When the group of highwaymen headed by the disgraced Earl of Little Dean, Reynaud Ravensdale hold up the hoydenish Isabella Murray’s coach, she knocks one of them down and lectures them all on following Robin Hood’s example.
The rascally Reynaud Ravensdale – otherwise known as the dashing highwayman Mr Fox – is fascinated by her spirit.
He escaped abroad three years back following his supposedly shooting a friend dead after a quarrel. Rumour has it that his far more respectable cousin was involved. Now, having come back during his father’s last illness, the young Earl is seeking to clear his name.
Isabella’s ambitious parents are eager to marry her off to Reynaud Ravensdale’s cousin, the next in line to his title. The totally unromantic Isabella is even ready to elope with her outlaw admirer to escape this fate – on condition that he teaches her how to be a highwaywoman herself.
This hilarious spoof uses vivid characters and lively comedy to bring new life to a theme traditionally favoured by historical novelists – that of the wild young Earl, who, falsely accused of murder by the machinations of a conniving cousin and prejudged by his reputation, lives as an outlaw whilst seeking to clear his name.
‘Ravensdale’ is a fast paced, funny and romantic read from the writer of ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’, following the adventures of his equally roguish cousin and set in 1792, just prior to the French Revolution, two years before ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’.
Stephanie: Hello, Lucinda! Thank you for chatting with me today. It is not often I read romance or Historical romance and one with humor into it to boot. Please tell me what sets yours apart from others in this genre?
Lucinda: It’s a pleasure to talk to you. And as for being given an opportunity to go on and on about my writing, what writer could resist that? In answer to your question, I suppose all writers think of their writing as being a thing apart from all the rest -it’s our tragedy that most readers have a different take on the matter. My particular way of flattering myself that mine stands out is to believe that the ironical approach in all my novels is original. I like to share fun with the reader with pointing out the clichéd aspects of some situation while inviting the reader to join with me in enjoying it anyway. ‘Ravensdale’ is an outright satire, but for all that, one which I hope draws the reader into the fun of the adventure and into sympathizing with the characters, who while based on the stereotypes of the clichés of traditional historical romance, are meant to develop into fully rounded characters as the story progresses.
Stephanie: Please tell me a little about, Isabella.
Lucinda: Isabella breaks all the rules – she doesn’t want to play the role of the traditional passive female, and she’s very gung-ho and quite unladylike. She wants to learn to shoot accurately, to fight effectively and she loves a wild gallop in her brother’s breeches, straddling her horse and taking high hedges. She’s a tall, strapping woman with a long mane of black hair and flashing black eyes, and has everyone’s idea of a ‘gypsyish’ attraction. She despises the injustices she can see in her world and would like to try and right a few by emulating Robin Hood and stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
Stephanie: What is an example of a humor part in your book?
Lucinda: Well, this is fairly typical: –
‘Kate’s younger sister Suki came from the back. Seeing her, Flashy Jack, his bright fair hair disguised under powder, took his porter to the bar. Kate came for the dirty plates. “Soup not to your liking?” she asked Ravensdale, who had gone to stand gazing out of the window, arms folded across his chest.
“It was well enough.”
“Have you got guts ache? You keep on leaving your food.”
The landlord, Tom Watts, so strapping and healthy that he didn’t remember when he had last left his own, turned, shocked. “You don’t want to get anything like that; I’ve known cases, strong one month, and invalids at the fireside the next.”
Mr Fox scowled and said nothing.
“Have you got bellyache?” Kate determined to speak plain though the fellow was a real toff, even, some said, none other than the Disgraced Lord Little Dean.
He kept silent, glowering into his porter.
Flashy Jack warmed to his theme: “He’s holding on round the chest. It could be lung trouble. That can be caught early. I knew a man, fading away with it, till his wife had him gargle rum every day. That set him to rights.”
“He ain’t got a cough.” Kate pointed out.
The object of their concern shifted under their gaze, which seemed to penetrate to his innards.
“I hear you don’t until that phlegm sets in. Then, before you know it, you’re spitting blood.”
“Mercy.” Suki joined in. She knew that they would all end on the gallows, but this was immediate.
The Chief Brigand, clearly only silent through reluctance to be ungallant to the women, turned on Jack: “Hold your noise, damn you! My insides are my own affair.”
Kate, undeterred, held up one finger: “I know the very thing, whatever it is. That cure I got from that pedlar works on anything. I’ve even tried it on baby there.” She smiled on her infant, sleeping in his cradle at the side of the bar.
“Well, you shouldn’t give it him, Kate. Those poisoners have surely caused more deaths than any honest rogue.” Mr Fox made for the door and stood outside, still slightly hunched and gazing across the yard to where the hens scrabbled about in the dust.
“There’s no pleasing some folk.” Kate went back to collecting the dishes.
“There ain’t any pleasing him these last couple of weeks.” Jack turned his attention back to Suki.’
Stephanie: What was the inspiration for your story? And do you have any other stories in this genre?
Lucinda: What was the inspiration? Traditional historical romances, I suppose; I always felt they accepted sex roles and social injustice too readily. I read a good few of them many years ago, when as a teenager I was snowed in at home in the Clwyd Valley for some time; I got through a lot of stuff on the bookshelves, which included job lots of books my mother had got as part of a ‘lot’ at various auctions. So, I read numerous novels by Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland and so on. I always thought sending up the cliches of the genre, if not done maliciously, would be fun. You know, the Disgraced Wild Young Earl Turned Outlaw, the Spirited Heroine, the Conniving Cousin who Stands to Gain from the Heir’s Disgrace, etc. ‘Ravensdale’ is actually a prequel to my first novel, ‘That Scoundrel Emile Dubois’ which was a take on traditional gothic – vampires, brigands and the heroine isolated in a deserted mansion, surrounded by a wicked household.
Stephanie: Were there any challenges in writing, Ravensdale?
Lucinda: Oh, yes. I had a dismal period of writer’s block for a couple of weeks where I just couldn’t get through some problems with bringing the characters together for the grand finale of the story. But I always find that period of writer’s block happens; you just have to wait, groaning, for the obstruction to clear. There was the historical research on the savage penal code of the time and the activities of highwaymen and so on, but a tedious amount of research is part of the ground work of writing about a past age.
Stephanie: What was the process and how long did it take to write your story?
Lucinda: It took me six months and then I sent it off to my writing partner, who suggested some revisions. Believe it or not, I start writing first thing in the morning, in a notebook in longhand, aiming for an average of four hundred words but hoping for five hundred. Later in the day, I type that bit up, editing as I go along. Every day I’m tempted to put it off, but that’s typical of writers, I think.
Stephanie: What do you like most about writing? And when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Lucinda: I love the excitement of creating an imaginary world and the possibility of sharing it with people. Probably at fourteen I knew I would write sometime, but I took a long time to get down to it seriously – or as seriously as I can be about anything.
Stephanie: What do you like most about Historical Romance?
Lucinda: Quite honestly, I’m not a great reader of historical romance generally these days, but I do like the world free of cars more than anything!
Stephanie: In your bio, it says you were brought up in old houses. Do you feel that this has helped your creativity in your writing?
Lucinda: Without a doubt; I know the layout of big old houses. Also, they would all have made fine settings for a gothic novel.
Stephanie: Where in your home do you like to write and how often do you write?
Lucinda: In the spare room, which serves as a sort of study. Usually I put in a minimum of three hours a day.
Stephanie: Who are your influences?
Lucinda: Innumerable – Jane Austin, Elizabeth Gaskell, Pushkin, Shakespeare, Patrick Hamilton, Thackeray, even that writer of appalling nineteenth century romances, Charles Garvice (yes, he was on the bookshelves during that long period of being snowed in).
Stephanie: What book(s) are on your night stand?
Lucinda: They vary. At the moment, believe it or not, ‘King Lear’ and ‘The Virago Book of Ghost Stories.
Stephanie: Thank you, Lucinda!
Lucinda: It is for me to thank you, as the French say.
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About the Author
Lucinda Elliot loves writing Gothic style stories, which isn’t surprising because she was brought up in a series of big old isolated houses which her parents were refurbishing (it wasn’t so fashionable back then). After that, she lived, studied and worked in London for many years and now lives in Mid Wales with her family.
She loves writing about strong women to complement gung ho males.
Her interests do include weight training and body shaping,and she was once a champion Sports fighter, but apart from that her interests are quite geeky. Reading classic novels, conservation, gardening, and even names and their meanings (bring on the carrot juice). She loves a laugh above anything.
Ravensdale Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 22 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 23 Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, September 24 Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, September 25 Review at “Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience: This is the Ideal Life.” Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Saturday, September 27 Spotlight at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers
Sunday, September 28 Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, September 29 Interview at Let Them Read Books
Friday, October 3 Spotlight at SOS Aloha