever, too weak to move! Are you sure you’re not a Puritan at heart?”
“How many Puritan actresses do you know?” Arden retorted, heat rushing to her cheeks.
“There is a first time for everything,” said Courtenay. His dark eyes glittered with merriment as he replaced the empty glass and the decanter. “But Mistress West, I did not call for your verbal thanks, pleasant though they are. I have a proposition for you, one I believe will be of great pleasure and benefit to us both.” As he spoke, Courtenay sat down on the bench beside Arden. She knew she should edge over, to put more distance between them. But her body did not wish to cooperate. In her moment of hesitation, Courtenay clasped one of her hands in both of his, making the option of movement even more awkward. He brought her hand up to his mouth once more but gently turned it palm upwards to kiss it. The heat of his lips, their feathery touch on the fortune lines of her hand, made Arden fight to keep her shivers invisible to him.
“I would be your lover, Arden,” Courtenay confessed in a low voice. “I would teach you to feel things every woman should experience.”
Arden forcibly withdrew her hand and stood up. “So,” she said, trying to keep fear from her voice. “All day, whenever I thought of you, I would wonder―why do you keep such friends? Of course, one is an influential Duke, but still―I thought you nothing like them! But here, you prove yourself not so different after all!”
“Oh, Arden, no!” Courtenay cried, rising impulsively. He moved to put an arm around her, but when she backed further away, he dropped his hands to his sides. “Arden, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said softly. “What almost happened to you today was wrong, terribly wrong. And yes, my friends can frequently resemble jackasses, but, part of it, you see, they thought you an actual Puritan. And we’ve all spent so many long years in exile with the King . . .”
As he trailed off, Arden knew she should retort with: “And it would have been all right, if I had been a Puritan?” Her lips wouldn’t even try to form the words. She knew what he meant. Treadwell and his clumsy attempts to touch her sickened her in their own right, sickened her even more because he had married her mother and played the role of parental protector. They sickened her most, though, because he was one of them. He had joyously recounted many times seeing the old King murderously beheaded, and took such obvious pleasure in the destruction of everything her late father held dear. She could understand wanting to hurt one of them, even though she knew it was wrong.
“What I propose would be so different, Arden,” continued Courtenay. “You would be cherished, caressed, showered with comforts. And protected. You would be treated with gentleness, always.”
Her fears quieted, Arden could feel her cheeks growing warmer. She had no hope Courtenay hinted at an honorable offer, but the riot her blood made rushing through her body demanded she ask. If a chance existed that she could allow him to continue. . . . Not impossible, was it? For a man like Courtenay to fall in love with her quickly and wish to marry her? She might be an actress, but the blood in her veins had not come from commoners. Not unheard of, for a future lord to take a wife from the gentry? “Then . . . you wish to court me?” Arden managed, her voice barely a whisper.
“No, my dear,” he answered gently, sitting back down beside her and reclaiming her hand. “Your innocence is touching, and I will honor it with the truth. My bride has long been chosen, but has a few years before she reaches marriageable age. I want you as my mistress.”
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