Joining me in the Hot Seat today is author, Daisy Banks
Daisy Banks is from the Black Country, the heartlands of the Midlands in the UK. She is proud to count as her ancestors the people who lived in the narrow, blue-brick paved streets, who delved for coal or worked metal. Daisy is married and now her boys are adults she spends time writing romance. Daisy loves traditional romantic songs and ballads, is interested in art and architecture, enjoys travel, and occasionally cooks a meal that doesn’t stick to the pan.
Q: Can you tell our readers a little about your writing? What genres do you enjoy writing?
I write, paranormal, fantasy and historical. I enjoy all these genres as a reader and as a writer. I have also experimented with other things too. I have been writing for several years and am learning all the time. My main hope with any story I write is to give the reader enjoyment and a little escapism from their day to day world.
Q: Do you write on a schedule or when the Muse decides?
I write when ideas come. If I get a new idea when I am busy doing something else I might make a note of it so I don’t forget, that tends to be the only notes I make. I’m a pantster writer and wing it most of the time. Historical stories slow me down though as I have to research for accuracy. A task that is time consuming but so important as anachronisms can ruin a historical romance.
I write every day that I can, that means every day at present. I often have two or three stories rolling at the same time so if I come to a halt on one I can work on another until the Muse kicks me back to work on the original one. If I have edits from a publisher they always take first place.
Q: Can you tell us about your writing process, for example, do you write an outline first?
I don’t use outlines, character arcs or plot development charts. I have tried using them as I thought it was the right thing and something I ought to be doing. I lovingly crafted a development chart and a set of character arcs, but four pages into the story a different direction dictated by the characters happened and that was it. I’ve not used those writing aids again since. I may make another attempt with them at a later date.
I write from the pictures in my mind. I know it sounds a bit strange but it’s like I have a private cinema in my head. I see the pictures, they often start the story off as they lead to questions, who, why, what for, etc and then things begin to roll. Once or twice I have found characters before the story emerges. William ‘Reliance’ Smith was one such character. I could see him and I knew he needed a story to belong to, he found his home in my story Your Heart My Soul. Likewise, Magnus Johansson appeared long before the story he takes part in was written.
I found my characters for my latest story A Gentleman’s Folly after a visit to the tourist attraction of the West Wycombe Caves, but it has taken me a while to finish this story. There was a lot of research to do and I more work to do to try to improve my writing.
I guess what I am saying is the pictures in my mind of the characters in the stories is the most important and first part of my writing process. I have to make sure I describe the characters well to readers as sometimes I see the character so clearly I forget to give the readers the detail they need. Fortunately I’ve a couple of crit partners who wail and gnash teeth if I don’t do the best I can on description.
Q: What qualities do you instill in your heroes?
They are all different and quite individual in many ways. I tend to write Beta hero’s rather than the Alpha kind, but they sure can lay down the law if they wish to. It might sound very odd to say a character can run the show in the story, when I am the writer, but they can. If the character is not happy or comfortable with where I try to take the story I often find they won’t cooperate and will insist on doing other things.
I like my hero’s to be goal orientated and of course their goal is the heroine, once they understand she is their true desire they’ll do all they can to gain her love. I also like hero’s who are not afraid of a strong woman and will support a woman to find and exercise her strengths. My hero’s can be quite protective to their woman, but they don’t stifle her.
Q. Coffee or tea?
Coffee, mostly. I drink a lot of coffee, yes; I know it’s not good for me. But I like it and drink it when I’m working. I do drink tea sometimes but I prefer that to be afternoon tea, with tiny finger sandwiches and cake, lots of cake. There is a ‘Tea with Daisy’ page on my blog that explains about this. I think afternoon tea with a friend is a grand way to pass an afternoon.
Q. Beach or countryside?
Oh, I love both. The sound of the surf pounding a pebble beach is mesmeric. Butterflies in a field of wild flowers enchant me. The world is a very beautiful place.
Q. Do you write about the places you know or prefer to take your readers to exotic places?
I have written about real places I have seen, when Magnus takes Sian to a volcanic waterfall in Timeless, that is a place I have seen and probably one of the most romantic places I have ever been. The water, warmed by geo thermal heat, cascades from the mountain side, it pours into a pool surrounded by green bushes and trees, wildflowers blossom close by. The water is soft on the skin and so relaxing. I have beautiful memories of that place. The shop I wrote of in Your Heart My Soul is based on a real shop I recall from my early teens, full of dusty objects that had been there so long as to almost grow into the fabric of the building. A Gentleman’s Folly is based on a visit to a real place though the house and villages of the Cranley estate are entirely fictional.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
Many things inspire me. I’m lucky that where I currently live, in Shropshire, is full of magical beauties, so even a simple walk can bring me inspiration. I find music helps me concentrate and can help me create scenes in my stories. I like classical music but I also like other kinds of music too. I use incense often as well. Mostly though, the ideas come to me as they will, like gifts. My job is then to do my best to put them on the page in the best way I can.
Q: Would you change anything in your life to make writing easier.
I would like to buy a more comfortable chair to use as I write. The chair I use is from the early 1930’s and its seat needs a bit of extra padding. One day I’ll get round to buying another from one of the antique auctions I sometimes go to. Time, which used to be such an issue, is now available and I can spend as long as I like writing. The frustration of having to do something else when I wanted to write was dreadful.
Q: We have all suffered submission rejections. How do you cope? Do you have any advice to other writers on coping with rejection?
Rejection huts in whichever way it comes and especially with first stories, if they get kicked back it can make you weep. The worst kind of rejections are the form ‘not for us’ with no explanations as to why. They are utterly useless to an author. My advice with them is rip them up or paste them to a noticeboard in the lavatory. The best kind of rejections are those that say why the story isn’t right and perhaps offer a little feedback, all kudos and respect to those publishing houses who take the time to offer such help to aspiring authors. I got one of those helpful rejections early on and I have to say, I truly felt like a writer because the editors treated me like one.
How to cope with rejection is all very individual, take from it what you can to improve if anything is offered and be professional. I have known of people who wrote back nasty things to editors who rejected their book, very foolish and the sure way to make certain nothing else would be accepted. I’d say, don’t do that. Buy chocolate and eat it, or ice cream or whatever lifts your mood. You can then re-sub the story somewhere else or perhaps let it rest for a couple of weeks, reread it in the light of any advice offered and fix what might be the issue. I did that with one story, I was told one of my characters was ‘cruel and manipulative’. I was so tempted to say, but I like him that way. Instead I fixed him and made him nicer and wrote seven or eight new chapters to the story in his point of view so readers understood his motivation. The story was accepted elsewhere.
It is hard to have faith in yourself when you are rejected, especially at the beginning of a writing career, but to be honest even after writing for some time I still wonder with every submission I make, will it be rejected. The key is to do the best you possibly can. If you’ve done that, then even if it is not right for one publisher you may well find its right for another. The crucial thing is don’t give up! Remember lots of writers are rejected, Stephen King, Anne Rice, JK Rowling, all those world famous authors were rejected more than once.
Q: Do you have times when the Muse is away on holiday?
This has happened to me and it is a bit scary. One day everything is flowing quite well and the next day the words are torn from me with red hot pincers, well not exactly but you get the idea. What was a free flowing fountain becomes a laborious and painful process. If this happens I go for a long walk, read something else, perhaps flip to another story. I’ve never been without my Muse for too long thankfully. I have written when they have been absent but it is never so much fun as when the Muse is on my shoulder
Q. What advice would you give to unpublished authors approaching an e publisher?
Read the guidelines! Obey the guidelines they are there to help you. Be polite, professional and honest in your resume. Write an easy to read query letter and synopsis, you can find examples of these on the net to copy the form if you want to. Be realistic in your expectations and most of all, although publishing and especially romance publishing deals with hearts and dreams, publishing is a business. If you treat your submission to a publisher as you would any other business dealing you will receive prompt and courteous attention in return. One other thought if you are about to submit your first story research the publisher you have chosen and find out about them. The wrong publisher can provide the kind of learning experience you don’t want to discover.
Q: Is there anything you would like to share with us about upcoming releases?
I have a short story in the Lyrical Press First Frost Anthology and am very pleased to be part of that. I am hoping my sequel to my story Timeless will be published sometime next year.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your current novel?
A Gentleman’s Folly is a historical romp set in the 18th century. A marriage of convenience brings unexpected consequences: love, betrayal, and a hope for happiness.
Blurb: Katherine Bescell, courtesan and member of a secret order, thinks the offer of a marriage in name only to Charles Leverret, heir to a large fortune, will solve all her woes.
Charles Leverret believes his hired wife will ensure his inheritance. He might even enjoy her company if she’ll let him anywhere near her. Charmed by his bride, Charles breaks their original bargain and falls in love. Betrayed by a trusted lawyer who withholds Katherine’s promised fee, Charles struggles against evil chance to persuade Katherine his love is real.
Lust and love, truth and trust, each makes demands on them both, but though Charles has captured her heart, Katherine can’t bring herself to admit they belong together.
Masked and robed in the rites in the West Wycombe Caves where only truth is told, Charles makes his stand to claim the woman he adores.
His call faded as the pony trotted on. Sniffing, she palmed away her tears and half her face paint. Once at the stable block, she yanked on the reins so the little gig’s wheels sprayed gravel as they came to a stop. She stepped out of the trap and threw the reins to a groom, who dashed forward for them.
Their disastrous conversation hovered like a storm cloud as she hurried into the house, swept along the corridor, up the stairs, and into her room, where she tugged off her bonnet and splashed cool water onto her neck. Appalled at her reflection, she dabbed at her spoiled face with a cloth and then patted on a new layer of fine powder to cover the worst of the blotches.
Sadly, the water did nothing to still the heat in her blood, and fearful she’d harm the child if she continued in her bitter fury, she lay on the bed.
The heavy door thundered open. Charles, breathing swift, strode in. He shoved the door back, and it crashed, juddering in the frame.
She bolted up. “How dare you come in uninvited!”
He dragged her from the bed, hands heavy on her waist as he set her on her feet. “Try such a trick again, and I swear, with child or not, my wench, I’ll thrash you every day for a week.”
“Savage! Leave me be.”
“Be quiet. There is more at stake here than your curdled temper.”
She couldn’t avoid his face so close to hers and couldn’t pull back. “You’re a vile cur. Let me go.”
“For the sake of silence.” He caught the back of her head in his palm and brought her face much closer to his. Warm and smothering, his mouth covered hers, and all the time, her body sang in answer to his kiss.
A cascade of shivers shot through her, stalling her doubts. Desire flooded her blood at the first contact of his lips. An instant, heady, insistent craving for his most intimate touch blazed to heat her body. She opened her mouth to accept the seeking warmth of his tongue, and her knees softened like wax under a flame.
He gathered her closer, tightening his grasp, and hauled her tight against him. Their kiss deepened until each movement of his brought an echo of hers. A whimper of satisfaction stole from her as she twined her tongue around his. She sucked the warmth of him deeper into her mouth so his taste and hers swirled and mingled, and she closed her eyes.
Time ceased to be anything other than velvet, pulsing darkness as his mouth worked on hers. He demanded more and more of her, and never had she been so willing to give herself up. She pushed forward against him, curled her fingers through his hair at the base of his skull, and kissed him while trembles made her shiver in readiness for his hands to seek her skin. Joyful, she climbed the steps of desire, until he pulled away.
He held her at arm’s length. “Christ alive, woman,” he murmured and breathed fast. His eyes shone, an intensity of golden brown glowing in his gaze.
She gave a tiny nod of encouragement. Surely he’d want to bed her now. His desire, obvious from his deep breaths and the rigid swelling she’d felt pressed against her, had woven a lustful magic. The heightened state of her need might drive her to any passion he could wish to ask of her. Desire beyond any hope of salvation ruled. But he made no movement to hold, touch, or kiss her again.
Shame boiled in her breast at the understanding he didn’t want her. She could hardly demean herself further.
“Now, have you regained your senses and will you listen? We may not be what they think us in this house, but though savage you believe me to be, I’d not see your mangled corpse twined in the traces. You will never take off so again. Say it.”
Staring at the shimmer of his reflection in the polished brass coal scuttle, she nodded.
“I’ll not behave foolishly again.” Why could he not be gone? A lump of sheer frustration had lodged in her throat. She was well used to driving such a small gig and pony. What the hell did he care? The one thing she wanted from him he’d not give.
A small gasp broke from her as he caught her around the waist. Thank the gods. He’d changed his mind.
He laid her back on the bed. “Move over. I’ll have to stay for an hour at the least. The household will expect no less.”
“By my faith, woman, don’t you think they’d expect us to kiss and make up after such a tempest? Half the servants saw you risk you neck to drive here alone from the lake, more saw you storm upstairs I’ve no doubt, and the rest will have heard, been listening spellbound to your yells. What are they to think now? We’re supposed to be happily wed. They’ll like as not put your tantrum down to your condition. So they’ll expect me to be a good husband and do the same and gentle you with some well-tempered wooing.” He sat on the bed and took off a boot.
Shivers still danced on her skin from his kiss, and the ache in her loins remained a powerful throb of need. Was there anything she could offer him to complete her, to give her the fulfillment her body demanded? Humiliation spilled through her like a chill wave. Her means to change his mind were nothing. He’d never make their marriage a reality. But she so longed for the man. Was that the worst of it? Each moment with him her body flamed. No other man affected her so nor, unless her memories were faulty, had any man ever. If she were alone, she might well have wailed like a babe in her frustration. As it was, she clung on to a shred of pride. She would not weep for the lack of his loving.
Full of despair at the wretched prospect, she lay back and rolled over onto her side to leave the widest gap between them she could. An hour of him beside her, without even so much as the touch of his hand, would be interminable. She closed her eyes and swallowed down the desire for his flesh. His other boot fell to the floor with a thud.
He lay back, and she shuffled farther away, so close to the edge of the bed that, if she breathed too deep, she might tumble from its height to the floor. She’d made such a fool of herself at the lake, damn near demanding his body. She’d let herself be beguiled by his good looks, by the most simple of attentions given for the pretense they shared. She’d behaved like an untried girl, nearly falling over herself in her desire for him. “Never again,” she whispered into the late afternoon light.
“Let’s hope not.”
His words raised a new flash of wretchedness. She’d not be wanted by any man in her present state, let alone by a scoundrel such as this heir to a fortune. “You could at least be silent,” she snapped.
The lovers she’d taken in devotion to Venus had never made her feel degraded. But now, as the sunlight slid down the wall and her body still thrummed like a harp string from his kiss, she knew herself humbled by her own flesh. She’d become a woman of less sober character than the most lascivious tuppenny whore.
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