I’m pleased to welcome the author Cody Young, whose latest book SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE, a Victorian love story that I had the pleasure to review here, is out now published by Embrace Books. Cody has won various awards for her historical research but she always wanted to write fiction. She also wrote a 1940s story called American Smile and a short contemporary ‘Hot Property’ published in 2009.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in my early teens, but I always thought I ought to do something more sensible instead. I’ve tried all sorts of other things – I’ve worked in a warehouse, a dress shop, a bank, a shipping company, a boys’ boarding school and a university. I did research work for several years. But I like writing fiction best of all, so eventually I came back to the idea of being an author. I got a laptop for my birthday three years ago and that was it! Now I can’t stop writing.
How was the process of going from historical research to writing historical fiction?
When I was doing historical research I always found myself wondering about the lives of the people I was reading about – I wanted to fill in all the blanks and tell their stories. Fiction gives me the freedom to do that.
Why did you choose to set SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE as a Victorian romance? What draws you to that time period?
I’m a big fan of Victorian novelists like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, and I love the fashion of the Victorian era – billowing skirts, demure bonnets, hair in ringlets – all of that kind of thing! This story is set in England in the 1860s at a time when people were just starting to consider the idea of giving women the vote, so it seemed like the right time period for headstrong Clara.
What was the inspiration behind this story?
The first romance I ever read was a book I won in a raffle – and there was a gorgeous kiss scene in it. I wanted to try writing a beautiful scene like that, but with a different set up. I wanted to write about a girl who falls in love by accident – because love sometimes happens when you least expect it. Sometimes you have to go out and grab it by the collar too, and in this story it is Clara who asks Ned for a kiss.
What’s your favorite scene or moment from SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE?
I didn’t start writing this story at the beginning – I started with the kiss scene in the billiard room – and that is still probably my favourite scene, although it doesn’t end well for the poor hero.
There’s a very dark and tragic part when you approach violence against women. What do you believe about this situation nowadays? Why did you decide to address that issue in this book?
It was very difficult for a Victorian woman to escape a bad marriage. If a woman is in a violent relationship nowadays it can still be difficult to get away from it, but it’s not impossible, and there is help out there. When I’m writing, I’m always aware that we live in a world where bad things happen and people get hurt, emotionally and physically. But wonderful things happen too – like falling in love. I like the idea that even if the hero and heroine are living through a dark and difficult time and dealing with awful problems, their love for each other lights up their world and chases the darkness away.
Ned and Clara, the protagonists of SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE, came from completely different backgrounds, what do you think they have in common? Why do they work well together?
Yes – Ned is a rough diamond, and Clara is an aristocrat. Ned is very sexy and very kind, but he is definitely not the type of man Clara’s parents would have chosen for her. He doesn’t think he stands a chance with this girl, but he can’t resist her, and they find they have lots in common. She’s down to earth, and she speaks her mind. She is pushing against the boundaries that society has placed around her. So is he. She is perfect for Ned, in fact.
Your blog has a post about virgin heroes x playboys. I believe romance readers have read plenty about playboys and not nearly enough books write about virgin men. If you had to write a book with that approach, how would you describe the heroine’s personality to match the hero’s?
If the hero is the kind of guy who hasn’t done it before – because he has to be absolutely sure he is in love before he can have sex, or because he had a very strict upbringing, for example – then the heroine would be the opposite. She’d be a fun-loving sort of girl who thinks sex is great. She’s the one saying ‘come on, we both want to, so why not?’ He’s struggling to overcome his inhibitions. Then, I would put these two people together and watch the sparks fly. In fact, this is exactly what I tried to do in a story I wrote two years ago, called ‘American Smile’.
Some of your favorite books are Anna Campbell, Lisa Kleypas and Stephanie Laurens. How do they influence you?
Anna Campbell is great on the dynamics of relationships, and tells you exactly what the characters are thinking, Lisa Kleypas has some real ‘quirky’ characters in her books that I like, and Stephanie Laurens certainly knows how to write amazing love scenes. I’ve learned a lot from these three women.
Who designed the cover? Were you involved in the process of creating it?
I wasn’t involved in the design, so it was a wonderful surprise seeing it for the first time. My publisher, Embrace Books, got it done at The Cover Factory. I love it – especially the dress – and it has an element of mystery about it too.
What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
I have just finished a full-length novel set during World War Two. The hero is a handsome RAF pilot who has been badly injured bailing out of his plane. He’s afraid he will never walk again. Before his accident he was a real Romeo, so he thinks his life is over. He is wrong. He falls for a fiery young Irish girl who is working as a servant in his house, but she is determined to resist him and all the other men in the village. It was great fun to write.
Is there a message in SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE that you want readers to grasp?
That a happy marriage takes more than money and that social class is not nearly as important as finding someone who will love you and treat you like an equal.
Wanna win the SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE ebook? YES? Leave a comment answering Cody’s question:
What’s the best way to ask a guy for a kiss?
She’ll choose the best answer next week!
(UPDATE: This event is CLOSED! )