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Books with Buzz: Laura Kinsale Interview and Giveaway – Ten Copies of Lessons in French!(Contest closed)

rsz_kinsale I like lots of books, but the list of books I absolutely love is a much shorter one. Laura Kinsale’s work figures prominently on it, however. Whether deeply dark or somewhat lighter, her prose captures the mood of her stories vividly, and I am in awe of the versatility of her voice. Her writing runs the gamut from the lighter tone and Regency world of her upcoming Lessons in French to the deep moodiness and medieval voice of the magnificent For My Lady’s Heart.

There’s something about anticipation. The longer we have to wait for something, the more it gets built up in the mind. As one of the many who adore Laura Kinsale’s writing, I have been waiting years for Lessons in French, and am excited that the release date is just around the corner. On January 26, 2010, Lessons in French should be hitting store shelves, and it lived up to those vast expectations I had built up in my mind. Both hilariously funny and quite poignant, I suspect this book will have readers laughing and crying – and probably both at the same time!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am beyond thrilled to have Laura Kinsale here with us today as she begins counting down to release day for Lessons in French! And after you finish reading her interview, keep going for information on how you can win one of ten copies of the book!

1. Lessons in French is your first new book in several years. Could you tell readers briefly what to expect?

If you love those stories where the shy, plain girl gets the hot dashing guy in the end, this will be your kind of book! And be warned, Lady Callista is not a kick-ass heroine. In fact let’s call her the anti-kick-ass heroine. She ought to be quite a catch—she’s the daughter of an earl and wealthy to boot–but she’s been left standing at the altar by three different men. She’s long ago resigned herself to spinsterhood, and her greatest desire is to win the silver cup at the agricultural fair with her prize bull, Hubert.

That’s until Trev d’Augustin waltzes back into her quiet life. The son of French émigrés, he was run out of town by Callie’s father years ago for stealing a bit more than a kiss from her. Callie and Trev share quite a past, in fact, full of secret adventures and harebrained antics that no one else knows about, not even Trev’s very shrewd mother. On his return, Callie is instantly drawn willy-nilly into scandal and deception–the sort of deception that involves trying to hide a huge bull under the bedsheets. She goes from having no suitors to having more than she wanted. And in the midst of these escapades, she finds herself falling in love again with the worst possible man for her.

2. Lessons in French has a very different tone than Shadowheart, your previous book. What prompted you to write something lighter this time around?

Shadowheart took me a long time to write, and was an extremely intense experience. I went to a lot of dark places with Allegreto and Elena–I think I needed a happy ending more than they did!

So partially it was a change of pace, and partly it was a writing challenge for me. I love to read light romances—I’ve often said Lessons in French is a tribute to Georgette Heyer in thanks for all the hours of enjoyment I’ve had with her books. I’m in awe of her. Humor, done well, is very much a skill in itself. I’ve always had touches of humor in my books, but they are overshadowed by the intensity in some cases. I wanted to write an entire book in a light vein.

I also think this is the perfect time to publish a feel-good story. All I want for readers with Lessons in French is to sit back, read it and smile.

3. I think Trev is my new favorite “rogue” hero. Usually, when I see the word “rogue” in a title or being used to describe a hero, I know I’m being told the hero is a rogue because: (1) It’s a light, frothy story and (2) the hero was a manslut before he met the heroine. And often that’s it. However, that’s not what is going on in this book at all. With his wonderful sense of humor and colorful past, Trev just seems to embody the word through the very way he carries himself. What was your inspiration for him?

Often the original inspiration for a character becomes very distant as the story develops. That’s what happened in this case. Originally I had the general idea that I wanted to write a book using a very minor character that appeared near the end of Seize the Fire, a true scoundrel with a murky aristocratic title and a charming but dubious character.

That determined the time period and general idea for a “continental” hero, but I quickly found myself moving away from the particulars of that specific character (I won’t even mention the name because I don’t want to give the misimpression that Lessons in French is in any way about him, or connected to Seize the Fire. It isn’t.). The only thing Trev shares with that “inspiration” is a sense of humor, a mysterious past, and a useless aristocratic title.

4. I’ve seen you quoted elsewhere saying that writing pure humor is harder than writing deeply emotional scenes. However, you make the dialogue and interplay between Callie and Trev flow so effortlessly in this book. What was the hardest thing about constructing that relationship in your story?

It certainly isn’t easy to be funny. Ask any comedian. I spent a little time actually studying stand-up comedy—a very interesting field. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Of course that’s just the way you always want humor to appear–effortless.

It reminds me of riding dressage (which I do) or ballet (which I don’t do!)—both activities which are extremely demanding of both skill and practice, and yet appear to the audience to happen naturally, gracefully and with no work at all.

5. What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

I loved both the characters. And Hubert! It was a pleasure to spend time with them.

6. A lot of writers seem to become identified almost exclusively either with lighter, comedic stories or with darker, more serious tales. However, you have written both types of stories in your career. Do you identify more strongly with one type of story or do you prefer to try out a variety of tones and story types in your writing?

I’ve been thinking about this. I know I have the reputation for very dark, intense stories. And yet, I don’t think my readers would be surprised to find that Lessons in French is also intense in its own way.

It is a deeply emotional book. Looking back over my career, I think that’s what my stories have in common, and what readers can always expect. Whether they are “dark” or “light,” my goal is that my books will engage the reader’s heart in a deep and memorable way.

7. So, do you have any upcoming books planned?

I’m working on a book now, but since I never know how things will turn out, I’ll spare everyone the details in case it changes.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today!
Thank YOU, Laura Kinsale for taking the time to chat with us! Though the book is not yet on shelves, the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, has generously offered to provide 10 lucky readers with copies of Lessons in French. This giveaway is limited to readers in the US and Canada, and to enter, all you need to do is comment to this post by 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 8, 2010. Good luck!

-Lynn Spencer

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