Monday, December 16, 2013

Future Published #4: The Bride Gift

Today's interviewee is Sarah Hegger, author of THE BRIDE GIFT. You can follow Mrs. Hegger on her Facebook, Twitter, or her blog. In this case I must confess that I am cheating, because I happen to know that the novel has been sold to Soul Mate Publishing and will be out in May, 2014. Thank you, Mrs. Hegger, for journeying all the way to Elflandia.

Mrs. Hegger: Thanks for letting me drop by.

So, tell us about your novel. What inspired you to write this story?

Mrs. Hegger: I have always been interested in the role of women and specifically the power, or lack thereof, they have had over the centuries. Even in times when women were the most powerless, there have been those that stood out. Empress Maude, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth l, Victoria and so many more. I wanted to write a story where a woman was powerless and how she worked within the system to get what she wanted.

Who was your favorite character to write?

Mrs. Hegger: My hero Guy of Helston. I set myself a tough task with him. I didn't want to pretty him up, but keep him pretty much your basic medieval fighting machine. Guy is so non-verbal that I had to find inventive ways of getting him to 'speak' and still keep him to growls, grunts and monosyllabic responses.

What motivates your characters?

Mrs. Hegger: In essence, both Helena and Guy are motivated by security. They want to secure their futures. Both of them have been at the mercy of others and are determined never to be in that position again.

Why Medieval England?

Mrs. Hegger: Castles, horses, those lovely bliauts. And I also don't think I ever recovered from seeing the old Richard Harris/Vanessa Redgrave version of Camelot.

Do you ever kill characters? (You don't have to answer that!)

Mrs. Hegger: Oh, yes. This is bad Olde England after all, but I'm not going to give anything more away.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are you reading these days?

Mrs. Hegger: I am a voracious romance reader. I always have one or two on the go. Which is probably why I can never get the titles straight. I never miss a Kristan Higgins or a Jill Shalvis. I love Eileen Dreyer, Madeline Hunter and Lisa Kleypas. I have just finished reading Wounded Wings by Shauna Allen. I managed to get lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy.

Where did you grow up?

Mrs. Hegger: I was born in England, but spent most of my life in South Africa. I just mourned, with my country men and women, the death of the incredible Nelson Mandela.

What's your favorite kind of coffee?

Mrs. Hegger: For some reason, since my pregnancies (many moons ago) I can't take strong coffee anymore, but I still love it. I compromise with a Venti Non-Fat Latte every morning

What are you working on, now? Do you have a sequel planned, or something new?

Mrs. Hegger: I am just putting the finishing touches to a new medieval called "Sweet Bea." It's set in King John's England in the year 1215 and I have taken a huge chance and made my hero a thoroughly unlikeable SOB for the front part of the book. He gets better, though, and by the end of it, is as lovely and dreamy as any other romance hero. (This is my hope, anyway). I have also just started a new contemporary and am experimenting with the idea of perfect that we women can get so tangled in.

It's my observation that books seem to reflect their writers. What aspect of you is reflected in your book?

Mrs. Hegger: Hmmm - now you've got me thinking. Probably the fact that most of me heroines present as tough, but they are masks to conceal a softer inside. Actually, a lot of my heroes do the same thing. I like to play around with the ideas of strength and vulnerability and how closely they are tied together.

Would you like to leave us with a quote from your book?

The blurb: 1153, in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.

Determined to control her own destiny, willful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But, when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior Guy of Helston is everything Helena swore she would never marry; a man who lives by the sword, like the man who murdered her sister.

This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.

Against a backdrop of vengeance, war and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything.

An Excerpt: Her husband. Her uncle had given her safekeeping, her future, into the hands of this man. The Scourge of Faringdon.

He looked the part, a large man with broad shoulders blocking the rest of the room from view. In the scant light, his face was all rough­hewn angles and hard planes. His eyes were light, colder than the stone at her feet.

Helena shivered suddenly.

“So,” she tugged the sides of her robe closer together. “We are at an impasse.”

“Nay, my lady,” he replied with that infuriating calm. “Now we must open the gates.”

“Must we?” she taunted. Why did he not challenge her? She wanted him to demand she do his bidding so she could fling it back in his teeth. He merely stood there for a moment and looked at her.

His continued silence unnerved her. “You do not speak much.”

He moved suddenly and Helena jumped. It was as if a tree had suddenly sprung into life. He motioned for her to precede him. “Gates?” he reminded her in his rough voice. It was the sort of voice accustomed to yelling commands across a battle­strewn field. Urging his men forward to murder and mayhem.

Helena raised her chin. “And why must I open the gates?”

“My men . . . are outside.”

It was so absurd that she started to laugh. When he did not join her, but just looked at her with his chillingly pale eyes, Helena’s laughter died in her throat.

“I am not letting your men into my keep.” She crossed her arms over her chest and stared back at him. This game he played could be equally well­ played by two. He moved toward her so suddenly that she stepped back. Her foot tangled in the carpeting and she nearly lost her balance.

“My keep,” he growled. “And my men. Open the gates.”

Her heart pounded so loudly she could barely speak. He gripped her arm firmly, but not hard enough to be painful. She tested its strength and found it secure. Her anger grew stronger. This was not his keep. Lystanwold was hers. This mockery of a marriage changed nothing. She shook her head.

He stepped closer until she could feel the heat from his body. “Be you willing or not, those gates are opening.”

“Do you plan to force me?”

“If I must.”

The silence stretched between them. His eyes were as hard steel and seemed to stare a hole right through her head.

“Lady?” The soft rasp in his tone warned his patience was at an end.

Helena felt an unbidden surge of elation. “How do I know I can trust you?” she flung at him. “You could have deceived my uncle into trusting you and when I open the gates, your men will run havoc through my keep and her people.”

He frowned as if she had just said something so stupid it pained him to consider it.

“You would not be the first to come here with false promises spilling from your lips.” Helena’s fingers curled into her palms. “How do I know you will not kill us all?”

“You do not,” his voice rumbled through his chest. “You have my word only.”

“The word of a hireling sword?” she sneered.

His eyes narrowed. “Gates,” he insisted.

Helena peered at his grave, stern face. He was tall. She barely reached one powerful shoulder. It made her feel tiny by comparison. She bent her neck to maintain eye contact. The cold, implacable certainty of his eyes held hers. And she knew then it made no difference what she believed or what she wanted. He could snap her in two, right this instant, before anyone in the keep was any the wiser. Her courage wilted within.

Yet she resisted. “If you force me, I will scream for help. My men will roust you before you can make a sound.”

“They will try,” he responded, seemingly indifferent to her threat.

“You are not that fearsome.” She tugged at her arm, but he held firm.

He stared at her, battering her resistance with his quiet certainty.

Her husband. Sweet Jesu. Her breath clogged in her lungs. Her mind spun in ever increasing circles. Do. Not. Panic. Think, Helena, think.

As if reading her thoughts, he rumbled softly, “I will not harm you. Do not be afeared.”

“I’m not afeared.” She tossed her head rebelliously even as she lied.

He raised his brow, a silent mockery of her boast.

Her shoulders slumped to admit he’d bested her. If she did not open those gates, there would be blood, and it would be on her hands.

“Open the gates,” he said softly.

“I do this under duress,” she hissed, beaten for now. But she would fight again. He nodded as if he understood and drew in a slow, careful breath. For a moment, she thought he might have looked relieved. Helena dismissed the notion as ridiculous.

“Have you no slippers?” he demanded.

“Eh?” Helena noticed he stared at her pale feet sticking out beneath her night rail. “I have slippers,” she replied.

“Put them on. The stone is cold and hard.”

Helena looked down at her feet and up at him again, then reached below the bed for her slippers.

Coming from Soul Mate Publishing in May, 2014

Thanks for everything!

Mrs. Hegger: Thank you for letting me be here.

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