A few weeks ago I mentioned I had been reading a great book by a new author. Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, by Heidi Ashworth, was such an enjoyable read -- I blazed through it within a day -- that I thought I would share a little more about it.
I first stumbled on Heidi's blog last summer through reading some of the Segullah featured entries. Her writing was clever, but what caught my eye was that she was coming out with Miss Delacourt (her first book) this winter. Myself being a newbie to the publishing industry, and an instant fan of her witty writing style, I began to be a regular reader. The more I heard about Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind as a Regency-style romance the more I wanted to read it (I am an easy target when it comes to a good love story). So I pre-ordered it from Amazon and was excited when it came earlier than expected.
The plot of Miss Delacourt starts with the disastrous journey Ginny (Miss Delacourt) and Sir Anthony take to check on the precious roses of Sir Anthony's take-charge grandmother. I found myself laughing out loud several times at Sir Anthony's perfectly composed behavior (despite an amazing downward spiral of events) and Ginny's quick-witted tongue. Eventually Ginny and Sir Anthony end up as quarantined house guests where the secondary characters help their romance to blossom and really bring the story to life. Ashworth even includes a small plot twist at the end which adds to the believability of the characters.
Since I liked Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind so much I took time to have Heidi answer a few questions about her book to share with you. Here are her responses:
1. How long did it take you to write Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
"I wrote it when I was expecting my second child, every Tuesday for eight hours at a time, when my oldest was at his Grandma's house. Twenty four chapters divided by roughly four weeks per month means it took about six months. I don't think I could have done it any faster--I simply couldn't write when anyone was in the house making noise or even threatening to require a speck of attention. Blogging has helped me to learn how to write surrounded by chaos. It's a good thing."
2. Are any of the characters based on people you know? If yes, who?
"No. And yes. Miss Delacourt and Sir Anthony were born as fully realized people and entirely their own persons like Athena from Zues's forehead--however once I was done writing and took an objective step back, I realized the central conflict was informed by a relationship challenge my husband and I dealt with when we first started dating (and which continues to make itself known now and then to this day). The secondary couple are loosely based on characters I have seen in some favorite movies, something about which I was perfectly aware at the time. They all just sort of came to me and told me their story. It was a very instinctual way to write, rather than an intellectual endeavor, and it was really fun."
3. Of which scene/portion of the book are you most fond or pleased about?
"As many times as I have read Miss D, there are bits and pieces that make me chuckle or think "hey, that was a great idea!" Since, like I said, I wrote this via my instincts rather my intellect (which is in very short supply) (chocolate helped) I can enjoy it from the perspective as if it is (almost) someone else's work. However, I would have to say that I am most proud of the last 65 pages or so of the book because I had to rework those pages at the eleventh hour under a time constraint. It was the most difficult writing I have ever done because I wasn't able to write instinctively--for the first time I had to think about how I was going to believably get from point A to point B. In fact, it was so painfully difficult that I actually told my husband that writing as a profession no longer sounded like fun."
4. I can tell from your blog, and from the repeating theme in Miss Delacourt, that you are very fond of roses; did you write with this symbolism in mind from the beginning or did you add it in later?
"They say that the best way to write a book is to just get the story down and then go back and put in the details, etc. That is not the way this book was written. Maybe I was subconsciously writing it in the back of my brain for years, I don't know, but it is pretty much exactly as it was the day I wrote each chapter (except for the changes I had to make throughout the last quarter of the book). It is hard to explain, but everything wove itself together. I had no ending or details in mind, I literally sat down and wrote a chapter a week and it all worked out (well, I got in trouble towards the end which is why I had to rework the last bit of it). To this day, it still amazes me how this story just came together and all the roses is a perfect example. I didn't start out intending for roses to be a big player in the story--they just appeared and just kept appearing until they made themselves almost their own character in the story. Like I said, it was a lot of fun to write this book because I didn't have any better idea of what was going to happen next than the reader does (well, except that the hero and the heroine would end up madly in love)."
5. What is the likelihood we will see another Miss Delacourt adventure (or a completely new Ashworth work)?
I don't know, Heidi, Ginny promised Lucinda Barrington and Lord Avery she would come and visit them... Maybe Miss Delacourt has more to say--or at least another house party to attend. And in their newlywed state I am sure Sir Anthony would be certain to tag along.
You can buy Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind on Amazon.com for immediate delivery. Or you can wait for its release to nationwide on Christmas Eve. Or better yet, head over to Heidi's blog and enter the giveaway she is hosting this week (a free autographed copy to go to 2 different winners)!
Note from Heidi: sadly Miss D won't be released to bookstores what with my publisher being mainly a library publisher. However, you can order it from any bookstore--also, even though its release is officially Dec. 24th, they released it already. Weird, huh?
Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:9