Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.
1. Why did you decide to write romance novels?
I have wanted to write romance novels from a very early age. I loved reading them for the history, characters, adventures, and the love story, of course. I love to really get sucked into a book, and a great one can make your day (or week) at the same time as it keeps you up too late reading. A good book can improve even the worst day -- I wanted to do that for someone else; to give them an escapist, satisfying adventure that would hopefully make their day a little bit better.
2. How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
A lot! I try to write stories that I would be interested in reading, so I touch on a lot of my favorite subjects and places from history. With historical fiction, I think it's important to make it feel accessible, so readers can relate to it even if the setting and details are totally unfamiliar. I try to draw on some of my own experiences to do this; for example, a few scenes in Tyburn take place in a fictional pub called the Rose and Crown. During University, I worked in several pubs including a seventeenth-century coach house, and drew on this experience for the atmosphere. Sure, they didn't serve pints of Fosters back in 1671, but the bar scenes have a fairly timeless feel and that's why.
3. What kind of research do you do for a book?
I have a huge collection of history books. I read, keep notes, fact-check details, and then I look up the minor (but important!) details. For example, the time the sun rises and sets on that date in that location: Britain is on a totally different latitude and the sun can rise as early as 4am in the summer, and stay up until 10pm. This is very different from North America! I also check how long it takes to walk from Point A to Point B, I made a chart of currency and prices for common things in 1671, and I'm very careful with names: almost all of the names I use (first and last) were in the top 50 for England during the seventeenth century. Last but not least, I ask my husband to read it. He has a doctorate in Early Modern History, so I want his seal of approval before I show it to anyone else!
4. Where did the idea come from?
I have always been fascinated with sex in history, and the way prostitutes have been treated and viewed (hated/revered) over time. There were thousands of prostitutes in London during this period (and any other), and Sally could have been any one of them. That's where she came from. The story itself came from a dream I had about a black horse on its way to a hanging. It was one of the most vivid and terrifying dreams I've ever had, and not much happened, it was just this intense feeling of tragedy. I had to do something with it.
5. Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
Extremely - and in mine, especially! Tyburn is very dark. The characters struggle through adversity, poverty, and tragedy, but I tried to temper this with quite a lot of humor. I think this adds to the authenticity in any piece of writing, as well. Even when things are very bleak, you find these bright moments here and there.
6. What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
My family is wonderful. It can be difficult to find time to write, but my husband is very supportive and gives me the space (and quiet!) that I need. My cat does like to try to sit on the keyboard, though!
7. What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I bake macarons once a week. They're very difficult to make and the whole process can take a few hours, but I put on my music and dance around the kitchen, and it always cheers me up -- especially when they turn out!
8. Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
I love Julie Anne Long, Maggie Robinson, Jude Deveraux, Judith Merkle Riley, and too many others to mention!
9. Tell us about your latest book.
Tyburn is the story of Sally Green, a young French woman who arrives in London in 1668. Like many girls at the time, she was taken in by a brothel, where she was forced into prostitution. When the book starts in 1671, she is in a very bad place. Her friends are dead, she can't see a way out of her predicament, and she is convinced that Death is a person who is following her. On the other side of London, Nick Virtue is an underpaid tutor who moonlights as a highwayman to keep himself from starving to death. When they meet, it starts a series of life-changing events, and both hold keys to secrets in the other's life. Tyburn is a story of redemption, revenge, and love in spite of very unfortunate circumstances.
Tyburn (The Southwark Saga, Book 1)
Historical Romantic Suspense
Liquid Silver Books
Sally Green is about to die.
She sees Death in the streets. She can taste it in her gin. She can feel it in the very walls of the ramshackle brothel where she is kept to satisfy the perversions of the wealthy. She had come to London in search of her Cavalier father. Instead, she found Wrath, a sadistic nobleman determined to use her to fulfill a sinister ambition. As her friends are murdered one by one, survival hinges on escape.
Nick Virtue is a tutor with a secret. By night he operates as a highwayman, and any day that doesn’t end in a noose is a good one. Saving Sally means risking his reputation, and may end up costing him his life.
When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally must choose between the tutor and the highwayman; between new love and an old need for revenge.
Darkness had fully settled over the forest and he was in no danger of being seen as they headed for the city. There were no new street lamps so far out of town, and as often as she glanced at his face, all she could see was the outline of his profile by the light of the moon. He moved soundlessly through the night as criminals must, the warmth of his hand in hers the only reassurance she had that he was still beside her.Connect with Jessica
They reached the edge of Hyde Park and Sally felt Tyburn looming near before she saw it, the residual tragedy of the gallows rippling along the field in a mournful, near perceptible howl. Because she could not look away, she turned toward the evil and saw the fearful silhouette of the triple tree dark against the violet sky.
This is your future, they seemed to whisper.
In her heart, she answered, I know.
She heard the brutal crack of Claude’s strong, young neck reverberate through the darkest corners of her memory, felt his cold lips against hers once more in a terrible promise, and in her bones she felt the stillness of one who is certain they are about to die. She was immediately aware of the unique texture of every breath she drew, the sweet sigh of the breeze whispering through her hair, and the dirt, the calluses, the very fingerprints of the hand in hers.
So little of Sally’s life had been left up to her.
She might have days, hours, mere moments left, but she would be damned if she wasted them.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cale/e/B00PVDV9EW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9819997.Jessica_Cale